Growing up during the Great Depression and World War II, Ike Skelton dreamed of joining the military. That dream was shattered when he contracted one of the most dreaded diseases of the era: polio. Far from abandoning hope, Skelton, after treatment at Warm Springs, Georgia, overcame his disability and went on to become a college athlete, a celebrated lawyer, a Missouri state senator, and a U.S. Congressman. Achieve the Honorable is the deeply personal tale of Ike Skelton’s determined journey from the small town of Lexington, Missouri, to Capitol Hill.
During his years in the U.S. House of Representatives, Skelton became known as a bipartisan negotiator and a champion of the Armed Services. Throughout the decades, he helped steer the nation through its most dangerous challenges, from Communism to terrorism; took a leading role in the reform of the Department of Defense; dedicated himself to fulfilling the interests of his constituents; and eventually rose to become chair of the House Armed Services Committee during such pivotal events as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In addition to detailing Skelton’s political career and its accompanying challenges and triumphs, Achieve the Honorable provides inside glimpses into the lives of political titans like Harry Truman, Richard Nixon, and Bill Clinton. Along the way, we are treated to Skelton’s engaging humor and shrewd insight into twentieth- and twenty-first-century U.S. politics.
The U.S. Congress is typically seen as an institution filled with career politicians who have been seasoned by experience in lower levels of political office. In fact, political amateurs have comprised roughly one quarter of the House of Representatives since 1930. The effect of amateurs' inexperience on their political careers, roles in Congress, and impact on the political system has never been analyzed in detail.
Written in a lucid style accessible to the nonspecialist, David T. Canon's Actors, Athletes, and Astronauts is a definitive study of political amateurs in elections and in Congress. Canon examines the political conditions that prompt amateurs to run for office, why they win or lose, and whether elected amateurs behave differently from their experienced counterparts. Challenging previous work which presumed stable career structures and progressively ambitious candidates, his study reveals that amateurs are disproportionately elected in periods of high political opportunity, such as the 1930s for Democrats and 1980s for Republicans.
Canon's detailed findings call for significant revision of our prevailing understanding of ambition theory and disarm monolithic interpretations of political amateurs. His unique typology of amateurism differentiates among policy-oriented, "hopeless," or ambitious amateurs. The latter resemble their professional counterparts; "hopeless" amateurs are swept into office by strong partisan motivations and decision-making styles of each type vary, affecting their degree of success, but each type of amateur provides a necessary electoral balance by defeating entrenched incumbents rarely challenged by more experienced politicians.
Administering Justice examines the leadership role of chief justices in the American states, including how those duties require chief justices to be part of the broader state political environment. Vining and Wilhelm focus extensively on the power of chief justices as public spokespersons, legislative liaisons, and reform leaders. In contrast to much existing research on states’ chief justices, theirs is primarily on their extrajudicial responsibilities rather than intracourt leadership. They analyze the reform agendas advanced by chief justices by assessing the content of State of the Judiciary remarks delivered over a period of sixty years. The authors also determine what factors influence the likelihood of success when chief justices request legislators to enact reforms. These analyses confirm that chief justices engage with state politics in meaningful ways and that reactions to their proposals are influenced by ideological congruence with other political elites and the scope of their requests. They also examine the chief justice position as an institution, provide a collective profile of its occupants, and examine growing diversity among court leaders.
Winner of the 2020 Outstanding Book Award Presented by the Public and Nonprofit Section of the National Academy of Management
Winner of the 2019 Louis Brownlow Book Award from the National Academy of Public Administration
Bureaucracy, confusing paperwork, and complex regulations—or what public policy scholars Pamela Herd and Donald Moynihan call administrative burdens—often introduce delay and frustration into our experiences with government agencies. Administrative burdens diminish the effectiveness of public programs and can even block individuals from fundamental rights like voting. In AdministrativeBurden, Herd and Moynihan document that the administrative burdens citizens regularly encounter in their interactions with the state are not simply unintended byproducts of governance, but the result of deliberate policy choices. Because burdens affect people’s perceptions of government and often perpetuate long-standing inequalities, understanding why administrative burdens exist and how they can be reduced is essential for maintaining a healthy public sector.
Through in-depth case studies of federal programs and controversial legislation, the authors show that administrative burdens are the nuts-and-bolts of policy design. Regarding controversial issues such as voter enfranchisement or abortion rights, lawmakers often use administrative burdens to limit access to rights or services they oppose. For instance, legislators have implemented administrative burdens such as complicated registration requirements and strict voter-identification laws to suppress turnout of African American voters. Similarly, the right to an abortion is legally protected, but many states require women seeking abortions to comply with burdens such as mandatory waiting periods, ultrasounds, and scripted counseling. As Herd and Moynihan demonstrate, administrative burdens often disproportionately affect the disadvantaged who lack the resources to deal with the financial and psychological costs of navigating these obstacles.
However, policymakers have sometimes reduced administrative burdens or shifted them away from citizens and onto the government. One example is Social Security, which early administrators of the program implemented in the 1930s with the goal of minimizing burdens for beneficiaries. As a result, the take-up rate is about 100 percent because the Social Security Administration keeps track of peoples’ earnings for them, automatically calculates benefits and eligibility, and simply requires an easy online enrollment or visiting one of 1,200 field offices. Making more programs and public services operate this efficiently, the authors argue, requires adoption of a nonpartisan, evidence-based metric for determining when and how to institute administrative burdens, with a bias toward reducing them. By ensuring that the public’s interaction with government is no more onerous than it need be, policymakers and administrators can reduce inequality, boost civic engagement, and build an efficient state that works for all citizens.
Administrative Districts and Field Offices of the Minnesota State Government was first published in 1943. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.Number 2 in Studies in Administration, a series sponsored by the Public Administration Training Center at the University of Minnesota; established in 1936 to provide instruction, research facilities, and information in the field of public administration.This volume presents a comprehensive analysis of the functions and duties of state and county offices in Minnesota, paying special attention to district field offices. Topics discussed include: the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Conservation, Education, Health, Highways, Labor, Social Security, and Taxation; the Livestock Sanitary Board; the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension; and the Railroad and Warehouse Commission.
Uses the case study of the California Industrial Accident Commission to explore issues in sociological jurisprudence. It traces the progression of the Commission from a welfare agency with broad discretion in policymaking and interpretation into a relatively passive arbitrator of industrial accident claim disputes. The author examines the effect of the elaboration of legal rules and doctrines, the significance of the procedural aspects of law, and the interplay of the legal process and institutional change. He then notes the conditions which will either permit or restrain a legal process that will remain highly responsive to social needs.
President Bill Clinton’s year of crisis, which began when his affair with Monica Lewinsky hit the front pages in January 1998, engendered a host of important questions of criminal and constitutional law, public and private morality, and political and cultural conflict.
