louis michael seidman on constitutional disobedience

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On Constitutional Disobedience

Author : Louis Michael Seidman
ISBN : 9780199969692
Genre : Political Science
File Size : 81. 9 MB
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What would the Framers of the Constitution make of multinational corporations? Nuclear weapons? Gay marriage? They led a preindustrial country, much of it dependent on slave labor, huddled on the Atlantic seaboard. The Founders saw society as essentially hierarchical, led naturally by landed gentry like themselves. Yet we still obey their commands, two centuries and one civil war later. According to Louis Michael Seidman, it's time to stop. In On Constitutional Disobedience, Seidman argues that, in order to bring our basic law up to date, it needs benign neglect. This is a highly controversial assertion. The doctrine of "original intent" may be found on the far right, but the entire political spectrum--left and right--shares a deep reverence for the Constitution. And yet, Seidman reminds us, disobedience is the original intent of the Constitution. The Philadelphia convention had gathered to amend the Articles of Confederation, not toss them out and start afresh. The "living Constitution" school tries to bridge the gap between the framers and ourselves by reinterpreting the text in light of modern society's demands. But this attempt is doomed, Seidman argues. One might stretch "due process of law" to protect an act of same-sex sodomy, yet a loyal-but-contemporary reading cannot erase the fact that the Constitution allows a candidate who lost the popular election to be seated as president. And that is only one of the gross violations of popular will enshrined in the document. Seidman systematically addresses and refutes the arguments in favor of Constitutional fealty, proposing instead that it be treated as inspiration, not a set of commands. The Constitution is, at its best, a piece of poetry to liberty and self-government. If we treat it as such, the author argues, we will make better progress in achieving both.

On Constitutional Disobedience

Author : Louis Michael Seidman
ISBN : 9780199898275
Genre : Law
File Size : 82. 49 MB
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In On Constitutional Disobedience, leading constitutional scholar Louis Michael Seidman explains why constitutional disobedience may well produce a better politics and considers the shape that such disobedience might take. First, though, he stresses that is worth remembering the primary goals of the original Constitution's authors, many of which were unseemly both then and now. Should we really feel obligated to defend our electoral college or various other features that arguably lead to unjust results? Yet many of our political debates revolve around constitutional features that no one loves but which everyone feels obligated to defend. After walking through the various defenses put forth by proponents of the US Constitutional system, Seidman shows why none of them hold up. The solution, he claims, is to abandon our loyalty to many of the document's requirements and instead embrace the Constitution as a 'poetic' vision of a just society. Lest we worry that forsaking the Constitution will result in anarchy, we only need to remember Great Britain, which functions very effectively without a written constitution. If we were to do this, we could design sensible institutions that fit our own era and craft solutions that have the support of today's majorities. Seidman worries that if we continue to embrace the anachronistic commands of a centuries-old document, our political and institutional dysfunction will only increase. The answer is not to abandon the Constitution in its entirety, but to treat it as an inspiration while disobeying the many particulars that deserve to go into history's dustbin.

Restoring The Lost Constitution

Author : Randy E. Barnett
ISBN : 9781400848133
Genre : Law
File Size : 86. 27 MB
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The U.S. Constitution found in school textbooks and under glass in Washington is not the one enforced today by the Supreme Court. In Restoring the Lost Constitution, Randy Barnett argues that since the nation's founding, but especially since the 1930s, the courts have been cutting holes in the original Constitution and its amendments to eliminate the parts that protect liberty from the power of government. From the Commerce Clause, to the Necessary and Proper Clause, to the Ninth and Tenth Amendments, to the Privileges or Immunities Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, the Supreme Court has rendered each of these provisions toothless. In the process, the written Constitution has been lost. Barnett establishes the original meaning of these lost clauses and offers a practical way to restore them to their central role in constraining government: adopting a "presumption of liberty" to give the benefit of the doubt to citizens when laws restrict their rightful exercises of liberty. He also provides a new, realistic and philosophically rigorous theory of constitutional legitimacy that justifies both interpreting the Constitution according to its original meaning and, where that meaning is vague or open-ended, construing it so as to better protect the rights retained by the people. As clearly argued as it is insightful and provocative, Restoring the Lost Constitution forcefully disputes the conventional wisdom, posing a powerful challenge to which others must now respond. This updated edition features an afterword with further reflections on individual popular sovereignty, originalist interpretation, judicial engagement, and the gravitational force that original meaning has exerted on the Supreme Court in several recent cases.

