Constitutional Law

Download American Epic: Reading the U.S. Constitution by Garrett Epps PDF

By Garrett Epps

In 1987, E.L. Doctorow celebrated the Constitution's bicentennial via analyzing it. "It is 5 thousand phrases lengthy yet reads like fifty thousand," he stated. wonderful felony student Garrett Epps--himself an award-winning novelist--disagrees. it really is approximately 7,500 phrases. And Doctorow "missed a great deal of excessive rhetoric, many literary tropes, or even a hint of, if now not wit, a minimum of irony," he writes. americans may perhaps venerate the structure, "but all too seldom is it read."

In American Epic, Epps takes us via an entire analyzing of the Constitution--even the "boring" parts--to in achieving an appreciation of its energy and a holistic knowing of what it says. during this publication he seeks to not offer a definitive interpretation, yet to hear the language and consider its that means. He attracts on 4 modes of examining: scriptural, felony, lyric, and epic. The Constitution's first 3 phrases, for instance, sound spiritual--but Epps reveals them to be extra aspirational than prayer-like. "Prayers are addressed to anyone . . . both a mundane king or a divine lord, and nice care is taken to call the addressee. . . . This does the opposite. The speaker is 'the people,' the phrases addressed to the realm at large." He turns the second one modification right into a poem to light up its ambiguity. He notices oddities and omissions. The structure lays out ideas for presidential appointment of officials, for instance, yet no longer elimination. should still the Senate approve each one firing? Can it withdraw its "advice and consent" and strength a resignation? And he demanding situations himself, as noticeable in his marvelous dialogue of the protection of Marriage Act (DOMA) in mild of Article four, which orders states to provide "full religion and credits" to the acts of alternative states.

Wry, unique, and awesome, American Epic is a scholarly and literary journey de strength.

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Additional resources for American Epic: Reading the U.S. Constitution

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But they indicate a legislative body with comprehensive authority in these two areas. This interpretation is given strength by two clauses of Section Eight that we have not yet considered, but that form a frame around the enumerated powers (as “the Ocean River’s mighty power” ran around the rim of Achilles’s “indestructible shield”) and seem to underline not their limitation but their extent. ” If these are in fact separate powers, then they dwarf the specific grants in the rest of Section Eight.

Under this provision, Congress governs an empire of military installations around the country; but the “seat of government” power gave rise, in time, to the thriving city of Washington, DC, which is not a fort or stockade but a complete civilian city-state. It exists uneasily within the Union as a federal enclave, as completely under congressional control as is Elmendorf Air Force Base or the island of Guam, with no rights of congressional representation. America since 1787 has acquired a vast continental empire that was not part of the United States when the Constitution was framed.

As the lightning brings life to Frankenstein’s monster, the Preamble quickens the structural provisions that follow. In the beginning, the nation is without form and void. There is darkness; then someone speaks in our voice: Let there be law. Article I A Tale of Two Cities “We the people” have spoken. Now it is the Framers’ turn to speak as themselves. Article I is the longest and most complex in the Constitution, and in many ways it is the Philadelphia Framers’ best work: intricate, self-confident, and far less tentative than their discussions of the presidency in Article II and the judiciary in Article III.

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