A Community Built on Words: The Constitution in History and Politics

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9780226677248: A Community Built on Words: The Constitution in History and Politics
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H. Jefferson Powell offers a powerful new approach to one of the central issues in American constitutional thinking today: the problem of constitutional law's historicity, or the many ways in which constitutional arguments and outcomes are shaped both by historical circumstances and by the political goals and commitments of various actors, including judges. The presence of such influences is often considered highly problematic: if constitutional law is political and historical through and through, then what differentiates it from politics per se, and what gives it integrity and coherence? Powell argues that constitutional theory has as its (sometimes hidden) agenda the ambition of showing how constitutional law can escape from history and politics, while much constitutional history seeks to identify an historically true meaning of the constitutional text that, once uncovered, can serve as a corrective to subsequent deviations from that truth.

Combining history and theory, Powell analyzes a series of constitutional controversies from 1790 to 1944 to demonstrate that constitutional law from its very beginning has involved politically charged and ideologically divisive arguments. Nowhere in our past can one find the golden age of apolitical constitutional thinking that a great deal of contemporary scholarship seeks or presupposes. Viewed over time, American constitutional law is a history of political dispute couched in constitutional terms.

Powell then takes his conclusions one step further, claiming that it is precisely this historical tradition of argument that has given American constitutional law a remarkable coherence and integrity over time. No matter what the particular political disputes of the day might be, constitutional argument has provided a shared language through which our political community has been able to fight out its battles without ultimately fracturing.

A Community Built on Words will be must reading for any student of constitutional history, theory, or law.

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About the Author:

H. Jefferson Powell is professor of law at Duke University. He is the author of several books, including The President's Authority over Foreign Affairs. He served as deputy assistant attorney general in the Clinton administration.

Review:

"The Constitution is not an apolitical text; rather, from its beginning it has been more like a contested battlefield over which rival interpretations struggled. Such is the legal-philosophical point of Powell's powerful work.... A beautifully written text, and as an historical narrative it may well convince its readers, and convince them more powerfully, than a mere theoretical argument." - Virginia Quarterly Review"

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9780226677231: A Community Built on Words: The Constitution in History and Politics

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Publisher: University of Chicago Press, 2002
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Book Description The University of Chicago Press, United States, 2005. Paperback. Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. H. Jefferson Powell offers a powerful new approach to one of the central issues in American constitutional thinking today: the many ways in which constitutional arguments and outcomes are shaped both by historical circumstances and by political goals - including those of judges. Brilliantly combining history and theory, Powell analyzes a series of constitutional controversies from 1790 to 1944 to demonstrate that constitutional law from its very beginning has involved politically charged and ideologically divisive arguments. Powell then takes his conclusions one step further, claiming that it is precisely this historical tradition of argument that has given American constitutional law a remarkable coherence and integrity over time. No matter what the particular political disputes of the day might be, constitutional argument has provided a shared language through which our political community has been able to fight out its battles without ultimately fracturing. Seller Inventory # AAH9780226677248

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Book Description The University of Chicago Press, United States, 2005. Paperback. Condition: New. Language: English. Brand new Book. H. Jefferson Powell offers a powerful new approach to one of the central issues in American constitutional thinking today: the many ways in which constitutional arguments and outcomes are shaped both by historical circumstances and by political goals - including those of judges. Brilliantly combining history and theory, Powell analyzes a series of constitutional controversies from 1790 to 1944 to demonstrate that constitutional law from its very beginning has involved politically charged and ideologically divisive arguments. Powell then takes his conclusions one step further, claiming that it is precisely this historical tradition of argument that has given American constitutional law a remarkable coherence and integrity over time. No matter what the particular political disputes of the day might be, constitutional argument has provided a shared language through which our political community has been able to fight out its battles without ultimately fracturing. Seller Inventory # AAH9780226677248

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Book Description University Of Chicago Press. Paperback. Condition: New. 261 pages. Dimensions: 8.9in. x 5.8in. x 0.6in.H. Jefferson Powell offers a powerful new approach to one of the central issues in American constitutional thinking today: the problem of constitutional laws historicity, or the many ways in which constitutional arguments and outcomes are shaped both by historical circumstances and by the political goals and commitments of various actors, including judges. The presence of such influences is often considered highly problematic: if constitutional law is political and historical through and through, then what differentiates it from politics per se, and what gives it integrity and coherence Powell argues that constitutional theory has as its (sometimes hidden) agenda the ambition of showing how constitutional law can escape from history and politics, while much constitutional history seeks to identify an historically true meaning of the constitutional text that, once uncovered, can serve as a corrective to subsequent deviations from that truth. Combining history and theory, Powell analyzes a series of constitutional controversies from 1790 to 1944 to demonstrate that constitutional law from its very beginning has involved politically charged and ideologically divisive arguments. Nowhere in our past can one find the golden age of apolitical constitutional thinking that a great deal of contemporary scholarship seeks or presupposes. Viewed over time, American constitutional law is a history of political dispute couched in constitutional terms. Powell then takes his conclusions one step further, claiming that it is precisely this historical tradition of argument that has given American constitutional law a remarkable coherence and integrity over time. No matter what the particular political disputes of the day might be, constitutional argument has provided a shared language through which our political community has been able to fight out its battles without ultimately fracturing. A Community Built on Words will be must reading for any student of constitutional history, theory, or law. This item ships from multiple locations. Your book may arrive from Roseburg,OR, La Vergne,TN. Paperback. Seller Inventory # 9780226677248

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