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The Constitution in Exile: How the Federal Government Has Seized Power by Rewriting the Supreme Law of the Land 0th Edition
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From Publishers Weekly
Napolitano, New Jersey Superior Court Judge and analyst for Fox News, explains how the federal government has manipulated the Constitution to take power from the states and the people. Written for a general audience, Napolitano's book also includes a brief history of the founding of the United States, the Bill of Rights, the specific powers granted to Congress in the Constitution and an explanation of relevant legal precedents. Napolitano's nonpartisan apprehension toward a strong central government is clear as he takes issue with both Democratic and Republican legislative initiatives, including the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1992, the Patriot Act, attempted FCC regulation of HDTV sets and the retention of Yasser Hamdi and Jose Padilla. However, the book is disappointingly sparse on ways to fix the problems he decries; after 240 pages of citing issue after shortcoming after perversion of founding fathers' intents, he hurries through a six point plan (in just over a page) that involves rewriting the Constitution so the preamble begins "We the States," abolishing the popular election of senators and allowing states to secede from the union and enjoy territory status sans "a federal boot on their throats." His conversational tone and historical perspective make his argument accessible to general readers who are interested in current events but turned off by wonky pundits.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Andrew P. Napolitano is Senior Judicial Analyst for Fox News Channel and the author of Constitutional Chaos, The Constitution in Exile, A Nation of Sheep, Dred Scott's Revenge, and Lies the Government Told You. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
The Constitution is in Exile because its original intent and its governing power in our laws has been banished through legislative power grabs that went unchecked by the judiciary and then by a judiciary that grabbed power from the legislative and executive branches. The author is also concerned about abuses of power by the executive branch, as Napolitano sees them, during the Lincoln administration and in our present administration with the USA PATRIOT act.
First, let's get rid of one phony argument about the Constitution and slavery and its moral invalidation of the Constitution. Yes, the Founders compromised on slavery, but that doesn't mean that everyone supported it or that it wasn't a monstrous institution that was at odds with our founding principles. It was. However, the compromise does not mean the Constitution is invalid or should be ignored. It is still our founding document and unless its stated process of amendment is followed, the document should bind the very government it authorizes to its stated principles and powers.
That being said, Napolitano takes us through what the Constitution actually says about the powers it authorizes for the Federal government (he is also very good on noting the difference between a Federal versus a national government - the latter not being authorized in the Constitution). He notes that there are 18 enumerated powers. Throughout the rest of the book he takes us through cases where the legislative branch went off the track and how the courts, for most of our history, usually brought them back in line. Of course, there is a cursory discussion of judicial review and the inevitable Marbury v. Madison.
Napolitano really begins his radical discussion with his harsh criticism of "Dishonest Abe" and the Civil War. Napolitano doesn't believe the Civil War was necessary or just and that Lincoln committed many profoundly illegal acts. He then takes us through to the New Deal of FDR. It is here that Napolitano notes that the COURTS then became corrupted. The cloud of Socialism pushed the government into tortured interpretations of the law and the Constitution (especially the commerce clause) to enact programs that would have been declared unconstitutional through all of American history up to that time. The author notes time and again that emergencies do not justify compromising principles because the emergency will pass, but the corruption will remain.
He has a strong point there. Look at how the RICO act has been used. It was originally justified to go after the Mafia and helped break the back of the mob. However, it didn't go away and became a tool of aggressive prosecutors to go after ordinary citizens that they didn't like. Or look at the Alternative Minimum Tax that was originally to ensure that rich folks paid taxes (which they would have to do if we had a serious and fair tax code). Nowadays, millions of ordinary folks are stuck paying the AMT because of inflation, which was caused by the very same government.
So, Napolitano is very right to raise the issues and concerns around the USA PATRIOT act. Not so much for any abuses that may or may not be taking place now (although he lists some things he considers abuses), but because of the uses these powers will be put to in the future. National Security Letters do seem awful and nightmarish and very much like one of the abuses that helped spark our revolution.
