Because its author, Joseph Story, was a child of the American Revolution who became not only a professor of law at Harvard but a Supreme Court Justice — the youngest ever appointed — joining that giant of the early court, Chief Justice John Marshall.
As a witness to, and participant in, the early years of constitutional interpretation, Justice Story opens a brilliant window into the thinking of the Founders. He reminds us that a strict construction of — and adherence to — the Constitution was what the Founders intended.
As former United States Attorney General Edwin Meese notes in his Foreword, Joseph Story “recognized that departure from the text of the Constitution as originally understood would permit unelected and unaccountable, life-tenured federal judges to impose their personal values on the rest of us, and would ultimately result in judicial tyranny.”
Justice Story understood that the Constitution was viable only if it was defended by educated citizens jealous of their rights and eager to discharge their Responsibilities as a self-governing people. It was to this educational end that Justice Story wrote “A Familiar Exposition of the Constitution of the United States.”
Now, this exclusive Conservative Book Club edition of Joseph Story’s masterpiece will introduce a new generation to this unsurpassed work of American constitutional interpretation. With calm reason and in clear, unpretentious language, Justice Story explains every part, passage and provision of the Constitution, from Preamble to Amendments, with particular attention to such key topics as:
Distribution of Powers * Powers and Privileges of Both Houses of Congress * Mode of Passing Laws * Taxation, Coinage of Money, Regulation of Commerce * Punishment of Felonies * Prohibitions on the Central Government * Prohibitions on the States * Powers and Duties of the President * Powers and Jurisdiction of the Judiciary * Privileges of Citizens * Guaranty of Republican Government * Mode of making Amendments * Public Debt * Supremacy of Constitution and Laws * Impeachment
Justice Story also delves into controversies over the Constitution, patiently refuting erronous interpretations that are perhaps more common today than in his own time. In addition, he offers:
Separate chapters providing important historical context: The History of the Colonies * Colonial Governments * Origins of the Revolution * Revolutionary Government * History of the Confederation * Origin of the Constitution
Complete glossary of legal terms, and other unfamiliar terms used in the text
KEY HISTORICAL DOCUMENTS REPRINTED IN FULL to assist in proper understanding of the Constitution, including: The Declaration of Rights of the Continental Congress * The Declaration of Independence * The Articles of Confederation * The Constitution of the United States * Amendments to the Constitution * George Washington’s Farewell Address * others
Justice Story warned that our constitutional government might “perish in an hour, by the folly, or corruption, or negligence of its only keepers, THE PEOPLE,” if the people did not trouble to learn the history, purpose, and meaning of their own constitution. If anything, his classic is more relevant today than it was when originally published in 1840. Certainly our children are no better educated to understand the Constitution. But more than that, today far too many of our judges seem similarly incapable of understanding constitutional law.
So as you read this book — or give it to your children or grandchildren — be sure to pass along a copy to your local federal judge. He no doubt needs it even more.