- Hardcover: 304 pages
- Publisher: Yale University Press (November 1, 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0300109830
- ISBN-13: 978-0300109832
- Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 0.8 x 9.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,605,860 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Liberty for All: Reclaiming Individual Privacy in a New Era of Public Morality
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From the Back Cover
"Elizabeth Price Foley's path-breaking account of the Founders' views of 'individual sovereignty' and the limits this entails for both federal and state power is well worth the price of the book. Her powerful advocacy of the American 'morality of law,' as embodied in the Constitution, is a compelling antidote to those who would limit personal liberty by appealing to 'public morality.' A must read for everyone interested in how the Constitution is supposed to protect individual liberties."
-- Randy Barnett, author of Restoring the Lost Constitution and The Structure of Liberty
"Elizabeth Foley has authored a slim and provocative volume, making a persuasive case that much of contemporary constitutional law thinking is mistaken. It's the most engaging book on constitutional law that I've read in quite a while."
-- Glenn Harlan Reynolds, Beauchamp Brogran Distinguished Professor of Law, University of Tennessee
"This book will surprise and unsettle anyone who reads it. It grabs hold of some of the most familiar precedents and principles in constitutional law and shakes them hard, as if in a kaleidoscope. It then invites us all to look at them again, harder and better. It is that rare work of scholarship that really does earn the title, original. It is learned, eccentric, cogent, and provocative, all at once. And it leaves me thinking that Professor Foley may well be right in her radical reinterpretation of constitutional liberty."
-- Tom Gerety, Collegiate Professor, New York University and President Emeritus, Amherst College
Top customer reviews
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A few examples. As is typical of the genre, at least of those favored by the blurbs on the back of the book, the author argues recent courts have 'invented' things to fit the Constitution into what they feel is necessary for society. Interesting. After all, the author opposes Justice John Marshall's (who was at the founding) rejection of applying the Bill of Rights to the states in 1833 (before the 14th Amendment). One can also cite the Slaughterhouse Cases. That was 1873. And, a myriad others before the New Deal. As some note, pre-New Deal cases quite often upheld regulations. The 'Lochner Court' stereotype, notwithstanding.
Or, in general, all the liberty violations upheld in the past by the courts (no sending contraceptives thru the mail, various sexual practices, prohibtion laws [the fact a few did not doesn't suggest 'original understanding' which she claims is a primary drive of her jurisprudence] etc. One might also note times have changed -- there weren't even any police forces back in 1789. Modern society requires more laws (though citations of spitting on the sidewalk as an issue, is that not a public nuisance, is curious); but in many ways we are more free than we were in the past.
This is so even if general principles, though not how they were often applied, might be interpreted differently. She cites Burke ... but he was a conservative who supported many repressive laws on tradition grounds. Selective use of his statements mislead. Likewise, her balancing of state interest at times is rather brief (esp. latter chapters ... the one on illegal drugs are almost conclusionary; the body of the book is under 200pg) and a bit dubious. For instance, as to motorcycle helmets and public health costs, she notes the state generally doesn't pay. What if it did? [Her later book on life/death issues underline the complexities -- she raises some red flags regarding not protecting at risk people, the book on this one topic longer than this summary of many.]
The book does have benefits, if we admit to such problems, suggesting that off the top claims and a bit more modesty is often useful in such works. The fact a 'living constitution' approach can use a work of this nature is a bit ironic, but so it goes. I'd add a recent book by Daniel Farber on the Ninth Amendment was also pretty brief, providing some interesting arguments, but not enough depth at times. A good companion volume.