How Democratic is the American Constitution?
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|Author||: Robert A. Dahl|
|Editor||: Yale University Press|
In this provocative book, one of our most eminent political scientists questions the extent to which the American Constitution furthers democratic goals. Robert Dahl reveals the Constitution's potentially antidemocratic elements and explains why they are there, compares the American constitutional system to other democratic systems, and explores how we might alter our political system to achieve greater equality among citizens. In a new chapter for this second edition, he shows how increasing differences in state populations revealed by the Census of 2000 have further increased the veto power over constitutional amendments held by a tiny minority of Americans. He then explores the prospects for changing some important political practices that are not prescribed by the written Constitution, though most Americans may assume them to be so.
|Author||: Steven Levitsky,Daniel Ziblatt|
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • “Comprehensive, enlightening, and terrifyingly timely.”—The New York Times Book Review (Editors' Choice) WINNER OF THE GOLDSMITH BOOK PRIZE • SHORTLISTED FOR THE LIONEL GELBER PRIZE • NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The Washington Post • Time • Foreign Affairs • WBUR • Paste Donald Trump’s presidency has raised a question that many of us never thought we’d be asking: Is our democracy in danger? Harvard professors Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt have spent more than twenty years studying the breakdown of democracies in Europe and Latin America, and they believe the answer is yes. Democracy no longer ends with a bang—in a revolution or military coup—but with a whimper: the slow, steady weakening of critical institutions, such as the judiciary and the press, and the gradual erosion of long-standing political norms. The good news is that there are several exit ramps on the road to authoritarianism. The bad news is that, by electing Trump, we have already passed the first one. Drawing on decades of research and a wide range of historical and global examples, from 1930s Europe to contemporary Hungary, Turkey, and Venezuela, to the American South during Jim Crow, Levitsky and Ziblatt show how democracies die—and how ours can be saved. Praise for How Democracies Die “What we desperately need is a sober, dispassionate look at the current state of affairs. Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt, two of the most respected scholars in the field of democracy studies, offer just that.”—The Washington Post “Where Levitsky and Ziblatt make their mark is in weaving together political science and historical analysis of both domestic and international democratic crises; in doing so, they expand the conversation beyond Trump and before him, to other countries and to the deep structure of American democracy and politics.”—Ezra Klein, Vox “If you only read one book for the rest of the year, read How Democracies Die. . . .This is not a book for just Democrats or Republicans. It is a book for all Americans. It is nonpartisan. It is fact based. It is deeply rooted in history. . . . The best commentary on our politics, no contest.”—Michael Morrell, former Acting Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (via Twitter) “A smart and deeply informed book about the ways in which democracy is being undermined in dozens of countries around the world, and in ways that are perfectly legal.”—Fareed Zakaria, CNN
|Author||: Akhil Reed Amar|
|Editor||: Random House|
In America’s Constitution, one of this era’s most accomplished constitutional law scholars, Akhil Reed Amar, gives the first comprehensive account of one of the world’s great political texts. Incisive, entertaining, and occasionally controversial, this “biography” of America’s framing document explains not only what the Constitution says but also why the Constitution says it. We all know this much: the Constitution is neither immutable nor perfect. Amar shows us how the story of this one relatively compact document reflects the story of America more generally. (For example, much of the Constitution, including the glorious-sounding “We the People,” was lifted from existing American legal texts, including early state constitutions.) In short, the Constitution was as much a product of its environment as it was a product of its individual creators’ inspired genius. Despite the Constitution’s flaws, its role in guiding our republic has been nothing short of amazing. Skillfully placing the document in the context of late-eighteenth-century American politics, America’s Constitution explains, for instance, whether there is anything in the Constitution that is unamendable; the reason America adopted an electoral college; why a president must be at least thirty-five years old; and why–for now, at least–only those citizens who were born under the American flag can become president. From his unique perspective, Amar also gives us unconventional wisdom about the Constitution and its significance throughout the nation’s history. For one thing, we see that the Constitution has been far more democratic than is conventionally understood. Even though the document was drafted by white landholders, a remarkably large number of citizens (by the standards of 1787) were allowed to vote up or down on it, and the document’s later amendments eventually extended the vote to virtually all Americans. We also learn that the Founders’ Constitution was far more slavocratic than many would acknowledge: the “three fifths” clause gave the South extra political clout for every slave it owned or acquired. As a result, slaveholding Virginians held the presidency all but four of the Republic’s first thirty-six years, and proslavery forces eventually came to dominate much of the federal government prior to Lincoln’s election. Ambitious, even-handed, eminently accessible, and often surprising, America’s Constitution is an indispensable work, bound to become a standard reference for any student of history and all citizens of the United States.
