The Failure of the Founding Fathers

Author: Bruce ACKERMAN
Publisher: Harvard University Press
ISBN: 9780674020054
Release Date: 2009-06-30
Genre: History

Based on seven years of archival research, the book describes previously unknown aspects of the electoral college crisis of 1800, presenting a revised understanding of the early days of two great institutions that continue to have a major impact on American history: the plebiscitarian presidency and a Supreme Court that struggles to put the presidency's claims of a popular mandate into constitutional perspective. Through close studies of two Supreme Court cases, Ackerman shows how the court integrated Federalist and Republican themes into the living Constitution of the early republic.

The Decline and Fall of the American Republic

Author: Bruce Ackerman
Publisher: Harvard University Press
ISBN: 9780674058392
Release Date: 2011-02-01
Genre: History

Constitutional thought is currently dominated by heroic tales of the Founding Fathers — who built an Enlightenment machine that can tick-tock its way into the twenty-first century, with a little fine-tuning by the Supreme Court. However, according to Bruce Ackerman, the modern presidency is far more dangerous today than it was when Arthur Schlesinger published the Imperial Presidency in 1973. In this book, he explores how the interaction of changes in the party system, mass communications, the bureaucracy, and the military have made the modern presidency too powerful and a threat to liberal constitutionalism and democracy. Ackerman argues that the principles of constitutional legitimacy have been undermined by both political and legal factors. On the political level, by “government by emergency” and “government by public-opinion poll”; on the legal, by two rising institutions: The Office of Legal Counsel in the Department of Justice and the Office of the Presidential Counsel in the White House. Both institutions came out of the New Deal, but have gained prominence only in the last generation. Lastly, Ackerman kicks off a reform debate that aims to adapt the Founding ideal of checks-and-balances to twenty-first century realities. His aim is not to propose definitive solutions but to provoke a national debate on American democracy in its time of trouble.

Andrew Jackson and the Constitution

Author: Gerard N. Magliocca
Publisher:
ISBN: 0700617868
Release Date: 2011
Genre: History

Focuses on key Supreme Court battles during Jackson's tenure--states' rights, the status of Native Americans and slaves, and many others--to demonstrate how the fights between Jacksonian Democrats and Federalists, and later Republicans, is simply the inevitable--and cyclical--shift in constitutional interpretation that happens from one generation to the next.

The Development of the American Presidency

Author: Richard J. Ellis
Publisher: Routledge
ISBN: 9781317552963
Release Date: 2015-06-26
Genre: Political Science

A full understanding of the institution of the American presidency requires us to examine how it developed from the founding to the present. This developmental lens, analyzing how historical turns have shaped the modern institution, allows for a richer, more nuanced understanding beyond the current newspaper headlines. The Development of the American Presidency pays great attention to that historical weight but is organized by the topics and concepts relevant to political science, with the constitutional origins and political development of the presidency its central focus. Through comprehensive and in-depth coverage, this text looks at how the presidency has evolved in relation to the public, to Congress, to the Executive branch, and to the law, showing at every step how different aspects of the presidency have followed distinct trajectories of change. All the while, Ellis illustrates the institutional relationships and tensions through stories about particular individuals and specific political conflicts. Ellis's own classroom pedagogy of promoting active learning and critical thinking is well reflected in these pages. Each chapter begins with a narrative account of some illustrative puzzle that brings to life a central concept. A wealth of photos, figures, and tables allow for the visual presentations of concepts. A companion website not only acts as a further resources base—directing students to primary documents, newspapers, and data sources—but also presents interactive timelines and practice quizzes to help students master the book's lessons. The second edition a new chapter on unilateral powers that brings greater attention to domestic policymaking.

The Limits of Constitutional Democracy

Author: Jeffrey K. Tulis
Publisher: Princeton University Press
ISBN: 1400836794
Release Date: 2010-10-18
Genre: Law

Constitutional democracy is at once a flourishing idea filled with optimism and promise--and an enterprise fraught with limitations. Uncovering the reasons for this ambivalence, this book looks at the difficulties of constitutional democracy, and reexamines fundamental questions: What is constitutional democracy? When does it succeed or fail? Can constitutional democracies conduct war? Can they preserve their values and institutions while addressing new forms of global interdependence? The authors gathered here interrogate constitutional democracy's meaning in order to illuminate its future. The book examines key themes--the issues of constitutional failure; the problem of emergency power and whether constitutions should be suspended when emergencies arise; the dilemmas faced when constitutions provide and restrict executive power during wartime; and whether constitutions can adapt to such globalization challenges as immigration, religious resurgence, and nuclear arms proliferation. In addition to the editors, the contributors are Sotirios Barber, Joseph Bessette, Mark Brandon, Daniel Deudney, Christopher Eisgruber, James Fleming, William Harris II, Ran Hirschl, Gary Jacobsohn, Benjamin Kleinerman, Jan-Werner Müller, Kim Scheppele, Rogers Smith, Adrian Vermeule, and Mariah Zeisberg.

