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Wrong and Dangerous: Ten Right Wing Myths about Our Constitution Hardcover – September 16, 2012

3.5 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Disgusted by what he calls the Far Right’s “drive to destroy the Constitution in the name of ‘saving’ it,” law professor Epps offers spirited and sarcastic rebuttals to 10 hot-button claims that conservative commentators tend to advance about the Constitution. In one chapter, for example, Epps picks apart the idea that the Constitution does not provide for separation of church and state; in others, he takes on the recently popular notion that the Second Amendment was intended to make government fear its constituents, and he knocks down recently rewarmed claims about the obsolescence of the Fourteenth Amendment. Although presented in a breezy manner, Epps’ arguments are grounded in a textual interpretation and scholarly research. He also takes particular joy in exposing the contradictions, false premises, and bad faith behind the “conservative myths” he targets. Ultimately, it’s a polemic of sorts, intended to provide progressives with inspiration and factual ammunition to those who seek to challenge right-wing “originalist” notions of constitutional interpretation. --Brendan Driscoll

Review

Despite what many Americans have come to believe, the purpose of the United States Constitution is not to limit Congress, and the line that designates the separation of church and state is quite clear. In this new book, Epps provides the tools needed to fight back against the flood of constitutional nonsense. He tackles ten of the most prevalent myths, discussing in terms every citizen can understand the importance of a clear grasp of the Constitution and the government it established. (Foreword Reviews)

Disgusted by what he calls the Far Right’s “drive to destroy the Constitution in the name of ‘saving’ it,” law professor Epps offers spirited and sarcastic rebuttals to 10 hot-button claims that conservative commentators tend to advance about the Constitution. In one chapter, for example, Epps picks apart the idea that the Constitution does not provide for separation of church and state; in others, he takes on the recently popular notion that the Second Amendment was intended to make government fear its constituents, and he knocks down recently rewarmed claims about the obsolescence of the Fourteenth Amendment. Although presented in a breezy manner, Epps’ arguments are grounded in a textual interpretation and scholarly research. He also takes particular joy in exposing the contradictions, false premises, and bad faith behind the “conservative myths” he targets. Ultimately, it’s a polemic of sorts, intended to provide progressives with inspiration and factual ammunition to those who seek to challenge right-wing “originalist” notions of constitutional interpretation. (Booklist)

Garrett Epps knows more about our Constitution and its history than many who invoke it endlessly on the campaign trail have forgotten. With a rollicking sense of humor and a driving passion, he challenges misunderstandings about our Founders and asserts what is plainly true: That they sought to establish a government that would preserve freedom but would also be strong enough to provide for the general welfare. They sought to make it easier rather than harder for Americans to solve our nation’s problems. Epps is a true original who leaves the originalists’ arguments in shreds. (E. J. Dionne Jr., syndicated columnist and author of Our Divided Political Heart)

Epps combines a scholar's deep understanding of the Constitution with an extraordinary ability to convey its complexities with wit and clarity. This book makes the essential meaning of the Constitution understandable and entertaining. (Walter Dellinger, former Acting Solicitor General and Maggs Professor of Law, Duke University)

For far too long, Americans across the ideological spectrum have ceded the Constitution to the far right-wing of political thinkers. In this desperately-needed book, Garrett Epps takes on the elaborately-crafted fiction that the United States Constitution was drafted principally to protect the rights of gun owners, wealthy corporations, self-interested states and those determined to force their religious views on the unwilling. Of course nothing could be further from the truth. With a novelist's eye, a constitutional law professor's facility with th substantive arguments, and a saber-sharp wit to boot, Epps has produced here a love letter to the real Constitution; the document that has promoted freedom, tolerance and equality in this country for two centuries. Every American who seeks to reclaim that document should read it and confirm their suspicion that the debate over the constitution has two sides, not one. (Dahlia Lithwick, Senior Editor, slate.com)

In this short and elegant book, Professor Epps exposes the fallacies of key conservative claims about the Constitution. For decades, and especially in recent years, the right-wing has made claims about the “true” meaning of the Constitution. Professor Epps thoroughly and persuasive explodes ten of these claims, which he rightly calls myths. Anyone interested in the Constitution, or American government, should read this book. (Erwin Chemerinsky, School of Law, University of California, Irvine)

Wrong and Dangerous: Ten Right Wing Myths about Our Constitutionis by far the most excellent source of factual constitutional knowledge for defeating, deflating and diffusing the far right's hostage takeover of our beloved document. Mr. Epps beautifully details each of the ten myths then destroys them with inconvenient truth repeatedly ignored by the Republican fringe. I highly recommend this book to those who are eager to fight back against those who want to define our Constitution as something it's not. (The Politics of Jamie Sanderson Blog)