|Author||: Ellen M Kozak|
|Editor||: Simon and Schuster|
Debates over constitutional rights impact you every day as an American citizen. But do you know what the U.S. Constitution actually says? This accessible guide contains the complete text of the Constitution, with short, descriptive margin notes throughout. Articles and amendments are then analyzed in depth to help you comprehend the basis of democracy. This valuable handbook covers: How the articles and amendments were drafted Insight into the intentions of the creators and the sources they used Controversial interpretations and Supreme Court decisions How the Constitution affects citizens every day The Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, and unratified Constitutional amendments This book walks you through the history of this essential document and shows how it has guided lawmakers and judges for more than 200 years. This unbiased look at the Constitution will help you feel confident in your knowledge of this all-important document, gain a firmer understanding of how our government works, and put context around today's most pressing issues.
|Author||: Sanford Levinson|
|Editor||: Oxford University Press|
Levinson argues that too many of our Constitution's provisions promote either unjust or ineffective government. Under the existing blueprint, we can neither rid ourselves of incompetent presidents nor assure continuity of government following catastrophic attacks. Less important, perhaps, but certainly problematic, is the appointment of Supreme Court judges for life. Adding insult to injury, the United States Constitution is the most difficult to amend or update of any constitution currently existing in the world today. Democratic debate leaves few stones unturned, but we tend to take our basic constitutional structures for granted. Levinson boldly challenges the American people to undertake a long overdue public discussion on how they might best reform this most hallowed document and construct a constitution adequate to our democratic values. "Admirably gutsy and unfashionable." --Michael Kinsley, The New York Times "Bold, bracingly unromantic, and filled with illuminating insights. He accomplishes an unlikely feat, which is to make a really serious argument for a new constitutional convention, one that is founded squarely on democratic ideals." --Cass R. Sunstein, The New Republic "Everyone who cares about how our government works should read this thoughtful book." --Washington Lawyer
|Author||: Akhil Reed Amar|
|Editor||: Basic Books|
A history of the American Constitution's formative decades from a preeminent legal scholar When the US Constitution won popular approval in 1788, it was the culmination of thirty years of passionate argument over the nature of government. But ratification hardly ended the conversation. For the next half century, ordinary Americans and statesmen alike continued to wrestle with weighty questions in the halls of government and in the pages of newspapers. Should the nation's borders be expanded? Should America allow slavery to spread westward? What rights should Indian nations hold? What was the proper role of the judicial branch? In The Words that Made Us, Akhil Reed Amar unites history and law in a vivid narrative of the biggest constitutional questions early Americans confronted, and he expertly assesses the answers they offered. His account of the document's origins and consolidation is a guide for anyone seeking to properly understand America's Constitution today.
|Author||: John F. Kowal,Wilfred Codrington III|
|Editor||: The New Press|
The story of how the American people have taken an imperfect constitution—the product of compromises and an artifact of its time—and made it more democratic Who wrote the Constitution? That's obvious, we think: fifty-five men in Philadelphia in 1787. But much of the Constitution was actually written later, in a series of twenty-seven amendments enacted over the course of two centuries. The real history of the Constitution is the astonishing story of how subsequent generations have reshaped our founding document amid some of the most colorful, contested, and controversial battles in American political life. It's a story of how We the People have improved our government's structure and expanded the scope of our democracy during eras of transformational social change. The People's Constitution is an elegant, sobering, and masterly account of the evolution of American democracy. From the addition of the Bill of Rights, a promise made to save the Constitution from near certain defeat, to the post–Civil War battle over the Fourteenth Amendment, from the rise and fall of the "noble experiment" of Prohibition to the defeat and resurgence of an Equal Rights Amendment a century in the making, The People's Constitution is the first book of its kind: a vital guide to America's national charter, and an alternative history of the continuing struggle to realize the Framers' promise of a more perfect union.