In a book written while the events of the year were unfolding, Richard Posner presents a balanced and scholarly understanding of the crisis that also has the freshness and immediacy of journalism. Posner clarifies the issues and eliminates misunderstandings concerning facts and the law that were relevant to the investigation by Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr and to the impeachment proceeding itself. He explains the legal definitions of obstruction of justice and perjury, which even many lawyers are unfamiliar with. He carefully assesses the conduct of Starr and his prosecutors, including their contacts with the lawyers for Paula Jones and their hardball tactics with Monica Lewinsky and her mother. He compares and contrasts the Clinton affair with Watergate, Iran–Contra, and the impeachment of Andrew Johnson, exploring the subtle relationship between public and private morality. And he examines the place of impeachment in the American constitutional scheme, the pros and cons of impeaching President Clinton, and the major procedural issues raised by both the impeachment in the House and the trial in the Senate. This book, reflecting the breadth of Posner’s experience and expertise, will be the essential foundation for anyone who wants to understand President Clinton’s impeachment ordeal.
In 1990, the New York Times wrote, "Government corruption was not invented in West Virginia. But there are people who contend that West Virginia officials have done more than their share over the years to develop state-of-the-art techniques in vote theft, contract kickbacks, influence peddling and good old-fashioned bribery, extortion, fraud, tax evasion and outright stealing." While investigating such events as the Invest Right scandal, Thomas Stafford, a former journalist for the Charleston Gazette, would find himself in a very precarious position. As a reporter he felt obligated to tell the whole truth, and he believed in the need to serve the public and those West Virginians who were being abused by a political machine.
In Afflicting the Comfortable, Stafford relates such tales of the responsibility of journalism and politics in coordination with scandals that have unsettled the Mountain State over the past few decades. His probing would take him from the halls of Charleston to the center of our nation's ruling elite. Guided by his senses of duty, right, and fairness, he plunged head first into the misdeeds of West Virginia's politicians. His investigations would be the preface to the downfall of a governor and an adminstration that had robbed the state and the citizens of West Virginia for years.
“Original and revelatory.” —David Blight, author of Frederick Douglass
Avery O. Craven Award Finalist A Civil War Memory/Civil War Monitor Best Book of the Year
In April 1865, Robert E. Lee wrote to Ulysses S. Grant asking for peace. Peace was beyond his authority to negotiate, Grant replied, but surrender terms he would discuss. The distinction proved prophetic.
After Appomattox reveals that the Civil War did not end with Confederate capitulation in 1865. Instead, a second phase of the war began which lasted until 1871—not the project euphemistically called Reconstruction, but a state of genuine belligerence whose mission was to shape the peace. Using its war powers, the U.S. Army oversaw an ambitious occupation, stationing tens of thousands of troops in outposts across the defeated South. This groundbreaking history shows that the purpose of the occupation was to crush slavery in the face of fierce and violent resistance, but there were limits to its effectiveness: the occupying army never really managed to remake the South.
“The United States Army has been far too neglected as a player—a force—in the history of Reconstruction… Downs wants his work to speak to the present, and indeed it should.” —David W. Blight, The Atlantic
“Striking… Downs chronicles…a military occupation that was indispensable to the uprooting of slavery.” —Boston Globe
“Downs makes the case that the final end to slavery, and the establishment of basic civil and voting rights for all Americans, was ‘born in the face of bayonets.’ …A remarkable, necessary book.” —Slate
When the United States goes to war, the nation’s attention focuses on the president. As commander in chief, a president reaches the zenith of power, while Congress is supposedly shunted to the sidelines once troops have been deployed abroad. Because of Congress’s repeated failure to exercise its legislative powers to rein in presidents, many have proclaimed its irrelevance in military matters.
After the Rubicon challenges this conventional wisdom by illuminating the diverse ways in which legislators influence the conduct of military affairs. Douglas L. Kriner reveals that even in politically sensitive wartime environments, individual members of Congress frequently propose legislation, hold investigative hearings, and engage in national policy debates in the public sphere. These actions influence the president’s strategic decisions as he weighs the political costs of pursuing his preferred military course.
Marshalling a wealth of quantitative and historical evidence, Kriner expertly demonstrates the full extent to which Congress materially shapes the initiation, scope, and duration of major military actions and sheds new light on the timely issue of interbranch relations.
Aging and Old Age
Richard A. Posner University of Chicago Press, 1995 Library of Congress HQ1061.P67 1995 | Dewey Decimal 305.26
Are the elderly posing a threat to America's political system with their enormous clout? Are they stretching resources to the breaking point with their growing demands for care? Distinguished economist and legal scholar Richard A. Posner explodes the myth that the United States could be on the brink of gerontological disaster.
Aging and Old Age offers fresh insight into a wide range of social and political issues relating to the elderly, such as health care, crime, social security, and discrimination. From the dread of death to the inordinate law-abidingness of the old, from their loquacity to their penny-pinching, Posner paints a surprisingly rich, revealing, and unsentimental portrait of the millions of elderly people in the United States. He explores issues such as age discrimination in employment, creativity and leadership as functions of age, and the changing social status of the elderly. Why are old people, presumably with less to lose, more unwilling to take risks than young people? Why don't the elderly in the United States command the respect and affection they once did and still do in other countries? How does aging affect driving and criminal records? And how does aging relate to creativity across different careers?
An entirely revised and updated edition of the best-selling 2001 original
This collection of biographical essays, written by thirty-four noted historians and political scientists, chronicles the times, careers, challenges, leadership, and legacies of the fifty-seven men and one woman who have served as the state's highest elected official. The book is organized chronologically into six sections that cover Alabama’s years as a US territory and its early statehood, the 1840s through the Civil War and Reconstruction, the late nineteenth-century Bourbon era, twentieth-century progressive and wartime governors, the Civil Rights era and George Wallace’s period of influence, and recent chief executives in the post-Wallace era.
The political careers of these fifty-eight individuals reflect the story of Alabama itself. Taken together, these essays provide a unified history of the state, with its recurring themes of race, federal-state relations, tensions between north and south Alabama, economic development, taxation, and education.
Alabama Governors expertly delineates the decisions and challenges of the chief executives, their policy initiatives, their accomplishments and failures, and the lasting impact of their terms. The book also includes the true and sometimes scandalous anecdotes that pepper Alabama’s storied history. Several of the state's early governors fought duels; one killed his wife's lover. A Reconstruction era-governor barricaded himself in his office and refused to give it up when voters failed to reelect him. A twentieth-century governor, an alumnus of Yale, served as an officer in the Ku Klux Klan.
This entirely updated and revised edition includes enlarged and enhanced images of each governor. Published as Alabama prepares for its sixty-fourth gubernatorial election, Alabama Governors is certain to become a valuable resource for teachers, students, librarians, journalists, and anyone interested in the colorful history of Alabama politics.