The Future Of Foreign Intelligence

Author : Laura K. Donohue
ISBN : 9780190235383
Genre : Civil rights
File Size : 20. 59 MB
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"Since the Revolutionary War, America's military and political leaders have recognized that U.S. national security depends upon the collection of intelligence. Absent information about foreign threats, the thinking went, the country and its citizens stood in great peril. To address this, the Courts and Congress have historically given the President broad leeway to obtain foreign intelligence. But in order to find information about an individual in the United States, the executive branch had to demonstrate that the person was an agent of a foreign power. Today, that barrier no longer exists. The intelligence community now collects massive amounts of data and then looks for potential threats to the United States. As renowned national security law scholar Laura K. Donohue explains in The Future of Foreign Intelligence, the internet and new technologies such as biometric identification systems have not changed our lives in countless ways. But they have also led to a very worrying transformation. The amount and types of information that the government can obtain has radically expanded, and information that is being collected for foreign intelligence purposes is now being used for domestic criminal prosecution. Traditionally, the Courts have allowed exceptions to the Fourth Amendment rule barring illegal search and seizure on national security grounds. But the new ways in which we collect intelligence are swallowing the rule altogether. Just as alarming, the ever-weaker standards that mark foreign intelligence collection are now being used domestically-and the convergence between these realms threatens individual liberty. Donohue traces the evolution of foreign intelligence law and pairs that account with the progress of Fourth Amendment jurisprudence. She argues that the programmatic surveillance that the National Security Agency conducts amounts to a general warrant-the prevention of which was the point of introducing the Fourth Amendment. The expansion of foreign intelligence surveillance-leant momentum by significant advances in technology, the Global War on Terror, and the emphasis on securing the homeland-now threatens to consume protections essential to privacy, which is a necessary component of a healthy democracy. Donohue offers an agenda for reining in the national security state's expansive reach, primarily through Congressional statutory reform that will force the executive and judicial branches to take privacy seriously, even as it provides for the continued collection of intelligence central to U.S. national security. Both alarming and penetrating, this is essential reading for anyone interested in the future of foreign intelligence and privacy in the United States"--

The Twilight Of Human Rights Law

Author : Eric Posner
ISBN : 9780199313464
Genre : Political Science
File Size : 43. 78 MB
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Countries solemnly intone their commitment to human rights, and they ratify endless international treaties and conventions designed to signal that commitment. At the same time, there has been no marked decrease in human rights violations, even as the language of human rights has become the dominant mode of international moral criticism. Well-known violators like Libya, Saudi Arabia, and Sudan have sat on the U.N. Council on Human Rights. But it's not just the usual suspects that flagrantly disregard the treaties. Brazil pursues extrajudicial killings. South Africa employs violence against protestors. India tolerate child labor and slavery. The United States tortures. In The Twilight of Human Rights Law--the newest addition to Oxford's highly acclaimed Inalienable Rights series edited by Geoffrey Stone--the eminent legal scholar Eric A. Posner argues that purposefully unenforceable human rights treaties are at the heart of the world's failure to address human rights violations. Because countries fundamentally disagree about what the public good requires and how governments should allocate limited resources in order to advance it, they have established a regime that gives them maximum flexibility--paradoxically characterized by a huge number of vague human rights that encompass nearly all human activity, along with weak enforcement machinery that churns out new rights but cannot enforce any of them. Posner looks to the foreign aid model instead, contending that we should judge compliance by comprehensive, concrete metrics like poverty reduction, instead of relying on ambiguous, weak, and easily manipulated checklists of specific rights. With a powerful thesis, a concise overview of the major developments in international human rights law, and discussions of recent international human rights-related controversies, The Twilight of Human Rights Law is an indispensable contribution to this important area of international law from a leading scholar in the field.

