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Who Killed the Constitution?: The Federal Government vs. American Liberty from World War I to Barack Obama Paperback – July 7, 2009
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“If you want to know why the federal government regulates the air you breathe, the water you drink, and the words you speak, read Who Killed the Constitution? . . . When the history of these unfree times is written, Tom Woods’s and Kevin Gutzman’s fearless work will be recognized as the standard against which all others are measured.”
–Judge Andrew Napolitano, Fox News senior judicial analyst and bestselling author of The Constitution in Exile
“It’s about time someone shouted out that the emperor has no clothes.”
–Kirkpatrick Sale, director of the Middlebury Institute and author of Human Scale
"Woods and Gutzman (two bestselling authors in thePolitically Incorrect Guide series) appeal to both left and right in this constitutionalist jeremiad. Liberals will agree about the unconstitutionality of the draft, warrantless wiretapping and presidential signing statements. Conservatives will agree about the unconstitutionality of school busing, bans on school prayer and Roosevelt's suspension of the gold standard. The common thread is the authors' brief for a federal government strictly limited to the powers explicitly granted by the Constitution. The authors' exegeses of the Constitution and court decisions, heavy on original intent arguments, are lucid and telling, but not always consistently supportive of liberty: their reading of the First Amendment implies that state governments may restrict speech, religion and the press. Their attack on expansive federal power-even federal spending on cancer research-is perhaps too successful; it inadvertently supports scholars like Daniel Lazare who argue that the Constitution is too antiquated, constraining and hard to change to keep up with a modern consensus on civil rights and good governance."
From the Hardcover edition.
About the Author
THOMAS E. WOODS Jr. is the New York Times bestselling author of 33 Questions About American History You’re Not Supposed to Ask, The Politically Incorrect Guide™ to American History, and How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization.
KEVIN R. C. GUTZMAN is the New York Times bestselling author of The Politically Incorrect Guide™ to the Constitution and Virginia’s American Revolution.
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
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I attended law school from 1981-1984 and liberal judicial activism was not only praised but those who opposed it were Neanderthals. The Warren Court was akin to the gods on Mount Olympus.
"Who Killed The Constitution" gives an insight into the thinking of liberal judicial activists that think it is the duty of the federal court to enact social change if the legislative branch won't do it.
Of particular interest was some of the "evidence" used in the Brown v. Board of Education case. Some was "junk science" some just junk. But the book point out the Warren Court wanted the ends so bad it would do anything, twist any case law, turn any Constitutional phase, to justify a worthy goal.
If you want to understand how we have: 1. the Bill of Rights applied to the states, Amendment by Amendment. 2. Judicial Review when it is not expressly provided for in the Constitution. 3. Unchecked Presidential powers. Then this is the book for you.
This is perhaps the most important and depressing book I have read in the last twelve months. The question is not "Who is killing the Constitution," but rather "Who killed the Constitution." For truly, the Constitution as originally written in dead and buried. The question that is not asked in this work, but should be uppermost in the reader's mind is, "Can the Constitution be resurrected and the freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution be restored?"
Clearly the answer from extending the litany of constitutional abuses and re-interpretations contained in this work would be "No." That's why it is so depressing. In fact, this work makes clear the fact that the Constitution is being ignored and subverted by Congress, the President and the Federal Bureaucracy, and not the least, by the Supreme Court and Judiciary, with ever increasing frequency, openness, contempt and disdain. Since Teddy Roosevelt and the Progressive Movement at the end of the 19th century, the Constitution had been shredded by precisely those individuals who have taken an oath to protect and preserve it.
The book starts with President Wilson who was arguably the most evil (although well-intended) President in U.S. history, although some might wish to put more recent Presidents before him. Unfortunately, the authors ignore Lincoln who was the first President to completely ignore the Constitution in meeting an emergency situation. Apologists for Lincoln cite his measures as being necessary -- a refrain to be repeated as an excuse by Congress, the President and the Judiciary every time they further disembowel the Constitution. Teddy Roosevelt, who once said "The Constitution is what I say it is," is also mentioned only in passing.
Lincoln and Roosevelt were used as precedents later by Progressive Presidents like FDR and every subsequent President with the possible exception of Ronald Reagan.
What may come as a shock to many readers is the presentation of many actions, bills, and judicial decisions that readers may feel were good that were also clearly unconstitutional. That is a measure on how thoroughly citizens have been conditioned through the massive Progressive propaganda campaign since the 1890s in our schools and media, and most particularly, since the end of World War II. Today, the Constitution is only invoked politically by one party or the other when their ideological opponents do something unconstitutional to which they are opposed. Unfortunately, both sides commit unconstitutional treason almost daily and whatever moral high ground might have been present under Harding or Cooledge is long gone. Equally unfortunately, there is no longer any check on these activities other than the grinding certainty that a catastrophic collapse is nearly upon us and our government will fall into chaos. Maybe at that time the Constitution can be re-instituted, but history indicates that a dictatorship is more likely.
The authors indicate that Obama, our current Congress and Supreme Court may be the most egregious offenders, but only because the groundwork has been so thorough. Yes, we have seen the tipping point where State sovereignty guaranteed by the 10th Amendment was gutted, and all rights to citizens not expressly granted in the Constitution are now denied. State sovereignty indeed disappeared in 1936 in the case of "United States vs. Belmont." Presidential power increased dramatically under Teddy Roosevelt through "Executive Orders" having the same effect as a law passed by Congress, and this was further increased through George W. Bush's use of "signing statements" to make law. Barack Obama has followed Bush's lead and used signing statement to circumvent Congress, but more importantly, to hide his unconstitutional actions from the American citizenry.
Perhaps the most interesting case discussed by the authors is that of the Supreme Court when it decided to discriminate against some to stop discrimination against others. Once the Court went down that road and assumed executive powers for the enforcement of its rulings, the system of checks and balances was completely neutralized. Congress got into the act through micro-legislating with "riders" and "earmarks" to increase their own power as executives. With all three branches now legislating and all three exercising executive powers, the Federal Government has become truly dysfunctional and the Constitution altogether meaningless.
That's where we are today. Read and weep. This book is a terrfying litany of cases and examples of how the Constitution was destroyed as a meaningful basis for American law. Progressives have truly brought change to American, and they have done it by increments over the last 120 years. To those who sit by silent or merely gripe, this book should be an eye-opener. The tipping point we have already passed is readily visible, and one way or another, a massive change is coming.
Absolutely recommended to all.