counter create hit Six Amendments: How and Why We Should Change the Constitution - Download Free eBook
Ads Banner
Hot Best Seller

Six Amendments: How and Why We Should Change the Constitution

Availability: Ready to download

For the first time ever, a retired Supreme Court Justice offers a manifesto on how the Constitution needs to change. By the time of his retirement in June 2010, John Paul Stevens had become the second longest serving Justice in the history of the Supreme Court. Now he draws upon his more than three decades on the Court, during which he was involved with many of the definin For the first time ever, a retired Supreme Court Justice offers a manifesto on how the Constitution needs to change. By the time of his retirement in June 2010, John Paul Stevens had become the second longest serving Justice in the history of the Supreme Court. Now he draws upon his more than three decades on the Court, during which he was involved with many of the defining decisions of the modern era, to offer a book like none other. Six Amendments is an absolutely unprecedented call to arms, detailing six specific ways in which the Constitution should be amended in order to protect our democracy and the safety and wellbeing of American citizens. Written with the same precision and elegance that made Stevens's own Court opinions legendary for their clarity as well as logic, Six Amendments is a remarkable work, both because of its unprecedented nature and, in an age of partisan ferocity, its inarguable common sense.


Compare
Ads Banner

For the first time ever, a retired Supreme Court Justice offers a manifesto on how the Constitution needs to change. By the time of his retirement in June 2010, John Paul Stevens had become the second longest serving Justice in the history of the Supreme Court. Now he draws upon his more than three decades on the Court, during which he was involved with many of the definin For the first time ever, a retired Supreme Court Justice offers a manifesto on how the Constitution needs to change. By the time of his retirement in June 2010, John Paul Stevens had become the second longest serving Justice in the history of the Supreme Court. Now he draws upon his more than three decades on the Court, during which he was involved with many of the defining decisions of the modern era, to offer a book like none other. Six Amendments is an absolutely unprecedented call to arms, detailing six specific ways in which the Constitution should be amended in order to protect our democracy and the safety and wellbeing of American citizens. Written with the same precision and elegance that made Stevens's own Court opinions legendary for their clarity as well as logic, Six Amendments is a remarkable work, both because of its unprecedented nature and, in an age of partisan ferocity, its inarguable common sense.

30 review for Six Amendments: How and Why We Should Change the Constitution

  1. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    Having read both of his other tomes, I thought I ought to complete the trifecta by giving this short piece by former Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) Associate Justice John Paul Stevens a read through. Stevens explores the US Constitution and some of the cases that came before the Court during his tenure to propose six amendments to the document that would tighten loopholes that have arisen. In the opening portion of the book, Stevens offers the reader some well-grounded history on th Having read both of his other tomes, I thought I ought to complete the trifecta by giving this short piece by former Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) Associate Justice John Paul Stevens a read through. Stevens explores the US Constitution and some of the cases that came before the Court during his tenure to propose six amendments to the document that would tighten loopholes that have arisen. In the opening portion of the book, Stevens offers the reader some well-grounded history on the US Constitution and its amending formula, as well as how the numerous amendments to the document came to fruition. While Stevens explains that changes are by no means easy (nor should they be), there are some essential elements that should be considered now, as the 21st century is in full swing. Stevens explores the power of federalism in the United States, where SCOTUS and Congress have repeatedly fallen to the limits of the Constitution during discussions of state sovereignty on certain issues of national importance. Poignantly, Stevens also dives head deep into the issue of political gerrymandering and how the Courts (and legislative bodies) use this form of election-getting to work in their favour, to the detriment of the party out of power. Hardline discussion about election financing and gun control—two issues that have become major thorns—receive succinct discussion and shows just how passionate Stevens is on the matter. Using case law and decisions of the Court, as well as some superbly placed history, Stevens drives home the point of the need for this six amendments, as well as offering actual wording that could be used to remedy the issue at hand. From the mind of a great Associate Justice comes the arguments that are both well founded and provoking. Recommended to those who love constitutional discussions, particularly the reader who has an interest in SCOTUS decisions. It was almost by accident that I began my binge reading of John Paul Stevens and his work, when a friend on Goodreads recommended his recent judicial memoirs. I was hooked from the opening pages and devoured the book, following it up with the memoir around the five Chief Justices with whom Stevens had a relationship. Now, able to sink my teeth into this piece, I can see just how well-rounded Stevens remains, even off the bench. His arguments are sound and his delivery is such that the reader wants to learn a little more. Those who read all three books will see some of the same anecdotes, supporting one another on this long and tumultuous legal journey. I was impressed with how powerfully Stevens could be in a succinct manner. His knowledge and ability to ‘water down’ the discussion allows laypeople to engage and happily feel a sense of understanding when it comes to matters of constitutional amendments. Will any of these amendments see the light of day or become part of the US Constitution? There is no telling, though the impetus would have to be there, as well as a grounded Executive that does not try to Tweet-monger. So... maybe after 2020. Kudos, Justice Stevens, for yet another impressive piece of work. I hope others trip upon the three books you have penned and realize how fortunate they would be to learn from you. Love/hate the review? An ever-growing collection of others appears at: http://pecheyponderings.wordpress.com/ A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/...

