Book Talk: The Constitution Today - Timeless Lessons for the Issues of Our Era

December 12, 2016

Please join Akhil Reed Amar ’84 for a discussion of his book, The Constitution Today: Timeless Lessons for the Issues of Our Era, on Wednesday, January 18, 2017 at 6:10- 7:00 PM, SLB 128.

In his book, preeminent constitutional scholar Akhil Amar uses a series of essays to probe the biggest and most bitterly contested debates of the two decades from gun control to gay marriage, affirmative action to criminal procedure, Bill Clinton’s impeachment to Obamacare. With wit and wisdom, Amar sheds light on these issues while offering a more enduring set of ideas a road map for where constitutional law must go in the long run.

Looking to the Constitution’s text, history, and structure for the specific rules and grand themes relevant to every vital organ of the American body politic, Amar explores the basic structure of the modern federal government, examining in turn the key institutions and offices of national power set forth in the Constitution. He warns of the problems of presidential dynasties and the dangers of our current system of presidential succession; argues for a “nuclear option” to tame the filibuster and restore the principle of majority rule in the US Senate; and advocates for greater transparency in the federal judiciary. Amar then turns to the heated and persistent controversies over the scope of our constitutional rights, from matters of criminal procedure to modern America’s culture wars. Prioritizing sound constitutional reasoning over partisan preferences, Amar argues for diversity-based affirmative action, in support of the right to keep a gun in one’s home for self-protection, against spending caps on independent political advertising, and in favor of the right of same-sex couples to marry.

The book is organized by subject matter so readers may see the larger pattern of argument running through the individual pieces. Amar begins each of his ten chapters with a freshly composed overview describing how the individual essays came into being; how these pieces fit together; and how his constitutional views have fared in the broader legal and public discourse in the years since these pieces first appeared. During what promises to be a momentous election, the book seeks to cut across traditional partisan divides offering a detailed and thorough examination on the history and the modern day implications and collective wisdom of the Constitution’s intergenerational text.

Akhil Reed Amar is Sterling Professor of Law and Political Science. He teaches constitutional law in both Yale College and Yale Law School. His work has won awards from both the American Bar Association and the Federalist Society.

Sponsored by The Lillian Goldman Law Library

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