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Wrong and Dangerous: Ten Right Wing Myths about Our Constitution Hardcover – September 16, 2012


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 232 pages
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers (September 16, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 144221676X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1442216761
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.8 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #720,215 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Disgusted by what he calls the Far Right’s “drive to destroy the Constitution in the name of ‘saving’ it,” law professor Epps offers spirited and sarcastic rebuttals to 10 hot-button claims that conservative commentators tend to advance about the Constitution. In one chapter, for example, Epps picks apart the idea that the Constitution does not provide for separation of church and state; in others, he takes on the recently popular notion that the Second Amendment was intended to make government fear its constituents, and he knocks down recently rewarmed claims about the obsolescence of the Fourteenth Amendment. Although presented in a breezy manner, Epps’ arguments are grounded in a textual interpretation and scholarly research. He also takes particular joy in exposing the contradictions, false premises, and bad faith behind the “conservative myths” he targets. Ultimately, it’s a polemic of sorts, intended to provide progressives with inspiration and factual ammunition to those who seek to challenge right-wing “originalist” notions of constitutional interpretation. --Brendan Driscoll

Review

Despite what many Americans have come to believe, the purpose of the United States Constitution is not to limit Congress, and the line that designates the separation of church and state is quite clear. In this new book, Epps provides the tools needed to fight back against the flood of constitutional nonsense. He tackles ten of the most prevalent myths, discussing in terms every citizen can understand the importance of a clear grasp of the Constitution and the government it established. (ForeWord Reviews)

Disgusted by what he calls the Far Right’s “drive to destroy the Constitution in the name of ‘saving’ it,” law professor Epps offers spirited and sarcastic rebuttals to 10 hot-button claims that conservative commentators tend to advance about the Constitution. In one chapter, for example, Epps picks apart the idea that the Constitution does not provide for separation of church and state; in others, he takes on the recently popular notion that the Second Amendment was intended to make government fear its constituents, and he knocks down recently rewarmed claims about the obsolescence of the Fourteenth Amendment. Although presented in a breezy manner, Epps’ arguments are grounded in a textual interpretation and scholarly research. He also takes particular joy in exposing the contradictions, false premises, and bad faith behind the “conservative myths” he targets. Ultimately, it’s a polemic of sorts, intended to provide progressives with inspiration and factual ammunition to those who seek to challenge right-wing “originalist” notions of constitutional interpretation. (Booklist)

Garrett Epps knows more about our Constitution and its history than many who invoke it endlessly on the campaign trail have forgotten. With a rollicking sense of humor and a driving passion, he challenges misunderstandings about our Founders and asserts what is plainly true: That they sought to establish a government that would preserve freedom but would also be strong enough to provide for the general welfare. They sought to make it easier rather than harder for Americans to solve our nation’s problems. Epps is a true original who leaves the originalists’ arguments in shreds. (E. J. Dionne Jr., syndicated columnist and author of Our Divided Political Heart)

Epps combines a scholar's deep understanding of the Constitution with an extraordinary ability to convey its complexities with wit and clarity. This book makes the essential meaning of the Constitution understandable and entertaining. (Walter Dellinger, former Acting Solicitor General and Maggs Professor of Law, Duke University)

For far too long, Americans across the ideological spectrum have ceded the Constitution to the far right-wing of political thinkers. In this desperately-needed book, Garrett Epps takes on the elaborately-crafted fiction that the United States Constitution was drafted principally to protect the rights of gun owners, wealthy corporations, self-interested states and those determined to force their religious views on the unwilling. Of course nothing could be further from the truth. With a novelist's eye, a constitutional law professor's facility with th substantive arguments, and a saber-sharp wit to boot, Epps has produced here a love letter to the real Constitution; the document that has promoted freedom, tolerance and equality in this country for two centuries. Every American who seeks to reclaim that document should read it and confirm their suspicion that the debate over the constitution has two sides, not one. (Dahlia Lithwick, Senior Editor, slate.com)

In this short and elegant book, Professor Epps exposes the fallacies of key conservative claims about the Constitution. For decades, and especially in recent years, the right-wing has made claims about the “true” meaning of the Constitution. Professor Epps thoroughly and persuasive explodes ten of these claims, which he rightly calls myths. Anyone interested in the Constitution, or American government, should read this book. (Erwin Chemerinsky, School of Law, University of California, Irvine)

Wrong and Dangerous: Ten Right Wing Myths about Our Constitution is by far the most excellent source of factual constitutional knowledge for defeating, deflating and diffusing the far right's hostage takeover of our beloved document. Mr. Epps beautifully details each of the ten myths then destroys them with inconvenient truth repeatedly ignored by the Republican fringe. I highly recommend this book to those who are eager to fight back against those who want to define our Constitution as something it's not. (The Politics of Jamie Sanderson Blog)