An expansive and accessible primer on Alabama state politics, past and present, which provides an in-depth appreciation and understanding of the twenty-second state’s distinctive political machinery
Why does Alabama rank so low on many of the indicators of quality of life? Why did some of the most dramatic developments in the civil rights revolution of the 1960s take place in Alabama? Why is it that a few interest groups seem to have the most political power in Alabama? William H. Stewart’s Alabama Politics in the Twenty-First Century explores these questions and more, illuminating many of the often misunderstood details of contemporary Alabama politics in this cohesive and comprehensive publication.
The Alabama state government, especially as a specimen of Deep South politics, is a topic of frequent discussion by its general public—second only to college football. However, there remains a surprising lack of literature focusing on the workings of the state’s bureaucracy in an extensive and systematic way. Bearing in mind the Yellowhammer State’s long and rich political history, Stewart concentrates on Alabama’s statecraft from the first decade of the twenty-first century through the November 2010 elections and considers what the widespread Republican victories mean for their constituents. He also studies several different themes prominent during the 2010 elections, including the growing number and influence of special interest groups, the respective polarization of whites and blacks into the Republican and Democratic parties, and the increasingly unwieldy state constitution.
This fascinating and revealing text provides a wealth of information about an extremely complex state government. Featuring detailed descriptions of important concepts and events presented in a thorough and intelligible manner, Alabama Politics in the Twenty-First Century is perfect for scholars, students, everyday Alabamians, or anyone who wants the inside scoop on the subtle inner workings of the Cotton State’s politics.
A thorough, accessible, and heavily illustrated history of Alabama
Alabama: The Making of an American State is itself a watershed event in the long and storied history of the state of Alabama. Here, presented for the first time ever in a single, magnificently illustrated volume, Edwin C. Bridges conveys the magisterial sweep of Alabama’s rich, difficult, and remarkable history with verve, eloquence, and an unblinking eye.
From Alabama’s earliest fossil records to its settlement by Native Americans and later by European settlers and African slaves, from its territorial birth pangs and statehood through the upheavals of the Civil War and the civil rights movement, Bridges makes evident in clear, direct storytelling the unique social, political, economic, and cultural forces that have indelibly shaped this historically rich and unique American region.
Illustrated lavishly with maps, archival photographs, and archaeological artifacts, as well as art works, portraiture, and specimens of Alabama craftsmanship—many never before published—Alabama: The Making of an American State makes evident as rarely seen before Alabama’s most significant struggles, conflicts, achievements, and developments.
Drawn from decades of research and the deep archival holdings of the Alabama Department of Archives and History, this volume will be the definitive resource for decades to come for anyone seeking a broad understanding of Alabama’s evolving legacy.
Politics in Alaska have changed significantly since the last major book on the subject was published more than twenty years ago, with the rise and fall of Sarah Palin and the rise and fall of oil prices being but two of the many developments to alter the political landscape.
This book, the most comprehensive on the subject to date, focuses on the question of how beliefs, institutions, personalities, and power interact to shape Alaska politics and public policy. Drawing on these interactions, the contributors explain how and why certain issues get dealt with successfully and others unsuccessfully, and why some issues are taken up quickly while others are not addressed at all. This comprehensive guide to the political climate of Alaska will be essential to anyone studying the politics of America’s largest—and in some ways most unusual—state.
The Almanac of American Politics 2014
Michael Barone, Chuck McCutcheon, Sean Trende, and Josh Kraushaar University of Chicago Press, 2013 Library of Congress JK1012.A44 | Dewey Decimal 328.73005
The Almanac of American Politics is the gold standard—the book that everyone involved, invested, or interested in American politics must have on their reference shelf. Continuing the tradition of accurate and up-to-date information, the 2014 almanac includes new and updated profiles of every member of Congress and every state governor. These profiles cover everything from expenditures to voting records, interest-group ratings, and, of course, politics. In-depth overviews of each state and house district are included as well, along with demographic data, analysis of voting trends, and political histories. The new edition contains Michael Barone’s sharp-eyed analysis of the 2012 election, both congressional and presidential, exploring how the votes fell and what they mean for future legislation. The almanac also provides comprehensive coverage of the changes brought about by the 2010 census and has been reorganized to align with the resulting new districts.
Like every edition since the almanac first appeared in 1972, the 2014 edition is helmed by veteran political analyst Michael Barone. Together with Chuck McCutcheon, collaborator since 2012, and two new editors, Sean Trende, senior elections analyst for RealClearPolitics, and Josh Kraushaar, managing editor at National Journal, Barone offers an unparalleled perspective on contemporary politics.
Full of maps, census data, and detailed information about the American political landscape, the 2014 Almanac of American Politics remains the most comprehensive resource for journalists, politicos, business people, and academics.
John W. Davis (1873-1955) was the most important national politician to call West Virginia home. Nominated for president by the Democratic Party in 1924, Davis lost to the incumbent Calvin Coolidge. This diary is an engaging day-by-day account of Davis's service as U.S. ambassador to England at a pivotal point in modern history. The recent World War and Russian Revolution, the new thirst for oil, the old strife in Ireland, and the final days of the Wilson presidency fill this diary with enduring significance. Davis also offers a look at the personalities which shaped the post-war world and describes the pageantry and social life of America's most coveted ambassadorial assignment.
The presidency of George W. Bush is notable for the grand scale of its ambitions, the controversy that these ambitions generated, and the risks he regularly courted in the spheres of politics, economics, and foreign policy. Bush's ultimate goal was indeed ambitious: the completion of the conservative “regime change” first heralded by the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980. But ironically this effort sewed the very discord that ultimately took root and emerged to frustrate Bush's plans, and may even have begun to unravel aspects of the Reagan revolution he sought to institutionalize.
Politically, the Bush White House sought the entrenchment of consistent Republican electoral majorities. Institutionally, the Bush administration sought to preserve control of Congress by maintaining reliable partisan Republican majorities, and to influence the federal courts with a steady stream of conservative judicial appointees. The administration also sought increased autonomy over the executive branch by the aggressive use of executive orders and bureaucratic reorganizations in response to 9/11.
Many of these efforts were at least partially successful. But ultimately the fate of the Bush presidency was tied to its greatest single gamble, the Iraq War. The flawed prosecution of that conflict, combined with other White House management failures and finally a slumping economy, left Bush and the Republican Party deeply unpopular and the victim of strong electoral reversals in 2006 and the election victory of Barack Obama in 2008. The American public had turned against the Bush agenda in great part because of the negative outcomes resulting from the administration's pursuit of that agenda.
