- Series: The Politically Incorrect Guides
- Paperback: 272 pages
- Publisher: Regnery Publishing; 1st edition (June 11, 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1596985054
- ISBN-13: 978-1596985056
- Product Dimensions: 7.3 x 0.6 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 159 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #113,652 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Constitution (Politically Incorrect Guides) (The Politically Incorrect Guides) 1st Edition
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From the Inside Flap
The Constitution of the United States created a representative republic marked by federalism and the separation of powers. Yet numerous federal judges--led by the Supreme Court--have used the Constitution as a blank check to substitute their own views on hot-button issues such as abortion, capital punishment, and samesex marriage for perfectly constitutional laws enacted by We the People through our elected representatives.
Now, The Politically Incorrect Guide(tm) to the Constitution shows that there is very little relationship between the Constitution as ratified by the thirteen original states more than two centuries ago and the "constitutional law" imposed upon us since then. Instead of the system of state-level decision makers and elected officials the Constitution was intended to create, judges have given us a highly centralized system in which bureaucrats and appointed--not elected--officials make most of the important policies.
In The Politically Incorrect Guide(tm) to the Constitution, Professor Kevin Gutzman, who holds advanced degrees in both law and American history:
* explains how the Constitution was understood by the founders who wrote it and the people who ratified it * follows the Supreme Court as it uses the fig leaf of the Constitution to cover its naked usurpation of the rights and powers the Constitution explicitly reserves to the states and to the people * shows how we slid from the Constitution's republican federal government, with its very limited powers, to an unrepublican "judgeocracy" with limitless powers * reveals how huge swaths of American law and society were remade in the wake of Supreme Court rulings * reveals how the Fourteenth Amendment has been twisted to use the Bill of Rights as a check on state power instead of on federal power, as originally intended * exposes the radical inconsistency between "constitutional law" and the rule of law * contends that the judges who receive the most attention in history books are celebrated for acting against the Constitution rather than for it
As Professor Gutzman shows, constitutional law is supposed to apply the Constitution's plain meaning to prevent judges, presidents, and congresses from overstepping their authority. If we want to return to the founding fathers' vision of the Republic, if we want the Constitution enforced in the way it was explained to the people at the time of its ratification, then we have to overcome the "received wisdom" about what constitutional law is. The Politically Incorrect Guide(tm) to the Constitution is an important step in that direction.
About the Author
Kevin R. C. Gutzman, J.D., Ph.D. is Professor of American history and Graduate Coordinator in the Department of History at Western Connecticut State University. He received his Master of Public Affairs from the University of Texas, his J.D. from the University of Texas School of Law, and his M.A. and Ph.D. in American history from the University of Virginia. Dr. Gutzman is the author of James Madison and the Making of America, of Virginia's American Revolution: From Dominion to Republic, 1776-1840, and -- with Tom Woods -- of Who Killed the Constitution? He was a featured expert in the documentary film John Marshall: Citizen, Statesman, and Jurist, as well as in Nullification: The Rightful Remedy. He has written in all the leading history journals, in numerous popular publications, and in several historical encyclopedias. He lives in Bethel, Connecticut, with his children.
Top customer reviews
It's a must in any library. Especially those who are charged with discernment, leadership and teaching (perhaps prophecy as well!).
Perhaps if we'd heeded the Constitution in the first place and the Federal Reserve had never been unconstitutionally created, Alan Greenspan wouldn't have been able to set artificially low interest rates in the early 2000s, extending the life and size of a financial bubble that desperately needed deflating, regardless of the inevitable pain to financial markets. Perhaps too, quasi-government agencies like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac wouldn't have existed or been forced to make home loans to unqualified borrowers.
The benefits to our country of adhering to the Constitution would be real and immediate and few people have the courage and thoughtfulness to articulate that point as clearly as Gutzman does in this book.
I rate the book four stars, instead of five because of my firm belief in the sanctity of freedom, civil rights and liberty. As Gutzman rightfully points out, consistent application of the Constitution doesn't automatically lead immediately to greater freedoms. He refers specifically to the specious judicial legerdemain of the Supreme Court regarding civil rights. While it has brought more freedom to some in our country, it did so by blatantly usurping powers the Constitution clearly leaves to the states or individual citizens. I think civil rights is an important enough facet of American society for Gutzman to then explain how it could have been achieved with Constitutional legitimacy. While I'm sure Gutzman addresses this point in other writings, I think it should have been quickly addressed here.
It's great to read such an impartial call for the application of our Constitution as its ratifiers intended it. Gutzman points out many historic examples of both parties abusing the Constitution when it served their needs.
I highly recommend this book. Adherence to our Constitution would have helped us avoid many of our nation's current problems, and excitingly, can still help us find our way back onto the right track.
Those were the points we agreed on, but I personally have another, more serious, complaint about the book. I found the author's slanted view to be more than a tad overbearing. I expected the book to represent a conservative view of the Constitution, or at least of how the Constitution should be applied. But I did not expect a historian to use derision when describing the viewpoint of founders who would today be called "liberals." For, truth be told, Gutzman's own retelling of the events makes it clear that the "founding fathers" were not all of one mind. The same polarization we see today about how much power the central government (and the Supreme Court) should have, was in play back in the 18th century. In fact, if I understand it correctly, the final version of the Constitution that was ratified was a compromise and was deliberately left somewhat vague in language so that it could be interpreted later as the times warranted. Gutzman holds that the Constitution should only be interpreted according to the original intent of the founders......but not just any founders -- only those who preferred the original Articles of Confederation that the Constitution replaced. In other words, only those who wanted the central government to be federal, not national -- weaker than the states, not stronger. It's a valid viewpoint, but not the only viewpoint being pushed by the "founders."
I fear that I have shown my own prejudices as well as my lack of knowledge about Constitutional history. Let me just say that the book has value both for the history it presents (though confusingly) and for the very controversies it reveals in the founding fathers' thinking. That's why I gave it three stars. But I would have liked more clarity in the writing and a more objective view of the various arguments and viewpoints that were in play during the creation of the Constitution. Clearly that was never the author's goal.