Law professor Garrett Epps joins con-serv-a-tive talkers and liberal pundits in excoriating his opponents and offers a patina of scholarly respectability to arguments and assertions that would be at home any hour of the day on MSNBC. (The Weekly Standard)

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Customer Reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars
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This is a very readable book for the lay person.
Kevin S. Fansler
The book is a potent antidote to right-wing's charges of "judicial activism".
Mike Finn
Didn't the printed version have a TOC or Index?
Jan Wilson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

40 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Fezziwig on October 27, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Wrong and Dangerous: Ten Right-Wing Myths about our Constitution

Garrett Epps

Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2012 (hardcover) (Read this in Oct. 2012)

Introduction
The author describes his experience as a student at a seminar on "The Substance and Meaning of the Constitution." The seminar was organized by the National Center for Constitutional Studies (NCCS), a creation of W. Cleon Skousen. The instructor was Lester Pearce, an Arizona justice of the peace. Pearce is brother of former Arizona state senator Russell Pearce, author of Arizona's notorious anti-immigrant law, SB 1070. The NCCS is a source of far-right-wing mythology about the Constitution. The author sees this and other organizations and individuals promoting an "originalist" interpretation of the Constitution as part of a movement to reverse progressive legislation in the United States. This progressive legislation has slowly but surely made American democracy more inclusive by extending the vote to racial minorities and women.

Chapter 1. The Right Is "Originalist" ; Everyone Else Is "Idiotic"
Argues that far-right "originalism" is an intellectual weapon designed to hide from ordinary citizens (Scalia's "idiots") what is in plain sight. Behind the myth of original intent is the assumption that there is a single "clear" intent hidden in each phrase of the Constitution. But often the wording is purposely vague.

Chapter 2. The "Purpose" of the Constitution Is to Limit Congress
On the contrary, under the Articles of Confederation the federal government was too weak. The framers wanted a Constitution that would give the government broad powers. Many of these are enumerated in Article I, Section 8.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By J. Davis on April 1, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I agreed with the vast majority of positions Epps takes in the book. As he says, the right wing has distorted the Constitution to support their agenda. Ron Paul, especially, is called out in the book as someone who has no idea what he is talking about. He shows why Citizens United was a bad decision, the Tenth Amendment does not say what Rick Perry says it does, and how "originalism" is a fraud. These points are crucial to understanding constitutional law.

It isn't a perfect book, though. My major complaint with Ebbs is that he makes hyperbolic statements like "right wing does not like human equality" and constantly sounds condescending toward people with different views. Statements like this won't ever convince conseratives, even moderates, to question their views. I recommend reading Wrong and Dangerous but fear his sarcastic tone undercuts his message.
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19 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Michael Austin on December 8, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Wrong and Dangerous is a necessary book in the current political environment--one in which reverence for the Constitution is at an all-time high while Constitutional literacy near its all-time low. Epps faces the problem head-on: a whole lot of people--from politicians to preachers to right-wing radio hosts--have built very lucrative careers by making up a bunch of nonsense about the Constitution. A full survey of this Constitutional lunacy would take many volumes, but Epps takes on ten of the silliest claims from the radical fringe--such as the notion (popular with Tea Party types) that the Progressive movement destroyed states' rights by amending the Constitution to allow for the direct election of senators (Chapter 9), or the almost incomprehensible canard that, by mentioning foreign or international laws in a decision, Supreme Court justices have betrayed their country to marauding Turks (Chapter 10).

In reality, these opinions are held by a tiny minority of poorly informed, but supremely confident, individuals who have much to gain by distorting the Constitution. But their voices are growing louder by the minute, and a large number of us are letting them get away with it by failing to call them out when the misrepresent the Constitution. The major point that Epps makes is that we (moderate, reasonably well informed citizens) bear some culpability for this. The Constitution, and the democracy it created, belong to all of us. "If we stand by and let them wreck it," Epps concludes, "shame on us." He is quite correct.

Michael Austin
Author, That's Not What They Meant!: Reclaiming the Founding Fathers from America's Right Wing
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on May 18, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Keeping America on the path set up by our founders is not easy in today's political climate of trickery and half-truths. This book explains our constitution very readably and concisely.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Joseph T. O. Connor on February 25, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Not much new here but generally well phrased. Epps fills in some well-worn arguments with facts about the constitution. He does not go deeply enough into the European history of the period when the constitution was developed and written, thus missing the push for the 2nd Amendment, for instance.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Hazel on March 25, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I had no idea that the dis-information efforts of right wing-nuts regarding the Constitution were so extreme and wide-spread. The author had me hooked when he described the outrageous statements being made in a "class" taught by someone pretending to be an expert. It is very helpful to have the facts with verifiable references discussed by a Constitutional scholar.
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