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Who Killed the Constitution?: The Federal Government vs. American Liberty from World War I to Barack Obama Paperback – July 7, 2009

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 276 pages
  • Publisher: Three Rivers Press (July 7, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307405761
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307405760
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #271,820 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“If you want to know why the federal government regulates the air you breathe, the water you drink, and the words you speak, read Who Killed the Constitution? . . . When the history of these unfree times is written, Tom Woods’s and Kevin Gutzman’s fearless work will be recognized as the standard against which all others are measured.”
–Judge Andrew Napolitano, Fox News senior judicial analyst and bestselling author of The Constitution in Exile

“It’s about time someone shouted out that the emperor has no clothes.”
–Kirkpatrick Sale, director of the Middlebury Institute and author of Human Scale

"Woods and Gutzman (two bestselling authors in thePolitically Incorrect Guide series) appeal to both left and right in this constitutionalist jeremiad. Liberals will agree about the unconstitutionality of the draft, warrantless wiretapping and presidential signing statements. Conservatives will agree about the unconstitutionality of school busing, bans on school prayer and Roosevelt's suspension of the gold standard. The common thread is the authors' brief for a federal government strictly limited to the powers explicitly granted by the Constitution. The authors' exegeses of the Constitution and court decisions, heavy on original intent arguments, are lucid and telling, but not always consistently supportive of liberty: their reading of the First Amendment implies that state governments may restrict speech, religion and the press. Their attack on expansive federal power-even federal spending on cancer research-is perhaps too successful; it inadvertently supports scholars like Daniel Lazare who argue that the Constitution is too antiquated, constraining and hard to change to keep up with a modern consensus on civil rights and good governance."
Publishers Weekly

From the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

THOMAS E. WOODS Jr. is the New York Times bestselling author of 33 Questions About American History You’re Not Supposed to Ask, The Politically Incorrect Guide™ to American History, and How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization.

KEVIN R. C. GUTZMAN is the New York Times bestselling author of The Politically Incorrect Guide™ to the Constitution and Virginia’s American Revolution.

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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This book is fascinating, well written, and academic.
This book is a terrfying litany of cases and examples of how the Constitution was destroyed as a meaningful basis for American law.
David M. Dougherty
The book also has many, many useful footnotes, which will doubtless provide many useful sources for additional reading materials.
Sui Juris

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

68 of 71 people found the following review helpful By Helvidius Priscus on August 30, 2009
Format: Paperback
There's a reason that our federal constitution is short. It was so the average American could be intimately familiar with it. It was also because the federal government was supposed to be small. As James Madison described in the Federalist No. 45:

"The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government, are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce; with which last the power of taxation will, for the most part, be connected. The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State."

So what changed? Woods and Gutzman persuasively document a selected array of federal power plays and Supreme Court decisions over the course of the 20th century that radically reshaped the federal government in ways the Framers of the U.S. Constitution never imagined nor the Constitution's Ratifiers ever intended.

From the unconstitutional persecution against World War I dissenters by the Wilson administration; through Harry Truman's attempted 1952 power grab, the phony case for broad presidential war powers, and the startlingly perverse use of presidential signing statements by the Bush administration to undermine the rule of law; to the tragic consequences of Commerce Clause jurisprudence run amok beginning with the New Deal and continuing to this very day: "Who Killed the Constitution?
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35 of 36 people found the following review helpful By David M. Dougherty VINE VOICE on February 13, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
What amazes me about this book is that there have been only three reviews to date. Obviously, this book is not getting the attention it deserves.

This is perhaps the most important and depressing book I have read in the last twelve months. The question is not "Who is killing the Constitution," but rather "Who killed the Constitution." For truly, the Constitution as originally written in dead and buried. The question that is not asked in this work, but should be uppermost in the reader's mind is, "Can the Constitution be resurrected and the freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution be restored?"

Clearly the answer from extending the litany of constitutional abuses and re-interpretations contained in this work would be "No." That's why it is so depressing. In fact, this work makes clear the fact that the Constitution is being ignored and subverted by Congress, the President and the Federal Bureaucracy, and not the least, by the Supreme Court and Judiciary, with ever increasing frequency, openness, contempt and disdain. Since Teddy Roosevelt and the Progressive Movement at the end of the 19th century, the Constitution had been shredded by precisely those individuals who have taken an oath to protect and preserve it.

The book starts with President Wilson who was arguably the most evil (although well-intended) President in U.S. history, although some might wish to put more recent Presidents before him. Unfortunately, the authors ignore Lincoln who was the first President to completely ignore the Constitution in meeting an emergency situation. Apologists for Lincoln cite his measures as being necessary -- a refrain to be repeated as an excuse by Congress, the President and the Judiciary every time they further disembowel the Constitution.
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32 of 33 people found the following review helpful By ConservativeAnchor on December 30, 2009
Format: Paperback
Its death was ingloriously slow that only a few men know to cry. Thomas E. Woods Jr, Senior Fellow of the Mises Institute and Kevin R. C. Gutzman, Professor History Western Connecticut State University, lay out the evidence in a remarkably easy to read book proving once an for all that the United States Constitution is dead. The authors offer no finger pointing at Democrats or Republicans, left or right, they provide twelve "The Dirty Dozen" examples of Supreme Court decisions (Judicial Branch), Presidential abuses (Executive Branch), and Congressional excess (Legislative Branch), that "bear no resemblance to what the Constitution's ratifiers intended, and in fact run directly counter to the plain text of the Constitution". This they argue is the key to understanding that the United States Constitution is dead.

Messrs Woods and Gutzman note that the death of the Constitution is not partisan. The authors point out that the great Virginian John Taylor of Caroline noted,

"the problem is not the character of members of one party or the other, one section of the country or the other, but the effect of power on the human ego, regardless of party or section. People in power exercise all the power they can get, even after they have howled in the wilderness against legislating judges, imperial president, and the death of states' rights."

The spectre of the United States Constitution can still be of value. The authors suggest that we call attention to the Constitution and alert our friends, family, and the young people how dramatically their fundamental rights have been betrayed.

This book is fascinating, well written, and academic. It should interest anyone with a keen interest in Constitutional history and good ole fashioned Who Dunnit's.
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