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Other titles in the Inalienable Rights series:
The Invisible Constitution (Inalienable Rights)by Lawrence Tribe
Synopses & Reviews
As everyone knows, the United States Constitution is a tangible, visible document. Many see it in fact as a sacred text, holding no meaning other than that which is clearly visible on the page. Yet as renowned legal scholar Laurence Tribe shows, what is not written in the Constitution plays a key role in its interpretation. Indeed some of the most contentious Constitutional debates of our time hinge on the extent to which it can admit of divergent readings.
In The Invisible Constitution, Tribe argues that there is an unseen constitution--impalpable but powerful--that accompanies the parchment version. It is the visible document's shadow, its dark matter: always there and possessing some of its key meanings and values despite its absence on the page. As Tribe illustrates, some of our most cherished and widely held beliefs about constitutional rights are not part of the written document, but can only be deduced by piecing together hints and clues from it. Moreover, some passages of the Constitution do not even hold today despite their continuing existence. Amendments may have fundamentally altered what the Constitution originally said about slavery and voting rights, yet the old provisos about each are still in the text, unrevised. Through a variety of historical episodes and key constitutional cases, Tribe brings to life this invisible constitution, showing how it has evolved and how it works. Detailing its invisible structures and principles, Tribe compellingly demonstrates the invisible constitution's existence and operative power.
Remarkably original, keenly perceptive, and written with Tribe's trademark analytical flair, this latest volume in Oxford's Inalienable Rights series offers a new way of understanding many of the central constitutional debates of our time.
About the Series: Combining authority with wit, accessibility, and style, Very Short Introductions offer an introduction to some of life's most interesting topics. Written by experts for the newcomer, they demonstrate the finest contemporary thinking about the central problems and issues in hundreds of key topics, from philosophy to Freud, quantum theory to Islam.
Renowned legal scholar Tribe argues that there is an unseen constitution--impalpable but powerful--that accompanies the parchment version, in the latest volume in Oxford's Inalienable Rights series.
About the Author
Laurence H. Tribe is Carl M. Loeb University Professor and Professor of Constitutional Law, Harvard University. He has published more than 100 books and articles, including American Constitutional Law, On Reading the Constitution, and Abortion: The Clash of Absolutes. In addition, he has argued more than three dozen cases before the Supreme Court of the United States and has frequently testified before Congress on a broad range of constitutional issues.
Table of Contents
Part I: Beyond the Visible
Identifying "The Constitution"
Distinguishing "The Constitution" From "Constitutional Law"
Remembering Ours is a "Written" Constitution
The Variable Role of Interpretive Judicial Precedent
The "Dark Matter"
Part II: Defining the Terrain
Not Necessarily an Ideal Constitution
Constitutional Axioms and Constitutional Theorems
The Politics of Constitutional Invisibility
This Book's Mission: Making Invisibility Visible
Supreme Law, Not the Supreme Court
The Constitution's Architecture, Not its "Construction"
Part III: Explorations Beyond the Text
Invisibility Exemplified: The Moving Finger Writes
Doubling Back: The Holistic Reading Rule
Two Types of Extratextual Norms
Invisibility Illuminated: A Government of Laws
Invisibility Elaborated: Government of the People, By the People, For the People
Invisibility Further Illustrated: Suspending Habeas Corpus
Federalism - and "the Right of the People to Keep and Bear Arms"
States as Sovereigns?
Part IV: The Content of Liberty and Equality and the Boundaries of Government Power
The "Substantive Due Process" Conundrum
The Jagged Road to Equality
The Reapportionment Revolution
Lochner and Selective "Incorporation"
From Liberty of Contract to Forms of Self-Government
Intimate Association and Private Self-Government
The Maintenance of Boundaries: From Territoriality to Privacy
Part V: Visualizing the Invisible
Once Again: The Ninth Amendment's Rule of Construction
The Inescapable Role of Constitutional "Dark Matter"
The Analogy to Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem
Organizing the Constitution's "Dark Matter"
Illustrations following page 156
1. Geometric Construction
2. Geodesic Construction
3. Global Construction
4. Geological Construction
5. Gravitational Construction
6. Gyroscopic Construction
A Libertarian Presumption
Lochner's Legacy Revisited
Coda: Concluding Observations
The Visible Constitution: Its Text and Accompanying Resolutions
The Declaration of Independence
What Our Readers Are Saying
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