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Politically Incorrect Guide To The Constitution (Politically Incorrect Guides)

4.5 out of 5 stars 144 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 858-1000012146
ISBN-10: 1596985054
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Editorial Reviews

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 associate professor of American 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 Virginia's American Revolution: From Dominion to Republic, 1776-1840 and was a featured expert in the documentary film John Marshall: Citizen, Statesman, and Jurist. He has written scores of articles and encyclopedia entries, as well as reviews of books, films, and exhibitions for magazines academic and popular. He lives in Bethel, Connecticut, with his three children.

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Product Details

  • Series: Politically Incorrect Guides
  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Regnery Publishing (June 11, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1596985054
  • ASIN: B005EP2EOQ
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 7.3 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (144 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,840,903 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
For what my opinion is worth, this is one of the most important books of the past 25 years. There is absolutely nothing like it, anywhere.

This is not another of the toothless and forgettable laments about the death of the Constitution at the hands of activist judges that we read from time to time from the right-wing pundit class, though of course author Kevin Gutzman decries both of these things. This is a far more sweeping, much more fundamentally devastating indictment of the Supreme Court, of the "legal training" that raises up ever more people to perpetuate its record of dishonesty and usurpation, and of the American regime at large -- which rests on the legal fictions Gutzman shreds in his book.

To those who weep over the Constitution's neglect these past 50 or 100 years, Gutzman shows that defiance of that document has gone on from the beginning, starting in the 1790s. An expert on colonial and early republican Virginia -- and who has been published in all the major professional journals -- Gutzman knows the Virginia ratifying convention inside and out. He knows the promises made to the people, and the assurances that Virginia's ratifiers inserted into that state's ratification instrument. And he shows that Jefferson and his allies were faithful to those principles and promises, and that the so-called Federalists and their present-day apologists (which includes just about everybody) were not.

John Marshall, Chief Justice of the United States from 1801 to 1835, comes in for some serious scholarly thrashing as well. Marshall is all too typically held up as an idol before conservatives and even libertarians, and he remains a central icon of early American history.
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Format: Paperback
I am admittedly far more liberal and "politically correct" than many of the readers this book will initially attract. That should not discourage anyone from engaging with Prof. Gutzman's lively interpretation of the Court and the Constitution. His deep concern about the meaning of law and the ideas which shape this nation make this an outstanding work. I would recommend this to anyone interested in Constitutional history and the debates which inform our understanding of law.
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The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Constitution is one of the best concise introductions to the Constitution. Dr. Gutzman, who is an expert on early American politics, has condensed two semesters worth of constitutional history into a brief and lively volume. If you have ever wondered how the Supreme Court reaches its decisions, or what relationship those decisions actually bear to the Constitution as ratified by the Founders, this is the book for you. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in constitutional history and especially those who are considering law school.
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Format: Paperback
Breathtaking! Irrefutable! Erudite! The _Politically Incorrect Guide to the Constitution_ can help remove the shackles of constitution misinterpretation and error from the thoughtful reader! In a mere 221 pages of entertaining and perceptive text, Dr. Gutzman encourages a major reaffirmation of the American constitutional and political tradition. In other words, if you are a student of law, American politics, political theory, or American history, or a concerned citizen, you can overcome the "myth of [constitutional] incomprehensibility" promoted by professors and pundits alike. The problems that result from studying the Constitution by the "case method" are also exposed.

As a gifted historian and lawyer, Gutzman allows the reader to uncover the genuine and potentially-viable core of the American constitutional tradition: diffused authority. He traces the core tradition from the Colonial Era, to the Declaration of Independence, to the Articles of Confederation, to the Constitutional Convention and equally vital Ratification Period, and onward, while uncovering the litany of errors and false hagiography of previous scholarship (his treatment of James Madison and John Marshall alone are worth the price of the book!).

Most importantly, this book provides a significant critique of just how far we have departed from the American constitutional tradition. Utilizing as many Supreme Court decisions as one would fine in a standard law textbook, but presenting these decisions in a more historically accurate and exceeding readable format, you cannot afford to ignore this book!

H. Lee Cheek, Jr., Ph.D.

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Format: Paperback
Finally someone has written a book which strikes at the core of the illegitimate (unconstitutional) present form of govnerment in the United States. Many attempts to write a book like this have failed. (Though William Watkin's "Reclaiming the American Revolution" would be a good follow up after reading Dr. Gutzman's book as an introduction). Books written by such authors as Andrew Napolitano advocate using federal judicial power to serve "conservative" ends; such as the national "liberty of contract" doctrine the federal courts conjured during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. "Liberty of contract" was complete nonsense from a constitutional standpoint (as Dr. Gutzman makes clear). Napolitano would like to see "substantive due process" (based on the 14th amendment-- "ratified" at gunpoint) used for policy purposes he prefers. In this regard, Napolitano's policy based judicial philosophy is akin to the kind of philosophy which Gutzman shows to have destroyed our federal system of government. To my knowledge this is the first book which clearly rips apart the US Supreme Court's "incorporation doctrine," which turned a shield erected by the states against their agent, the "federal" government, into a weapon the federal courts use against the states, the people, and local self-government.

Two key things Dr. Gutzman left out of his "incorporation doctrine" discussion are (i) the preamble to the bill of rights, (ii) a discussion of the 9th amendment, and (iii) the lost history of the 9th amendment.
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