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The Justices, who are virtually unaccountable, irremovable, and irreversible, have taken over from the people control of their own destiny.
— Raoul Berger
It is the thesis of this monumentally argued book that the United States Supreme Court—largely through abuses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution—has embarked on "a continuing revision of the Constitution, under the guise of interpretation." Consequently, the Court has subverted America's democratic institutions and wreaked havoc upon Americans' social and political lives.
One of the first constitutional scholars to question the rise of judicial activism in modern times, Raoul Berger points out that "the Supreme Court is not empowered to rewrite the Constitution, that in its transformation of the Fourteenth Amendment it has demonstrably done so. Thereby the Justices, who are virtually unaccountable, irremovable, and irreversible, have taken over from the people control of their own destiny, an awesome exercise of power."
The Court has accomplished this transformation by ignoring or actually distorting the original intent of both the framers and the supporters of the Fourteenth Amendment. In school desegregation and legislative reapportionment cases, for example, the Court manipulated the history, meaning, and purpose of the amendment's Equal Protection Clause in order to achieve a desired political result. In cases involving First Amendment freedoms and the rights of the accused, the judges converted the Fourteenth Amendment's Due Process Clause into a vehicle for the nationalization of the Bill of Rights. Yet these actions were nothing less than "usurpations" that robbed "from the States a power that unmistakably was left to them."
This new second edition includes the original text of 1977 and extensive supplementary discourses in which the author assesses and rebuts the responses of his critics.
Raoul Berger retired in 1976 as Charles Warren Senior Fellow in American Legal History, Harvard University.
In Two Volumes
In Two Volumes
David Ramsay's premier work of American historiography is now available for the first time in a well-edited reprint. Lester Cohen's foreword is an invaluable guide.
—Arthur H. Shaffer, University of Missouri
David Ramsay's History of the American Revolution appeared in 1789 during an enthusiastic celebration of nationhood. It is the first American national history written by an American revolutionary and printed in America. Ramsay, a well-known Federalist, was an active participant in many of the events of the period and a member of the Continental Congress from South Carolina.
Ramsay discusses the events and ideas of the American Revolution (from the outbreak of turbulence in the 1760s to the onset of Washington's administration) and makes an ardent Federalist defense of the Constitution of 1787.
Based on the original and authorized 1789 version, this is the first new modern edition of the work.
Lester H. Cohen taught history and American Studies at Purdue University.
“In every society there exists a certain sum of correct ideas. This sum of correct ideas is scattered among the individuals who make up the society and is unequally distributed among them. The problem is to gather up all the scattered and incomplete fragments of this power, to concentrate them, and to constitute them into a government. What is called ‘representation’ is nothing other than the means of arriving at this result. It is not an arithmetic machine intended to collect and enumerate individual wills. It is a natural process for extracting from the bosom of society the public reason that alone has the right to govern.”
—from the book
The French political philosopher and historian François Guizot (1787–1874) was one of the French Doctrinaires, thinkers who sought to avoid the interpretations of the Revolution advanced by either extreme of Left or Right. He argued that in order to understand the nature of political institutions it is necessary to study first the society, its composition, mores, and the relation between various classes. At the very center of his theory lies the principle of the sovereignty of reason.
Aurelian Craiutu, associate professor of political science at Indiana University, writes in the introduction: "A cursory look at the table of contents shows the originality of this unusual book: it combines lengthy narrative chapters full of historical details with theoretical chapters in which Guizot reflects on the principles, goals, and institutions of representative government." The first part of the book covers the period from the fifth to the eleventh century and such topics as the "true" principles of representative government and the origin and consequences of the sovereignty of the people. The second part spans the Norman Conquest to the reign of the Tudors in England and analyzes the architecture of the English Constitutional monarchy.
Guizot's historical method combined philosophy and history by passing from the exposition of facts to the examination of ideas. Readers not familiar with him will profit from an encounter with Guizot, who not only writes in a beautiful French style but also illustrates the French liberal-conservative tradition at its best, much like Constant and Tocqueville.