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Amending America: If We Love the Constitution So Much, Why Do We Keep Trying to Change It? Paperback – April 27, 1995

5 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Though the title may sound frivolous, this is a sober, straightforward history of the process of amending the Constitution, augmented by analysis from Bernstein, coauthor of Are We to Be a Nation?: The Making of the Constitution. Bernstein is an able, anecdotal guide to the debates and conflicts over each amendment. He addresses the unsuccessful efforts by states to enact the Equal Rights Amendment and discusses the amendments concerning the flag and the English language that were rejected by Congress. He reflects on how amendments have changed the presidency and judiciary, and, thus, the nature of government. Though his chapter on proposals to rewrite the Constitution seems sketchy, Bernstein, prompted by the 1992 passage of an obscure amendment (about the timing of legislators' salary increases) proposed in 1789, intriguingly explores how several unresolved issues "haunt the Constitution's amending process." Coauthor Agel has collaborated with authors Carl Sagan and Marshall McLuhan, among others.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

From its ratification in 1789 to the present day, the U.S. Constitution has been amended 27 times. According to the authors, over 10,000 more amendments have been debated and rejected. As Bernstein and Agel correctly argue, amending the nation's most fundamental legal and political document is not a trivial issue. Fortunately, they give it the serious attention it deserves. Focusing on the amending article, Article V, the writers stress the salient fact that when we change the Constitution we change the country itself. Emphasizing the critical connection between constitutional language and national aspirations, Bernstein and Agel have produced an excellent work about an often-ignored issue. Any future work will have to begin with this fine book. Recommended for all libraries.
- Stephen K. Shaw, Northwest Nazarine Coll., Nampa, Id.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 415 pages
  • Publisher: Univ Pr of Kansas; Reissue edition (April 27, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0700607153
  • ISBN-13: 978-0700607150
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,103,880 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

By Ronald Brackney on September 15, 2008
Format: Paperback
I am disappointed to see only one review of this book (repeated two more times). This book was nominated for the Pulitzer, Parker and Bancroft
book prizes as was Mr. Bernstein's book "Are We to Be a Nation?"
Mr. Bernstein is a professor at New York Law School and gives the reader
a scholarly but highly readable and easily understandable treatise on
our Constitution and especially the Bill of Rights. The Bill of Rights
IS about "individual rights" and the author explains in detail why this
is so. This book should be required reading for any college course on
the U.S. Constitution in my opinion and for any citizen wanting to understand what America is all about.
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Format: Paperback
I drafted the Supreme Court petition questioning the legality of a people's initiative which purportedly sought to amend the 1987 Philippine Constitution which was our first democratic constitution after the dictator President Ferdinand Marcos was exiled (Santiago v. COMELEC). One of my main references for the petition was this book of which I am deeply indebted for valuable research in U.S. constitutional law and legal history. It discussed exhaustively and in a very provoking manner, the challenges posed by amendments to the immutable nature of the constitution as fundamental law of the land. Our petition, which sought to deny the proposed amendments by way of a people's initiative, differentiated between piecemeal amendments and a revision of the Constitution. I argued that if the amendments sought would ultimately change the form of government, then it should be considered a revision. Our petition was granted by the Supreme Court and became a landmark case in Philippine history. It also found its way as a bar exam question. This book was my guidepost as I drafted the petition in the wee hours of morning in view of the urgency for a Supreme Court ruling on the matter and to avert an impending national crisis and another coup d'etat. The legal luminaries of this country have hailed Richard Bernstein and Jerome Agel's book as the most persuasive and thought provoking treatise on the subject.
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Format: Hardcover
I drafted the Supreme Court petition questioning the legality of a people's initiative which purportedly sought to amend the 1987 Philippine Constitution which was our first democratic constitution after the dictator President Ferdinand Marcos was exiled (Santiago v. COMELEC). One of my main references for the petition was this book of which I am deeply indebted for valuable research in U.S. constitutional law and legal history. It discussed exhaustively and in a very provoking manner, the challenges posed by amendments to the immutable nature of the constitution as fundamental law of the land. Our petition, which sought to deny the proposed amendments by way of a people's initiative, differentiated between piecemeal amendments and a revision of the Constitution. I argued that if the amendments sought would ultimately change the form of government, then it should be considered a revision. Our petition was granted by the Supreme Court and became a landmark case in Philippine history. It also found its way as a bar exam question. This book was my guidepost as I drafted the petition in the wee hours of morning in view of the urgency for a Supreme Court ruling on the matter and to avert an impending national crisis and another coup d'etat. The legal luminaries of this country have hailed Richard Bernstein and Jerome Agel's book as the most persuasive and thought provoking treatise on the subject.
Comment 3 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Paperback
I drafted the Supreme Court petition questioning the legality of a people's initiative which purportedly sought to amend the 1987 Philippine Constitution which was our first democratic constitution after the dictator President Ferdinand Marcos was exiled (Santiago v. COMELEC). One of my main references for the petition was this book of which I am deeply indebted for valuable research in U.S. constitutional law and legal history. It discussed exhaustively and in a very provoking manner, the challenges posed by amendments to the immutable nature of the constitution as fundamental law of the land. Our petition, which sought to deny the proposed amendments by way of a people's initiative, differentiated between piecemeal amendments and a revision of the Constitution. I argued that if the amendments sought would ultimately change the form of government, then it should be considered a revision. Our petition was granted by the Supreme Court and became a landmark case in Philippine history. It also found its way as a bar exam question. This book was my guidepost as I drafted the petition in the wee hours of morning in view of the urgency for a Supreme Court ruling on the matter and to avert an impending national crisis and another coup d'etat. The legal luminaries of this country have hailed Richard Bernstein and Jerome Agel's book as the most persuasive and thought provoking treatise on the subject.
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