Category: Supreme Court

America’s Unwritten Constitution by Akhil Reed Amar

book jacket

America’s Unwritten Constitution: The Precedents and Principles We Live By. (c 2012) Akhil Reed Amar,

the author of America’s book jacket title and image of quill penConstitution: A Biography (c 2005)

Okay read. Could be better.

 

 

I am completely mystified about this blank page. I am sure I wrote something on the first title of these books, but I see I tagged it “must re-checkout from library.

As I recall, this first one was a good book. I remember have a few criticisms like the ill-designed index and somewhat inadequate index (not the author’s fault, professional indexers are usually used to create).

I learned a bunch of stuff from this book and it really peeves me that I read and did not, apparently, write a post at the same time. I guess that means it had pretty gripping material.

I do recommend it for a read.

 

book jacketI also checked out his other book, The Constitution Today Read parts and skimmed most, but did not find it particularly good. To explain what I mean by good, it has to tell me stuff I didn’t already know, be organized in a coherent and useful pattern, and have some kind of consistent point-of-view. It seemed to me that this was just a thrown together collection of somewhat outdated essays. Not recommended reading; a disappointment.

 

 

 

 

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Wrong and Dangerous by Garrett Epps

book jacket with scrap of Constitution showingWrong and Dangerous: Ten Right-Wing Myths about Our Constitution by Garrett Epps (2012)

This slim volume is a fun read (the touches of sarcasm are a delight) about what the Constitution actually says and directly refutes right-wing claims to the contrary. Excellent notes and list of books for further reading by categories like “the Bill of Rights” and an appendix that provides the actual text of the Constitution plus the first version that failed to meet the needs of the nation due to lack of sufficient federal authority over states’ rights. Personally, I long for the day that the entire concept of “states’ rights” is abolished. My rights as a citizen should not depend on geography. States’ rights is a vestigial concept leftover from the fear of a central “kingdom” type of government.

I may write the author and suggest he dedicate another volume to the Fourteenth Amendment, and social justice issues related to it that have had Supreme Court (bad or good) rulings, especially in the area of racism and sexism.

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America’s Constitution by Akhil Reed Amar

book jacket title and image of quill penAmerica’s Constitution: A Biography by Akhil Reed Amor (c 2005)

This is a very long book, 477 pages including the postscript, plus back matter that includes the text of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, plus extensive notes, and an index that brings it up to 655 pages. When approaching such a vast book, I rarely read straight through, or even all of it since some of it is redundant to what I already know. Unfortunately, the chapter titles in the book are next to useless in describing the content one might expect to see in the book and it is clearly not organized by any logical organization. As a “biography” the author obviously declares that he must start at the beginning. Back in the day when I was a book development editor, I would have strongly recommended some alternative structure than starting at the beginning. Since no dates are included in the headers or chapter pages.

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Overdue and Out of Renewals for Darn Good Books

I have completely gotten bogged down due to issues with my eyes. There may be a need for me to get a reading machine at this rate. I am going to have to give a bunch up and then come back to this page to re-reserve when I get down to a handful, 90 is simply too many to juggle! I need to stop hitting the reserve every time I see something on BookTV and just do a future to read page so I don’t forget them. A few have already slipped by but a few more I did remember to make a note of them to read later.

book jacket with graphic of ear of cornBetting on Famine: why the World STILL Goes Hungry by Jean Ziegler (2013) is a compelling read, and I want to do it justice. The pages I did read are terrifying and mortifying. There is considerable discussion about the fact that the Nazi’s deliberately starved people in the concentration camps before they killed them. Since I have seen horrible images of the survivors, I know this to be true. Unbelievably wicked but everywhere everyday children and adults are dying from hunger. Fewer people would be a good start to avoiding the problem in the first place, but that is never going to happen since the various religions believe having children is the whole point of women’s lives.

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Three Felonies a Day by Harvey A. Silverglate

people on hill with hand on gavelThree Felonies a Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent by Harry A. Silverglate (2009). Excellent forward by Alan Dershowitz

.This book was an interlibrary loan book, so I have to take it back without being able to quote much from it. It is well-written and readable if a bit intense and complex. He argues that the laws and other aspects of law, like the Code of Federal Regulations has grown so bloated and extensive that ordinary people break  laws and rules and never even know it. Unless, of course, they have done something to draw the Feds attention to themselves, and then the full prosecutorial forces grab onto the most inconsequential detail and use it like a hammer on a nail to take down someone who never INTENTIONALLY broke the law. No one can completely know all of the laws the government has implemented these days, so ignorance of the law should actually be a reasonable defense. And he cites many many cases and circumstances that prove deliberate targeting and selective enforcement.

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Lessons in Censorship by Catherine J. Ross

book jacket with photo of chin and neck with tape over the mouth were the Lessons in Censorship words appearLessons in Censorship: How Schools and Courts Subvert Students’ First Amendment Rights by Catherine J. Ross (2015)

This title is a nice play on words because of the “lessons” and then the subsequent focus on students’ right. It was funny, I had been reading this and a Facebook post about a high school student refusing to wear a bra came up as an incident, because her male teacher complained it was distracting. The photo I saw was pretty plain and I wouldn’t have known one way or the other. I have to ask myself, why is he looking at her breasts instead of her eyes in the first place. School authorities of course wanted her to change her behavior and she refused. I say RIGHT ON SISTER!

