How to Read the Constitution--and Why

How to Read the Constitution--and Why

by Kim Wehle
How to Read the Constitution--and Why

How to Read the Constitution--and Why

by Kim Wehle


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"A must-read for this era.”—Jake Tapper, CNN Anchor and Chief Washington Correspondent 

An insightful, urgent, and perennially relevant handbook that lays out in common sense language how the United States Constitution works, and how its protections are eroding before our eyes—essential reading for anyone who wants to understand and parse the constantly breaking news about the backbone of American government.

The Constitution is the most significant document in America. But do you fully understand what this valuable document means to you? In How to Read the Constitution—and Why, legal expert and educator Kimberly Wehle spells out in clear, simple, and common sense terms what is in the Constitution, and most importantly, what it means. In compelling terms and including text from the United States Constitution, she describes how the Constitution’s protections are eroding—not only in express terms but by virtue of the many legal and social norms that no longer shore up its legitimacy—and why every American needs to heed to this “red flag” moment in our democracy.

This invaluable—and timely—resource includes the Constitution in its entirety and covers nearly every significant aspect of the text,  from the powers of the President and how the three branches of government are designed to hold each other accountable, to what it means to have individual rights—including free speech, the right to bear arms, the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures, and the right to an abortion. Finally, the book explains why it has never been more important than now for all Americans to know how our Constitution works—and why, if we don’t step in to protect it now, we could lose its protections forever.

How to Read the Constitution—and Why is essential reading for anyone who cares about maintaining an accountable government and the individual freedoms that the Constitution enshrines for everyone in America—regardless of political party.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062896308
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 06/25/2019
Series: Legal Expert Series
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 152,146
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Kim Wehle is a tenured Professor of Law at the University of Baltimore School of Law, where she teaches and writes on the constitutional separation of powers, administrative law, and civil procedure. She was formerly an Assistant United States Attorney and an Associate Counsel in the Whitewater Investigation. Professor Wehle has been a commentator for CBS News, as well as a Contributor for BBC World News and BBC World News America on PBS, an Op-Ed Contributor for The Bulwark, and an Opinion Contributor for The Hill. She has been a regular guest legal analyst on various media outlets regarding Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe into Russian influence in the 2016 presidential election and other issues regarding the structural Constitution and the Trump Administration, including on CNN, MSNBC, NPR’s Morning Edition, PBS NewsHour, and Fox News. Her articles have also appeared in the Baltimore Sun, the L.A. Times, and NBC News Think. She is regularly interviewed and cited by prominent print journalists on a range of legal issues. She lives in Chevy Chase, Maryland, with her children.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

Part I Structure 29

Chapter 1 The Basics: Each Branch Has a Job Description-and Two Bosses 33

Chapter 2 Congress: Lots of Power to a Herd of Cats 55

Chapter 3 The (Real) Powers of the President: No More Kings 77

Chapter 4 The Courts: What Was That About Kings? 103

Part II Rights 117

Chapter 5 Speech, Religion, and the First Amendment 119

Chapter 6 Guns and the Second Amendment 149

Chapter 7 Crime and the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Eighth Amendments 161

Chapter 8 Liberty and Equality: Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments 185

Chapter 9 What Does the Constitution Say About the States? 207

Part III Why Care? 217

Chapter 10 Why It Matters How Politicians Get Hired and Fired 219

Chapter 11 If the Constitution Stops Functioning, Why Should I Care? 241

Chapter 12 Sustaining Democracy: Some Takeaways 253

Acknowledgments 265

Glossary 267

The Constitution of the United States of America 273

Notes 295

Index 323

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