  2. 5 out of 5

    Scott Porch

    This review originally appeared in my column for Huffington Post on April 23, 2014. As you may recall from your eighth-grade social studies class, the United States Constitution was written to be changed and we have changed it often. Even as the last of the 13 colonies were ratifying the Constitution in 1789 and 1790, the First Congress was already deep into debate over the Bill of Rights that would become the first ten amendments. In the years since, we have tinkered with the Constitution a numbe This review originally appeared in my column for Huffington Post on April 23, 2014. As you may recall from your eighth-grade social studies class, the United States Constitution was written to be changed and we have changed it often. Even as the last of the 13 colonies were ratifying the Constitution in 1789 and 1790, the First Congress was already deep into debate over the Bill of Rights that would become the first ten amendments. In the years since, we have tinkered with the Constitution a number of times for a number of reasons: to abolish slavery (13th Amendment), redefine citizenship (14th), give African Americans (15th) and women (19th) the vote, abolish (18th) and un-abolish (21st) the manufacture and sale of alcohol. We have altered how we elect presidents (12th), changed the date they take office (20th), and limited them to two terms (22nd). Since the 1960s, when there were three amendments -- giving Washington, D.C., electoral votes (23rd), repealing poll taxes (24th), and adjusting presidential succession (25th) -- there have been only two. In 1971, the 26th Amendment reduced the voting age to 18; in 1992, the 27th Amendment prohibited Congress from increasing its own salaries in the middle of the term. Since then? Nothing. Despite polling that shows incredible frustration with how poorly Washington works, there have been no serious efforts to address such perceived failings by amending the Constitution. Even proponents of congressional term limits -- who had their heyday during the 1990s with Newt Gingrich's proposed Contract with America -- failed mount a serious effort to put term limits into the Constitution. Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens revives the idea of amending the Constitution in his new book, Six Amendments: How and Why We Should Change the Constitution, though only two have much chance of ever happening. Two of Stevens' proposed amendments -- revising the anti-commandeering and sovereign immunity provisions -- are too legalistic and obscure to galvanize a national effort. Two others -- regulating firearms and outlawing the death penalty -- are too controversial to get traction in the current political environment. Stevens' final two proposed amendments, though, are aimed at reforming Congress, and there he may be onto something. First, to combat the increasing tendency of congressional seats to be either safely Democratic or safely Republican, Stevens proposes an amendment that would require states to draw more geographically cohesive districts. That would result in a greatly expanded number of politically moderate districts and, therefore, more members of Congress with more interest in serving the voters in the middle than those at the extremes. Second, to neutralize the dominance of corporate money in congressional elections, Stevens would amend the Constitution to wrest campaign finance from First Amendment limitations -- and from the Supreme Court -- and allow Congress to impose reasonable limitations on campaign spending. Richard L. Hasen, a law professor and expert on campaign finance, dinged Stevens in The Daily Beast for the impracticality of proposing constitutional amendments that have no chance of gaining the support of two-thirds of Congress and three-quarters of the state legislatures when the Republican Congress has already rejected more modest campaign finance reform. That's true to a point, but I come much nearer seeing success from outside pressure on a Congress less popular than bad breath to reform itself than proposed amendments that people either don't care about or are evenly divided. The best-case scenario would be an outsider president like Ronald Reagan or Bill Clinton running an anti-Congress campaign, winning, and then making redistricting or campaign finance reform a major goal of his or her first hundred days in office. Stevens structured the book as a collection of bench briefs -- short histories of the various judicial interpretations of the provisions that he would change -- that take on issues where he thinks the conservative majority has led the Supreme Court astray in recent years. Adam Liptak of the New York Times wrote of his recent interview with Stevens that "there was a hint of anger in some of his remarks" and that Stevens "said the court had made a disastrous wrong turn in its recent string of campaign finance rulings." It's a matter of framing whether Six Amendments seeks more to rebuke the conservative majority for politicizing the Constitution to achieve ideological ends or to improve public policy -- certainly, Stevens would say it is both -- but there should be no dispute that gerrymandered congressional districts and corporate money in elections are structural impediments to effective government and that both could be addressed through constitutional amendments. Stevens does not make a case for how to galvanize public support for the reforms or how the amendments would work in practice, but that's not the point of the book, which is to serve as a conversation-starter for a conversation worth having.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jared Cook

    Concise, cogent, and to the point. The six changes Justice Stevens would make are (1) enable the federal government to require state officers to enforce federal law (currently, although the constitution says that federal law is "the supreme law of the land" over state law, the supreme court has interpreted this to mean only that state judges have to follow federal law, but not that other state officers are required to enforce federal law), (2) give political gerrymandering the same scrutiny unde Concise, cogent, and to the point. The six changes Justice Stevens would make are (1) enable the federal government to require state officers to enforce federal law (currently, although the constitution says that federal law is "the supreme law of the land" over state law, the supreme court has interpreted this to mean only that state judges have to follow federal law, but not that other state officers are required to enforce federal law), (2) give political gerrymandering the same scrutiny under the constitution that racial gerrymandering gets, (3) overturn Citizens United by clarifying that the constitution does not prohibit reasonable limits on campaign financing, (4) get rid of sovereign immunity as a defense for violations of the constitution or federal law by state officers, (5) expressly prohibit capital punishment as one example of a cruel and unusual punishment, and (6) clarify that the second amendment's right to bear arms is tied to service in a state militia.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Kyle

    Gotta hand it to former Justice Stevens: Just when you think you're gonna get a straight political polemic on the ills of the country, you instead get a quiet, calm, legally-reasoned set of arguments for a handful of constitutional amendments. Each proposed change gets its own mini legal history, with special focus on how the Supreme Court has adjudicated. Some involve qualifying changes to existing amendments (like his proposed addition to the Second Amendment), while others (like the one invol Gotta hand it to former Justice Stevens: Just when you think you're gonna get a straight political polemic on the ills of the country, you instead get a quiet, calm, legally-reasoned set of arguments for a handful of constitutional amendments. Each proposed change gets its own mini legal history, with special focus on how the Supreme Court has adjudicated. Some involve qualifying changes to existing amendments (like his proposed addition to the Second Amendment), while others (like the one involving gerrymandering) are brand new amendments altogether. Personal politics, being inextricable from any such argument, are generally thoroughly restrained, with the benefits to the political process at large being the primary focus. In terms of style, Stevens writes in a cold, calculating manner, lending to a touch of dryness, but I attribute that to decades of legal writing (which, if anyone's ever read any arguments or decisions, doesn't tend toward stylistic flourishes). There's the occasional factual error (the big one that leapt off the page to me was his mention of Henry IV being the king of England in 1600...), but this is likely due to the nature of the earliness of the draft. In all, this is an intelligent, well-reasoned defense of new changes to the Constitution; a quick read with a good amount of information.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Joe

