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Unprecedented: The Constitutional Challenge to Obamacare Hardcover – September 10, 2013

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

The pitched legal battle to end the national health-care program known as Obamacare ended in a surprising decision supported by U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Roberts, a decision that promises continued strife on the issue of health care as well as constitutional issues. Blackman, law professor, blogger, and representative of a coalition of independent business interests opposed to the program, spent more than two years following the legislative process that produced Obamacare and the legal challenges to the program. Blackman argues that the process was unprecedented in many ways, including the nature of the legislation to compel citizens to buy insurance, the legal arguments for and against, and the political pressure brought to bear on the Left and the Right. He details the political machinations behind the Supreme Court decision in favor of the health-care program, particularly pressure on Roberts. Blackman also explores the significance of the decision as a galvanizing issue for conservatives and future implications for challenges to government power. --Vanessa Bush

Review

"Excellent"
-The Wall Street Journal
"Unprecedented is the definitive account of the historic constitutional challenge to Obamacare." 
-RANDY BARNETT, Georgetown Law Center 


"This is an absorbing tale of how a landmark Supreme Court opinion was born." 
-JACK BALKIN, Yale Law School 


"This will surely be recognized as the definitive account of the convoluted litigation leading up to the Supreme Court's historic ruling on the Affordable Care Act and of what that ruling might portend for the future." 
-LAURENCE H. TRIBE, Harvard Law School 

"Riveting" 
-FRED BARNES, Weekly Standard


“Excellent.” — Wall Street Journal

“Blackman has written a deeply researched, highly readable account of the conservative challenge to the ACA, which, as a recent law graduate, he witnessed from the inside.” American Prospect

“A young legal scholar delivers an impressive blow-by-blow account of the court battle to defeat the Affordable Care Act… With his strong connections among the conservative and libertarian lawyers who mounted the constitutional challenge and his talent for translating arcane legal-speak, Blackman more than capably captures this dramatic constitutional showdown.” Kirkus Reviews

“Blackman, law professor, blogger, and representative of a coalition of independent business interests opposed to the program, spent more than two years following the legislative process that produced Obamacare and the legal challenges to the program. Blackman argues that the process was unprecedented in many ways… Blackman also explores the significance of the decision as a galvanizing issue for conservatives and future implications for challenges to government power.” Booklist

“Blackman does a stellar job of calling out both parties for their flip-flopping with respect to the individual mandate.” Publishers Weekly

“Riveting.” The Weekly Standard

“It provides a granular account of how the legal - and political - battle over the Affordable Care Act was joined, and how so much about the fight departed from past pattern… [Blackman] is a bit of a legal polymath. He can, with seeming ease, assimilate disparate streams of legal analyses, facts, political events, and government policy in service of his arguments.” Philadelphia Inquirer
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: PublicAffairs; 1st edition (September 10, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1610393287
  • ISBN-13: 978-1610393287
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #473,386 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Tim October on September 4, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Unprecedented is a genre-bending legal-political thriller. At times the book is detailed, nuanced, and deep; at others, it is breathtakingly fast-paced and dramatic. From Justice Kagan's mysterious decision to wall herself off from the case, to a look behind the scenes of the secret deliberations of the highest court in the land, Unprecedented gives a month-by-month, sometimes minute-by-minute (and even second-by-second!) account of the case of the millennium. Professor Blackman's highly readable style, excitement about the case, and affection for the actors involved blend to create an auspicious early masterwork from a highly promising young legal talent.

Unprecedented is unprecedented. Unlike so many legal dramas that can feel dry and abstract, Unprecedent makes it feel like you're there for some of the most important and critical decisions leading up to one of the most important moments in the history of the United States -- the moment the Chief Justice of the United States affirmed the constitutionality of "the last piece of our basic social compact."

I actually choked up as the book described those tense uncertain moments when the President and the Nation thought Obamacare had fallen, and the crowd outside began cheering for the Constitution. Now how many law books can you say made you feel something like that?
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Brian Logan on August 26, 2013
Format: Hardcover
This insightful page-turner provides a definitive account of Obamacare that is not only fair and nuanced but also highly relevant to ongoing debates. Blackman couples his expertise as a constitutional scholar with riveting interviews to provide a rich history of one of the most controversial cases of our time. I highly recommended this to members of both sides of the political spectrum - you will enjoy learning the inside scoop.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Shon on September 8, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Josh Blackman's book is amazing. On one level, Unprecedented will appeal to the general public wanting to know the behind the scenes action of the Obamacare litigation. On another level, Unprecedented will appeal to all those legal nerds (like myself) who want to understand the litigation dynamics and strategies behind the biggest Supreme Court case of our generation. Unprecedented also does a wonderful job of bringing to life the characters involved in the case, from the Solicitor General to one of the architects of the case, Randy Barnett.

Buy this book. You won't be disappointed.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By glorybound9 on October 21, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I picked this up while browsing at my local library because I was interested in the case. I fully expected to return it without having read the whole thing because of the expected legalese. Instead I was treated to one of the best reads I've had in a long time. As one other commenter noted, John Grisham novel comes to mind or a Perry Mason case. Crisp writing. Understandable explanations where needed. Great story-telling that keeps you wanting to know what happens next and yet you know the story is real! I also experienced dismay reading his musical chairs account of health care law politics with everyone ending up in the chair they said they would not sit in! Great read of a historical event even if you are not interested in the Obamacare law itself.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Daniel on September 11, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Unprecedented is a thrilling tour through one of the most exciting legal challenges of our lifetimes. Blackman's all-access perspective and scholarly gravitas will satisfy generalist readers and constitutional scholars alike. Some readers might question the book's "rehabilitation" of Solicitor General Verrilli, but Blackman persuasively argues that Verrilli deserves much of the credit for shaping and pressing the Taxing Power argument that ultimately convinced a majority of the Court. This is itself an important contribution to the growing literature on NFIB v. Sebelius.

Unprecedented reminds me of one of my favorite books in this genre: Jonathan Mahler's The Challenge, a blow-by-blow account of the litigation in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld. Both authors spent untold hours interviewing key participants, and Blackman actually witnessed the conversations from which a constitutional challenge to the ACA materialized. No matter your political leanings, you can't go wrong buying this book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By PJ on September 23, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you want to learn everything about how Obamacare was passed, how the Supreme Court saved it, and what this means for the future of the Constitution, you should read this amazing new book. Unlike far too many books about constitutional law, Unprecedented is written in an engaging, gripping style. Blackman actually tells the story in the form of a riveting legal thriller. You'd think it's a John Grisham novel, but it's real! Read this book. You will enjoy it.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Ed L. on October 13, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Most of the story of how the ACA became law was chronicled as it went along but this book puts it all together in one place. Furthermore, the author was there throughout the process. Learn how the "sausage was made." Learn how the bargains were struck, how we were manipulated and, best of all, how the case was presented to SCOTUS by both sides. Learn what the justices said and thought! Easy to read and very informative. Don't miss the last part of the book. It's where you'll likely learn the most about the future of this bill.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Seth on September 9, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Though I consider myself a well-informed student of politics, this book taught me a great deal about the history of this controversial new law -- who had proposed it in the past, who had opposed it, and who had favored it. I was stunned to find that both parties had taken both sides on the individual mandate in the last twenty years. Prof. Blackman explains the legal issues surrounding the case with just enough history in a way that a layman can easily understand and a lawyer, such as myself, can easily learn from. I already have people who want to borrow the book from me!
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