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Six Amendments: How and Why We Should Change the Constitution Hardcover – April 22, 2014
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"Informative and very appealing....It's classic justice Stevens: understated and generous to those he differs with, but absolutely clear on where he believes justice lies."
--- Adam Cohen, Time
"Laced with observations on the court's architecture, traditions and even its seating arrangements, it is the collected ruminations of a man who has served his country in war and peace, across the decades... His memoir is as gracious as its author and a reminder that Stevens is more than a longtime member of the nation's highest court. He is a national treasure."
--- Jim Newton, Los Angeles Times
"An important addition to American history....At its core, the book is not just another memoir from yet another judge. It marks instead the end of an era on the Supreme Court and in the broader swath of American law and politics."
--- Andrew Cohen, The Atlantic
"Coming from the last of a dying breed of jurists who genuinely believe you can learn something from everyone if you just listen hard enough, it is a lesson in how, at the Supreme Court, civility and cordiality matter more, even, than doctrine."
--- Dahlia Lithwick, Washington Post
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Top Customer Reviews
After a quick review of the successful amendments thus far, Stevens proceeds to a discussion of the Supremacy Clause and whether the federal government can compel state officials to enforce federal law, given that the language specifically calls out judges ("and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby"); he recommends adding the words "and other public officials", with the reasoning that often state officials are in the best position to enforce federal law. Stevens clearly considers this to be a clarification rather than a change, but one which would overturn past rulings of the court.
The second chapter moves on to what I would consider one of the greatest threats to democracy: political gerrymandering.Read more ›
Here are the four most significant:
1)Gerrymandering: Congressional districts, as well as those at the state level, shall be compact and composed of contiguous territory.
2)Campaign Finance: Congress, not any state, will be not prohibited from imposing reasonable limits on the amount of money that candidates for public office, or their supporters, may spend in election campaigns.
3)Death Penalty: The death penalty shall not be inflicted.
4)The Second Amendment: 'A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms when serving in the Militia shall not be infringed.
What he doesn't propose amending, however, is the difficulty in amending the Constitution - very likely a fatal oversight. It takes two-thirds of both houses of Congress or state legislatures to propose an amendment and three-fourths of the legislatures to approve it. In today's environment it's almost impossible to even get a simple majority of both houses of Congress.
After a prologue which is a quick run through the present lineup of constitutional amendments, Stevens in the initial chapter turns to the "anti-commandeering rule." The supremacy clause of the Constitution (Art. VI, Cl. 2) imposed a duty on state judges to implement and apply federal law as superior to state law. Recently, the issue has arisen whether state officials in addition to judges can be required to implement federal law. The background-checking provisions of gun-control legislation is a prime example. Recent Supreme Courts have imposed an area of state immunity from federal statutes, arguing that the supremacy clause only specifies judges are bound by it. Justice Stevens thinks this approach is inappropriate and would modify the clause to include all "public officials." The only problem with this chapter is that it throws a lot of case law at the reader, since many of the problems Stevens sees are the result of Supreme Court decisions.Read more ›
Unfortunately his editor didn't sit down and explain to Justice Stevens that he was writing FOR THE EDUCATED LAYMAN...not for attorneys. The brief quotes in the book from opinions written by other justices and judges including Justice Scalia, Chief Justice Marshall, Court of Appeals Judge Kavanagh, show vividly Justice Steven's poor writing style in contrast to their styles. Whether his ideas are good or bad is a separate matter and forget these conservative-fascist smear comments..the book itself is simply not for anyone who is not a lawyer.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Incite full, scholarly and legally well thought out. All this and written so both lawyers and laymen can appreciate the force of his arguments.Published 26 days ago by Michael Youdin
Another farce by a mole in our shadow government spouting off so called progressive BS. What is worse than a Justice who is suppose to be impartial to politics and sides and will... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Verified Amazon Customer
Clearly written to present recommendations to address some very important issues but the focus is not on "the people" but on adding subtle revisions to enhance federal authority. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Bob Esp
SUGGESTION: Get from the library if you want to read it; it's unlikely to be in high demand. If you really want to own it, wait a year, and it will be in the discount bin for... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Johnathan
I found Justice Stevens' great book thought-provoking and a welcome step in the direction of cleaning up some points of confusion and even injustice in the administration of our... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Robert D. Barwick
Both sides of the aisle discussed.
Recommendations have value to be debated.
A very interesting perspective on reforming the Supreme Court.... It's a bit wonky but I enjoyed it. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Joseph Laiacona