    More like 3.5. I will avoid going into detail because of the subject matter (I realize this book touches on controversial topics), but I really enjoyed it. Any reader, whether agree or disagree with the six proposals in this book, if the reader is fair, will respect his careful and thorough reasoning. Justice Stevens has been working under the hood of our constitution for the better part of 40 years. He knows the rattles, the leaky spots, and he has watched its interpretation change for better a More like 3.5. I will avoid going into detail because of the subject matter (I realize this book touches on controversial topics), but I really enjoyed it. Any reader, whether agree or disagree with the six proposals in this book, if the reader is fair, will respect his careful and thorough reasoning. Justice Stevens has been working under the hood of our constitution for the better part of 40 years. He knows the rattles, the leaky spots, and he has watched its interpretation change for better and worse through so many SCOTUS opinions. So, whether a person agrees with his particular proposals on a subject or not, Stevens is among a very small number of people who know our governing document at the very highest levels, and a fair-minded reader will find enrichment regardless of comfort. Stevens shows his work and makes strong logical arguments, as he did so often from the bench. Unfortunately, it's going to be given mostly 1s and 5s because he dares to speak of flashpoint topics. I can say I read every word and it is a really good argument by someone with elite-level constitutional credibility. It does go into some legal depth, so be warned, but I thought he was very clear in his presentation.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Bill Warren

    a very linear description of how history and historical law got us from a starting point in the Constitution to current supreme court rulungs. A pretty dry read (more like a textbook) but it contains enough personal touch from JPS to keep it moving. I have a similar view of the Constitution as does Justice Stevens but I think this is a quality read even for those who do not. Even if you are starting from square one with knowledge of the Supreme Court this book is very digestible and can be tackl a very linear description of how history and historical law got us from a starting point in the Constitution to current supreme court rulungs. A pretty dry read (more like a textbook) but it contains enough personal touch from JPS to keep it moving. I have a similar view of the Constitution as does Justice Stevens but I think this is a quality read even for those who do not. Even if you are starting from square one with knowledge of the Supreme Court this book is very digestible and can be tackled in an afternoon. You'll have a much greater knowledge of how the Constitution and the law work after reading...if you occupy the oval office and don't know anything about the Constitution this book might help (if such a person exists).

  7. 5 out of 5

    Kristen Coppola

    I listened to this on my drive back from Austin. It was so informative to hear these suggestions from a former Supreme Court Justice. He cited so many opinions; he’s got such a wealth of knowledge of legal history. It’s just fascinating. (A+)

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jacob

    It's been kind of hard to separate my opinion of Justice Stevens' opinions from my opinions of his writing and how he makes his arguments. Hopefully I can focus on the latter two in this review. In regards to his opinions, in some cases I agree and some I don't, but most of the time even when I agree it's for different reasons. For anyone who still holds that the Supreme Court has been an unbiased, objective body focused on adjudicating based on established laws, this book is a fairly short way t It's been kind of hard to separate my opinion of Justice Stevens' opinions from my opinions of his writing and how he makes his arguments. Hopefully I can focus on the latter two in this review. In regards to his opinions, in some cases I agree and some I don't, but most of the time even when I agree it's for different reasons. For anyone who still holds that the Supreme Court has been an unbiased, objective body focused on adjudicating based on established laws, this book is a fairly short way to disabuse them (shorter, for example, than The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court). It's interesting to know that John Paul Stevens has his own opinions about what laws should be made and what some of them are. He's held many of them for a long time, and his memories of opinions made with his fellow justices are illustrative that the boundary between making the law and interpreting it is pretty thin. In addition, his recounting of how justices who agreed with him were "correct" in how they interpreted things and how those who disagreed were "persuaded" or flat out coming from nowhere makes it clear that, at least for Justice Stevens, there was no difference between his opinion and the law. Stevens' "Anti-Commandeering Rule" adjustment is mainly a recognition that the battle for the balance of power between states and the federal government is over, and the states lost. This amendment seems more like a cleanup of weird legal cruft than anything else, although Stevens makes his reasoning very clear. Similarly, for an anti-gerrymandering amendment he's clear and shows a driving need. I was a little surprised that he repeatedly limits himself to accusing the political parties in power of gerrymandering, when I've seen cases (like California) where politicians on both sides show ability to work together in order to ensure they all get reelected. The third amendment on Campaign Finance is where things start to falter. Although Stevens is semi-convincing that money spent may not influence elections significantly, I would think that should be an argument against limited campaign spending instead of for it. However, he brings up a very good issue about corporations being people legally yet not being able to vote, and how their spending may make a difference. I anticipated his chapter on Sovereign Immunity would suggest that sitting political leaders be vulnerable to suits, but it turns out there's a weirdness (like anti-commandeering) where individuals in one state cannot sue another state without that state's permission. His accounting of the (non-Constitutional) origin of that practice is interesting, as is his utter lack of desire to acknowledge any of his own opinions that may also have had entirely non-Constitutional origins. The last two chapters, abolishing the death penalty and advocating much firmer gun control, are where Stevens shows more of his own feelings without regard to the law or strong evidence. His core example for the death penalty was a case where an individual stirred up a lot of legal costs simply to fight the prosection's push for the death penalty. Yet the example itself suggests that, if the death penalty didn't exist as a bargaining chip, the costs would have been incurred anyway fighting lifetime incarceration. It also reveals the perpetrator's fear of death once he'd been charged, which kind of undermines Stevens' assertion that the death penalty is not a deterrent. The other strong issue is that where the wrong person is convicted of a crime. I don't see that as a good argument against the death penalty, I see it as a good argument that we should fix up our legal system so innocent people don't get convicted of crimes. After all, how is life imprisonment with no parole so much better for an innocent person than being executed? You can't really say it offers the hope of exoneration because there are many current cases where the state refuses to test evidence it already possesses in order to clear innocent people who have been wrongfully convicted. And the gun control suggestion is a bit tough to deal with. Stevens is convincing that the wording of the second amendment doesn't exactly match the original intentions of the founders, but the wording itself is strong and clear enough it's hard to change without getting drastic. Also, apparently his motivation for pushing this change is the tragedy at Sandy Hook, although he freely admits his suggested change wouldn't have prevented what happened? Also: handguns have no military use? Last I checked, members of the military were issued handguns. In addition, police serve a military-like function that very much involves the use of handguns. So this last section is especially garbled in its reasoning and arguments. So the suggestions for amendments are kind of a mixed bag, but for anyone who is interested in how the Supreme Court works, or political issues, it's definitely a recommended read.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jennine Ihde

