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The Constitution of the United States created a representative republic marked by federalism and the separation of powers. Yet in recent decades, numerous federal judges — led by the Supreme Court — have used the Constitution as a blank check allowing them to substitute their own views on hot-button issues such as abortion, capital punishment and “gay marriage” for perfectly constitutional laws enacted by “We, the People” through our elected representatives. Now, “The Politically Incorrect Guide™ to the Constitution” shows that there is very little relationship between the Constitution ratified by the thirteen states more than two centuries ago and the “constitutional law” imposed upon us in the name of that Constitution since then. Instead of the system dominated by state-level decision-makers and elected officials the Constitution was intended to create, the judges have given us a highly centralized system in which bureaucrats and appointed officials make most of the important policies.
In The Politically Incorrect Guide? to the Constitution, Professor Kevin Gutzman:
- explains how the Constitution was understood by the founders who wrote it and the people who ratified it
- traces the career of the Supreme Court as it uses the fig leaf of the Constitution to cover its naked usurpation of the rights and powers the Constitution explicitly reserves to the states and to the people
- shows how this tendency was established in the first decade of the nineteenth century, under the “Great Chief Justice,” John Marshall
- shows how we went from the Constitution’s republican federal government, with its very limited powers, to an unrepublican “judgeocracy” with limitless powers
- reveals how entire areas of American law and society were remade in the wake of Supreme Court rulings
- shows how the Court has used the fiction of a “living constitution” to cover their legislative behavior
- reveals how the Fourteenth Amendment has been used to make the Constitution a check on state power instead of on federal power, as originally intended
- exposes the radical inconsistency between “constitutional law” and the rule of law
- contends that the judges who receive the most attention in history books are celebrated for acting against the Constitution, rightly understood, rather than for it
- explodes the “myth of incomprehensibility” by which the American people have been trained to believe that only a specially trained “elite” can understand the Constitution – paving the way for Court rulings that defy not only its plain meaning but common sense.
As Professor Gutzman shows, constitutional law is supposed to be the application of the Constitution’s plain meaning to bind judges, presidents, and congresses–all wielders of federal power. If we want to return to the Founding Fathers’ vision of the Republic, if we want the Constitution enforced in the way it was explained to the people at the time of its ratification, then we have to overcome the “received wisdom” about what constitutional law is. The Politically Incorrect Guide? to the Constitution is a step in that direction.
The real vs. the “politically correct” Constitution:
- Why the Constitution deliberately did not give federal courts the power to decide contentious political issues – such as those roiling the American political waters today
- How the omnipotence of today’s Supreme Court would have surprised and horrified the founders — even the Federalists
- How the arguments that were made for ratifying the Constitution are vital to the so-called “original understanding” — the real meaning — of the Constitution
- How attempts by monarchists and nationalists in the Philadelphia Convention of 1787 to create a centralized national government (as opposed to a decentralized federal one) were rejected by the delegates
- How Article III of the Constitution created, not a national judiciary, but a federal judiciary that and left most judicial power in the state governments
- How the ratification debates prove that secession was constitutional
- How the concept of state sovereignty so dear to the delegates at the Philadelphia Convention was effectively dismissed by judges only six years later
- How today’s “Imperial Judiciary” started with the first “great” Supreme Court Justice, John Marshall
- How Marshall had the nerve to tell one of the framers of the Constitution that he had been flat-out wrong!
- Why, based on Marshall’s flawed reasoning in McCulloch v. Maryland, President Andrew Jackson almost invaded South Carolina
- How the Supreme Court’s opinion in Dred Scott v. Sandford was designed by Chief Justice Taney to sink the Republican Party (which had been founded in 1854 as a single-issue party opposed to slavery’s expansion)
- How the Fourteenth Amendment was never constitutionally proposed to the states by Congress and never constitutionally ratified by the states — and yet today it stands as one of the most significant parts of the American legal system
- How, under FDR, the Supreme Court used foreign law to decide that the federal government could conscript men into the military
- How America’s still-vital constitutional traditions impeded the socialist doctrines that swept most other countries in the 1930s
- How, before FDR threatened the Supreme Court, it generally ruled against the perfectly constitutional economic legislation of the states — but afterward it rubber-stamped Congress’s utterly unconstitutional New Deal programs
- How the 20th-century Supreme Court found another way to justify imposing their preferences on “constitutional law”: giving trendy sociological studies equal or greater weight than the words of the Constitution
- Why the First Amendment protects freedom of speech and press– but not freedom of armbands, freedom of flag burning, or freedom of Internet pornography
- How the 1954 case of Brown v. Board of Education allowed the Supreme Court to assume the moral high ground, but the decision had no basis in the Constitution
- How, in order to forcibly integrate the public schools, the Supreme Court effectively overturned Brown
- How the Court discerned “emanations from penumbras” in the Constitution that supposedly guarantee a right to contraception and abortion
“The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Constitution is an interesting, informative, and fun to read romp through American constitutional history from an extremely skeptical point of view. Gutzman argues for a return to the system of limited national government contemplated by the Framers. He has provided in essence a book-length demonstration of the fact that the Constitution has very little to do with constitutional law, meaning that we have moved from a republican form of government to government by unelected, life-tenured judges.” —Lino A. Graglia, Professor of Law, University of Texas School of Law
“Very few Americans–and even fewer lawyers, judges, and scholars–understand that the Constitution they revere is not the Constitution bequeathed by the Founding Fathers. Ambition, ignorance, vested interests, the lust for power, false assumptions, distorted judicial postures, and the hard knocks of history have changed it into something never dreamed of by its creators. Few things are more important than for Americans to understand this. Professor Gutzman fearlessly recovers for us what the real Constitution looks like.” —Clyde Wilson, Professor of History, University of South Carolina
“Although written in a pleasant, accessible style, The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Constitution is the most important introduction to the subject ever written, and one that will challenge and enlighten anyone who reads it. This sweeping review of our Constitution and its history is at once fascinating, infuriating (there are far more bad guys in American history than you thought), and impossible to put down.” —Thomas E. Woods, author of The Politically Incorrect Guide™ to American History
Tags: Kevin Gutzman, The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Constitution