|Author||: Eugene Alfred Forsey|
Explores Canada's parliamentary system from the decisions made by the Fathers of Confederation, to the daily work of Members of Parliament in the Commons and Senate chambers. Also contains useful information on Canada's constitution, the judicial system and provincial and municipal powers.
|Author||: Tom Ginsburg,Aziz Z. Huq|
Democracies are in danger. Around the world, a rising wave of populist leaders threatens to erode the core structures of democratic self rule. In the United States, the election of Donald Trump marked a decisive turning point for many. What kind of president calls the news media the "enemy of the American people," or sees a moral equivalence between violent neo-Nazi protesters in paramilitary formation and residents of a college town defending the racial and ethnic diversity of their homes? Yet, whatever our concerns about the current president, we can be assured that the Constitution offers safeguards to protect against lasting damage--or can we? How to Save a Constitutional Democracy mounts an urgent argument that we can no longer afford to be complacent. Drawing on a rich array of other countries' experiences with democratic backsliding, Tom Ginsburg and Aziz Z. Huq show how constitutional rules can either hinder or hasten the decline of democratic institutions. The checks and balances of the federal government, a robust civil society and media, and individual rights--such as those enshrined in the First Amendment--do not necessarily succeed as bulwarks against democratic decline. Rather, Ginsburg and Huq contend, the sobering reality for the United States is that, to a much greater extent than is commonly realized, the Constitution's design makes democratic erosion more, not less, likely. Its structural rigidity has had the unforeseen consequence of empowering the Supreme Court to fill in some details--often with doctrines that ultimately facilitate rather than inhibit the infringement of rights. Even the bright spots in the Constitution--the First Amendment, for example--may have perverse consequences in the hands of a deft communicator, who can degrade the public sphere by wielding hateful language that would be banned in many other democracies. But we--and the rest of the world--can do better. The authors conclude by laying out practical steps for how laws and constitutional design can play a more positive role in managing the risk of democratic decline.
|Author||: Elizabeth Beaumont|
|Editor||: Oxford University Press|
The Civic Constitution provides a compelling case for rethinking the U.S. Constitution. By exploring pivotal struggles over governmental power, individual rights, and the boundaries of citizenship, this book challenges reigning approaches and reveals the profound importance of 'civic founders' who worked to reinvent the constitutional order.
|Author||: Martin H. Redish|
|Editor||: Stanford University Press|
The Framers of the American Constitution took special pains to ensure that the governing principles of the republic were insulated from the reach of simple majorities. Only super-majoritarian amendments could modify these fundamental constitutional dictates. The Framers established a judicial branch shielded from direct majoritarian political accountability to protect and enforce these constitutional limits. Paradoxically, only a counter-majoritarian judicial branch could ensure the continued vitality of our representational form of government. This important lesson of the paradox of American democracy has been challenged and often ignored by office holders and legal scholars. Judicial Independence and the American Constitution provocatively defends the centrality of these special protections of judicial independence. Martin H. Redish explains how the nation's system of counter-majoritarian constitutionalism cannot survive absent the vesting of final powers of constitutional interpretation and enforcement in the one branch of government expressly protected by the Constitution from direct political accountability: the judicial branch. He uncovers how the current framework of American constitutional law has been unwisely allowed to threaten or undermine these core precepts of judicial independence.
