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America's Unwritten Constitution: The Precedents and Principles We Live By (Anglais) Broché – 22 janvier 2015

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Couverture | Copyright | Table des matières | Extrait | Index | Quatrième de couverture
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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur (beta) 39 commentaires
82 internautes sur 87 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Another Sterling Performance from Prof. Amar 2 septembre 2012
Par Fakey McFakename - Publié sur
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
I just received this book - two weeks before it is officially released. I'm not entirely sure how that is possible, but congratulations to Amazon for its efficiency.

As a Yale Law student, the temptation to buy this book was overwhelming. And it hasn't disappointed: as one would expect from Akhil Amar, the writing is lucid; the arguments are powerful (even when one might not entirely agree with them); and the level of scholarly detail astounding. I have no doubt that this book will take its place in the canon of Constitutional scholarship, and every law student, attorney, and judge should put this at the top of their reading list.

Amar is known for holding a few positions outside the mainstream, and this book is no exception. Like in America's Constitution: A Biography, readers will occasionally find, particularly near the end of a chapter, some claims that may lead them to raise an eyebrow. But even these deserve a careful read, and from time to time, the reader will be convinced. Even when they are not, hearing Amar's intelligent arguments will remind them of the necessity of not blindly following the mainstream and making one's mind up for oneself, based on all the evidence and logic.

Some arguments in this book are of enormous importance. Amar's call to remember the Common Law and revolutionary experience that colors the words used in the concise text of the Constitution serves as an important reminder to modern judges to avoid the temptation to construe language in a vacuum; like all forms of communication, it is vital to recall that the meaning of language is a product of social and historical context. Similarly, Amar's reminders that, even when a broad principle is enumerated in the Constitutional text, advances in understanding may lead it to be applied differently to how the Drafters may have expected resemble the 'New Textualist' and 'Living Originalist' (see: Living Originalism) schools that have done so much to ground rights 'discovered' recently in sound constitutional theory.

Nonetheless, one cannot accept what Amar says uncritically. Unless I have missed it, he fails to address recent revisionist arguments against the traditional identification of the early 20th Century as 'the Lochner era' (see, e.g., Rehabilitating Lochner: Defending Individual Rights against Progressive Reform). Whatever one thinks about whether these arguments have merit, they deserve a response. While Amar properly criticizes the majority opinion in Roe v. Wade for its singular unwillingness to explain how it found a right to abortion that contradicted the laws of every State, his proposed alternative basis - that these laws that specially affected women were invariably first enacted by all-male legislatures - is almost perverse in its tendency to ignore the fact that such laws are generally created not out of any evil desire to subjugate women (even if some - presumably including Amar - might say that was their effect), but out of a sincere belief that a child's life is terminated. Nor, as far as I can tell, does Amar discuss whether Roe could survive if a legislature in which women were properly represented decided to limit access to abortion. Again - whatever one thinks of abortion and Roe, Amar's argument has notable omissions.

Despite these caveats, and the disagreements many (if not most) readers will have with some of Amar's positions (inevitable for a book that comments on so many controversial legal and political issues), this book clearly deserves five stars. Overall, it is an excellent work of scholarship - and like all such works, it should not be read uncritically. But disagreeing with an argument in the book is part of the fun of reading it.
23 internautes sur 23 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Insights on Every Page 5 janvier 2013
Par Eclecticism - Publié sur
Format: Format Kindle Achat vérifié
Like another reviewer here, I bought this Kindle book on the strength of Akhil Reed Amar's other book, "America's Constitution: A Biography." Er, no problem with the use of "America" in either of these titles. These two books really should be read sequentially, starting with Biography. In Biography, Reed goes word for word through the "terse text." In Unwritten, he shows how the various Constitutions -- implicit, lived, symbolic, etc. -- flesh out and strengthen the words of the document itself.

While reading this book I was mulling the thought of subtracting a star due to a tendency of the author to get a little too far down in the weeds. And then I came to Chapter 6, "Honoring the Icons: America's Symbolic Constitution." This chapter examines six texts -- no spoilers here but at least one of them will surprise you -- that illustrate not just the Constitution but what it means to be an American. Another part of this chapter -- on the three Supreme Court cases that deserve to be in the SCOTUS Hall of Shame (my words, not his) is similarly insightful. This chapter is worth being issued as a Kindle-single edition.

Akhil Reed Amar's writing throughout is lawyerly but elegant (check out the Look Inside feature to confirm). The book is written for a layperson, not a lawyer, with ample, clear definitions of important terms. Yes, Amar should be on the Supreme Court. Maybe he's been asked, but why would he give up a tenured gig at Yale to come down to Washington, even if a seat on the Supreme Court is tenured as well?

Buy both of these books and read them carefully. You will emerge with a greater understanding of the document and our society. And speaking of Biography, I've given my hard-copy version to a friend and replacing it with the Kindle version. Both books deserve re-reading.
5 internautes sur 6 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Why Unwritten Law Is So Important In America 5 février 2013
Par John A. Hunt, Attorney, Las Vegas, Nevada - Publié sur
Format: Relié
Akhil Reed Amar, a professor of law at Yale Law School who is well known as a legal scholar and expert on constitutional law, impressed me when I read his scholarly treatise on the Bill of Rights but I am even more enamored after completing “America's Unwritten Constitution: The Precedents and Principles We Live By.” In this book Amar delves into and explains why there are so many legal constitutional precedents now set in stone that are not actually enumerated in the Constitution.

Containing only 8,000 words, the U.S. Constitution cannot possibly explicitly provide for every issue faced by our nation down through the years to this present day. Yet, argues Amar, America’s written constitution and unwritten Constitution fit snugly together to create this grand body of laws that guides our nation through its grand history. The author’s call to pay attention to common law and historical context is a solid reminder that legal opinions cannot be written in a vacuum. The author’s lawyerly but elegant style helps all readers understand how our Unwritten Constitution came to be and how important it is to all citizens.
4 internautes sur 5 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Starts well .... ends a bit political 3 avril 2013
Par Kindle Customer - Publié sur
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
This book follows up Akil Amar's book "America's Constitution". Both may be read as one piece of work. The second does not reach the standards of the first, however, the first half of the second is its equal in every way and Mr Amar's ideas about the nature of the unwritten constitution are very thought provoking. I have learned much from both books. They are highly informative and well written for the interested lay reader. They provide a way of thinking about current social, civil and political issues that for the most part, enables the reader to escape into a non partisan time capsule, away from the current ideological sound bites and into a more principled analysis about our government's responsibilities to its citizens and the people's sovereignty.
14 internautes sur 20 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Amazing Book 18 septembre 2012
Par Appellate Advocate - Publié sur
Format: Format Kindle Achat vérifié
This is a great book; however, the footnotes aren't numbered, at least in the copy I got for my Kindle Fire. Hope this can be fixed soon. It is quite annoying to click on a note, only to be taken to a page of dense text without any way to tell where one note ends, and another begins.
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