America’s Unwritten Constitution: The Precedents and Principles We Live By. (c 2012) Akhil Reed Amar,
the author of America’s Constitution: A Biography (c 2005)
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.
I 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 It seemed to me that this was just a thrown together collection of somewhat outdated essays.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.
Wrong 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.
America’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.
Three 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.
Lessons 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.
Our 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.
In the preface, the author describes how the Constitution, once revered as a uniting force, has now become divisive along ideological lines. “People see in our governing document only what they wish to see. It is not a unifying force, as its authors had intended, but a wedge that widens the partisan divide.” A little bit later he makes the point that history cannot “be understood by treating the past as if it were the present. Much has happened since the founders’ time: national expansion on a shrinking planet, nuclear and biological warfare, Internet and broadcast technologies, and so on — more than two centuries of subsequent history. He gives a rather amusing anecdote to illustrate the changes.
Compare then and now. On October 15, 1789, President Washington set out from New York with only two aides and six servants to tour New England. In his diary, he chronicled the first day of the journey:
‘The road for the greater part, indeed the whole way, was very rough and stoney [sic], but the land strong, well covered with grass and a luxuriant crop of Indian corn intermixed with popions [pumpkins] which were ungathered in the fields. We met four droves of beef cattle for the New York market (about 30 in a drove) some of which were very fine — also a flock of sheep for the same place. We scarcely passes a farm house that did not abd. in geese.’
Washington was traveling through what is now THE BRONX, traversed by interstate highways and expressways, not stony roads, and home to some 1.4 million people packed tightly within apartments. If the country Washington observed was very different back then, so too was the manner in which he observed it, close up and literally on the ground, experiencing every stone in the road. He could meet his constituency directly, without intervention from an advance team, a press corps , or a small army of secret service agents. (p. xi, emphasis mine as anyone who has ever been to the Bronx will agree)
I have been hostile to Sandra Day O’Connor ever since I read that it was her language that gave the states the ability to regulate abortion as long as it was not an “undue burden” to pregnant women. And today’s hundreds of abortion restrictions stem from this language. But I thought it was just me that hated her for being a republican first and a woman second. I thought she was always hailed for making choice the law of the land, but in fact it would seem that she was not progressive on the issue either.