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324 of 346 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nothing like it has ever been written
For what my opinion is worth, this is one of the most important books of the past 25 years. There is absolutely nothing like it, anywhere.

This is not another of the toothless and forgettable laments about the death of the Constitution at the hands of activist judges that we read from time to time from the right-wing pundit class, though of course author Kevin...
Published on June 12, 2007 by Thomas Woods

versus
20 of 25 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good in the areas it addresses but too narrow in scope
The areas that this book covers are generally covered well; however, I was hoping for a book that was broader in scope. It really ought to be called "The Politically Incorrect Guide to Judicial Tyranny" or something to that effect as this is the area that the author focuses the most on.

The author did do a good job covering judicial tyranny and explaining how...
Published on September 15, 2008 by The Actor


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324 of 346 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nothing like it has ever been written, June 12, 2007
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This review is from: The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Constitution (Politically Incorrect Guides) (Paperback)
For what my opinion is worth, this is one of the most important books of the past 25 years. There is absolutely nothing like it, anywhere.

This is not another of the toothless and forgettable laments about the death of the Constitution at the hands of activist judges that we read from time to time from the right-wing pundit class, though of course author Kevin Gutzman decries both of these things. This is a far more sweeping, much more fundamentally devastating indictment of the Supreme Court, of the "legal training" that raises up ever more people to perpetuate its record of dishonesty and usurpation, and of the American regime at large -- which rests on the legal fictions Gutzman shreds in his book.

To those who weep over the Constitution's neglect these past 50 or 100 years, Gutzman shows that defiance of that document has gone on from the beginning, starting in the 1790s. An expert on colonial and early republican Virginia -- and who has been published in all the major professional journals -- Gutzman knows the Virginia ratifying convention inside and out. He knows the promises made to the people, and the assurances that Virginia's ratifiers inserted into that state's ratification instrument. And he shows that Jefferson and his allies were faithful to those principles and promises, and that the so-called Federalists and their present-day apologists (which includes just about everybody) were not.

John Marshall, Chief Justice of the United States from 1801 to 1835, comes in for some serious scholarly thrashing as well. Marshall is all too typically held up as an idol before conservatives and even libertarians, and he remains a central icon of early American history. For Gutzman, Marshall is an outright opponent -- and a dishonest one at that -- of the legal principles on which the people of the states were promised their new government would be based. Where else can you find such an iconoclastic portrayal?

Gutzman also treats a great many politically incorrect subjects from a constitutional perspective. I won't spoil the surprise by giving everything away, but if you happen to have a thing for being told the truth rather than lies, you'll read and cheer.

It's going to be fun to watch the so-called constitutional lawyers try to attack Gutzman's book. Gutzman, who holds a law degree as well as a Ph.D. in history, is uniquely positioned to parry any such attacks: unlike his opponents he actually knows early American history, not just a string of unfounded Supreme Court decisions purporting to be "constitutional law." (This is one reason, Gutzman says, that "legal training should not be confused with an education.")

Although I was revisiting much familiar ground as I read this book, even I was shocked at how dishonest the federal courts have been over the years. And Gutzman just eviscerates all of it, slashing and burning everything in sight, and holding up the ludicrous series of fictions that pass for "constitutional law" to hilarious derision.

Gutzman isn't supposed to do any of this, of course, since the continuation of the racket depends on popular ignorance. To the legal establishment he is like the man who shouts out in the middle of the show how the magician is really sawing the woman in half.

This book, the most Jeffersonian constitutional history ever written, is an absolute MUST. It will leave you gasping for air.
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94 of 98 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars From the other side of the aisle, June 15, 2007
By 
M. May (Brookfield, CT) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Constitution (Politically Incorrect Guides) (Paperback)
I am admittedly far more liberal and "politically correct" than many of the readers this book will initially attract. That should not discourage anyone from engaging with Prof. Gutzman's lively interpretation of the Court and the Constitution. His deep concern about the meaning of law and the ideas which shape this nation make this an outstanding work. I would recommend this to anyone interested in Constitutional history and the debates which inform our understanding of law.
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72 of 77 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and Informative, June 18, 2007
By 
Sean Busick (Athens, Alabama) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Constitution (Politically Incorrect Guides) (Paperback)
The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Constitution is one of the best concise introductions to the Constitution. Dr. Gutzman, who is an expert on early American politics, has condensed two semesters worth of constitutional history into a brief and lively volume. If you have ever wondered how the Supreme Court reaches its decisions, or what relationship those decisions actually bear to the Constitution as ratified by the Founders, this is the book for you. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in constitutional history and especially those who are considering law school.
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40 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Restore the Constitution!, June 18, 2007
This review is from: The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Constitution (Politically Incorrect Guides) (Paperback)
Breathtaking! Irrefutable! Erudite! The _Politically Incorrect Guide to the Constitution_ can help remove the shackles of constitution misinterpretation and error from the thoughtful reader! In a mere 221 pages of entertaining and perceptive text, Dr. Gutzman encourages a major reaffirmation of the American constitutional and political tradition. In other words, if you are a student of law, American politics, political theory, or American history, or a concerned citizen, you can overcome the "myth of [constitutional] incomprehensibility" promoted by professors and pundits alike. The problems that result from studying the Constitution by the "case method" are also exposed.

