The book that is the topic of this overview is The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Constitution, by Kevin Gutzman and published this year in 2007. As with all of the books in the “Politically Incorrect Guide to..” series, the topic matter is the lesser-identified side of a well known subject: in this case, the United States Constitution. Gutzman gives an historical and topical examination of the original intent of the Constitution and how the views of the founders have been distorted more than time by the 3 branches of government. Having said that, the judicial branch is clearly held most accountable for the modifications, additions, and convolutions to constitutional law.
In truth, if any book suffers from the lack of a subtitle, this is it. A couple of come to thoughts off-hand as prospective nominees, such as “How the Supreme Court Ruined Every thing,” or “The Founders’ Losing Battle with the Judgeocracy.” Following reading the book, it is clear that the choices rendered by the Supreme Court more than time have eroded the states’ rights that Jefferson held so dear and achieved the consolidation of energy in the hands of the federal government.
Of course, Gutzman is not positing a vast conspiracy of any sort that developed to take away the liberty of state and neighborhood governments to choose their personal social laws on contracts and spot this energy in the hands of the national government. The court, even though, from its inception realized that it was developed to be the least strong branch of the government and different chief justices decided to alter that energy balance as considerably as probable.
Following some preliminary battles involving the Court and the original intent of the Constitution, Gutzman sees the “imperial judiciary” starting in earnest with the fourth Chief Justice, John Marshall. Gutzman states that Marshall’s chief legacy was the writing of “the defeated Federalist Party’s constitutional views into American constitutional law.” Regardless of the truth that the men and women of the United States at the time voted into workplace politicians who advocated states’ rights and restricted energy of the federal government, Marshall was the key advocate of working with the Court to strengthen the central government and apply the similar laws all through the Union, even overriding state laws.
Marshall’s position was at odds with the beliefs of Thomas Jefferson, who saw the increasing energy of the Supreme Court as a threat to the constitution. Jefferson believed that laws had been the social agreements that men and women agreed to be governed by and judges had been to apply the which means of these agreements as clearly as probable. In contrast, Marshall and different other judges believed in a “organic law” underlying all laws and that the part of a judge was to examine laws in relation to these universal statutes. This, of course, replaced the part of the men and women in deciding their laws with an aristocratic Philosopher Counsel that would establish the guidelines that all men and women should really reside by.
Most of the book focuses on different Supreme Court choices on a variety of social difficulties that had been getting debated at the time. From Lincoln’s suspension of habeas corpus to slavery and the original intent of the Fourteenth Amendment, to the flip-flopping performed on the situation of segregation, Gutzman illustrates that the Court has seldom acted in the interest of the men and women or the states, and as an alternative consolidated energy with the federal government. Even though some states threatened secession at different points in time, Lincoln at some point stated that secession was an impossibility and the Civil War was fought to avoid the southern states from dissolving the Union.
The book moves by way of historical choices one particular soon after an additional, hitting on the irrationality and vagueness of the antitrust laws, the Court’s battle against Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal legislation and FDR’s choice to replace the judges with his personal partisan appointees who would stick to his policies. It is in the discussions of religion’s part in the government that is the most fascinating, having said that.
Initially, the Constitution was intended to avoid the federal government from institutionalizing a state religion for the whole Union. State religions, having said that, could have their personal religion, and usually did. It was not till the twentieth century that Justice Black place up the wall of “separation involving church and state,” and denied state or neighborhood government’s the ideal to deal with religion as they wished. This took the energy of deciding on the part of religion in a neighborhood out of the neighborhood itself and installed it firmly with the Supreme Court. The Very first Amendment, initially intended to limit the energy of the federal government, was extended to state and neighborhood governments, as nicely, reversing the intent of the Founders. Gutzman remarks that Christianity was the key target of the Court’s choices, stating that “any religion is okay, so lengthy as it is not Christianity.”
As nicely as the victory against religion, the Supreme Court also took on difficulties of morality, criminal law, and discrimination, as nicely as the ever-well known-to-talk about Roe v. Wade abortion choice. The choices rendered by the court served to additional transfer the rights of states to govern as they will and spot it in the hands of the federal government or the Supreme Court itself. Gutzman sees these choices as a comprehensive inversion of the original intent of the Founding Fathers and the Constitution itself: “The Court has overturned the ideal of the men and women of the states to govern themselves, overturned the Tenth Amendment, and therefore overturned the Constitution — and known as it the “rule of law.” In truth, this could be Gutzman’s key argument and an sufficient summary of the whole function (though as well lengthy to be a subtitle).
The book hits on an additional of more subjects, as nicely, which includes the teaching of constitutional law in college, which examines different situations but does not talk about the original intent of the writers of the laws the Supreme Court has decided upon. This leaves law students with a firm understanding of the choices rendered upon different laws and their applications more than time, but no thought if these applications had been intended for the topic laws in the 1st spot. Therefore, one particular error is piled on best of an additional, till the original error is buried below years of precedent.
Gutzman’s function is an fascinating and valuable guide to the US Constitution, its original intent, history and its application (and perversion) more than time. Even though the book could conveniently be really a bit longer and the difficulties discussed in a lot more detail, it is really perfect as an introduction to the history of arguably the most critical document to the history of the United States and possibly the greatest agreement ever created involving a government and its men and women.