Not A Suicide Pact

Author : Richard A. Posner
ISBN : 0198041373
Genre : Law
File Size : 29. 94 MB
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Eavesdropping on the phone calls of U.S. citizens; demands by the FBI for records of library borrowings; establishment of military tribunals to try suspected terrorists, including U.S. citizens--many of the measures taken by the Bush administration since 9/11 have sparked heated protests. In Not a Suicide Pact, Judge Richard A. Posner offers a cogent and elegant response to these protests, arguing that personal liberty must be balanced with public safety in the face of grave national danger. Critical of civil libertarians who balk at any curtailment of their rights, even in the face of an unprecedented terrorist threat in an era of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, Posner takes a fresh look at the most important constitutional issues that have arisen since 9/11. These issues include the constitutional rights of terrorist suspects (whether American citizens or not) to habeas corpus and due process, and their rights against brutal interrogation (including torture) and searches based on less than probable cause. Posner argues that terrorist activity is sui generis--it is neither "war" nor "crime"--and it demands a tailored response, one that gives terror suspects fewer constitutional rights than persons suspected of ordinary criminal activity. Constitutional law must remain fluid, protean, and responsive to the pressure of contemporary events. Posner stresses the limits of law in regulating national security measures and underscores the paradoxical need to recognize a category of government conduct that is at once illegal and morally obligatory. One of America's top legal thinkers, Posner does not pull punches. He offers readers a short, sharp book with a strong point of view that is certain to generate much debate. OXFORD'S NEW INALIENABLE RIGHTS SERIES This is inaugural volume in Oxford's new fourteen-book Inalienable Rights Series. Each book will be a short, analytically sharp exploration of a particular right--to bear arms, to religious freedom, to free speech--clarifying the issues swirling around these rights and challenging us to rethink our most cherished freedoms.

The Living Constitution

Author : David A. Strauss
ISBN : 0199752532
Genre : Law
File Size : 84. 67 MB
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Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia once remarked that the theory of an evolving, "living" Constitution effectively "rendered the Constitution useless." He wanted a "dead Constitution," he joked, arguing it must be interpreted as the framers originally understood it. In The Living Constitution, leading constitutional scholar David Strauss forcefully argues against the claims of Scalia, Clarence Thomas, Robert Bork, and other "originalists," explaining in clear, jargon-free English how the Constitution can sensibly evolve, without falling into the anything-goes flexibility caricatured by opponents. The living Constitution is not an out-of-touch liberal theory, Strauss further shows, but a mainstream tradition of American jurisprudence--a common-law approach to the Constitution, rooted in the written document but also based on precedent. Each generation has contributed precedents that guide and confine judicial rulings, yet allow us to meet the demands of today, not force us to follow the commands of the long-dead Founders. Strauss explores how judicial decisions adapted the Constitution's text (and contradicted original intent) to produce some of our most profound accomplishments: the end of racial segregation, the expansion of women's rights, and the freedom of speech. By contrast, originalism suffers from fatal flaws: the impossibility of truly divining original intent, the difficulty of adapting eighteenth-century understandings to the modern world, and the pointlessness of chaining ourselves to decisions made centuries ago. David Strauss is one of our leading authorities on Constitutional law--one with practical knowledge as well, having served as Assistant Solicitor General of the United States and argued eighteen cases before the United States Supreme Court. Now he offers a profound new understanding of how the Constitution can remain vital to life in the twenty-first century.

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