|Author||: Richard Bellamy|
Constitutionalism and democracy have been interpreted as both intimately related and intrinsically opposed. On the one hand constitutions are said to set out the rules of the democratic game, on the other as constraining the power of the demos and their representatives to rule themselves - including by reforming the very processes of democracy itself. Meanwhile, constitutionalists themselves differ on how far any constitution derives its authority from, and should itself be subject to democratic endorsement and interpretation. They also dispute whether constitutions should refer solely to democratic processes, or also define and limit democratic goals. Each of these positions produces a different view of judicial review, the content and advisability of a Bill of Rights and the nature of constitutional politics. These differences are not simply academic positions, but are reflected in the different types of constitutional democracy found in the United States, continental Europe, Britain and many commonwealth countries. The selected essays explore these issues from the perspectives of law, philosophy and political science. A detailed and informative introduction sets them in the context of contemporary debates about constitutionalism.
|Author||: Edward J. Watts|
|Editor||: Basic Books|
Learn why the Roman Republic collapsed -- and how it could have continued to thrive -- with this insightful history from an award-winning author. In Mortal Republic, prize-winning historian Edward J. Watts offers a new history of the fall of the Roman Republic that explains why Rome exchanged freedom for autocracy. For centuries, even as Rome grew into the Mediterranean's premier military and political power, its governing institutions, parliamentary rules, and political customs successfully fostered negotiation and compromise. By the 130s BC, however, Rome's leaders increasingly used these same tools to cynically pursue individual gain and obstruct their opponents. As the center decayed and dysfunction grew, arguments between politicians gave way to political violence in the streets. The stage was set for destructive civil wars -- and ultimately the imperial reign of Augustus. The death of Rome's Republic was not inevitable. In Mortal Republic, Watts shows it died because it was allowed to, from thousands of small wounds inflicted by Romans who assumed that it would last forever.
|Author||: Alexander Hamilton,John Jay,James Madison|
|Editor||: Read Books Ltd|
Classic Books Library presents this brand new edition of “The Federalist Papers”, a collection of separate essays and articles compiled in 1788 by Alexander Hamilton. Following the United States Declaration of Independence in 1776, the governing doctrines and policies of the States lacked cohesion. “The Federalist”, as it was previously known, was constructed by American statesman Alexander Hamilton, and was intended to catalyse the ratification of the United States Constitution. Hamilton recruited fellow statesmen James Madison Jr., and John Jay to write papers for the compendium, and the three are known as some of the Founding Fathers of the United States. Alexander Hamilton (c. 1755–1804) was an American lawyer, journalist and highly influential government official. He also served as a Senior Officer in the Army between 1799-1800 and founded the Federalist Party, the system that governed the nation’s finances. His contributions to the Constitution and leadership made a significant and lasting impact on the early development of the nation of the United States.
|Author||: Michael J. Klarman|
|Editor||: Oxford University Press|
Americans revere their Constitution. However, most of us are unaware how tumultuous and improbable the drafting and ratification processes were. As Benjamin Franklin keenly observed, any assembly of men bring with them "all their prejudices, their passions, their errors of opinion, their local interests and their selfish views." One need not deny that the Framers had good intentions in order to believe that they also had interests. Based on prodigious research and told largely through the voices of the participants, Michael Klarman's The Framers' Coup narrates how the Framers' clashing interests shaped the Constitution--and American history itself. The Philadelphia convention could easily have been a failure, and the risk of collapse was always present. Had the convention dissolved, any number of adverse outcomes could have resulted, including civil war or a reversion to monarchy. Not only does Klarman capture the knife's-edge atmosphere of the convention, he populates his narrative with riveting and colorful stories: the rebellion of debtor farmers in Massachusetts; George Washington's uncertainty about whether to attend; Gunning Bedford's threat to turn to a European prince if the small states were denied equal representation in the Senate; slave staters' threats to take their marbles and go home if denied representation for their slaves; Hamilton's quasi-monarchist speech to the convention; and Patrick Henry's herculean efforts to defeat the Constitution in Virginia through demagoguery and conspiracy theories. The Framers' Coup is more than a compendium of great stories, however, and the powerful arguments that feature throughout will reshape our understanding of the nation's founding. Simply put, the Constitutional Convention almost didn't happen, and once it happened, it almost failed. And, even after the convention succeeded, the Constitution it produced almost failed to be ratified. Just as importantly, the Constitution was hardly the product of philosophical reflections by brilliant, disinterested statesmen, but rather ordinary interest group politics. Multiple conflicting interests had a say, from creditors and debtors to city dwellers and backwoodsmen. The upper class overwhelmingly supported the Constitution; many working class colonists were more dubious. Slave states and nonslave states had different perspectives on how well the Constitution served their interests. Ultimately, both the Constitution's content and its ratification process raise troubling questions about democratic legitimacy. The Federalists were eager to avoid full-fledged democratic deliberation over the Constitution, and the document that was ratified was stacked in favor of their preferences. And in terms of substance, the Constitution was a significant departure from the more democratic state constitutions of the 1770s. Definitive and authoritative, The Framers' Coup explains why the Framers preferred such a constitution and how they managed to persuade the country to adopt it. We have lived with the consequences, both positive and negative, ever since.