    Politically I agree with all of these amendments and I appreciate his logic. Sometimes I wished it didn’t read so much like a dissenting opinion.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Bryan

    May it please the court. "Six Amendments" is fascinating in some places, but disappointing in others. On the one hand, this is a unique insight into what a Supreme Court justice really thinks, and a chance to keep pace -- for an hour or two -- with a towering intellect. On the other hand, the text can get a little dry at times, and it's no surprise to learn that Justice Stevens can sometimes be somewhat out of touch with modern life. The book is at its strongest when talking about the anti-comman May it please the court. "Six Amendments" is fascinating in some places, but disappointing in others. On the one hand, this is a unique insight into what a Supreme Court justice really thinks, and a chance to keep pace -- for an hour or two -- with a towering intellect. On the other hand, the text can get a little dry at times, and it's no surprise to learn that Justice Stevens can sometimes be somewhat out of touch with modern life. The book is at its strongest when talking about the anti-commandeering clause and the death penalty, but the chapter on sovereign immunity was not so impressive. The overall narrative could have done with some work too - it often reads like a collation of unrelated notes; the book ends abruptly with no summary or musings or conclusion; the footnotes are not insightful (in contrast to footnotes in the Justices' opinions!); and there's huge padding to get to 180 pages by simply tacking the Constitution in its entirety onto the end. For hard-core Constitutional Law fans only.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Chris Lund

    A relatively short and easy read covering quite a range of legal topics, from major hot button issues like gun control and campaign finance, to issues that the average person has probably never even heard of, like sovereign immunity and the anti-commandeering rule. It's a nice change of pace to see him arguing political and legal points outside of the constrains of the bench. He does a good job in summarizing each of the 6 issues discussed, and, as usual, presents highly structured and logical a A relatively short and easy read covering quite a range of legal topics, from major hot button issues like gun control and campaign finance, to issues that the average person has probably never even heard of, like sovereign immunity and the anti-commandeering rule. It's a nice change of pace to see him arguing political and legal points outside of the constrains of the bench. He does a good job in summarizing each of the 6 issues discussed, and, as usual, presents highly structured and logical arguments. Because of his deep familiarity with the issues and with the internal procedures, he also presents a fairly unique perspective with the occasional "behind-the-scenes" look, and his analysis often follows a path that diverges somewhat from the typical political conversations you hear on these topics, which in itself makes the book worth reading.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    A short and easy to read set of proposed Constitutional amendments by former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens. From the death penalty, gun control and campaign finance to gerrymandering, sovereign immunity and the "anti-commandeering rule" Stevens' suggestions are each accompanied by a brief judicial history and personal stories. This book was an interesting position piece that quickly laid out the reasons for the proposals and placed the focus on where the changes should be made, in the A short and easy to read set of proposed Constitutional amendments by former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens. From the death penalty, gun control and campaign finance to gerrymandering, sovereign immunity and the "anti-commandeering rule" Stevens' suggestions are each accompanied by a brief judicial history and personal stories. This book was an interesting position piece that quickly laid out the reasons for the proposals and placed the focus on where the changes should be made, in the language of the Constitution itself. I received a free ARC of this book through Goodreads First Reads giveaways.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jason Anthony

    I have now read both of Justice Stevens' recent books (Five Chiefs about his time with five chief justices; this one, about his proposed revisions to six amendments). And, frankly, neither was that good. Five Chiefs was like reading a set of 1L law school case briefs (and not the insider take of someone more inside than Jeffrey Toobin, who writes nice/pop SCOTUS insider books). This one was very blah. His arguments (whether you agree with them or not) are very weak. It's as if he was told to kee I have now read both of Justice Stevens' recent books (Five Chiefs about his time with five chief justices; this one, about his proposed revisions to six amendments). And, frankly, neither was that good. Five Chiefs was like reading a set of 1L law school case briefs (and not the insider take of someone more inside than Jeffrey Toobin, who writes nice/pop SCOTUS insider books). This one was very blah. His arguments (whether you agree with them or not) are very weak. It's as if he was told to keep this book very short and sacrificed the material. Disappointing work from a Justice I recently met and admire.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth Stolar

