School Library Journal - School Library Journalea. vol: reprods. bibliog. index. (Constitution First Bks.). CIP. Watts. 1986. PLB $9.40. Gr 5-7 These titles offer no more than a functional introduction to the writing of the Constitution and several of the rights embodied in its first ten amendments. Readers will not get the sense that the authors of the individual volumes are specialists in Constitutional law or history. The weakest volume is States' Rights. Its paragraphs are short, choppy, and uninteresting, and Batchelor egregiously misinterprets the landmark case of Marbury v. Madison, which affirmed the Supreme Court's power to declare Congressional legislation unconstitutional. Stephen Goode's The New Federalism (Watts, 1983) offers a more logically organized account of the same material for the older readers who are more likely to require this information. Your Right to Privacy ignores the contribution of the ninth Amendment to privacy law, and somewhat muddles the privacy issue by suggesting that privacy questions are paramount in a school armband case and the case of a Boy Scout denied a promotion because he did not believe in a supreme being. Leonard A. Stevens' Trespass (Coward, 1977; o.p.) concentrates on a single pivotal search and seizure case, and thereby gives life to the complex privacy issues raised by the fourth Amendment. Jethro K. Lieberman in Privacy and the Law (Lothrop, 1978; o.p.) cites a wider variety of cases to dramatize the breadth of issues covered by privacy law. Separation of Church and State provides a useful review of the reasons for the recent proliferation of church/state cases, but the volume is poorly organized; there is no summary of precisely those issues that fall under the rubric of separation of church and state. The evolution/creationism controversy is noticeably ignored. Ann Weiss' God and Government (Houghton, 1982) is a more lively treatment of the issue. . . .this Constitution covers the Convention, the governmental system forged there, and the compromises necessary to reach a consensus. Although Sgroi makes it clear that the addition of a Bill of Rights was assumed when the Constitution was ratified, he does not adequately describe the rights guaranteed in these early amendments. Sgroi covers the same events in less detail, and for younger readers, than Harold Cecil Vaughan's The Constitutional Convention, 1787 (Watts, 1976; o.p.) A more lively and attractive treatment of the same material is Richard Morris' The Constitution (Lerner, 1985). Far superior to Sgroi's book is Henry Steele Commager's The Great Constitution (Bobbs-Merrill, 1961; o.p.), which is filled with fascinating details that bespeak the work of a true scholar and enthusiast. The most successful of these volumes is The Right to Bear Arms , which addresses the question of whether the second Amendment guarantees individuals the right to own any weapon, or whether it rather guarantees a collective right of the people to maintain an armed militia. Almost the same material is covered in Edward F. Dolan's Gun Control (Watts, 1978).Rita Auerbach, Stratford Avenue School, Garden City, N.Y.
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