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

Akhil Reed Amar. Basic, $29.99 (464p) ISBN 978-0-465-09633-6
Yale law professor Amar (The Law of the Land), a frequent New York Times contributor, would seem the perfect choice to provide an accessible and engrossing look at current constitutional issues. Unfortunately, that’s not what this volume is. Instead of providing concise, original examinations of legal and cultural conflicts, Amar reprints dozens of previously written essays, including ones that are far from timely; for example, one advocates that the U.S. Supreme Court change its policies to allow note taking by the audience at oral arguments, and easy access to transcripts of those arguments—a change that has since been made. Dated references, such as to a possible Romney/Christie slate in 2012, are a distraction that updated, reworked entries would have avoided. These aren’t the only flaws—some points (suggesting that Hillary Clinton might win the presidency “in part based on her strong support” of Supreme Court judicial candidate Merrick Garland) are, at best, a logical stretch, and Amar veers too close to self-congratulation in his speculations about the influence of some of his writings. This is a missed opportunity that the knowledgeable and insightful Amar could still realize in a future book. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 07/25/2016
Release date: 09/01/2016
Genre: Nonfiction
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