With the confirmation of John Roberts as chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, and the nomination of Judge Samuel Alito to fill the seat vacated by retiring Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, we’re hearing a lot about “original intent” when it comes to interpreting the U.S. Constitution.
If you’re like most people, you must be thinking: What a daunting task. After all, this magnificent document has served as the framework of our republic for more than 200 years.
It has been our legal compass in good times and bad. It has seen us through war and peace and every state in between. Forged when we were a small, relatively weak, farm-based nation, the Constitution has been our juridical “North Star” even as we grew to become an industrial powerhouse that more or less guarantees the safety of the globe.
In short, this is no ordinary document. And without a time machine, how do we divine the “original intent” of the Founding Fathers?
Try The Heritage Guide to the Constitution. Believe me, it’s the next best thing to having a face-to-face discussion with James Madison himself.
This is a book that examines the entire Constitution -- every phrase, every line. It’s authored not by one eminent legal scholar, but by more than 100. Experts in each clause are on hand to explain why a particular point was added by the Founders, how it’s been interpreted over the years, and what it means today. Plus, under each clause, you get suggestions for further research and a listing of significant court cases in that clause’s history.
The experts break down the Constitution in extraordinary detail, from the Preamble through all 26 amendments, drawing on authoritative sources such as The Federalist Papers and Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story’s 1833 classic “Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States.”
Why did the Founders create the Electoral College? Which Supreme Court justice, appointed by George Washington, did Thomas Jefferson try to have impeached, in a case that today is understood to bar the removal of a judge on political grounds? How did the voting age wind up at 18? You’ll know the answers to these questions, and many more, after reading this book.
Though comprehensive, The Heritage Guide to the Constitution is arranged in an accessible format that makes it an indispensable reference book -- not only for students, but for anybody curious about the reasoning that went into the creation of our great nation.
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