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American Epic: Reading the U.S. Constitution by Garrett Epps PDF

By Garrett Epps

ISBN-10: 0199974748

ISBN-13: 9780199974740

In 1987, E.L. Doctorow celebrated the Constitution's bicentennial by means of analyzing it. "It is 5 thousand phrases lengthy yet reads like fifty thousand," he acknowledged. distinctive felony pupil Garrett Epps--himself an award-winning novelist--disagrees. it really is approximately 7,500 phrases. And Doctorow "missed a great deal of excessive rhetoric, many literary tropes, or even a hint of, if no longer wit, not less than irony," he writes. american citizens could venerate the structure, "but all too seldom is it read."

In American Epic, Epps takes us via an entire examining of the Constitution--even the "boring" parts--to in attaining an appreciation of its strength and a holistic realizing of what it says. during this e-book he seeks to not offer a definitive interpretation, yet to hear the language and think of its that means. He attracts on 4 modes of examining: scriptural, felony, lyric, and epic. The Constitution's first 3 phrases, for instance, sound spiritual--but Epps reveals them to be extra aspirational than prayer-like. "Prayers are addressed to anyone . . . both a secular king or a divine lord, and nice care is taken to call the addressee. . . . This does the opposite. The speaker is 'the people,' the phrases addressed to the area at large." He turns the second one modification right into a poem to light up its ambiguity. He notices oddities and omissions. The structure lays out ideas for presidential appointment of officials, for instance, yet no longer removing. may still the Senate approve every one firing? Can it withdraw its "advice and consent" and strength a resignation? And he demanding situations himself, as obvious in his astonishing dialogue of the security of Marriage Act (DOMA) in gentle of Article four, which orders states to offer "full religion and credits" to the acts of alternative states.

Wry, unique, and stunning, American Epic is a scholarly and literary journey de strength.

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Extra info for American Epic: Reading the U.S. Constitution

Sample text

Senators sitting to hear articles of impeachment are required to take a special oath, emphasizing that they are acting in a judicial capacity. Two-thirds of the senators present must vote “aye” for any impeachment to be sustained. When 14 American Epic the Senate sustains the House, it can assess only two penalties: removal from office and disqualification to hold any federal office again. ” Impeachment was not a remedy solely directed at the president. Parliament had used the device of impeachment to strike at the king’s ministers, and even (once) the queen.

The text doesn’t say that nonlegislative powers are not or could not be vested in Congress. It says only that if a power is legislative, it is vested in Congress. There could be legislative powers not “herein granted” that Congress also has. In this reading, the legislative powers “herein granted” would be in addition to the legislative powers that Congress, for whatever reason, already possesses. The reading is not a popular one; most interpreters think that the “herein” language signifies limitation and not addition.

Parliament by tradition met in secret, and to publish what was said in its sessions was 16 American Epic punishable by law. The eighteenth-century British essayist Samuel Johnson for years earned his living by reconstructing debates in Parliament from smuggled notes. Disguised as the debates of the Parliament of “Lilliput,” these appeared in The Gentleman’s Magazine and were almost the only reports the British public received of what their government was up to. Legislative secrecy was considered a requirement of good government, at least for some things.

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American Epic: Reading the U.S. Constitution by Garrett Epps


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