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on July 13, 2015
Through this epic history, Dean Kramer reminds us of the tradition (as old as our Republic) that We The People are the supreme authority to interpret--explain and shape--the Constitution of the United States.
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on May 6, 2015
Excelent
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on October 10, 2009
It's troubling to witness this slate of erudite reviewers' inability thus far to understand basic constitutionalism so effusively explained by Madison and Jefferson.

'The People Themselves' is one of the most trenchant studies by a living author, regarding the intersection of politics and the U.S. Constitution (primordial law) in America. The pity is that every reviewer here thus far pleads (petitio principii) on false premises.

One earlier reviewer comments that the book "support(s) Madison's concession that the 'states only political recourse [over the federal courts] is through elections and impeachment'," and that Kramer hints of other (political) possibilities at controlling our out of control federal judiciary.

Yes; and the operative word is POLITICAL. What everyone here seems to be missing -- but Madison, Jefferson, and even Hamilton (see Federalist 28) -- did not, is that WE THE PEOPLE have LEGAL as well as political recourse when our federal creature slips its leash.

The *petitio principii* that I alluded to earlier, the malady of political parasites like Newt Gingrich and most constitutional law gurus, is that while Madison (who should certainly know best) asserts the almost unlimited prerogatives of the sovereign People and sovereign States, and while his "Principles of '98" were echoed by Jefferson, suggesting VERTICAL checks and balances by the creators over the federal creature -- every reviewer here misses the idea of true federalism: 'judicial review' in the STATE courts, the highest courts to review violations of the US Constitution by the federal creature.

If performed severally against individual members of Congress, THAT 'judicial review' (mere law enforcement) will meet the tests laid down by Madison and Jefferson.

Such law enforcement on a regular basis can, for the first time in history, satisfy the stated *desiderata* of both the Federalists (so-called) and the Anti-Federalists (so-called). Reviewer Ronald Clark asks, "How would 'popular constitutionalism' operate within our current system? That is, how would the people's will be communicated to the courts and Congress, so they could interpret the Constitution and statutes accordingly?" Within our current system, popular constitutionalism -- any constitutionalism at all -- is impossible.

I founded an organization called AmericaAgain!, a three-pronged Popular Sovereignty offensive designed for The People Themselves to exercise full-time oversight of our servants in Congress right from our mobile devices or home computers. Tactical force-massing by US congressional district...intrastate actions against felonies committed by those politicians. Forcing through passage 20 very powerful legislative reforms. The first of the 20 reform laws: we bring them home to work under our gaze instead of huddling daily against us in D.C. with mercantilist masters and their lobbyists (satisfying Amendment XX by allowing them a brief meeting at noon every January 3rd in D.C.). We intend to cut the size of government by direct power of the purse, to precisely those services that We The People enumerated *specifically* in Article I, Section 8.

THAT is popular constitutionalism from now on, from our homes, on OUR terms. The most efficacious 'judicial review' of all, in this Internet age, will take place in state courts -- the higher tribunals when the accused is a federal actor and resident of his own state, plundering his own sovereigns.

Tactically breaking up Congress, bringing members home to work from here -- and keeping them home to face the Court of their sovereign state, to be tried now SEVERALLY for criminal violations either of the U.S. Constitution or of his/her STATE criminal statutes. Totally in line with what We The People set out in the supreme law.

Read the Supremacy Clause carefully, without Justice Marshall's 1803 dictum ringing in your ears. The stipulation that "the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby" means they have as much a duty to ENFORCE the Constitution against a federal actor resident of that state, as they have a duty to OBEY the Constitution themselves.

Unlike the recent crop of 10th Amendment lawsuits by states against federal usurpation, and Obama administration lawsuits against states exercising their retained powers under the Constitution, the AmericaAgain! Indictment Engine(TM) will finally put teeth in those quaint vestigial organs, the Ninth and Tenth Amendments, not with guns in the streets, but via the Courts of the sovereign States.

As I explain in my book, This Bloodless Liberty, the 'judicial' watershed portended by Justice Marshall's dictum in Marbury and attained in Dred Scott was a MILITARY, not a judicial coup. The War to Enslave the States achieved the mercantilists' grail: bringing all Americans under a central State by splitting a formerly liberty-loving Christian population into equal opposing armies. As long as the internecine war could be maintained, ALL bank accounts could be quietly skimmed. A brilliant plan.

After the smoke from Lincoln's cannons cleared, the ingenious donkey-elephant WWF match took the place of the North-South contest to the death. The political parties are multi-billion-dollar career machines; a theater of distractions for piss-stained groundlings.