    A high three stars. An interesting read, and a relatively short book. The proposed amendments all probably have a low chance of passing -- eliminating the death penalty and even thinking about changing a single letter of the second amendment would send the Right into an unparalleled panic. The proposals about sovereign immunity and anti-commandeering are likely too esoteric to garner enough support to actually propose and enact them. And the proposals about campaign finance and gerrymandering ar A high three stars. An interesting read, and a relatively short book. The proposed amendments all probably have a low chance of passing -- eliminating the death penalty and even thinking about changing a single letter of the second amendment would send the Right into an unparalleled panic. The proposals about sovereign immunity and anti-commandeering are likely too esoteric to garner enough support to actually propose and enact them. And the proposals about campaign finance and gerrymandering are likely too tough politically. But an a thoughtful read, nonetheless.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Tomi

    A fun and quick read for me. I appreciated Stevens' insights and enjoyed hearing this material in closer to layman's terms, outside of the context of cases and textbooks. His descriptions were occasionally somewhat confusing, but generally informative and thoughtful. Glad I read it!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Patrick Gendron

    Weather or not you agree with what John Paul Stevens lays out as the amendments he would make, this is a great read. Quick, to the point, and well thought out. I found myself enjoying this read more than I thought I would.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Andrew McBurney

    Six Amendments is Justice Stevens’ prescription for a better America by reversing particular Supreme Court decisions through the ratification of amendments to the Constitution. Although we typically think of the Supreme Court as being the final say in matters of constitutional interpretation, there are two ways that a Supreme Court decision may be overturned. The first is by a later Supreme Court decision that reverses an earlier decision. The second is by amending the Constitution in a way that Six Amendments is Justice Stevens’ prescription for a better America by reversing particular Supreme Court decisions through the ratification of amendments to the Constitution. Although we typically think of the Supreme Court as being the final say in matters of constitutional interpretation, there are two ways that a Supreme Court decision may be overturned. The first is by a later Supreme Court decision that reverses an earlier decision. The second is by amending the Constitution in a way that effectively nullifies the offending Supreme Court decision. An example of the latter would be the ratification of the 13th Amendment to overturn the infamous Dred Scot decision of 1857. Justice Stevens discusses this, as well as the purposes of the other amendments, in his prologue to his proposals. Justice Stevens’ six proposed amendments really target four areas: gun violence, our dysfunctional politics, sovereign immunity, and the death penalty. Additionally, while he does not directly discuss his theories of jurisprudence, his opinions on Court decisions and arguments for particular amendments offer some insight to his legal reasoning. He has an easy, almost conversational writing style that is very accessible; although some of his legal arguments would be more easily understood by law students than laymen. Justice Stevens’ first and sixth proposed amendments deal with gun violence. His arguments against the “anti-commandeering rule” are among the least easy to follow in the whole work, although he makes as good an effort as anyone could to make them easy to understand. The difficulty lies not with his writing but rather the complex nature of the law in that area—fundamentally a federalism issue. The short of it is, his amendment would reverse the anti-commandeering rule adopted (or affirmed, depending on your point of view) by the Court in the Printz case, and would thus allow the federal government to require local law enforcement to enforce federal laws—in particular, mandatory background checks for firearms purchases. When discussing his sixth proposed amendment, Justice Stevens begins with his horror at the rising gun violence in our country. He is unyielding in his interpretation of the Second Amendment of the Bill of Rights as protecting a state power. Toward that end, he proposes amending the Second Amendment to say that the right to keep and bear arms should only exist in connection with militia service and therefore would be subject entirely to the authority of the state. In other chapters, he makes better and more even-handed arguments than he does here. He does not take as much time addressing historical and legal counter-arguments as he might have. He clearly opposes the interpretation of the Second Amendment by the Court in both the Heller and McDonald cases; but he approves of some elements of the opinions, and takes pains to point out that neither opinion recognizes the individual right to keep and bear arms as absolute. At times, this chapter almost seems as if it is written by two different authors. In fact, if you were to pick this book up at a store for perusal, and your eyes fell on certain paragraphs in this chapter, and you knew anything about the author, you might think some mistake had been made. But this is more a consequence of the nature of the law itself and its complexities, than it is any inconsistency on the part of the author. In any case, Justice Stevens’ assessment is that, even with a modification to the Second Amendment, and the elimination of the anti-commandeering rule, not all gun violence would be eliminated, but his hope is that much of it would. The inability of Congress and the states to act effectively, in the matter of not only gun control, even within the possibilities of Heller and McDonald, but also in other pressing areas, are attributable to our dysfunctional politics, according to Justice Stevens. He focuses on the issues of partisan gerrymandering and campaign finance. The chapter on partisan gerrymandering is fascinating for its discussion of unintended consequences that resulted from a series of decisions in the 1960’s forbidding racial gerrymandering and establishing the one-person-one-vote rule for both congressional and state legislature districts. Justice Stevens argues strongly against gerrymandering in any form—almost. On page 35, he references a North Carolina case from 1991 in which that state was determined to have racially gerrymandered a district not to prevent African Americans from being in a majority, but to assure that African Americans were in the majority—he notes that this was an attempt by the state to comply with provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. He further notes that “the Court invalidated the challenged plans” in a 5-4 decision, and that the “four dissenters thought that race-conscious redistricting for the purpose of benefitting minority voters was permissible.” The case he references is Shaw v. Reno, 509 U.S. 630 (1993). He was one of the dissenters. Unlike other discussions throughout the book where he explains at length his reasoning as a dissenter in certain cases, here, he is relatively quiet, probably because his purpose is the elimination of partisan gerrymandering. In any case, next school year, I will probably have my AP Government students read this chapter, since gerrymandering and its effects are typically given short shrift in government textbooks, and Justice Stevens’ discussion is very readable. The chapter on campaign finance also discusses effects, unintended and otherwise, stemming in part from the Buckley v. Valeo case in 1976, that eventually led to the Court’s Citizens United v. FEC decision in 2010. Here, Justice Stevens makes very compelling historical and legal arguments against the Court’s reasoning in Citizens United, but also shows how the result in that case came about, in part as a legacy of the Buckley case. He makes some of his strongest arguments in this chapter. The chapter on the legal concept of sovereign immunity, and how it has developed in the United States, is particularly interesting, but, along with the chapter on the anti-commandeering rule, is particularly difficult to follow. Again, this is not due so much to Justice Steven’s writing as it is the complex nature of the law at issue. When can you sue the government for a wrong it committed against you? The answer is, it depends. It depends on the Eleventh Amendment, Supreme Court decisions about the Eleventh Amendment—which have not always been consistent, the English common law rule of sovereign immunity, and more recent amendments that contain enforcement provisions for Congress. It is a treacherous spiderweb that Justice Stevens navigates as best he can, but the reader will likely still be left with questions. Justice Stevens’ solution would indeed make things simpler: get rid of sovereign immunity entirely. He makes a strong argument for it, but spends little time discussing possible negative consequences that might have to be addressed (e.g.—Would there be a flood of litigation against government entities? Would new standards have to be developed over time for causes of action never before permissible?). Justice Stevens’ chapter on abolishing the death penalty is the most disappointing. Although he makes an argument for the absolute elimination of the death penalty, it is not as well supported by law and history as are most of his other arguments. Death penalty opponents will not find much if anything new to support their arguments; and neither will death penalty advocates be very much swayed by anything they find here to abandon their position. Justice Stevens shows that he is compelled by the law, history, and stark present reality. His proposals are not likely to be passed by Congress or ratified by three-fourths of the states anytime soon. This work does offer some important insight into his legal reasoning without the stuffiness one might expect of a retired Supreme Court justice. Given the momentous decisions the Court has made during his tenure, that insight alone makes the book worthwhile. His usually even-handed historical discussions of how the law and certain legal principles developed—even those he disagrees with—are the strongest part of his work. His conclusions about the death penalty and the Second Amendment are polemics and consequently are the weakest of his proposals. He does not shy away from offering his opinions on the other topics of course, but neither does he present his opinions to the exclusion of those of fellow justices with whom he disagrees—usually. Even if you disagree with Justice Steven’s opinions and conclusions, this book is still worth the read.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Cora

