Volume 3, Publisher description: The Civil Rights Revolution carries Bruce Ackerman's sweeping reinterpretation of constitutional history into the era beginning with Brown v. Board of Education. From Rosa Parks's courageous defiance, to Martin Luther King's resounding cadences in "I Have a Dream," to Lyndon Johnson's leadership of Congress, to the Supreme Court's decisions redefining the meaning of equality, the movement to end racial discrimination decisively changed our understanding of the Constitution. Ackerman anchors his discussion in the landmark statutes of the 1960s: the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the Fair Housing Act of 1968. Challenging conventional legal analysis and arguing instead that constitutional politics won the day, he describes the complex interactions among branches of government--and also between government and the ordinary people who participated in the struggle. He showcases leaders such as Everett Dirksen, Hubert Humphrey, and Richard Nixon who insisted on real change, not just formal equality, for blacks and other minorities. The Civil Rights Revolution transformed the Constitution, but not through judicial activism or Article V amendments. The breakthrough was the passage of laws that ended the institutionalized humiliations of Jim Crow and ensured equal rights at work, in schools, and in the voting booth. This legislation gained congressional approval only because of the mobilized support of the American people--and their principles deserve a central place in the nation's history. Ackerman's arguments are especially important at a time when the Roberts Court is actively undermining major achievements of America' Second Reconstruction.
Constitutional change, seemingly so orderly, formal, and refined, has in fact been a revolutionary process from the first, as Bruce Ackerman makes clear in We the People, Volume 2: Transformations. The Founding Fathers, hardly the genteel conservatives of myth, set America on a remarkable course of revolutionary disruption and constitutional creativity that endures to this day. After the bloody sacrifices of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln and the Republican Party revolutionized the traditional system of constitutional amendment as they put principles of liberty and equality into higher law. Another wrenching transformation occurred during the Great Depression, when Franklin Roosevelt and his New Dealers vindicated a new vision of activist government against an assault by the Supreme Court. These are the crucial episodes in American constitutional history that Ackerman takes up in this second volume of a trilogy hailed as “one of the most important contributions to American constitutional thought in the last half-century” (Cass Sunstein, The New Republic). In each case he shows how the American people—whether led by the Founding Federalists or the Lincoln Republicans or the Roosevelt Democrats—have confronted the Constitution in its moments of great crisis with dramatic acts of upheaval, always in the name of popular sovereignty. A thoroughly new way of understanding constitutional development, We the People, Volume 2: Transformations reveals how America’s “dualist democracy” provides for these populist upheavals that amend the Constitution, often without formalities. The book also sets contemporary events, such as the Reagan Revolution and Roe v. Wade, in deeper constitutional perspective. In this context Ackerman exposes basic constitutional problems inherited from the New Deal Revolution and exacerbated by the Reagan Revolution, then considers the fundamental reforms that might resolve them. A bold challenge to formalist and fundamentalist views, this volume demonstrates that ongoing struggle over America’s national identity, rather than consensus, marks its constitutional history.
Integrating themes from American history, political science, and philosophy, We the People confronts popular sovereignty in America. Rejecting arguments of judicial activists, proceduralists, and neoconservatives, Ackerman's new model of judicial interpretation synthesizes the constitutional contributions of many generations into a coherent whole.
"The Civil Rights Revolution carries Bruce Ackerman's sweeping reinterpretation of constitutional history into the era beginning with Brown v. Board of Education. From Rosa Parks’s courageous defiance, to Martin Luther King’s resounding cadences in “I Have a Dream,” to Lyndon Johnson’s leadership of Congress, to the Supreme Court’s decisions redefining the meaning of equality, the movement to end racial discrimination decisively changed our understanding of the Constitution. “The Civil Rights Act turns 50 this year, and a wave of fine books accompanies the semicentennial. Ackerman’s is the most ambitious; it is the third volume in an ongoing series on American constitutional history called We the People. A professor of law and political science at Yale, Ackerman likens the act to a constitutional amendment in its significance to the country’s legal development.” —Michael O’Donnell, The Atlantic “Ackerman weaves political theory with historical detail, explaining how the civil rights movement evolved from revolution to mass movement and then to statutory law...This fascinating book takes a new look at a much-covered topic.” —Becky Kennedy, Library Journal"
This undergaduate text uses original essays, cases and materials to study the very enterprise by which a constitution is interpreted and a constitutional government created. It explores the American polity as both a constitutional and democratic entity. This volume is organized around a set of basic interrogatives: What is the constitution that is to be interpreted? Who are its authoritative interpreters? How do they go about their interpretive tasks?
America cannot survive without a common faith. History has taught us that our national identity and our political order require voluntary religious and civic organizations. Following the social, political, and cultural upheavals of the 1960s, Americans are now engaged in a struggle to determine the future of our nation's character and destiny. So argues prominent political theorist Eldon J. Eisenach in this brilliant and controversial new book. Contentious debates over multiculturalism, church-state relations, and immigration illustrate America's current identity crisis. Creating a common vision for America is no easy task but Eisenach describes how the moral and spiritual foundations of a new, coherent, American identity and faith are already emerging. As in the past, the next religious establishment's primary expression will be a political and cultural order that mediates and integrates personal, ethnic, religious, and civic identities. The Next Religious Establishment alerts readers to the changing landscape of America's identity and invites us to participate in its redefinition. This book will profoundly alter the way political theorists, intellectual historians, and theologians conceptualize America's past, present, and future.