As a gifted historian and lawyer, Gutzman allows the reader to uncover the genuine and potentially-viable core of the American constitutional tradition: diffused authority. He traces the core tradition from the Colonial Era, to the Declaration of Independence, to the Articles of Confederation, to the Constitutional Convention and equally vital Ratification Period, and onward, while uncovering the litany of errors and false hagiography of previous scholarship (his treatment of James Madison and John Marshall alone are worth the price of the book!).

Most importantly, this book provides a significant critique of just how far we have departed from the American constitutional tradition. Utilizing as many Supreme Court decisions as one would fine in a standard law textbook, but presenting these decisions in a more historically accurate and exceeding readable format, you cannot afford to ignore this book!

H. Lee Cheek, Jr., Ph.D.

[...]
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54 of 63 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars FINALLY!!! Someone has put it all together, June 14, 2007
By 
ZXZXZX "ZXZXZX" (San Francisco, CA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Constitution (Politically Incorrect Guides) (Paperback)
Finally someone has written a book which strikes at the core of the illegitimate (unconstitutional) present form of govnerment in the United States. Many attempts to write a book like this have failed. (Though William Watkin's "Reclaiming the American Revolution" would be a good follow up after reading Dr. Gutzman's book as an introduction). Books written by such authors as Andrew Napolitano advocate using federal judicial power to serve "conservative" ends; such as the national "liberty of contract" doctrine the federal courts conjured during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. "Liberty of contract" was complete nonsense from a constitutional standpoint (as Dr. Gutzman makes clear). Napolitano would like to see "substantive due process" (based on the 14th amendment-- "ratified" at gunpoint) used for policy purposes he prefers. In this regard, Napolitano's policy based judicial philosophy is akin to the kind of philosophy which Gutzman shows to have destroyed our federal system of government. To my knowledge this is the first book which clearly rips apart the US Supreme Court's "incorporation doctrine," which turned a shield erected by the states against their agent, the "federal" government, into a weapon the federal courts use against the states, the people, and local self-government.

Two key things Dr. Gutzman left out of his "incorporation doctrine" discussion are (i) the preamble to the bill of rights, (ii) a discussion of the 9th amendment, and (iii) the lost history of the 9th amendment.

(i) According to the preamble to the federal bill of rights, "THE Conventions of a number of the States having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best insure the beneficent ends of its institution." So essentially, the bill of rights was put in place "to prevent misconstruction or abuse" of federal power. Though Dr. Gutzman doesn't specifically mention the preamble, he does a masterful job of explaining that the bill of rights is only supposed to protect individual liberties from interference by the federal government by making clear that Congress can only pass laws pursuant to its enumerated delegation of legislative power spelled out in Article I Section VIII. The states wanted to reserve power, not to grant additional power to the fed. As Dr. Gutzman also shows, the 14th Amendment, despite not being ratified pursuant to Article V, did nothing to change the plain meaning of the bill of rights.

(ii) Dr. Gutzman focuses plenty on the 10th amendment, which Jefferson considered the "cornerstone" of the Constitution, but he seems to neglect the 9th amendment. The 9th basically says that just because certain rights have been listed in the first 8 amendments does not mean that other rights are not also protected from federal interference. To illustrate, the 2nd amendment was put in place because of what happened yesterday (June 13, 2007- the US House passed a law placing new restrictions on gun owners). This gun law is not "necessary and proper to carry into execution" any of the enumerated powers delegated to Congress. The 2nd amendment, in lehman's terms, says, Congress, you don't have authority to pass restrictions on the right of the people to keep and bear arms. Just so that you (Congress) don't get any crazy ideas, you're explictly barred from passing this law by the 2nd amendment. The 9th amendment would protect the right to bear arms from federal interference if the 2nd amendment didn't exist. The 9th and 10th amendments were really meant to work together to make it clear that Congress is strictly restricted to its enumerated powers. If Congress wanted more legislative power, Congress would have to ask for the power and the states would have to delegate that power (pursuant to Article V).