    In this book, Justice John Paul Stevens proposed six changes to the Constitution that he feels are necessary to avoid potential problems in the future of our country and in some cases correct mistakes made by Supreme Court decisions. While this book was published in 2014, I couldn't help but think of current events and how, in many cases, recent examples strengthen his arguments. A good portion of the book was spent on Sovereign Immunity and why the idea that government officials, including the In this book, Justice John Paul Stevens proposed six changes to the Constitution that he feels are necessary to avoid potential problems in the future of our country and in some cases correct mistakes made by Supreme Court decisions. While this book was published in 2014, I couldn't help but think of current events and how, in many cases, recent examples strengthen his arguments. A good portion of the book was spent on Sovereign Immunity and why the idea that government officials, including the President, can not be sued for breaking the law is harmful and based on misguided precedents. Many of his examples were from long ago in history (with a little bit of Watergate sprinkled in). I think a conversation about this topic with him in regards to recent history would be fascinating. I am also curious what he would think of recent developments in the gun control debate. In this book he strongly felt that recent supreme court interpretation of the Second Amendment (after starting with the Heller case) were flat out wrong and that legislatures were the appropriate branch of government to make decisions regarding gun regulations. He often referred to the tragedy of Sandy Hook and the power of the NRA. I was curious what his thoughts would be on the momentum post Parkland of groups such as Moms Demand Action towards making progress in advocating for some regulations of gun ownership. Overall, I found it interesting reading the opinions of a former Supreme Court justice. So often, all we know about these men and women are their legal opinions that have to stick with the constitution and precedent rather than personal opinion. I liked hearing what he really thought should be done and how he acknowledges that the Supreme Court doesn't always get it right and in those cases we should remember that the legislative branch does have the power to fix it through amending a constitution that was designed to evolve.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Peter Carrier

    It was refreshing to read an outline proposing a course for change, however brief that outline, however general the points it places in discussion. Kudos to the late Stevens for not simply saying, "Here are things with which I am not satisfied," but also, "Here are the ways I think we should change them," and every bit as importantly, the 'why' behind it all. Would that such a text as "Six Amendments" serve as a spring board for the national discussion about the issues that divide us, some of wh It was refreshing to read an outline proposing a course for change, however brief that outline, however general the points it places in discussion. Kudos to the late Stevens for not simply saying, "Here are things with which I am not satisfied," but also, "Here are the ways I think we should change them," and every bit as importantly, the 'why' behind it all. Would that such a text as "Six Amendments" serve as a spring board for the national discussion about the issues that divide us, some of which are contained (even if only in part) in this book. It's not for this reviewer to convince another prospective reader of how much (or little) 'truth' this book contains; or of the accuracy (literal or contextual) of the precedents referenced within; or the overall effect (net positive or negative) of the proposed changes. If you are looking for a place to learn where you might begin a conversation about how to change the fundamental legal principals upon which the US is built, look no further. Alexis de Toqueveille was on to something when he said, "The love that a people shows for its laws proves only one thing, which is that one must not hasten to change them." John Paul Stevens illustrates a related point for consideration: "A legal rule should not persist merely because of its unmerited longevity." Polarizing? Possibly. A suitable prompt for debates so desperately needed? Absolutely. A few other passages from "Six Amendments": "Perhaps Congress would seldom elect to pattern an American program after a foreign model, but our elected representatives, rather than judges, should decide whether is is wise to do so." "While the patronage system is defended in the name of democratic tradition, its paternalistic impact on the political process is actually at war with the deeper traditions of democracy embodied in the First Amendment." "If "reasonableness" is appraised by examining the interests of the entire electorate rather than just the interest of the wealthiest candidates, the issue should not be difficult to resolve." "In his lecture "The Path of the Law," printed in the Harvard Law Review in 1898, Oliver Wendell Holmes made this oft-quoted observation: "It is revolting to have no better reason for a rule of law than that it was so laid down in the time of Henry IV. It is still more revolting if the grounds upon which it was laid down have vanished long since and the rule simply persists from blind imitation of the past."

