THE SECOND BILL OF RIGHTS: FDR's Unfinished Revolution and Why We Need It More Than Ever

Cass R. Sunstein, Author . Basic $25 (294p) ISBN 978-0-465-08332-9

While it doesn't succeed in making Franklin Roosevelt into a constitutional innovator, this disheveled book does bring into focus FDR's forgotten effort to address domestic "security," as WWII neared its climax. Roosevelt's inaugural address of January 11, 1944, asked Congress to adopt a "second Bill of Rights": guarantees of work, adequate housing and income, medical care and education, among others—promises designed to extend the New Deal (and thwart the appeal of communism). The indefatigable Sunstein (Why Societies Need Dissent , etc.) sketches Roosevelt's domestic policies and the logistics of the inaugural address (included in full in an appendix), then debates the never-adopted bill's merits, historically as its ideas kicked around in the post WWII-era, and as it might be taken up today. He tends to be scanty on the bill's potential budgetary toll and on the responsibility for one's own welfare that FDR thought the bill's beneficiaries ought to bear. Sunstein roams widely over legal history and precedent, but is focused and clear in showing how FDR sowed the seeds of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (in whose 1948 drafting Eleanor Roosevelt played a crucial role) and energetic in discussing this proposal's further possible legacy. Agent, Sydelle Kramer . (July)

Reviewed on: 05/31/2004
Release date: 06/01/2004
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