Absent a vertical check on Congress' RICO operations, given that the inferior federal courts are the creatures of OUR creature, Congress...no amount of professorial gymnastics by the constitutional law guild can break Leviathan's hold on Americans. It's up to The People Themselves -- through our state grand juries, prosecutors, and judges in the thousands of state court districts across the republic. That process will pick up momentum in inverse proportion to Tea Party mania, which will grow weak and stale over time.

Dean Kramer does a masterful job re-framing Madison's thesis for our generation. The book should be required reading for all who support the Tenth Amendment and constitutional rule of law. As Madison and Jefferson reiterated exhaustively, our creature cannot check itself; the states MUST do so, and the People must see that the states do so! Ours is the final authority, if we can only harness it through lawful and constitutional means. This is the mission of AmericaAgain! (America Again Now, all one word, dot com).

The very idea of judicial review by the SCOTUS is ludicrous; it has stood in collusion with the other two servant branches -- in counterfeiting since 1871, and in lawless overthrow of sovereign island nations since 1894. It has enabled the executive branch to invade, claim, and/or control 640 million acres of our sovereign state land and natural resources by blithely jumping the fence we constructed around it in Article I, Section 8, Clause 17 and then by excising the last sentence in Article IV, Section 3, Clause 2 to grant Congress perpetual power that We The People *specifically* retain for the States in those final words of that clause.

In their state charters, some of the mendicant states gave up the ground (literally) back then. But it was not theirs to give, if We The People see it differently. Law enforcement is neither a popularity contest nor a majoritarian enterprise. If even half of 1% of We The People have the sense and courage to live out Popular Sovereignty by *enforcing* rule of law via *either* servant government as required -- precisely what Hamilton offered in his 28th Federalist warranty language -- we will prevail.

But as Larry Kramer so clearly sets out, this is a duty and a power lodged in no other place than The People Themselves. Any American truly concerned about the state of the republic and of our Constitution, needs to read Kramer's book with highlighter in hand, and with a determination to put his bracing words into action.
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on August 10, 2009
At the outset, I should say that anyone who is interested in constitutional development and/or theory ought to read this book. It is well-written, creative, and thought-provoking. On the other hand, I cannot help but feel that the author wrote two books, one of which was long (the historical part) and one of which was very short (the normative part). I'm still not clear on how Kramer envisions judicial review w/out judicial supremacy in practice and I also think that he may underestimate the risks of undermining judicial supremacy, which, for better or for worse, Americans have gotten used to. I just wish that he had better defended some of the normative claims that he made in the last chapter, which I found to be the most interesting part of the book, and really engaged the owrries that Tribe and Dworkin (and many others) have raised about more popular forms of constitutionalism. I would be surprised if Kramer would be pleased by Newt Gingrich's favorable review of his book; it shows that popular constitutionalism may have conservative political implications that someone like Kramer would be hesitant to embrace. Indeed, many left-leaning law professors are attracted to various forms of popular constitutionalism in the first place, precisely because they're so unhappy w/ a federal judiciary that is dominated by conservative jurists. At any rate, I highly recommend this book, and I would encourage the reader to make up his or her own mind about its merits.
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VINE VOICEon November 1, 2005
This is a very fine work of scholarship. The research is staggering in its comprehensiveness, and it is a definite contribution to the literature on the federal courts at a time when there is much attention being devoted to judicial power. The basic thesis of the book is that throughout American constitutional history, what the author terms "popular constitutionalism" has played a "pivotal role" in interpreting the Constitution. The author believes that "judicial supremacy" has caused a disfunction in the political system and needs to be offset by more attention to the expressions of popular direction in making interpretations. In order to argue his thesis, the author has produced a very valuable history of judicial review.

At the outset, the author carefully defines his terms, including "customary constitution," "fundamental law," "natural law" and "common law." Next the author moves on to a discussion of judicial review in England to try and demonstrate that no solid precedent for this practice had developed prior to the drafting of the Constitution. An excellent example of popular sovereignty is the fact that juries during this period often made findings of law as well as fact. The author devotes considerable attention to the purported pre-constitutional precedents for judicial review, finding them either to be overstated or misinterpreted. The historical record does disclose limited acceptance of the practice, but only in cases where the judiciary was protecting its own prerogatives. The author argues that the issue really did not come up very much at this point. Similarly, a solid discussion is devoted to the Constitutional convention and the ratification debates where, once again, the issue came up only sporadically.

The post-ratification period also is examined in several chapters. Once again, the author concludes that there was no clear consensus on the practice of judicial review. The emegence of political parties inhibited popular interpretation, since it placed a layer between the people and the government. However, Jacksonian opposition to the practice persisted. It is only after the Civil War, with the increasing professionalization of the bar and the enhanced conservatism of courts that the practice became recognized (after all, it was not until the Dred Scott decision in the 1850's that the Court again exercised the power it had staked out in Marbury v. Madison). The "Old Court's" abuse of the power was checkmated by the New Deal Settlement stemming from FDR's court-packing attempt. That is, the power would be exercised to review laws impacting individual right, but not Congressional powers such as commerce and general welfare. This compromise lasted until the Rehnquist Court.