  20. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

    I am not a lawyer and have never aspired to be one. But every once in a while I find myself reading Supreme Court rulings and feeling a tinge of jealousy at the ability of these justices to articulate legal perspectives with such clear and compelling prose. Supreme Court justices are among the most impressive rhetoricians of our age. They have to be, since their power resides in their ability to persuade and establish the logical basis for the structure of our society. That they can do so using I am not a lawyer and have never aspired to be one. But every once in a while I find myself reading Supreme Court rulings and feeling a tinge of jealousy at the ability of these justices to articulate legal perspectives with such clear and compelling prose. Supreme Court justices are among the most impressive rhetoricians of our age. They have to be, since their power resides in their ability to persuade and establish the logical basis for the structure of our society. That they can do so using relatively sparse precedent and context makes their accomplishments all the more impressive. This concise and easily-readable book reads like a court decision and lays out cleanly and dispassionately strong arguments for the ways in which the Constitution could be amended to adapt the document to the present age. Justice Stevens uses precedent and his own experience on the bench to argue for an end to gerrymandering, capital punishment, campaign financing loopholes, and sovereign immunity. Rounding out his recommended amendments include changes to gun control and state enforcement of federal law. These are frequently technical in nature, though the politics is not far behind. Most refreshingly, Stevens shows how we got here and the legal challenges that remain. Read more at https://znovels.blogspot.com/2020/05/...

  21. 4 out of 5

    Adam

    When John Paul Stevens retired from the Supreme Court in 2010, he had served as a justice for close to thirty-five years, making his term the third longest in American history. He was also 90 years old, the Court's last veteran of World War II, and--if his critics were to be believed--a relic of a bygone era whose departure was two decades too late. Often described as "wise" and "soft-spoken," his customary bow-ties giving him the appearance of a sweet and elderly grandfather out of touch with c When John Paul Stevens retired from the Supreme Court in 2010, he had served as a justice for close to thirty-five years, making his term the third longest in American history. He was also 90 years old, the Court's last veteran of World War II, and--if his critics were to be believed--a relic of a bygone era whose departure was two decades too late. Often described as "wise" and "soft-spoken," his customary bow-ties giving him the appearance of a sweet and elderly grandfather out of touch with current trends, it was easy for those beyond the Court's walls to view Stevens with an undisguised mix of amusement and derision: a snicker and a wink about the Republican appointee who had gone soft, switched sides, and grown old. What the pundits and stone-throwers didn't understand--what those who worked the Supreme Court knew from personal experience and study--was that Stevens' age and appearance belied an agitator of the highest democratic ideal, a man who knew the law better than almost anyone and wasted little time on the ignorant. In his last years, when the Court's decisions ran counter to his own understandings of the law--that is, when the conservative justices began overriding precedent and undermining Constitutional law--Stevens' dissents were brutal in their honesty and intelligence, especially when focused on the honesty and intelligence of the majority. When outsiders criticized Stevens as a turncoat who abandoned the Republican cause, they didn't understand that it had abandoned him first. Now 94, Stevens' mind is still as strong and clear as it was during his term. Only now, the Supreme Court four years behind him, his judicial ideas have become much more political in nature. He does not look kindly on the justices he left behind, especially those who have worked so hard--and worked during the last years of his term--to undo much of the progress of the last 75 years by reinterpreting and redefining some of the most fundamental American rights--free speech, life, liberty, equality--to create a system in which those with money have power, those without have even less, and those who reek of "otherness" are prevented from becoming part of the great American "us." It is this anger--and despite his measured and professional tone, Stevens is clearly angry--that compelled him to write Six Amendments, in which he proposes small changes to preexisting Constitutional amendments with the goal of making our country a more perfect union. As with most cases that involve the Supreme Court, however, there are problems. The most obvious, and therefore the most damaging, is not one of purpose or authority--he has both, and as someone who has lived with the Constitutional longer and more intimately than almost anyone else alive today, he should be more than forgiven for taking up the cause of preserving America's greatest ideals through monumental revisions...after all, he would know more than anyone else where the document's shortcomings can be found. No, his problem is not one of ethos but of interest. The dry, academic style that served Stevens so well as a sitting justice make much of his book difficult to read. (His longest chapter, on sovereign immunity, is downright impenetrable.) While on the court, Stevens wrote primarily for those involved in law--after all, they would be the ones most likely to reread and reference his opinions in the decades to come; a book, on the other hand, is intended for wider audiences, and the language and style inherent in judicial literature does not translate well to the bookshelves and devices of the average reader. The only exception is Steven's chapter on the death penalty, which he bases almost exclusively on personal stories--his own, the defendants of two death-penalty cases, and so on. In doing this, Stevens removes the issue from the lofty heights of cold legalese and makes it real, palpable, and relatable, insomuch as a death-penalty case can be. It's also the only amendment that Stevens stakes in ethics rather than Constitutional precedent: by continuing to use the death penalty today, long after the rest of the industrial world has abandoned it, and in the shadow of so many wrongful convictions and botched executions--which, as it happens, meet the Constitutional definition of cruel and unusual--we are staking our national and democratic reputations on an act that is hypocritical, immoral, and ineffective. It's the sixth and final chapter, however, that is the entire impetus for Stevens' one-man Constitutional convention, as Stevens himself reveals on the very last page: below a photograph of the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, where 26 students and educators were killed by a lone gunman, Stevens writes, in part, "That incident provided the catalyst for writing this book." And yet, for all the passion that must have propelled Stevens to write a book in response to such a tragic event, his final chapter is by far the book's weakest. At only 9 pages, Stevens breaks down the rulings in two recent gun-rights cases and decries both as misguided, as neither followed the Second Amendment as it was originally intended. For Stevens, the poorly worded amendment was designed only to ensure unrestricted gun possession among members of a militia, not private citizens; however, he does provide a single source to support this reading, not from the writings of the Founders or Constitutional drafts or even the analysis of scholars, historians, linguists, or grammarians. Instead, he pronounces his reading as fact while dismissing every other reading as political, then concludes the chapter with a photographic nod to the source of his writing--a memoriam that is, unfortunately, underserved by author himself. This review was originally published at There Will Be Books Galore.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Katie

