From Parchment to Dust: The Case for Constitutional Skepticism

New Pr. Oct. 2021. 288p. ISBN 9781620976364. $27.99. LAW
Seidman (constitutional law, Georgetown Univ.) argues that the United States Constitution should be replaced with a more flexible document based on longstanding U.S. political and governmental traditions—one that would sustain democratic decision-making, compromise, and reasonable levels of wealth and opportunity. Seidman trusts that established U.S. practices and customs would be able to address questions not answered in the “skeptic’s constitution” he proposes. Though he believes that constitutions are fundamental to national unity, he argues that the anachronistic U.S. Constitution was established in the 18th century by white supremacists, misogynists, and slave owners, was not endorsed widely by Americans, has resulted in bad government, and doesn’t resolve political disagreements. He cites many instances where the Supreme Court made rulings that contradicted the Constitution. Surprisingly, Seidman does not assess the political prospects of his desired constitutional changes, the reality upon which his otherwise persuasive arguments rests. He also only makes brief mention of the British constitution, which in many respects could be a model for a more flexible document, rooted in the history of constitutions.
VERDICT General readers interested in the U.S. Constitution, its shortcomings, its history, and the concept of constitutional skepticism will be interested in this book.
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