Still, you will have to wrestle with where Napolitano wants to take us. War is a very complex and awful thing. It does deprive people of life, liberty, and pursuit of anything. It does not lend itself to lawyers, fairness, and neat outcomes. The author is adamant that American citizens, even when enemy combatants, deserve all the protections under the Constitution and must be tried under its provisions. I am not so sure, but I understand his concerns.
In the conclusion, Judge Napolitano also argues for changes in our government that would strengthen states rights and lessen the power of the Federal government in order to get it more in line to the original conception of the Founders. Among other things, he would spell out the process to allow states to secede from the Union (wow!), change some language in the Constitution to make it clear it is the states authorizing the Federal government, and clarify and limit the commerce clause. He would also repeal the sixteenth amendment authorizing income taxes, and the seventeenth amendment authorizing the direct election of senators (the idea being that the original idea of the Senate was to have a house representing the STATES).
This is an interesting, engaging, and useful book no matter where you come down in your views of what he puts forward. You will be better off and more informed after reading it and I encourage you to do so.
To Judge Napolitano, the US Constitution is not a "living" thing; rather, it is a document which is unassailable and incontrovertible in its protection of basic human rights, rights which are immutable and which do not change from day to day nor from Century to Century. Napolitano begins the book with a primer on the Constitution and the events surrounding its drafting. And early on, we see that the Founding Fathers were very cognizant of the threats faced by the union, yet they did not enact laws which went against the Natural Rights of man. Often in difficult or scary times it can be all too easy to enact laws which seemingly protect us, but which do so at the expense of our fundamental rights (and State rights) put forth in the Constitution....and some people take advantage of this to the people's detriment.
This book will enlighten most people I think. I follow politics quite closely, and yet was unaware of many of the rights which were slowly eroding from right under our feet, (even though I knew there were many!)....I just was not aware of the scope and size. I was not even aware Lincoln suspended habeas corpus; I was always taught what a great President he was as he was behind the freeing of the slaves with the Emancipation Proclamation! Yet in a direct quote of Lincoln, he stated that he would have done **anything** to protect the union, if it meant freeing all of the slaves or even if it meant freeing none! I was also unaware of how much Lincoln had affected the slow dissipation of states rights, rights clearly enumerated in the 10th amendment. For all intents and purposes, Lincoln ignored the 10th Amendment, not to mention the 4th and several others. And throughout the book, you can clearly see how other Presidents, Justices, and Congresspeople make the same unforgivable error throughout the years, though perhaps not quite to the extent Lincoln had.
It should also be noted that Judge Napolitano in very fair in his criticisms. He sides with George Bush on many issues as a Fox News Judicial Analyst, but in The Constitution in Exile, he is unrelenting in his criticism of the current Administration and the Congresspeople who go along with such things as the current day PATRIOT Act. "National Security Letters" sound almost Orwellian and clearly go against the intent of the Founding Fathers, especially if, as Napolitano states, judges are on standby 24/7 to sign warrants for searches or arrests. Instead, the "National Security Letters" allow the federal agents to write them on their own! What is the point of having warrants issued if the people who are supposed to present **some** proof of guilt are able to fill them out on their own, without any questions asked? Where does this slippery slope end? That is the question Napolitano poses time and time again.
Some complaints however....near the end of the book Napolitano refers to a famous dissent from Justice Holmes, one that has been quoted probably more than any other dissent in US Supreme Court history. And then he proceeds to his next point, without giving us the dissent! And there are other times in the book when more detail could have been given, more facts presented. Instead he will sometimes move quickly on to the next point.
In the end, Napolitano's zeal for keeping the true meaning of the Constitution intact is what impressed me most. We need more people like him upholding the true intent of the Founders and their creating of an almost sacred document recognizing inherent rights in man and protecting them at any and all costs. Because as history has shown, once they are gone, they will probably not come back.
A must read.
Author of Blinded by the Night, among other titles
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