Inventing the Job of President

Author: Fred I. Greenstein
Publisher: Princeton University Press
ISBN: 9781400831364
Release Date: 2009-08-10
Genre: History

From George Washington's decision to buy time for the new nation by signing the less-than-ideal Jay Treaty with Great Britain in 1795 to George W. Bush's order of a military intervention in Iraq in 2003, the matter of who is president of the United States is of the utmost importance. In this book, Fred Greenstein examines the leadership styles of the earliest presidents, men who served at a time when it was by no means certain that the American experiment in free government would succeed. In his groundbreaking book The Presidential Difference, Greenstein evaluated the personal strengths and weaknesses of the modern presidents since Franklin D. Roosevelt. Here, he takes us back to the very founding of the republic to apply the same yardsticks to the first seven presidents from Washington to Andrew Jackson, giving his no-nonsense assessment of the qualities that did and did not serve them well in office. For each president, Greenstein provides a concise history of his life and presidency, and evaluates him in the areas of public communication, organizational capacity, political skill, policy vision, cognitive style, and emotional intelligence. Washington, for example, used his organizational prowess--honed as a military commander and plantation owner--to lead an orderly administration. In contrast, John Adams was erudite but emotionally volatile, and his presidency was an organizational disaster. Inventing the Job of President explains how these early presidents and their successors shaped the American presidency we know today and helped the new republic prosper despite profound challenges at home and abroad.

Thomas Jefferson and Executive Power

Author: Jeremy D. Bailey
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
ISBN: 9781139466295
Release Date: 2007-07-09
Genre: Political Science

By revisiting Thomas Jefferson's understanding of executive power this book offers a new understanding of the origins of presidential power. Before Jefferson was elected president, he arrived at a way to resolve the tension between constitutionalism and executive power. Because his solution would preserve a strict interpretation of the Constitution as well as transform the precedents left by his Federalist predecessors, it provided an alternative to Alexander Hamilton's understanding of executive power. In fact, a more thorough account of Jefferson's political career suggests that Jefferson envisioned an executive that was powerful, or 'energetic', because it would be more explicitly attached to the majority will. Jefferson's Revolution of 1800, often portrayed as a reversal of the strong presidency, was itself premised on energy in the executive and was part of Jefferson's project to enable the Constitution to survive and even flourish in a world governed by necessity.

Revolution by Judiciary

Author: Jed Rubenfeld
Publisher: Harvard University Press
ISBN: 0674017153
Release Date: 2005
Genre: Law

Although constitutional law is supposed to be fixed and enduring, its central narrative in the twentieth century has been one of radical reinterpretation--Brown v. Board of Education, Roe v. Wade, Bush v. Gore. What, if anything, justifies such radical reinterpretation? How does it work doctrinally? What, if anything, structures it or limits it? Jed Rubenfeld finds a pattern in American constitutional interpretation that answers these questions convincingly. He posits two different understandings of how constitutional rights would apply or not apply to particular legislation. One is that a right would be violated if certain laws were passed. The other is that a right would not be violated. He calls the former "Application Understandings" and the latter "No-Application Understandings." He finds that constitutional law has almost always adhered to all of the original Application Understandings, but where it has departed from history, as it did in the Brown decision, it has departed from No-Application Understandings. Specifically, the Fourteenth Amendment did not prohibit racial segregation, so Rubenfeld argues that the Supreme Court had no problem reinterpreting it to prohibit it. It was a No-Application Understanding. This is a powerful argument that challenges current theories of constitutional interpretation from Bork to Dworkin. It rejects simplistic originalism, but restores historicity to constitutional theorizing.

Popular Leadership in the Presidency

Author: Karen S. Hoffman
Publisher: Lexington Books
ISBN: 9780739144213
Release Date: 2010-07-24
Genre: Political Science

While most research on the public presidency focuses on modern presidents, this book demonstrates how the structure of the executive encourages a connection with the public for all presidents. An examination of the first four presidents in Popular Leadership in the Presidency reveals their methods of public persuasion as well as the influence of their structural position.

We the People Volume 3

Author: Bruce Ackerman
Publisher: Harvard University Press
ISBN: 9780674416499
Release Date: 2014-03-03
Genre: Law

The Civil Rights Revolution carries Bruce Ackerman's sweeping reinterpretation of constitutional history into the era beginning with Brown v Board of Education. Laws that ended Jim Crow and ensured equal rights at work, in schools, and in the voting booth gained congressional approval only after the American people mobilized their support.

