The People Themselves
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The People Themselves : Popular Constitutionalism and Judicial Review

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In this groundbreaking interpretation of America's founding and of its entire system of judicial review, Larry Kramer reveals that the colonists fought for and created a very different system-and held a very different understanding of citizenship-than Americans believe to be the norm today. "Popular sovereignty" was not just some historical abstraction, and the notion of "the people" was more than a flip rhetorical device invoked on the campaign trail. Questions of constitutional meaning provoked vigorous public debate and the actions of government officials were greeted with celebratory feasts and bonfires, or riotous resistance. Americans treated the Constitution as part of the lived reality of their daily existence. Their self-sovereignty in law as much as politics was active not abstract.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 376 pages
  • 144.8 x 226.1 x 22.9mm | 476.28g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0195306457
  • 9780195306453
  • 2,003,217

Review quote

"Kramer's history is absorbing, his political theory subtle. He puts flesh on the bones of debates over judicial review and popular constitutionalism. With a sure and rare conceptual touch, he traces, and correlates to other political events, modulations over time in the American idea of the Constitution as law. As he does so, he rings the changes on this idea's perceived implications regarding the justifications, self-understandings, and modes of conduct of judicial review."-Frank Michelman, Harvard Law School "This is the best account to date of the development of the power of judicial review in an age of revolutionary politics, and this history challenges us to ask what it really means to live in a democracy today. A fascinating work that deserves a wide audience."-Keith Whittington, author of Constitutional Construction "An intelligent and stimulating book. Unlike many law professors writing history, Kramer is very sensitive to context and differing historical circumstances. He offers an impressive and powerful argument for the origins of judicial review."-Gordon Wood, author of The Radicalism of the American Revolution "Larry Kramer's important project offers a refeshing challenge to the hackneyed story that places John Marshall and Marbury v. Madison at the center of the history of constitutional interpretation. Kramer restores to our historical understanding a lost world of popular constitutionalism, where the resolution of fundamental issues was regarded not as the private property of courts and judges but of the people themselves. And I cannot think of a better moment for such a challenge, because we live in an era when doubtful claims for the ultimate authority of the Supreme Court on all matters constitutional are again being heard in the land."-Jack Rakove, author of Original Meanings "This book is perhaps the most important work of constitutional theory and history in a generation."-Mark Tushnet, author of Taking the Constitution Away from the Courts "An instructive tour through the early history of American constitutionalism."-National Review "Kramer has marshaled an impressive array of evidence and has made a thorough survey of modern scholarship to build his case for what he calls 'popular constitutionalism.'"-First Things "Rarely since Edmund Burke's 'Speech on Conciliation with America' in 1774 has the legal dimension of the American Revolution been understood with such precision and presented with such conviction."-First Things "Larry Kramer explains one of the great mysteries of modern America-why for 40 years, have the freest people in the world been powerless to stop courts of appointed lawyers from eroding their freedoms?.... a manual on how the American people can legitimately exercise their historic right to create what he calls popular constitutionalism."-Newt Gingrich, The New York Post "Offers a fresh way of viewing the origins and limits of judicial review. The People Themselves challenges conventional constitutional jurisprudence and conventional constitutional history with a deeply researched historical pedigree for popular refusal to accept the Supreme Court's usurping title to the people's document."-The New York Review of Books "Mr. Kramer is to be applauded for reminding us that courts do not enjoy a monopoly on the Constitution's true meaning and that senators and presidents alike should take the Constitution seriously in the confirmation process and at other times as well."-The Wall Street Journal "...masterful opening chapters...deserves great praise for his detailed historical research, which recaptures the flavor of early constitutionalism and its deep connection with an active and spirited American people. He also deserves great praise for untangling the different conceptions of "constitution" floating around and rendering that understanding easily accessible to a modern audience...a provocative and original analysis of American constitutionalism that will command a wide audience."-Perspectives on Politicsshow more

About Larry D. Kramer

Larry Kramer is Richard E. Lang Professor of Law and Dean of Stanford Law School. He served as a law clerk to Justice William J. Brennan, Jr., of the United States Supreme Court and taught at the law schools of the University of Chicago, the University of Michigan, and New York University before moving to Stanford. He has written extensively in both academic and popular journals on topics involving the role of courts in society.show more

Table of contents

Introduction - Popular Constitutionalism ; 1. In Substance, and in Principle, the Same as It Was Heretofore: The Customary Constitution ; 2. A Rule Obligatory Upon Every Department: The Origins of Judicial Review ; 3. The Power under the Constitution Will Always Be in the People: The Making of the Constitution ; 4. Courts, as Well as Other Departments, Are Bound by That Instrument: Accepting Judicial Review ; 5. What Every True Republican Ought to Depend On: Rejecting Judicial Supremacy ; 6. Notwithstanding This Abstract View: The Changing Context of Constitutional Law ; 7. To Preserve the Constitution, as a Perpetual Bond of Union: The Lessons of Experience ; 8. A Layman's Document, Not a Lawyer's Contract: The Continuing Struggle for Popular Constitutionalism ; 9. As An American: Popular Constitutionalism, Circa 2004 ; Epilogue - Judicial Review Without Judicial Supremacyshow more

Rating details

42 ratings
3.69 out of 5 stars
5 17% (7)
4 48% (20)
3 26% (11)
2 7% (3)
1 2% (1)
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