America's Unwritten Constitution: The Precedents and Principles We Live By by Akhil Reed AmarAmerica's Unwritten Constitution: The Precedents and Principles We Live By by Akhil Reed Amar

America's Unwritten Constitution: The Precedents and Principles We Live By

byAkhil Reed Amar

Paperback | January 6, 2015

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Despite its venerated place atop American law and politics, our written Constitution does not enumerate all of the rules and rights, principles and procedures that actually govern modern America. The document makes no explicit mention of cherished concepts like the separation of powers and the rule of law. On some issues, the plain meaning of the text misleads. For example, the text seems to say that the vice president presides over his own impeachment trial#151;but surely this cannot be right. As esteemed legal scholar Akhil Reed Amar explains inAmerica's Unwritten Constitution, the solution to many constitutional puzzles lies not solely within the written document, but beyond it#151;in the vast trove of values, precedents, and practices that complement and complete the terse text.

In this sequel toAmerica's Constitution: A Biography, Amar takes readers on a tour of our nation'sunwrittenConstitution, showing how America's foundational document cannot be understood in textual isolation. Proper constitutional interpretation depends on a variety of factors, such as the precedents set by early presidents and Congresses; common practices of modern American citizens; venerable judicial decisions; and particularly privileged sources of inspiration and guidance, including theFederalistpapers, William Blackstone'sCommentaries on the Laws of England, the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, and Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream” speech. These diverse supplements are indispensible instruments for making sense of the written Constitution. When used correctly, these extra-textual aids support and enrich the written document without supplanting it.

An authoritative work by one of America's preeminent legal scholars,America's Unwritten Constitutionpresents a bold new vision of the American constitutional system, showing how the complementary relationship between the Constitution's written and unwritten components is one of America's greatest and most enduring strengths.
Akhil Reed Amaris the Sterling Professor of Law and Political Science at Yale University, and also periodically serves as a visiting professor at Harvard, Stanford, Columbia, and Pepperdine Law Schools. Amar is the author of five books, includingAmerica's Constitution, which won the Silver Gavel Award from the American Bar Association,...
Title:America's Unwritten Constitution: The Precedents and Principles We Live ByFormat:PaperbackDimensions:640 pages, 9.25 × 6 × 1.75 inPublished:January 6, 2015Publisher:Basic BooksLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0465064906

ISBN - 13:9780465064908

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Table of Contents


1. Reading Between the Lines: America’s Implicit Constitution
2. Heeding the Deed: America’s Enacted Constitution
3. Hearing the People: America’s Lived Constitution
4. Confronting Modern Case Law: America’s “Warrented” Constitution
5. Putting Precedent in Its Place: America’s Doctrinal Constitution
6. Honoring the Icons: America’s Symbolic Constitution
7. “Remembering the Ladies”: America’s Feminist Constitution
8. Following Washington’s Lead: America’s “Georgian” Constitution
9. Interpreting Government Practices: America’s Institutional Constitution
10. Joining the Party: America’s Partisan Constitution
11. Doing the Right Thing: America’s Conscientious Constitution
12. Envisioning the Future: America’s Unfinished Constitution

Appendix: America’s Written Constitution
Illustration Credits

Editorial Reviews

"This is an engrossing, epic work of enduring importance--not only a treasure trove for scholars of American law, history, and politics, but also an inspiring, empowering guidebook for activists. It compellingly demonstrates how to harness the Constitution's full meaning in order to promote its thrilling vision of liberty and justice for all. No matter what your prior knowledge of this field, and no matter what your ideological perspective, this magnificent book will enhance your understanding and appreciation of our cherished Constitution. If I had to choose a single work to recommend to either my constitutional law students or my civil libertarian colleagues, this would be it."-Nadine Strossen, former president, American Civil Liberties Union; professor, New York Law School