(iii) In brief, 12 amendments were sent out to the states in 1791, but only 10 were ratified. The 9th Amendment was originally called "Article the eleventh" since it was #11 in the list of 12. There was extensive early case law on the 9th amendment, but it was still referred to as "article the eleventh" in those days. When Gutzman discusses the destructive effect of court decisions from the 1960s, the Supreme Court couldn't find case law on the 9th amendment. Believing that there was a clean slate on 9th amendment law, the Supreme Court felt that it could create law. This sad accident of legal history isn't mentioned in Gutzman's book, but it has been studied extensively by Kurt Lash.

-----------------------------

From the fraudulent reassurances which the so-called "Federalists" perpetrated on the state ratification conventions, to John Marshall's destructive nationalist agenda, to the War for Southern Independence, to the consolidation of all power in Washington DC during the 1930s via the destruction of the commerce clause, through the court's arbitrary decisions of the 1960s--- Dr. Gutzman puts together the most objective and historically accurate introduction available for those interested in learning why things in Washington don't seem to make sense.

After reading this excellent book, you might find yourself filled with a desire to see the Supreme Court building razed to the ground. However, the only real solution to the problem of judicial (and federal) usurpation is through the threat of secession. Jefferson warned that if the federal government was made the final judge of its own powers that the federal government, and not the constitution, would be the supreme law of the land. Jefferson was right. The Declaration of Independence explains how to fix things... but in the meantime a good initial step in righting the ship (other than repealing the 16th and 17th amendments) would be to elect Dr. Ron Paul as President. Maybe Dr. Gutzman should run as his Vice-President?
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Talk about some inconvenient truths..., July 26, 2007
This review is from: The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Constitution (Politically Incorrect Guides) (Paperback)
I have taken classes in Constitutional Law as an undergraduate and now in law school, and they don't teach us any of this! While I was somewhat familiar with some of this book's inconvenient truths regarding the (d)evolution of our Constitution, never have I seen them put together in such a succinct way. By cataloging the changes in Constitutional doctrine in the context of historical trends, Mr. Gutzman does a masterful job of explaining how we got the Constitution we have today. The context he provides for (in)famous Court decisions over the years gives the reader a new perspective on the "cornerstone cases" of American Constitutional Law. This should be mandatory reading for any law student or citizen who wants a different explanation from that promulgated by "mainstream" Constitutional theorists and college professors.
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38 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must-Read for All Americans, June 28, 2007
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This review is from: The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Constitution (Politically Incorrect Guides) (Paperback)
Author and scholar Thomas Wood's review really says it all, and far better than I can. Simply put, this book is a necessary read for all of us. It traces the history of the awful power and capriciousness of the U.S. Supreme Court; it exposes our pathetic and dangerous lack of education and knowledge of the Constitution; it reminds us of the all-but-forgotten principles of "states' rights"; it correctly notes the ongoing failings of our law schools, which produce endless attorneys virtually ignorant of the Constitution's meaning and intent.

I suggest you read the review by "ZXZXZX" for a few important specifics.

After reading this book you will wonder how much better a country we would have today, how much more freedom we would enjoy, if our national government had chosen to adhere to the Constitution, instead of ignoring and subverting it.
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28 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Going Hog Wild for the Constitution, July 23, 2007
By 
Ross E. Nelson (Casselton, North Dakota United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Constitution (Politically Incorrect Guides) (Paperback)
What a treat this book is to read, even if you have to give up some cherished myths. You'll never see James Madison in the same light again, wishy-washy as he was. You'll understand the vital importance of the states as founders of the federal government and without peer in their own spheres. Dr. Gutzman interrogates the 14th Amendment and finds it did not mandate Brown v. Board of Education or anything like unto it.

He also illustrates how quickly the rot set in after the Constitution's ratification--just a few years, in fact. And while I'd read criticism of John Marshall's expansionist view of the great compact before, none of it compares to Dr. Gutzman's readable and clear demolition job. This book is enlightening in just about every field of thought that concerns the Constitution and its overthrow by the various courts.

There is a quibble to be made about how the book portrays Chief Justice Taney's Dred Scott decision. I cannot but see that Taney was correct about slavery, the Constitution, and the founders. That Amendments 13-15 were passed clearly points out that there was a perceived need to rectify the Constitution in regard to slavery. Perhaps Taney should have kept his mouth shut, but it looks like he spoke truth.

I also can't understand why so many conservatives have a problem with privacy as a right. Granted, privacy was absurdly warped into a ground for justifying abortion, but the abuse of a right doesn't mean that right doesn't exist. Dr. Gutzman claims the right to privacy is nowhere to be found in the Constitution, but in this I think he's wrong. The 9th Amendment states that the rights mentioned in the Constitution do not exhaust the rights of the people, and surely being left alone, of not being an object the government can spy on without cause, is one of the greatest liberties we could enjoy.