This book assembles prominent presidential scholars to measure the trajectory of Bush's aspirations, his accomplishments, and his failures. By examining presidential leadership, popular politics and policymaking in this context, the contributors begin the work of understanding the unique historical legacy of the Bush presidency.
In Ambition, Competition, and Electoral Reform, Jamie L. Carson and Jason M. Roberts present an original study of U.S. congressional elections and electoral institutions for 1872-1944 from a contemporary political science perspective. Using data on late nineteenth and early twentieth century congressional elections, the authors test the applicability in a historical context of modern political science theories, assess the effects of institutional reforms, and identify the factors that shape the competitiveness of elections. They present several key findings: the strategic politicians theory is applicable in an era without candidate-centered campaigns; there was an incumbency advantage prior to the full development of candidate-centered campaigns; institutional reforms have had a significant effect on elections; and the degree of electoral competition frequently correlates with elected officials' responsiveness to citizens.
On the face of it, most of us would agree that catastrophe is harmful and avoiding it is key to human survival and progress. And yet, the planet warms, 30,000 more Americans are killed by guns each year, and Donald J. Trump creates political chaos with his rage tweets. American Catastrophe explores such examples to argue that, in fact, we live in an age where catastrophe not only functions as a dominant organizing rhetoric but further as an appealing and unifying force for many communities across America.
Luke Winslow introduces the rhetorical homology as a critical tool useful for understanding how catastrophic appeals unite Americans across disparate religious, ecological, cultural, and political spheres. More specifically, the four case study chapters examining Christian fundamentalism, anti-environmentalism, gun rights messaging, and the administration of Donald Trump reveal a consistent formal pattern oriented toward catastrophe. In teasing out this orientation toward catastrophe, Winslow offers a fresh, provocative, and insightful contribution to our most pressing social challenges.
George F. Kennan University of Chicago Press, 1985 Library of Congress E744.K3 1984 | Dewey Decimal 327.73
Drawing on his diplomatic experience and expertise, George F. Kennan offers an informed, plain-spoken appraisal of United States foreign policy. His evaluations of diplomatic history and international relations cut to the heart of policy issues much debated today.
This expanded edition retains the lectures and essays first published in 1951 as American Diplomacy, 1900-1950 and adds two lectures delivered in 1984 as well as a new preface by the author. In these additional pieces, Kennan explains how some of his ideas have changed over the years. He confronts the events and topics that have come to occupy American opinion in the last thirty years, including the development and significance of the Cold War, the escalation of the nuclear arms race, and the American involvement in Vietnam.
"A book about foreign policy by a man who really knows something about foreign policy."—James Reston,New York Times Book Review
"These celebrated lectures, delivered at the University of Chicago in 1950, were for many years the most widely read account of American diplomacy in the first half of the twentieth century. . . . The second edition of the work contains two lectures from 1984 that reconsider the themes of American Diplomacy"—Foreign Affairs, Significant Books of the Last 75 Years.
The idea that the United States is unlike every other country in world history is a surprisingly resilient one. Throughout his distinguished career, Ian Tyrrell has been one of the most influential historians of the idea of American exceptionalism, but he has never written a book focused solely on it until now. The notion that American identity might be exceptional emerged, Tyrrell shows, from the belief that the nascent early republic was not simply a postcolonial state but a genuinely new experiment in an imperialist world dominated by Britain. Prior to the Civil War, American exceptionalism fostered declarations of cultural, economic, and spatial independence. As the country grew in population and size, becoming a major player in the global order, its exceptionalist beliefs came more and more into focus—and into question. Over time, a political divide emerged: those who believed that America’s exceptionalism was the basis of its virtue and those who saw America as either a long way from perfect or actually fully unexceptional, and thus subject to universal demands for justice. Tyrrell masterfully articulates the many forces that made American exceptionalism such a divisive and definitional concept. Today, he notes, the demands that people acknowledge America’s exceptionalism have grown ever more strident, even as the material and moral evidence for that exceptionalism—to the extent that there ever was any—has withered away.
In the long history of warfare and cultural and ethnic violence, the twentieth century was exceptional for producing institutions charged with seeking accountability or redress for violent offenses and human rights abuses across the globe, often forcing nations to confront the consequences of past atrocities. The Holocaust ended with trials at Nuremberg, apartheid in South Africa concluded with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and the Gacaca courts continue to strive for closure in the wake of the Rwandan genocide. Despite this global trend toward accountability, American collective memory appears distinct in that it tends to glorify the nation’s past, celebrating triumphs while eliding darker episodes in its history. In American Memories, sociologists Joachim Savelsberg and Ryan King rigorously examine how the United States remembers its own and others’ atrocities and how institutional responses to such crimes, including trials and tribunals, may help shape memories and perhaps impede future violence. American Memories uses historical and media accounts, court records, and survey research to examine a number of atrocities from the nation’s past, including the massacres of civilians by U.S. military in My Lai, Vietnam, and Haditha, Iraq. The book shows that when states initiate responses to such violence—via criminal trials, tribunals, or reconciliation hearings—they lay important groundwork for how such atrocities are viewed in the future. Trials can serve to delegitimize violence—even by a nation’s military— by creating a public record of grave offenses. But the law is filtered by and must also compete with other institutions, such as the media and historical texts, in shaping American memory. Savelsberg and King show, for example, how the My Lai slayings of women, children, and elderly men by U.S. soldiers have been largely eliminated from or misrepresented in American textbooks, and the army’s reputation survived the episode untarnished. The American media nevertheless evoked the killings at My Lai in response to the murder of twenty-four civilian Iraqis in Haditha, during the war in Iraq. Since only one conviction was obtained for the My Lai massacre, and convictions for the killings in Haditha seem increasingly unlikely, Savelsberg and King argue that Haditha in the near past is now bound inextricably to My Lai in the distant past. With virtually no criminal convictions, and none of higher ranks for either massacre, both events will continue to be misrepresented in American memory. In contrast, the book examines American representations of atrocities committed by foreign powers during the Balkan wars, which entailed the prosecution of ranking military and political leaders. The authors analyze news accounts of the war’s events and show how articles based on diplomatic sources initially cast Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic in a less negative light, but court-based accounts increasingly portrayed Milosevic as a criminal, solidifying his image for the public record. American Memories provocatively suggests that a nation’s memories don’t just develop as a rejoinder to events—they are largely shaped by institutions. In the wake of atrocities, how a state responds has an enduring effect and provides a moral framework for whether and how we remember violent transgressions. Savelsberg and King deftly show that such responses can be instructive for how to deal with large-scale violence in the future, and hopefully how to deter it. A Volume in the American Sociological Association’s Rose Series in Sociology.