Framed

Author: Sanford Levinson
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 9780199930876
Release Date: 2012-04-03
Genre: Law

In his widely acclaimed volume Our Undemocratic Constitution, Sanford Levinson boldly argued that our Constitution should not be treated with "sanctimonious reverence," but as a badly flawed document deserving revision. Now Levinson takes us deeper, asking what were the original assumptions underlying our institutions, and whether we accept those assumptions 225 years later. In Framed, Levinson challenges our belief that the most important features of our constitutions concern what rights they protect. Instead, he focuses on the fundamental procedures of governance such as congressional bicameralism; the selection of the President by the electoral college, or the dimensions of the President's veto power--not to mention the near impossibility of amending the United States Constitution. These seemingly "settled" and "hardwired" structures contribute to the now almost universally recognized "dysfunctionality" of American politics. Levinson argues that we should stop treating the United States Constitution as uniquely exemplifying the American constitutional tradition. We should be aware of the 50 state constitutions, often interestingly different--and perhaps better--than the national model. Many states have updated their constitutions by frequent amendment or by complete replacement via state constitutional conventions. California's ungovernable condition has prompted serious calls for a constitutional convention. This constant churn indicates that basic law often reaches the point where it fails and becomes obsolete. Given the experience of so many states, he writes, surely it is reasonable to believe that the U.S. Constitution merits its own updating. Whether we are concerned about making America more genuinely democratic or only about creating a system of government that can more effectively respond to contemporary challenges, we must confront the ways our constitutions, especially the United States Constitution, must be changed in fundamental ways.

Dominion of Memories

Author: Susan Dunn
Publisher: Basic Books
ISBN: 9780465006793
Release Date: 2007-07-30
Genre: History

For decades, the Commonwealth of Virginia led the nation. The premier state in population, size, and wealth, it produced a galaxy of leaders: Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Mason, Marshall. Four of the first five presidents were Virginians. And yet by the middle of the nineteenth century, Virginia had become a byword for slavery, provincialism, and poverty. What happened? In her remarkable book, Dominion of Memories, historian Susan Dunn reveals the little known story of the decline of the Old Dominion. While the North rapidly industrialized and democratized, Virginia's leaders turned their backs on the accelerating modern world. Spellbound by the myth of aristocratic, gracious plantation life, they waged an impossible battle against progress and time itself. In their last years, two of Virginia's greatest sons, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, grappled vigorously with the Old Dominion's plight. But bound to the traditions of their native soil, they found themselves grievously torn by the competing claims of state and nation, slavery and equality, the agrarian vision and the promises of economic development and prosperity. This fresh and penetrating examination of Virginia's struggle to defend its sovereignty, traditions, and unique identity encapsulates, in the history of a single state, the struggle of an entire nation drifting inexorably toward Civil War.

The Supreme Court and the American Elite 1789 2008

Author: Lucas A. Powe, Jr.
Publisher: Harvard University Press
ISBN: 9780674054424
Release Date: 2009-04-17
Genre: History

In this engaging - and disturbing - book, a leading historian of the Court reveals the close fit between its decisions and the nation's politics. Drawing on more than four decades of thinking about the Supreme Court and its role in the American political system, this book offers a new, clear, and troubling perspective on American jurisprudence, politics, and history.

Judicial Politics in Polarized Times

Author: Thomas M. Keck
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
ISBN: 9780226182414
Release Date: 2014-12-03
Genre: Law

When the Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act, some saw the decision as a textbook example of neutral judicial decision making, noting that a Republican Chief Justice joined the Court’s Democratic appointees to uphold most provisions of the ACA. Others characterized the decision as the latest example of partisan justice and cited the actions of a bloc of the Court’s Republican appointees, who voted to strike down the statute in its entirety. Still others argued that the ACA’s fate ultimately hinged not on the Court but on the outcome of the 2012 election. These interpretations reflect larger stories about judicial politics that have emerged in polarized America. Are judges neutral legal umpires, unaccountable partisan activists, or political actors whose decisions conform to—rather than challenge—the democratic will? Drawing on a sweeping survey of litigation on abortion, affirmative action, gay rights, and gun rights across the Clinton, Bush, and Obama eras, Thomas M. Keck argues that, while each of these stories captures part of the significance of judicial politics in polarized times, each is also misleading. Despite judges’ claims, actual legal decisions are not the politically neutral products of disembodied legal texts. But neither are judges “tyrants in robes,” undermining democratic values by imposing their own preferences. Just as often, judges and the public seem to be pushing in the same direction. As for the argument that the courts are powerless institutions, Keck shows that their decisions have profound political effects. And, while advocates on both the left and right engage constantly in litigation to achieve their ends, neither side has consistently won. Ultimately, Keck argues, judges respond not simply as umpires, activists, or political actors, but in light of distinctive judicial values and practices.