These flaws don't overshadow this book's enormous power to smash myths and set things right. It's a combination textbook, reference work, and just plain enjoyable reading. Though not a long book, it points the reader in the right directions both in its own right, and in areas of further study that it unfolds.
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30 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Constitution and why none of it matters, September 16, 2007
This review is from: The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Constitution (Politically Incorrect Guides) (Paperback)
There's not a lot about the Constitution, per se, in "The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Constitution." Most everyone knows the structural stuff -- three branches, elections in November, blah blah -- and the rest ... well, the rest hardly matters anymore.

Thomas Woods has already produced an excellent "Politically Incorrect Guide to American History," but "The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Constitution" necessarily includes a good deal of history to explain why we've reached that point. The fundamental point of Kevin Gutzman's outstanding book is that "constitutional law" as understood and taught in the US has little if anything to do with the document adopted on September 17, 1787, and ratified by the several states over the next three years. Instead, "constitutional law" is the body of decisions and "interpretations" issued by the Supreme Court and lower courts. It's this idea of "law," and the impact it has had on the republic the founders created, that is the real object of Gutzman's study.

The resulting book is spirited, opinionated, and remarkably informative. Out of more than two centuries of jurisprudence, the author has isolated some important themes and trends. Long after the Federalist Party was dead and buried, John Marshall and his intellectual heirs have succeeded in achieving the arch-Federalist goal, Gutzman argues, of turning a confederation of sovereign states into a centralized nation, and replacing "the authority of elected state governments with the authority of a few lawyers, appointed by a president to positions of lifetime tenure without any check on their power" (p. 86).

Along the way, he introduces us to some key personalities and calls out some important suggested reading. Most importantly, he gives us chapter-and-verse examples of how courts, particularly the Supreme Court, have twisted, distorted, "interpreted," or ignored the clear language of the Constitution to gild judges' own opinions with the luster of "constitutional law."

By making these arguments and charting these trends, Gutzman is taking on generations of America's legal establishment, as well as the received wisdom of most citizens that the word of the federal Supreme Court is final and that's just the way it's supposed to be. A reader who takes Gutzman's work seriously (and she should), may well end up both outraged and convinced that achieving any fundamental change would be an exceptionally Sisyphean task. Certainly it should make her sympathetic to the great American abolitionist and anarchist philosopher Lysander Spooner, who wrote way back in 1870 that "whether the Constitution really be one thing or another, this much is certain -- that it has either authorized such a government as we have had, or has been powerless to prevent it. In either case, it is unfit to exist."

Today is Constitution Day. Take a moment to remember what was meant to be, and what could have been.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An important and decidedly non-partisan review of our historical failure to heed the Constitution., February 12, 2009
By 
M. Strong (Milwaukee, WI USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Constitution (Politically Incorrect Guides) (Paperback)
One of the most glaring deficiencies in our federal government today is it's complete disregard for the set of rules that should govern its behavior, limiting its power and scope: the Constitution. Today, it's unpopular to say government isn't the best solution to our country's deep problems. But Gutzman, like a man willing to state publicly that he likes the music of Van Halen with Sammy Hagar singing lead, is willing to tell the truth even when it goes against the grain.

Perhaps if we'd heeded the Constitution in the first place and the Federal Reserve had never been unconstitutionally created, Alan Greenspan wouldn't have been able to set artificially low interest rates in the early 2000s, extending the life and size of a financial bubble that desperately needed deflating, regardless of the inevitable pain to financial markets. Perhaps too, quasi-government agencies like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac wouldn't have existed or been forced to make home loans to unqualified borrowers.

The benefits to our country of adhering to the Constitution would be real and immediate and few people have the courage and thoughtfulness to articulate that point as clearly as Gutzman does in this book.

I rate the book four stars, instead of five because of my firm belief in the sanctity of freedom, civil rights and liberty. As Gutzman rightfully points out, consistent application of the Constitution doesn't automatically lead immediately to greater freedoms. He refers specifically to the specious judicial legerdemain of the Supreme Court regarding civil rights. While it has brought more freedom to some in our country, it did so by blatantly usurping powers the Constitution clearly leaves to the states or individual citizens. I think civil rights is an important enough facet of American society for Gutzman to then explain how it could have been achieved with Constitutional legitimacy. While I'm sure Gutzman addresses this point in other writings, I think it should have been quickly addressed here.

It's great to read such an impartial call for the application of our Constitution as its ratifiers intended it. Gutzman points out many historic examples of both parties abusing the Constitution when it served their needs.

I highly recommend this book. Adherence to our Constitution would have helped us avoid many of our nation's current problems, and excitingly, can still help us find our way back onto the right track.

Better?
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