Back in the day I and many other women chose not to wear the uncomfortable undergarments. I liken them to other female clothing mandates to restrict our comfort and ability to move. Granted some women find them necessary, and certainly athletic women find them helpful. But I just have the feeling if she wore a push up bra and a v-neck blouse, somehow that would not bother him as much as the indication that *under her clothes* but not visible, she was not wearing a bra.

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Imbeciles by Adam Cohen

book jacket with title and authorImbeciles: The Supreme Court, American Eugenics, and the Sterilization of Carrie Buck by Adam Cohen, (2016)

This is probably the most famous case of any relating to the ill-considered eugenics movement that contributed to the discredited Social Darwinism philosophy and serious racism (blacks being considered subhuman for no actual basis other than having been enslaved because of the color of their skin – which I think if it was written as science fiction no one with a brain would find this notion credible and would not be able to suspend their disbelief for such a novel). And more obviously, led to the genocide of the Jews in the Holocaust, which led to a withdrawal of the concept from acceptable “science” but I fear lingers on to this day. We see genocide over religion as well as people who are in tribes that are simply taller people (Rawanda – read Elmore Leonard’s novel Pagan Babies, that includes some on it, horrifying).

So the gist of the issue was that 8 Supreme Court justices decided Carrie Buck was of low intelligence (without any basis; when she was allowed in school she was better than average). As the child of a single mom because the husband had abandoned the family, she was vulnerable. After her mother was confined to a facility for purported “immorality” [pretty sure only women were confined for that] and prostitution [not sure she had another way of making a living], and syphilis [big surprise].

Carrie was sent to live with foster parents, who removed her from school to be treated as a servant. Then the family’s nephew raped Carrie and she become pregnant herself, giving birth to a daughter out of wedlock (it is a really horrible story; the foster parents adopted and got custody of Carrie’s child while she was sent to the home, and were, as I recall abusive of  her child. The daughter died at age eight.

Carrie was deemed “immoral” for having been raped. We have not made much progress on that front. She was a test case by the Nazi sympathizer involved in a move to sterilize for race purity and mentally challenged as well as, shockingly, epileptics.

The short version is that they used her as a test case to validate the right of the State to sterilize people. And the dreadful horrible evil of 8 of 9 old white men decided that the State had a right to sterilize people without their permission and often without their knowledge.

Like other horrible Supreme Court decisions, the completely horrific consequences were not seen as evil at the time, people did not protest. They agreed that this should be done.

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A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn

book jacket with portrait of Howard ZinnA People’s History of the United States (1980 original, most recent 2010)
by Howard Zinn (award winning author)

Considered a modern classic for good reason. Every page an eye opening experience to the “real” history of America and you just know it is all true, especially the parts you have lived through but didn’t understand at the time, this book makes the behind the scenes and suppressed or avoided factual presentation in school books.

This is a MUST BUY AND READ BOOK. I say buy because it is over 700 pages long. Plus good to have as a reference. I checked it out from the library but someone else put a reserve on it (!!!) so have to take it back so will be buying it myself. I am kind of flummoxed by the number of times recently that books I have checked out get reserved limiting my renewals. It seems statistically unlikely, especially for an older book like this. And since I had never heard of him before coming across his name in another book, that is strange too. I still can’t believe I lived through this time and did not realize how significant or even who he was! Amazing man, superb research and writing.

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On C-SPAN2 BookTV tonight

Two of the best books I have read lately have their authors featured tonight on Book TV so will probably be available online as well. The Tuscon  Book Festival features Sisters in Law by Linda Hirshman on Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Sandra O’Conner. Later will feature the author of  the next book I am going to buy, Dissent and the Supreme Court, by Melvin Urofsky.

For my discussions and extensive quotations of pertinent policy issues contemporaneously, look at my list of posts.

 

Our Bodies, Our Crimes by Jeanne Flavin

partial image of a black woman in handcuffsOur Bodies, Our Crimes: the Policing of Women’s Reproduction in America by Jeanne Flavin (2008)

To start with, read this Op-Ed the author wrote and is the text in GoodReads (click above link)

The Real Issue behind the Abortion DebateAn op-ed by Jeanne Flavin in the “San Francisco Chronicle”

2009 “Choice” Outstanding Academic Title

The intense policing of women s reproductive capacity places women’s health and human rights in great peril. Poor women are pressured to undergo sterilization. Women addicted to illicit drugs risk arrest for carrying their pregnancies to term. Courts, child welfare, and law enforcement agencies fail to recognize the efforts of battered and incarcerated women to care for their children. Pregnant inmates are subject to inhumane practices such as shackling during labor and poor prenatal care. And decades after “Roe,” the criminalization of certain procedures and regulation of abortion providers still obstruct women s access to safe and private abortions.

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