Purchasing Submission: Conditions, Power, and Freedom

Harvard Univ Sept. 2021. 336p. ISBN 9780674258235. $35. LAW
Hamburger (constitutional law, Columbia Law Sch.; Separation of Church and State) explores federally mandated “conditions”—that is to say, requirements imposed by the United States government on people and organizations in exchange for funding or other privileges. Such conditions include, for instance, requiring states to set a minimum drinking age of 21 to receive highway funding; requiring university research involving human subjects to be approved by institutional review boards; and prohibiting organizations that have 501(c)(3) tax status from political campaigning. Hamburger argues that these conditions violate constitutional rights, with little to no recourse for Americans. The book’s constitutional argument is clear, but while Hamburger clearly and convincingly describes the problem and its impact, readers would benefit from more analysis of alternatives and strategies for combating the problem.
VERDICT Hamburger’s work is best suited to an audience with a legal or political background, as readers with only a casual interest will likely find the text too dense and technical. Nevertheless, it’s a must-read for scholars concerned with government overreach and constitutional scholarship.
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