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Vol 21 No 9 Sept/Oct 2016

Book of the Month

Cover of Goode on Commercial Law

Goode on Commercial Law

Edited by: Ewan McKendrick
Price: £170.00

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The Partial Constitution

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ISBN13: 9780674654785
ISBN: 0674654781
Published: January 1995
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Format: Hardback
Price: Out of print

American constitutional law is at a crossroads. As it is currently interpreted, the Constitution is partial, Sunstein asserts. It is, first of all, biased. Contemporary constitutional law treats the status quo as neutral and just, and any departure as necessarily partisan. But when the status quo is neither neutral nor just, Sunstein argues, reasoning of this sort produces injustice. The Constitution is partial in another sense: its meaning has come to be identified solely with the decisions of the Supreme Court. This was not always the case, as Sunstein demonstrates; nor was it the intention of the country's founders. Instead, the Constitution often served as a catalyst for public deliberation about its general terms and aspirations - and Sunstein makes a strong case for reviving this broader understanding of the Constitution's role.;In light of this analysis, Sunstein proposes solutions to some of the most hotly disputed issues of our time, including affirmative action, sex discrimination, pornography, ""hate speech"", and government funding of religious schools and the arts. In an especially striking argument, he claims that the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment - not the right to privacy - protects a woman's right to choose abortion. Sunstein connects these and other debates to the Constitution's historic commitment to public deliberation among political equals - and in doing so, he reconceives many of our most basic constitutional rights, such as free speech and equality under law. He urges that public deliberation about the meaning of the Constitution in turn be freed from a principle of neutrality based on the status quo. His work points to a historically sound but fundamentally new understanding of the American constitutional process as an exercise in deliberative democracy.

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