This is volume 10 issue 3 of American Political Thought. Bridging the gap between historical, empirical, and theoretical research, American Political Thought (APT) is the only journal dedicated exclusively to the study of the American political tradition. Interdisciplinary in scope, APT features research by political scientists, historians, literary scholars, economists, and philosophers who study the foundation and political tradition of concepts such as democracy, constitutionalism, equality, liberty, citizenship, political identity, and the role of the state.
This is volume 10 issue 4 of American Political Thought. Bridging the gap between historical, empirical, and theoretical research, American Political Thought (APT) is the only journal dedicated exclusively to the study of the American political tradition. Interdisciplinary in scope, APT features research by political scientists, historians, literary scholars, economists, and philosophers who study the foundation and political tradition of concepts such as democracy, constitutionalism, equality, liberty, citizenship, political identity, and the role of the state.
This is volume 11 issue 1 of American Political Thought. Bridging the gap between historical, empirical, and theoretical research, American Political Thought (APT) is the only journal dedicated exclusively to the study of the American political tradition. Interdisciplinary in scope, APT features research by political scientists, historians, literary scholars, economists, and philosophers who study the foundation and political tradition of concepts such as democracy, constitutionalism, equality, liberty, citizenship, political identity, and the role of the state.
This is volume 11 issue 2 of American Political Thought. Bridging the gap between historical, empirical, and theoretical research, American Political Thought (APT) is the only journal dedicated exclusively to the study of the American political tradition. Interdisciplinary in scope, APT features research by political scientists, historians, literary scholars, economists, and philosophers who study the foundation and political tradition of concepts such as democracy, constitutionalism, equality, liberty, citizenship, political identity, and the role of the state.
This is volume 11 issue 3 of American Political Thought. Bridging the gap between historical, empirical, and theoretical research, American Political Thought (APT) is the only journal dedicated exclusively to the study of the American political tradition. Interdisciplinary in scope, APT features research by political scientists, historians, literary scholars, economists, and philosophers who study the foundation and political tradition of concepts such as democracy, constitutionalism, equality, liberty, citizenship, political identity, and the role of the state.
This is volume 11 issue 4 of American Political Thought. Bridging the gap between historical, empirical, and theoretical research, American Political Thought (APT) is the only journal dedicated exclusively to the study of the American political tradition. Interdisciplinary in scope, APT features research by political scientists, historians, literary scholars, economists, and philosophers who study the foundation and political tradition of concepts such as democracy, constitutionalism, equality, liberty, citizenship, political identity, and the role of the state.
Celebrating its fiftieth anniversary, Robert McCloskey’s classic work on the Supreme Court’s role in constructing the U.S. Constitution has introduced generations of students to the workings of our nation’s highest court. For this new fifth edition, Sanford Levinson extends McCloskey’s magisterial treatment to address the Court’s most recent decisions.
As in prior editions, McCloskey’s original text remains unchanged. In his historical interpretation, he argues that the strength of the Court has always been its sensitivity to the changing political scene, as well as its reluctance to stray too far from the main currents of public sentiments. In two revised chapters, Levinson shows how McCloskey’s approach continues to illuminate developments since 2005, including the Court’s decisions in cases arising out of the War on Terror, which range from issues of civil liberty to tests of executive power. He also discusses the Court’s skepticism regarding campaign finance regulation; its affirmation of the right to bear arms; and the increasingly important nomination and confirmation process of Supreme Court justices, including that of the first Hispanic justice, Sonia Sotomayor.
The best and most concise account of the Supreme Court and its place in American politics, McCloskey's wonderfully readable book is an essential guide to the past, present, and future prospects of this institution.
For more than fifty years, Robert G. McCloskey’s classic work on the Supreme Court’s role in constructing the US Constitution has introduced generations of students to the workings of our nation’s highest court.
As in prior editions, McCloskey’s original text remains unchanged. In his historical interpretation, he argues that the strength of the Court has always been its sensitivity to the changing political scene, as well as its reluctance to stray too far from the main currents of public sentiment. In this new edition, Sanford Levinson extends McCloskey’s magisterial treatment to address developments since the 2010 election, including the Supreme Court’s decisions regarding the Defense of Marriage Act, the Affordable Care Act, and gay marriage.
The best and most concise account of the Supreme Court and its place in American politics, McCloskey's wonderfully readable book is an essential guide to the past, present, and future prospects of this institution.
In the aftermath of the 2016 presidential election, many Americans questioned how to respond to the results and the deep divisions in our country exposed by the campaign. Many people of faith turned to their religious communities for guidance and support. Many looked for ways to take action. In November 2016, biblical scholar Andrea L. Weiss and graphic designer Lisa M. Weinberger teamed up to create an innovative response: a national nonpartisan campaign that used letters and social media to highlight core American values connected to our diverse religious traditions.
American Values, Religious Voices: 100 Days, 100 Letters is a collection of letters written by some of America’s most accomplished and thoughtful scholars of religion during the first 100 days of the Trump presidency. While the letters are addressed to the president, vice president, and members of the 115th Congress and Trump administration, they speak to a broad audience of Americans looking for wisdom and encouragement at this tumultuous time in our nation’s history.
This unique volume assembles the 100 letters, plus four new supplemental essays and many of the graphic illustrations that enhanced the campaign.
Published near the midway point of the Trump presidency, this book showcases a wide range of ancient sacred texts that pertain to our most pressing contemporary issues. At a time of great division in our country, this post-election project models how people of different backgrounds can listen to and learn from one another. The letters offer insight and inspiration, reminding us of the enduring values that make our nation great.
How is it that the United States—a country founded on a distrust of standing armies and strong centralized power—came to have the most powerful military in history? Long after World War II and the end of the Cold War, in times of rising national debt and reduced need for high levels of military readiness, why does Congress still continue to support massive defense budgets?
In The American Warfare State, Rebecca U. Thorpe argues that there are profound relationships among the size and persistence of the American military complex, the growth in presidential power to launch military actions, and the decline of congressional willingness to check this power. The public costs of military mobilization and war, including the need for conscription and higher tax rates, served as political constraints on warfare for most of American history. But the vast defense industry that emerged from World War II also created new political interests that the framers of the Constitution did not anticipate. Many rural and semirural areas became economically reliant on defense-sector jobs and capital, which gave the legislators representing them powerful incentives to press for ongoing defense spending regardless of national security circumstances or goals. At the same time, the costs of war are now borne overwhelmingly by a minority of soldiers who volunteer to fight, future generations of taxpayers, and foreign populations in whose lands wars often take place.
Drawing on an impressive cache of data, Thorpe reveals how this new incentive structure has profoundly reshaped the balance of wartime powers between Congress and the president, resulting in a defense industry perennially poised for war and an executive branch that enjoys unprecedented discretion to take military action.