There is a lot to consider in this volume. The author's arguments are well thought out and he is straightforward when discussing historical periods when the sentiment in favor of judicial review was pronounced. None of the arguments for judicial review (e.g.,avoiding the tyranny of the majority) persuades the author that the practice should continue without restraint. The only problem I found in the argument was not with the historical evidence (although I don't necessarily share the author's reading of the historical record) but in his conclusion. How would "popular constitutionalism" operate within our current system? That is, how would the people's will be communicated to the courts and Congress, so they could interpret the Constitution and statutes accordingly? Some discussion on this point strikes me as a necessity. For those without some background in the topic, the book may be a bit heavy going due to its comprehensiveness. But for illuminating an important historical approach to the judicial review issue, it is hard to surpass.
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on August 2, 2005
Kramer seems to think that we have strayed from the path of letting the People decide constitutional issues. There are significant reasons why Madison and others thought that would be a problem. Freedom of speech, for example, is something that the majority of voters or their representatives in congress would do away with in an instant if it weren't for the Supreme Court. Freedom of speech is fine until some group like the communists or the nazi party tries to exercise it, then legislators try to make laws saying they can't. In our constitution it is imperative to have a less political branch deciding these issues. Yes, the Supremes make unpopular decisions sometimes, but that is their job. Allowing the boneheads in congress to decide important constitutional issues would be folly. They would play to the lowest common denominator and have us giving away our rights in the name of God or security or morality. The Constitution has a way for the people to check the Supreme Court. We can impeach them or amend the constitution. Kramer's book looks back on the golden age in 1800 when we voted out a political party because of the unconstitutional laws they passed. Does he deny the havoc some poorly thought out laws could wreak in 21st century America? We don't have time to allow people to take away American's rights with the idea we might get them back in the next election.
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on April 11, 2005
Larry Kramer, Dean of the Stanford Law School, shows America
in this book the nature of judicial oppression and how it is
not consistant with the constitution. He also explains why
America has for so long been helpless before these tyrants in
robes and how to go about fixing the problem.

Liberals infiltrated the court system years ago. The socalist
FDR cemented their power in place when the Supreme
Court caved in to his threats. Once FDR had overthrown the
constitution, the liberals stepped into the void and reshaped
the court system. Our courts and judges are no longer American.
They are out to destroy America and all the values that America
is about.

The Liberal agenda is to destroy our Churches and the historic
role of God in Government. They want to replace our American
culture with the diseased culture of old-europe. They also want
to destroy the basic notion of right and wrong. Our so-called
judges make rulings every day in pursuit of these plans.

REAL America, the hardworking ordinary people, want nothing to
do with these diseased people and their ideas. So the Liberals
use the courts to force their system on America.

Kramer makes it clear that the neither the constitution or the
founding fathers intended for the courts to take on the role
they now have. The framers intended that the courts be a
junior branch of government which would take guidance from the
popularly elected congress and president as to what the
constitution means and how laws are to be enforced. They were
never given the power to tell congress what laws it could pass
or tell a president what he can (or can not) do.

The delusion known as judicial review though is just one of a
broader set of delusions. The founding fathers intended for
the bill of rights to protect the congress from an imperial
president and the states from the federal government. They
would find it utterly wrong to see individuals using the courts
to assert rights and having judges legislating from the bench
to give them rights.

The book also details in great length the first plot to use
the courts to take over America. The Federalists attempted
to set up a dicatorship from the bench. They jailed their
enemies and attemped to keep control of the country even though
they had lost the election. Thomas Jefferson acted as President
Bush should act now: He simply fired the judges and asserted
the power of the elected branches of goverment over that of
the court. If only both Bush brothers had been as brave as
Jefferson, Terry in Florida would be alive today.

The history the book lays out also shows that lifetime
appointments for judges are simply unworkable. No matter how
conservative or principled a man might seem before, when they
take up the post of judge power goes to their heads. Anthony
Kennedy is a case in point. Once he got on the court he turned
his back on everything he and his church believed in and became
a liberal. You can hardly
recognize him anymore. Same with Scaila who abandoned
Conservative Godly pro-life beliefs for libertarian nonsense.
Scaila isn't a liberal but his excessive zeal in the promotion
of rights people didn't know they needed isn't much better
than liberals like Anthony Kennedy. For every straight and true
man like Justice Thomas, there are a dozen conservatives who
turn into liberals once they get power.

