cover image Allow Me to Retort: A Black Guy’s Guide to the Constitution

Allow Me to Retort: A Black Guy’s Guide to the Constitution

Elie Mystal. New Press, $26.99 (272p) ISBN 978-1-62097-681-4

The Nation contributor Mystal debuts with a pugnacious and entertaining critique of conservative interpretations of the Constitution. Contending that the Constitution and its amendments “were designed to create a society of white male dominance,” and that conservatives “use the law to humiliate people, to torture people, and to murder people,” Mystal refutes the idea that the First Amendment protects people from being “canceled” for “spew[ing] racist, sexist, or homophobic slurs,” and notes the irony that Republicans who express outrage over “cancel culture” didn’t speak up when Peter Thiel financed a series of lawsuits against Gawker and Donald Trump’s Justice Department harassed a woman who laughed during Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s confirmation hearings. Elsewhere, Mystal points out that Republicans passed gun control legislation when they were concerned about the Back Panthers openly carrying loaded weapons, contends that the conservative justices on today’s Supreme Court are hypocritically using the same logic of “unenumerated” constitutional rights they’ve critiqued in liberal decisions “to gut labor laws and regulations on businesses,” and argues that laws restricting access to abortions don’t make sense “if you assume that women are people and thus deserving of equal protection.” Buttressed by Mystal’s caustic wit and accessible legal theories, this fiery takedown hits the mark. (Jan.)