"Jones and McDermott restore meaning to democratic responsibility by finding that public evaluations affect Congress. In contrast to the popular depiction of the representatives controlling the represented
rampant in the political science literature, Jones and McDermott show that the people are in control, determining not only the direction of policy in Congress, but also who stays, who retires, and who faces difficult reelection efforts. This book makes an important correction to our understanding of how Congress operates."
---Sean M. Theriault, University of Texas at Austin
Voters may not know the details of specific policies, but they have a general sense of how well Congress serves their own interests; and astute politicians pay attention to public approval ratings. When the majority party is unpopular, as during the 2008 election, both voters and politicians take a hand in reconfiguring the House and the Senate. Voters throw hard-line party members out of office while candidates who continue to run under the party banner distance themselves from party ideology. In this way, public approval directly affects policy shifts as well as turnovers at election time. Contrary to the common view of Congress as an insulated institution, Jones and McDermott argue that Congress is indeed responsive to the people of the United States.
David R. Jones is Professor of Political Science at Baruch College, City University of New York.
Monika L. McDermott is Associate Professor of Political Science at Fordham University.
The U.S. Constitution opens by proclaiming the sovereignty of all citizens: "We the People." Robert Tsai's gripping history of alternative constitutions invites readers into the circle of those who have rejected this ringing assertion--the defiant groups that refused to accept the Constitution's definition of who "the people" are and how their authority should be exercised.
America's Forgotten Constitutions is the story of America as told by dissenters: squatters, Native Americans, abolitionists, socialists, internationalists, and racial nationalists. Beginning in the nineteenth century, Tsai chronicles eight episodes in which discontented citizens took the extraordinary step of drafting a new constitution. He examines the alternative Americas envisioned by John Brown (who dreamed of a republic purged of slavery), Robert Barnwell Rhett (the Confederate "father of secession"), and Etienne Cabet (a French socialist who founded a utopian society in Illinois). Other dreamers include the University of Chicago academics who created a world constitution for the nuclear age; the Republic of New Afrika, which demanded a separate country carved from the Deep South; and the contemporary Aryan movement, which plans to liberate America from multiculturalism and feminism.
Countering those who treat constitutional law as a single tradition, Tsai argues that the ratification of the Constitution did not quell debate but kindled further conflicts over basic questions of power and community. He explains how the tradition mutated over time, inspiring generations and disrupting the best-laid plans for simplicity and order. Idealists on both the left and right will benefit from reading these cautionary tales.
America's Inequality Trap
Nathan J. Kelly University of Chicago Press, 2020 Library of Congress HC110.I5K45 2019 | Dewey Decimal 339.220973
The gap between the rich and the poor has grown dramatically in the United States and is now at its widest since at least the early 1900s. While by most measures the economy has been improving, soaring cost of living and stagnant wages have done little to assuage economic anxieties. Conditions like these seem designed to produce a generation-defining intervention to balance the economic scales and enhance opportunities for those at the middle and bottom of the country’s economic ladder—but we have seen nothing of the sort.
Nathan J. Kelly argues that a key reason for this is that rising concentrations of wealth create a politics that makes reducing economic inequality more difficult. Kelly convincingly shows that, when a small fraction of the people control most of the economic resources, they also hold a disproportionate amount of political power, hurtling us toward a self-perpetuating plutocracy, or an “inequality trap.” Among other things, the rich support a broad political campaign that convinces voters that policies to reduce inequality are unwise and not in the average voter’s interest, regardless of the real economic impact. They also take advantage of interest groups they generously support to influence Congress and the president, as well as state governments, in ways that stop or slow down reform. One of the key implications of this book is that social policies designed to combat inequality should work hand-in-hand with political reforms that enhance democratic governance and efforts to fight racism, and a coordinated effort on all of these fronts will be needed to reverse the decades-long trend.
A bold call to reclaim an American tradition that argues the Constitution imposes a duty on government to fight oligarchy and ensure broadly shared wealth.
Oligarchy is a threat to the American republic. When too much economic and political power is concentrated in too few hands, we risk losing the “republican form of government” the Constitution requires. Today, courts enforce the Constitution as if it had almost nothing to say about this threat. But as Joseph Fishkin and William Forbath show in this revolutionary retelling of constitutional history, a commitment to prevent oligarchy once stood at the center of a robust tradition in American political and constitutional thought.
Fishkin and Forbath demonstrate that reformers, legislators, and even judges working in this “democracy-of-opportunity” tradition understood that the Constitution imposes a duty on legislatures to thwart oligarchy and promote a broad distribution of wealth and political power. These ideas led Jacksonians to fight special economic privileges for the few, Populists to try to break up monopoly power, and Progressives to fight for the constitutional right to form a union. During Reconstruction, Radical Republicans argued in this tradition that racial equality required breaking up the oligarchy of the Slave Power and distributing wealth and opportunity to former slaves and their descendants. President Franklin Roosevelt and the New Dealers built their politics around this tradition, winning the fight against the “economic royalists” and “industrial despots.”
But today, as we enter a new Gilded Age, this tradition in progressive American economic and political thought lies dormant. The Anti-Oligarchy Constitution begins the work of recovering it and exploring its profound implications for our deeply unequal society and badly damaged democracy.
The selection of federal judges constitutes one of the more significant legacies of any president; the choices of Lyndon Baines Johnson affected important social policies for decades. This book explores the process of making judicial appointments, examining how judges were selected during Johnson's administration and the president's own participation in the process. Appointment of Judges: The Johnson Presidency is the first in-depth study of the judicial selection process in the Johnson years and is one of the few books that has analyzed any individual president's process.
Based on sources in the archives of the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and correspondence from senators, party officials, Justice Department officers, the American Bar Association, Supreme Court justices, and the candidates themselves, the book is an important exploration of a significant aspect of presidential power. The author shows that Johnson recognized the great impact for social and economic policy the judiciary could have in America and sought out judges who shared his vision of the Great Society. More than any previous president since William Howard Taft, Johnson took an active personal role in setting up the criteria for choosing judges and in many cases participated in decisions on individual nominees. The president utilized the resources of the White House, the Department of Justice, other agencies, and private individuals to identify judicial candidates who met criteria of compatible policy perspective, excellent legal qualifications, political or judicial experience, youth, and ethnic diversity. The book notes how the criteria and judicial selection process evolved over time and how it operated during the transitions between Kennedy and Johnson and between Johnson and Nixon.
A collection of essays representing forty-five years of reflection on the central problems of southern history bound together by a common concern with defining the crucial interaction of race and class in the formation of southern politics and life
“The tourist archipelagoes of my South / are prisons, too, corruptible” writes the poet Derek Walcott. While Walcott refers to the islands of the Caribbean, the analogous idea of a land made into solitary islands by an imprisoned and inherited corruption is historian J. Mills Thornton III’s American South. The captivating essays in Archipelagoes of My South: Episodes in the Shaping of a Region, 1830–1965 address this overarching and underlying narrative of Alabama politics and the history of the South.
