June 27, 2013 Articles

Book Reviews: What's New in Constitutional Studies?

Four reviews of books taking differing approaches to constitutional interpretation.

By Dennis Owens

Americans truly love and revere our Constitution. They also love to think about and write about it. Here are some interesting contributions to the dialogue about “our civic scripture.”

Hadley Arkes
Constitutional Illusions & Anchoring Truths: The Touchstone of the Natural Law
Cambridge University Press

Hadley Arkes is the professor of American institutions and jurisprudence at Amherst College. This book reflects his mature reflections on a number of familiar cases that yield some new, even contrarian, views of constitutional law. He deals with Lochner, the Pentagon Papers case, and Near v. Minnesota with his clear prose and powerful logic. In these discussions, he considers prior restraints, legal reasoning, the natural law, Snapp v United States, ex post facto laws, the Eleventh Amendment, substantive due process, and Bob Jones University v. United States. Professor Arkes is not pleased with Robert Bork or Justice Scalia due to their reluctance to admit to moral reasoning in judicial decision making or to recognize the reality of the natural law. It was the late Ronald Dworkin who argued for a moral reading of the Constitution, but Arkes is unpersuaded by his particular view also.

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