Kramer is right on target in saying that congress and the
president need to both step in and put an end to this nonsense.
I think most of America had its wake-up call when they murdered
Terry. They can no longer blame it on one judge. The order to
murder her was effectively signed by all the courts in Florida,
a district court, the entire bench of a court of appeals and
the entire supreme court. They have thrown down the gauntlet
to the president and our elected congress. If they blink now,
the freedoms we value will be gone and replaced with rights we
never wanted.

Kramer rightly points out that the Supreme Court caused the
single worst tragedy in American history (the civil war). They
caused it by the Dred Scott decision. Other historians (M.
Levin) have demonstrated the historic role of the court in the
creating and maintaining slavery, segregation and bringing
racism into the constitution. It goes unsaid, but the total
number of deaths attributably to the tyranny of the supreme
court in both the civil war and "Roe v. Wade" is probably as
high as in many historical dicatatorships like Stalins. Its
time to act now because the court has started to make decisions
that undermine the war on terror. If the court steps in and
tries to free the masters of terror we have imprisoned at great
cost in blood and treasure, I fear for the survival of the
country.

The president and the congress, through elections, represent
America. They represent the views of the mainstream of America
about the constitution and the law. If liberals and power-mad
judges stand against them, they are standing against the popular
will of America and should be fired. Not impeached, but simply
fired.

The criminal gang of Athiests running the 9th Circuit need to be
done away with *in total*. Congress and the president should
simply abolish the entire circuit and tell the criminals on
that court that their services are no longer needed. There is
no place for people engaged in a war on God in our American
courts or government for that matter.

Kramer has written a guidebook for how the American people
through their leaders can take back their country from the
unelected courts. All that matters now is for our leaders
to step up and take the actions necessary to save the country
and to restore our freedom.
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VINE VOICEon January 24, 2005
Larry D. Kramer has constructed a masterful work here that belongs in every American's library. When it comes to subjects like judicial review, many author's, themselves often constitutional attorneys, have a tendency to go out of their way to try to write "over the head" of the political novice. Not the case with Kramer's work. He writes in a succinct fashion that will be appreciated by both judicial professionals and constitutional beginners alike.

Much evidence is found here which doesn't really repudiate, and in many ways, supports that judicial review was in fact, the intent of the framer's and perhaps even a logical conclusion. Kramer doesn't really attempt to defy the judiciary claim of their right of review, but beyond that point, Kramer takes the gloves off and pounds away at what he categorizes as "judicial tyranny", the court usurping it's constitutional boundaries.

Kramer details the 200 year evolution of the court's abuse of power, beginning before MARBURY when the idea of judicial review came into play, through what we find today with the judiciary legislating from the bench and completely dismissing state's rights. It is also most interesting how the author chronicles Madison's changing opinion of judicial review.

This book, in many ways, mirrors and supports the earlier work by Martyn Babitz, THE ILLUSION OF FREEDOM, where both authors support Madison's concession that the "states only political recourse [over the federal courts] is through elections and impeachment". But Kramer hints of other possibilities at controlling our out of control judiciary in his epilogue when he writes;

"The Constitution leaves room for countless political responses to an overly assertive Court: Justices can be impeached, the Court's budget can be slashed, the President can ignore its mandates, Congress can strip it of jurisdiction or shrink its size or pack it with new members or give it burdensome new responsibilities or revise its procedures."

Interesting possibilities, to be sure. In conclusion, I believe Kramer concedes judicial review as bona fide, but constructs a solid foundation to dispute the notion of judicial supremacy. This is a very enjoyable book that I learned a great deal from. The book at times, does read a bit slow, but that has nothing to do with Kramer's writing style, it has to do with the fact that you are constantly finding new information and referring back to the bibliography, which will no doubt lead the reader to numerous other books to add to your reading list. I look forward to future books by this author.

Monty Rainey
Junto Society
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on October 26, 2004
Although a departure from our usual book club read, we found this book to be immensely thought provoking and informative. It was well written and its author was clearly knowledgeable about his subject matter. We were particularly impressed with the vast number of sources used to support the ideas put forth in the book and appreciated the historical background which was presented in a concise yet interesting fashion. Even the few book club members (one to be exact) who disagreed with the notion of popular constitutionalism, could appreciate the intelligent nature of the well reasoned and cohesive historical interpretations on which this book is based. Although not all of us were lawyers, we found that this was a book which could be enjoyed and appreciated by lawyers and lay persons alike and the overwhelming consensus was that this book is an enjoyable read, rich with stimulating and intriguing ideas. We would heartily recommend it.
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on October 25, 2004
In today's society I believe "the people" need to feel energized about their ability to have stronger input in their govt. Too often the average citizen feels unable to exert any influence and therefore allows those in power to maintain control over society. The Constitution was written for the people and should be maintained by the people who who are the ones who should ultimately decide the validity of the laws of the land. I do not believe the writers of the Constitution ever considered it closed for citizen interpretration.
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