Law professor Garrett Epps joins con-serv-a-tive talkers and liberal pundits in excoriating his opponents and offers a patina of scholarly respectability to arguments and assertions that would be at home any hour of the day on MSNBC. (The Weekly Standard)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 232 pages
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers (September 16, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 144221676X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1442216761
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 0.9 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #971,656 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Wrong and Dangerous: Ten Right-Wing Myths about our Constitution

Garrett Epps

Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2012 (hardcover) (Read this in Oct. 2012)

Introduction
The author describes his experience as a student at a seminar on "The Substance and Meaning of the Constitution." The seminar was organized by the National Center for Constitutional Studies (NCCS), a creation of W. Cleon Skousen. The instructor was Lester Pearce, an Arizona justice of the peace. Pearce is brother of former Arizona state senator Russell Pearce, author of Arizona's notorious anti-immigrant law, SB 1070. The NCCS is a source of far-right-wing mythology about the Constitution. The author sees this and other organizations and individuals promoting an "originalist" interpretation of the Constitution as part of a movement to reverse progressive legislation in the United States. This progressive legislation has slowly but surely made American democracy more inclusive by extending the vote to racial minorities and women.

Chapter 1. The Right Is "Originalist" ; Everyone Else Is "Idiotic"
Argues that far-right "originalism" is an intellectual weapon designed to hide from ordinary citizens (Scalia's "idiots") what is in plain sight. Behind the myth of original intent is the assumption that there is a single "clear" intent hidden in each phrase of the Constitution. But often the wording is purposely vague.

Chapter 2. The "Purpose" of the Constitution Is to Limit Congress
On the contrary, under the Articles of Confederation the federal government was too weak. The framers wanted a Constitution that would give the government broad powers. Many of these are enumerated in Article I, Section 8.
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Format: Hardcover
I agreed with the vast majority of positions Epps takes in the book. As he says, the right wing has distorted the Constitution to support their agenda. Ron Paul, especially, is called out in the book as someone who has no idea what he is talking about. He shows why Citizens United was a bad decision, the Tenth Amendment does not say what Rick Perry says it does, and how "originalism" is a fraud. These points are crucial to understanding constitutional law.

It isn't a perfect book, though. My major complaint with Ebbs is that he makes hyperbolic statements like "right wing does not like human equality" and constantly sounds condescending toward people with different views. Statements like this won't ever convince conseratives, even moderates, to question their views. I recommend reading Wrong and Dangerous but fear his sarcastic tone undercuts his message.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
With all the messy rhetoric of the 2016 Presidential race I felt compelled to bone up on my Constitution. Reading the Constitution (which is included as an appendix) will only serve you so much; understanding how the courts have ruled its many challenges, knowing the history behind the various amendments, and being aware of how your political opposition is manipulating its meanings is why you seek out a book like this.

And some of that wish list is fulfilled, but in such a way that the commentary this book adds to the argument is delivered in such a way that it actually detracts (at best) or makes worse.

Mr. Epps organizes his treatise into a 10 Most Wanted List of Conservative myths including:

1) Original Intent vs Living Constitution
2) Founder Intent at Limiting Congress
3) Congress's Unconstitutional use of Commerce Power
4) Constitution Does Not Imply Separation of Church and State
5) Equality and Self-Government <> 1st Amendment
6) 2nd Amendment Intended to Make the Government Fear the People
7) 10th Amendment Allows States to Nullify Federal Law
8) 14th Amendment Soley Addresses Slavery and is Irrelevant to Today's Issues
9) Election of Sentaors is Unfair and Harmful to the States
10) International Law is to be Kept Out of American Courts

If you are like me this is just the right road map for purchase. A couple broad issues, a couple "I can't believe that's still a thing" issues, and one or two you didn't even know where a thing to begin with. And on the surface, and to be fair even under the hood, Mr. Epps does a great job with each of these.
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Format: Hardcover
A much needed book in a climate of deceit regarding our nations formative document the US Constitution. Warning, this book will make you mad when you see the levels of deceit and manipulation being used by the political right to hijack our Constitution and pervert it to support their agenda.

If you will read the negatiive reviews on the book you will see that the bulk of them are simply political hack jobs by people who have not read it.

The book is valuable because we have frankly not been studious in learning our own Constitution. As such we as a people have become susceptible to charlatans who speak in sound bytes and offer anecdotes instead of facts.
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