Highlighting events as significant as the role of social and economic conflict in the southern secession movement, various aspects of Reconstruction, and the role of the Ku Klux Klan in the politics of the 1920s, Thornton draws from various points in the southern past in an effort to identify and understand the sources of the region’s power. Moreover, each essay investigates its subject matter and peels back layers with an aim to clarify why the enormous diversity of the southern experience makes that power so great, all the while allowing the reader to see connections that would not otherwise be apparent.
Archipelagoes of My South gathers previously uncollected essays into a single volume covering the entire length and breadth of Thornton’s career. The author’s principal concerns have always been the arc of regional evolution and the significance of the local. Thus, the mechanisms of political and social change and the interrelationships across eras and generations are recurring themes in many of these essays.
Even those who have spent their entire lives in the South may be unaware of the fractured layers of history that lie beneath the landscape they inhabit. For those southern residents who seek to comprehend more of their own past, this landmark compilation of essays on Alabama and southern history endeavors to provide illumination and enlightenment.
Given the news media’s focus on national issues and debates, voters might be expected to make decisions about state and local candidates based on their views of the national parties and presidential candidates. However, nationalization as a concept, and the process by which politics becomes nationalized, are not fully understood. Are All Politics Nationalized? addresses this knowledge gap by looking at the behavior of candidates and the factors that influence voters’ electoral choices.
The editors and contributors examine the 2020 elections in six Pennsylvania districts to explore the level of nationalization in campaigns for Congress and state legislature. They also question if politicians are encouraging nationalized behavior and straight ticket voting—especially with down-ballot races.
Are All Politics Nationalized? concludes that issues specific to particular districts—such as fracking and local union politics—still matter, and candidates are eager to connect with voters by highlighting their ties to the local community. National politics do trickle down to local races, but races up and down the ballot are still heavily localized.
This report addresses two questions: first, whether the spatial distribution of the American electorate has become more geographically clustered over the last 40 years with respect to party voting and socioeconomic attributes; and second, whether this clustering process has contributed to rising polarization in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Although America’s founders may have been inspired by the political thought of ancient Greece and Rome, the United States is more often characterized by its devotion to the pursuit of commerce. Some have even said that a modern commercial republic such as the United States unavoidably lowers its moral horizon to little more than a concern with securing peace and prosperity so that commerce can flourish.
Michael Chan reconsiders this view of America through close readings of Aristotle and Alexander Hamilton, showing that America at its founding was neither as modern nor as low as we have been led to believe. He challenges the virtue/commerce divide that dominates modern thought by demonstrating that the prevailing views of Aristotle and Hamilton on commerce reflect misleading half-truths.
Chan first examines Aristotle’s views of economics as presented in the Politics, arguing that Aristotle was not as hostile to commerce as is commonly believed. He points out the philosopher’s belief in the value of commercial acquisition in the interest of supplying citizens with the “equipment of virtue,” citing Aristotle’s praise of commercial Carthage over agrarian but much-esteemed Sparta.
Chan then turns to a detailed account of the political economy of Hamilton, a proponent of an advanced industrial republic modeled on Great Britain. While many take Hamilton’s advocacy of public credit, a national bank, and manufacturing as evidence of his rejection of classical republican thought in favor of modernity, Chan contends that Hamilton embraced a classically inspired economic statesmanship that transcended a concern with merely securing peace and prosperity. Leading the reader through the complexities of Hamilton’s thought, Chan shows that he intended commerce to pursue the wider classical goals of forming the character of citizens, establishing harmony and justice, and pursuing national greatness. Rather than attempting to brand Hamilton an Aristotelian, Chan seeks to incorporate into the study of Hamilton’s political economy what Aristotle himself regarded as the statesman’s characteristic virtue, prudence.
By reflecting on Hamilton in the context of Aristotle’s own reflections on commerce, Chan casts him in a new light that cuts across the ongoing debate about liberal versus classical republican elements of the American founding. His cogent analysis also raises important questions regarding the American system as it is being challenged by conflicting worldviews. Aristotle and Hamilton on Commerce and Statesmanship makes a significant contribution to our understanding of both Hamiltonian thought and the moral worthiness of democratic capitalism.
The numbers are staggering: One-third of America’s adult population has passed through the criminal justice system and now has a criminal record. Many more were never convicted, but are nonetheless subject to surveillance by the state. Never before has the American government maintained so vast a network of institutions dedicated solely to the control and confinement of its citizens.
A provocative assessment of the contemporary carceral state for American democracy, Arresting Citizenship argues that the broad reach of the criminal justice system has fundamentally recast the relation between citizen and state, resulting in a sizable—and growing—group of second-class citizens. From police stops to court cases and incarceration, at each stage of the criminal justice system individuals belonging to this disempowered group come to experience a state-within-a-state that reflects few of the country’s core democratic values. Through scores of interviews, along with analyses of survey data, Amy E. Lerman and Vesla M. Weaver show how this contact with police, courts, and prisons decreases faith in the capacity of American political institutions to respond to citizens’ concerns and diminishes the sense of full and equal citizenship—even for those who have not been found guilty of any crime. The effects of this increasingly frequent contact with the criminal justice system are wide-ranging—and pernicious—and Lerman and Weaver go on to offer concrete proposals for reforms to reincorporate this large group of citizens as active participants in American civic and political life.
Take an economically and racially diverse urban school district emerging from a long history of segregation. Add an energetic, capable, bridge-building superintendent with ambitious district-wide goals to improve graduation rates, school attendance, and academic performance. Consider that he was well funded and strongly supported by city leaders, teachers, and parents, and ask how much changed in a decade of his tenure—and what remained unchanged?
Larry Cuban takes this richly detailed history of the Austin, Texas, school district, under Superintendent Pat Forgione, to ask the question that few politicians and school reformers want to touch. Given effective use of widely welcomed reforms, can school policies and practices put all children at the same academic level? Are class and ethnic differences in academic performance within the power of schools to change?
Cuban argues that the overall district has shown much improvement—better test scores, more high school graduates, and more qualified teachers. But the improvements are unevenly distributed. The elementary schools improved, as did the high schools located in affluent, well-educated, largely white neighborhoods. But the least improvement came where it was needed most: the predominantly poor, black, and Latino high schools. Before Forgione arrived, over 10 percent of district schools were failing, and after he left office, roughly the same percentage continued to fail. Austin’s signal successes amid failure hold answers to tough questions facing urban district leaders across the nation.
