Personal Autonomy and Unenumerated Rights

Hardcover | September 15, 2008

byLaurence H. Tribe

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As everyone knows, the United States Constitution is a tangible, visible document. Many see it in fact as a sacred text, holding no meaning other than that which is clearly visible on the page. Yet as renowned legal scholar Laurence Tribe shows, what is not written in the Constitution plays akey role in its interpretation. Indeed some of the most contentious Constitutional debates of our time hinge on the extent to which it can admit of divergent readings. In The Invisible Constitution, Tribe argues that there is an unseen constitution--impalpable but powerful--that accompanies the parchment version. It is the visible document's shadow, its dark matter: always there and possessing some of its key meanings and values despite its absence on thepage. As Tribe illustrates, some of our most cherished and widely held beliefs about constitutional rights are not part of the written document, but can only be deduced by piecing together hints and clues from it. Moreover, some passages of the Constitution do not even hold today despite theircontinuing existence. Amendments may have fundamentally altered what the Constitution originally said about slavery and voting rights, yet the old provisos about each are still in the text, unrevised. Through a variety of historical episodes and key constitutional cases, Tribe brings to life thisinvisible constitution, showing how it has evolved and how it works. Detailing its invisible structures and principles, Tribe compellingly demonstrates the invisible constitution's existence and operative power. Remarkably original, keenly perceptive, and written with Tribe's trademark analytical flair, this latest volume in Oxford's Inalienable Rights series offers a new way of understanding many of the central constitutional debates of our time.

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As everyone knows, the United States Constitution is a tangible, visible document. Many see it in fact as a sacred text, holding no meaning other than that which is clearly visible on the page. Yet as renowned legal scholar Laurence Tribe shows, what is not written in the Constitution plays akey role in its interpretation. Indeed some...

Laurence Tribe is Carl M. Loeb University Professor at Harvard Law School.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:224 pages, 8.3 × 5.5 × 0.9 inPublished:September 15, 2008Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:019530425X

ISBN - 13:9780195304251

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"A number of sharp and provocative ideas... While many law-review articles have covered the same territory, Tribe lends a unique breadth of knowledge... this stands as one of the most learned and widest-ranging studies of the limitations involved in rendering legal judgment solely on the basis of the Constitution's text."--Book Forum "His original views here are carefully distinguished from the ideas of an 'unwritten Constitution.' His provocative analysis and arguments will challenge readers' understanding of constitutional provisions. Strongly recommended for all academic libraries."--Library Journal "Only a grand master like Laurence Tribe could write this masterpiece. Constitutional interpretation, the understanding of the role of a constitution in a nation's life, and the relationship between constitutional text and context will never be the same as they were before this powerful, inspiring, and original book was written."--Aharon Barak, Chief Justice of Israel (1995-2006) "From our country's most renowned scholar of constitutional law comes a book so breathtaking in its originality and wide-ranging in its scope that it will become an instant classic. To read The Invisible Constitution is to enter the mind of a brilliant thinker as he reflects upon many of the most important issues of the day."--Doris Kearns Goodwin, author of Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln "Laurence Tribe offers us a wonderfully far-reaching and mind-bending seminar on what lies beneath, beyond, before, betwixt and between the ink marks of the parchment Constitution and its amendatory postscripts."--Akhil Amar, author of America's Constitution: A Biography "One ofAmerica's leading constitutional experts has delivered a thought-provoking volume that illuminates the complexities of the country's most important document."--U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein "Laurence Tribe yet again delivers the goods: this is a thought-provoking examination of some of the most critical constitutional questions of our times. Eminently readable, The Invisible Constitution will give rise to many an important debate--and, perhaps, help put an end to one or two as well."--Nina Totenberg, National Public Radio "This lucid, deeply engaging book is truly mind-expanding, looking beyond the text of the document for a completely new framework for understanding the Constitution and its interpretation."--Scott Turow, author of Presumed Innocent and Ultimate Punishment