|Author||: Geoffrey R. Stone,David A. Strauss|
|Editor||: Oxford University Press, USA|
From 1953 to 1969, the Supreme Court under Chief Justice Earl Warren brought about many of the proudest achievements of American constitutional law. The Warren declared racial segregation and laws forbidding interracial marriage to be unconstitutional; it expanded the right of citizens to criticize public officials; it held school prayer unconstitutional; and it ruled that people accused of a crime must be given a lawyer even if they can't afford one. Yet, despite those and other achievements, conservative critics have fiercely accused the justices of the Warren Court of abusing their authority by supposedly imposing their own opinions on the nation. As the eminent legal scholars Geoffrey R. Stone and David A. Strauss demonstrate in Democracy and Equality, the Warren Court's approach to the Constitution was consistent with the most basic values of our Constitution and with the most fundamental responsibilities of our judiciary. Stone and Strauss describe the Warren Court's extraordinary achievements by reviewing its jurisprudence across a range of issues addressing our nation's commitment to the values of democracy and equality. In each chapter, they tell the story of a critical decision, exploring the historical and legal context of each case, the Court's reasoning, and how the justices of the Warren Court fulfilled the Court's most important responsibilities. This powerfully argued evaluation of the Warren Court's legacy, in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the end of the Warren Court, both celebrates and defends the Warren Court's achievements against almost sixty-five years of unrelenting and unwarranted attacks by conservatives. It demonstrates not only why the Warren Court's approach to constitutional interpretation was correct and admirable, but also why the approach of the Warren Court was far superior to that of the increasingly conservative justices who have dominated the Supreme Court over the past half-century.
|Author||: Mark Tushnet,Mark A. Graber,Sanford Levinson|
|Editor||: Oxford University Press|
The Oxford Handbook of the U.S. Constitution offers a comprehensive overview and introduction to the U.S. Constitution from the perspectives of history, political science, law, rights, and constitutional themes, while focusing on its development, structures, rights, and role in the U.S. political system and culture. This Handbook enables readers within and beyond the U.S. to develop a critical comprehension of the literature on the Constitution, along with accessible and up-to-date analysis. The historical essays included in this Handbook cover the Constitution from 1620 right through the Reagan Revolution to the present. Essays on political science detail how contemporary citizens in the United States rely extensively on political parties, interest groups, and bureaucrats to operate a constitution designed to prevent the rise of parties, interest-group politics and an entrenched bureaucracy. The essays on law explore how contemporary citizens appear to expect and accept the exertions of power by a Supreme Court, whose members are increasingly disconnected from the world of practical politics. Essays on rights discuss how contemporary citizens living in a diverse multi-racial society seek guidance on the meaning of liberty and equality, from a Constitution designed for a society in which all politically relevant persons shared the same race, gender, religion and ethnicity. Lastly, the essays on themes explain how in a "globalized" world, people living in the United States can continue to be governed by a constitution originally meant for a society geographically separated from the rest of the "civilized world." Whether a return to the pristine constitutional institutions of the founding or a translation of these constitutional norms in the present is possible remains the central challenge of U.S. constitutionalism today.
|Author||: Ganesh Sitaraman|
"Argues that America's strong and sizable middle class is actually embedded in the framework of the nation's government and its founding document and discusses the necessity of taking equality-establishing measures, "--NoveList.