Coming to terms with a new period of uncertainty when it is still replete with possibilities
This quick and engaging study clearly lays out the United States’ current democratic crisis. Examining the early stages of the Nazi movement in Germany, William E. Connolly detects synergies with Donald Trump’s rhetorical style. Tapping into a sense of contemporary fragility, Aspirational Fascism pays particular attention to how conflicts between neoliberalism and the pluralizing left have placed the white working class in a bind. Ultimately, Connolly believes a multifaceted democracy constitutes the best antidote to aspirational fascism and rethinks what a politics of the left might look like today.
Forerunners is a thought-in-process series of breakthrough digital works. Written between fresh ideas and finished books, Forerunners draws on scholarly work initiated in notable blogs, social media, conference plenaries, journal articles, and the synergy of academic exchange. This is gray literature publishing: where intense thinking, change, and speculation take place in scholarship.
The nation's first vice president, John Adams, called his job "the most insignificant office ever the invention of man contrived or his imagination conceived." And many of the forty-four men who succeeded him in the office have said much worse. Perhaps the biggest problem is that the job has a fancy title, but few responsibilities. Other than presiding over the Senate, the vice president of the United States has no constitutional duties. In fact, it is not even clear that the founders of the republic ever intended that the vice president would succeed to the presidency upon the death of an incumbent.
Yet, despite the relative obscurity of the position, few politicians turn down the opportunity to serve as vice president of the United States. Being elected vice president is often a stepping-stone to the presidency. Since World War II, five vice presidents—Harry Truman, Richard Nixon, Lyndon Johnson, Gerald Ford, and George Bush—have gone on to become president. While it may not be glamorous, the vice presidency is an important training ground for national leadership.
The essays in this book trace the evolution of the vice presidency in the twentieth century from Theodore Roosevelt to Dan Quayle. The first five chapters tell the stories of a colorful collection of the men chosen because of their native states or their political acumen, but not their leadership abilities. The next four chapters form a mosaic of tragedy. Richard Nixon rose from the vice presidency to the presidency only to be forced from office. Lyndon Johnson's tenure ended unhappily because of the prolonged fighting in Vietnam. Hubert Humphrey was humiliated as vice president by a man who should have known better. And Spiro Agnew was rousted from the office by petty greed.
The following four chapters tell the story of a new vice presidency. Nelson Rockefeller, Walter Mondale, George Bush, and Dan Quayle redefined the job that not many people wanted but that few could refuse. In a particularly valuable essay, Quayle reflects on the checkered past of his predecessors, gives credit to Walter Mondale for rehabilitating the vice presidency, and tells of his working relationship with George Bushþoffering a unique glimpse of an office that is quickly becoming the second most powerful in the nation.
Addressing the future of the office, Richard E. Neustadt provides a detailed analysis of the nucleus of vice presidential powerþproximity to the president. To whit, we have Neustadt's maxim: "The power and influence of a vice president is inversely proportional to the political distance between that vice president and his president. The greater the distance the less the power."
At the President's Side includes anecdotal and informative essays by presidential scholars John Milton Cooper Jr., Robert H. Ferrell, Elliot A. Rosen, Richard S. Kirkendall, Richard Norton Smith, Robert Dallek, Joel K. Goldstein, John Robert Greene, and Steven M. Gillon. Also included are incisive commentaries by such Washington insiders as Hugh Sidey, R. W. Apple Jr., James Cannon, and Chase Untermeyer. This book will inform and entertain general readers and also challenge scholars interested in the presidency and the vice presidency.
America’s Constitution did not spring up suddenly in 1787. The framers were influenced at every turn by a tradition of constitutional development dating back to ancient times. That constitutional heritage passes almost unnoticed today—despite the fact that it has influenced legislators, judges, statesmen, and scholars for more than two hundred years.
Political scientist and legal scholar Matthew Pauley remedies this problem by shining a light on the three most important influences on the American constitutional experience: ancient Greece, ancient Rome, and England. All three helped shape the American system. Athens, for example, emphasized the rule of law and, at least for a time, a kind of democracy. From Rome we derived our commitment to natural law. England provided a tradition of representative government and the common law, as well as models for a jury system, judicial precedent, and habeas corpus and other writs.
There is no better way to understand the history of constitutionalism than to examine the evolution of the ancient Athenian, Roman, and English constitutions. Highly readable, Athens, Rome, and England: America’s Constitutional Heritage tells the fascinating story of the influence these traditions and cultures had on the U.S. experience. No student of law and government can afford to ignore it.
A sitting justice reflects upon the authority of the Supreme Court—how that authority was gained and how measures to restructure the Court could undermine both the Court and the constitutional system of checks and balances that depends on it.
A growing chorus of officials and commentators argues that the Supreme Court has become too political. On this view the confirmation process is just an exercise in partisan agenda-setting, and the jurists are no more than “politicians in robes”—their ostensibly neutral judicial philosophies mere camouflage for conservative or liberal convictions.
Stephen Breyer, drawing upon his experience as a Supreme Court justice, sounds a cautionary note. Mindful of the Court’s history, he suggests that the judiciary’s hard-won authority could be marred by reforms premised on the assumption of ideological bias. Having, as Hamilton observed, “no influence over either the sword or the purse,” the Court earned its authority by making decisions that have, over time, increased the public’s trust. If public trust is now in decline, one part of the solution is to promote better understandings of how the judiciary actually works: how judges adhere to their oaths and how they try to avoid considerations of politics and popularity.
Breyer warns that political intervention could itself further erode public trust. Without the public’s trust, the Court would no longer be able to act as a check on the other branches of government or as a guarantor of the rule of law, risking serious harm to our constitutional system.
A territory split by slavery, a state forged for union
Avenues of Transformation traces the surprising path, marked by shame, ambition, and will that led to Illinois’s admission to the Union in 1818. Historian James A. Edstrom guides the reader through this story by associating each stage of the narrative—the original statehood campaign, the passage of Illinois’s statehood-enabling act by Congress, and Illinois’s first constitutional convention—with the primary leaders in each of those episodes. The lives of these men—Daniel Pope Cook, Nathaniel Pope, and Elias Kent Kane—reflect the momentous tangle of politics, slavery, and geography. This history maps the drive for statehood in the conflict between nation and state, in the perpetuation of slavery, and in the sweep of water and commerce. It underscores the ways in which the Prairie State is uniquely intertwined—economically, socially, and politically—with every region of the Union: North, South, East, and West—and captures the compelling moment when Illinois statehood stood ready to more perfectly unify the nation.
This volume is the first full-length book in over a century to describe and analyze Illinois’s admission to the Union. It marks the first time that a historian has analyzed in detail the roll-call votes of the first state constitutional convention, seated evenly by pro- and antislavery delegates. Edstrom’s wit and prose weave a lively narrative of political ambition and human failure. Patiently crafted, Avenues of Transformation will be the first source for readers to turn to for gaining a better understanding of Illinois statehood.