On Friday, May 8, from 4:30-5:30 PM, the University of St. Thomas School of Law will host an informal “book launch” / signing party at the “Atrium” first floor entrance to the Law School, on the Minneapolis Campus. The law school is located at 10th and LaSalle Ave.
Books will be available for purchase and signing – by at least one of the two co-authors. I will be there (of course – it’s where I work). Alas, Luke will be in California (where he has a “real” job).
Light refreshments will be served. At 5:00 PM, I will give the shortest talk ever given by a law professor. I promise.
All are welcome! If you are reading this, you are invited. The event is especially geared toward honoring and thanking all of my students, both at the University of St. Thomas and the University of Minnesota, and my faculty colleagues from both faculties, for all they have contributed over my twenty-four years (!) of teaching, both indirectly to the book and directly,...
Our book has been reviewed by a sitting Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court – and quite favorably, at that!
Justice Samuel A. Alito has written a wonderfully positive book review of The Constitution: An Introduction, which was posted earlier this week in the on-line version of the Journal Engage (published by The Federalist Society). It will also appear in the print version of that Journal.
You can read Justice Alito’s review here. (We are also posting it on the “Reviews” section of this website.)
We are tremendously honored by Justice Alito’s very generous review.
Stanley Fish, one of the most famous, iconoclastic, and provocative public intellectuals, legal scholars, and literary theorists of our age, has written in praise of The Constitution: An Introduction. We are tremendously gratified by this review.
Here is what Fish has to say about the book:
"The Constitution: An Introduction is packed both with essential information and discerning analysis. More than that, it reads like a novel-adventure story. It will make a great text in any number of classes."
We are honored by Professor Fish’s comments. We especially like the “reads like a novel-adventure story” part – high praise for a book about the Constitution (but also part of what we were aiming to achieve)! And coming from a literature and law scholar at that!
Fish’s praise is too late to make the back cover “blurbs” for the book, but we will add them to the “Early Praise” section of this website.
Posted at Public Discourse last week – and then blogged at Bench Memos – is a short article I wrote for the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in Employment Division v. Smith, the famous “peyote case” rejecting a religious freedom claim to exemption from the application of Oregon’s drug-prohibition laws, where used to prohibit the use of peyote at a Native American religious ritual.
Smith adopted an extremely narrow reading of the scope of the First Amendment’s protection for the “free exercise” of religion. (As my title implies, I am quite critical of the case.)
Our book, The Constitution: An Introduction, discusses – in a much more detached, descriptive manner – the thorny questions of the scope of religious freedom under the Constitution, and the history of the nation’s wrestling with these issues. We do so at several points in the narrative.
Chapter Five, which discusses the entire Bill of Rights, starts off with an introductory disc...
Our first hard copies of the The Constitution: An Introduction arrived last week in Minneapolis and Mountain View! It was very exciting to hold the finished product for the first time and see what we (and the excellent folks at Basic Books) had made. At first I was almost afraid to look inside—after going through so many rounds of editing, I know pretty well what should be there, and I’d feel bad if I found a mistake after it was too late to fix. (Don’t worry, everything seems to be fine so far!) But the outside of the book was new to me, and that was the part that really made me happy.
The first thing I noticed was the size and weight. We’ve been working hard to keep the length down, and at just a bit over 300 pages the hardcover feels unexpectedly light and compact. (A quick glance inside showed me that in part we have the typesetting and page design to thank for this.) From there I moved on to the ‘blurbs’ on the back—which are everything we could have hoped for—an...
Just published, in the May issue of the magazine First Things, is a full-length feature article that Luke and I wrote, entitled “The Great Interpreter,” about the Civil War as an event of constitutional interpretation and about the centrality of President Abraham Lincoln to this war over constitutional meaning.
The article is adapted from Chapter 7 of The Constitution: An Introduction, which covers the constitutional history of the era of “Lincoln, the Civil War, and Reconstruction”.
We are tremendously pleased with this publication, both in its own right and as a way of introducing a large number of serious readers to our book! (We believe that First Things has in the neighborhood of 20,000 subscribers.)
The timing could not have been more perfect either: The magazine has a publication date of May 2015. But it actually arrived in readers mailboxes in early-mid-April, coinciding with the sesquicentennials of the end of the Civil War (with the surrender at Ap...
Last week, on April 9 – the 150th anniversary of Lee’s surrender to Grant at Appomattox Court House, Virginia – I did a podcast discussion, with my friend Michael Kent Curtis, a law professor at Wake Forest University, on constitutional issues surrounding the Civil War and civil liberties under President Abraham Lincoln. The podcast was moderated by National Constitution Center president Jeff Rosen.
My part of the discussion drew upon some of the same material also contained in Chapter 7 of The Constitution: An Introduction. (That chapter is entitled “Lincoln, the Civil War, and Reconstruction”.)
Here are two ways to link to the podcast (which, as of this writing, barely a week later, has some 150,000 downloads): on the National Constitution Center’s website or on the Center’s blog (which mentions the forthcoming book).
Luke and I will be appearing at the National Constitution Center, in Philadelphia, for a live interview and book...
As The Constitution: An Introduction goes to press, we have been busy writing articles – frequently based on material from the book – for publication in on-line journals and popular or scholarly websites. Many of these articles take insights from the book and apply them to today’s hot constitutional issues. (It is striking how so many of today’s constitutional disputes mirror or parallel other famous controversies in our nation’s constitutional history.)
A few recent examples:
* In the rather provocatively entitled Abraham Lincoln and Same-Sex Marriage, published at “The Public Discourse,” I drew some parallels between the structure of the constitutional arguments surrounding today’s hottest constitutional controversy and the remarkably similar structure of the constitutional arguments made with respect to slavery a century and a half ago. In both instances, the question was, first, whether a legal “status” created by state law was binding within the spher...
Why did we write a book about the Constitution? And why should you read it?
No, wait. Before we can answer those questions, there's an even simpler one that we have to answer. Why should we care about the Constitution at all? After all (someone might say), it was adopted over 200 years ago, and these days we usually leave its interpretation to a very small, specialized group of lawyers, judges, and academics. To many people, it might appear that the Constitution has very little to do with the day-to-day operation of government or our interactions with it. What is it that makes a book about the Constitution for a general audience worth writing, or worth reading?
In part it's the first sentence of the Constitution itself: "WE THE PEOPLE of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union... do Ordain and Establish this Constitution." From the very beginning, the Constitution's legitimacy was built on the will of the people. As Abraham Lincoln later said, it es...