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The Constitution Under Siege


The Constitution Under Siege book jacket View Table of Contents and Introductory Material
ISBN978-1-59460-877-3

The Constitution Under Siege

Presidential Power versus the Rule of Law

by Christopher H. Pyle, Richard M. Pious

2010 $49.00 400 pp paper

Tags: Constitutional Law, Government/National Security Law, Political Science

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The Constitution Under Siege is a provocative teaching instrument that uses law, history, and politics to test what the law arguably “is” against assertions of what it “ought” to be. It examines the questionable impulses of presidents, members of Congress, the military, and intelligence agencies to bend or break the Constitution and the laws.

In questioning the legitimacy of raw assertions of unaccountable power, the editors reject both the illustrative case approach of political scientists and precedent-driven approach of lawyers, supplementing key court cases with historically-rich essays, notes, and questions. These essays explain where our nation’s “first principles” came from, and why they became imbedded, at least until recently, in our laws and institutions.

Above all, these materials will prompt the reader to ask how, and by what authority, presidents, Congress, and even courts have come to allow the military and secret agencies to kidnap, torture, assassinate, or secretly detain citizens or aliens, and to use military and para-military force without running afoul of the Constitution and its Bill of Rights.

“This superb book, written by two of the nation's most acute analysts of law and politics, provides readers with materials indispensable to an understanding of the many dubious assertions of governmental power, by both presidents and Congress, that have rocked the foundations of our republic. … It is must reading for all those concerned about the future of constitutional government.” — David Gray Adler, James McClure Professor of Public Policy at the University of Idaho

The Constitution Under Siege offers unparalleled insights arising from the authors' singular mastery of documents, events, and law.  From the Barbary pirates to Islamic terrorism, no single source more definitively instructs the reader as it interweaves American law and policy abroad.  This is an indispensable book.” — Robert J. Spitzer, Distinguished Service Professor, SUNY, Cortland


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