    3.5 stars I'm going to be really honest, this isn't a fun read. It's dry and boring in places. But, it is an incredibly well thought-out, perfectly reasoned, and logically explained (to the point of being annoying sometimes) book. With incredible detail and chronologically explained steps, JPStevens lays out his argument for the six ways he thinks the constitution needs to be changed. Some of the changes are minor in a physical sense (adding 5-6 words to existing amendments) but all are major in 3.5 stars I'm going to be really honest, this isn't a fun read. It's dry and boring in places. But, it is an incredibly well thought-out, perfectly reasoned, and logically explained (to the point of being annoying sometimes) book. With incredible detail and chronologically explained steps, JPStevens lays out his argument for the six ways he thinks the constitution needs to be changed. Some of the changes are minor in a physical sense (adding 5-6 words to existing amendments) but all are major in scope. It was hard to follow the details sometimes since he includes seemingly every single applicable court case relevant to explain his arguments and I would often get things mixed up, but for me the details weren't critical to understanding and following the flow of his reasoning. I'm sure there are smarter people than me that will speak to the legalese and the validity of these cases, but I was convinced.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Dale

    Lately politicians and pundits have been piling on with proposals to amend the Constitution. Particularly curious is the phenomenon of activists who show their support for the Constitution by demanding that we change it. In 2013 we were inflicted with the ranting of conservative talk show host Mark Levin (The Liberty Amendments). More recently we have Philip K. Howard (The Rule of Nobody, 2014), who wants to break government deadlocks by giving the president the power of a dictator. Into this fr Lately politicians and pundits have been piling on with proposals to amend the Constitution. Particularly curious is the phenomenon of activists who show their support for the Constitution by demanding that we change it. In 2013 we were inflicted with the ranting of conservative talk show host Mark Levin (The Liberty Amendments). More recently we have Philip K. Howard (The Rule of Nobody, 2014), who wants to break government deadlocks by giving the president the power of a dictator. Into this fray steps retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, with Six Amendments. In contrast to the aforementioned politicos Stevens steps gingerly indeed, with proposals couched in legal nuance. Consequently he wields far more authority through care and diligence than the others achieve through bluster. Stevens steps through six noteworthy Constitutional issues in a sparse one hundred twenty pages, which is a miracle of no small note, coming as it does from one of the nation's pre-eminent jurists. It is also a blessing, because once he gets going he wields case references, some dating to the Founding, with a dexterity that rivals Machete with his weapon of choice. One of his best decisions was to not propose a laundry list of amendments to add or remove. The long-difficult issues he proposes to resolve can be changed by the addition of a few words here and there. Some of his issues are well known political hot potatoes, but others are obscure and require more explanation. His six amendments fall in the realms of - * Supremacy Clause: clarifying Congress' ability to direct state officials * Political Gerrymandering * Campaign Finance * Sovereign Immunity: making it clear that the federal government cannot refuse lawsuits against it on the basis of sovereign immunity * The Death Penalty * The Right to Bear Arms For you as a reader the question is, can you read a legal analysis of this sort and appreciate its thoughtful perspective for what it is? Are you so politically minded that you can enjoy the book only if you agree with it in its entirety? If the latter, stick with Ann Coulter or Michael Moore, depending on your preferred mode of masochism. I fall in the former category. As such I found Stevens' work to be a fast and compelling read - but it was fast because it was concise, a blessing (I repeat) in these days of encyclopedic works. Stevens does fail to satisfy on one count, but it is a count common to legalistic works. The changes he advocates are grounded purely in legal issues. As he advocates changes, he completely ignores the political concerns. Stevens blithely assumes that the direction of the changes he wants - federal dominance over the states, an end to the general right to bear arms, an end to the death penalty - are desirable, with no discussion at all. Let's look at a couple of his choices. The first choice relates to the anti-commandeering case law that has emerged around Article VI of the Constitution, commonly called the Supremacy Clause. Under this clause Congress may give orders to state judges but no other state officials. Stevens spends a lot of time reviewing the cases of note in this area, but in the end he simply wants an amendment that will allow Congress to give orders to state officials whenever it wishes. He spends no time at all discussing the political implications of this change, which would be at odds with the rights of the states as defined in the Tenth Amendment. In the realm of campaign finance Stevens does indeed advocate a brief amendment, to modify the power of the First Amendment: Neither the First Amendment nor any other portions of this Constitution shall be construed to prohibit the Congress or any state from imposing reasonable limits on the amount of money that candidates for public office, or their supporters, may spend in election campaigns. If you are in general agreement that we must find a way to curtain campaign spending, this amendment is reasonable to a point: it never defines what is "reasonable". The years that followed such an amendment would see numerous court cases challenging the reasonableness of the legislation that emerges. This is a necessary shortcoming of any such amendment. Finally, Stevens advocates an end to the right to bear arms without any discussion of the pros and cons of the issue: as he does throughout the book, the discussion revolves around case law. He would modify the Second Amendment to read as follows: A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the rights of the people to keep and bear arms when serving in the Militia shall not be infringed. While that change would not end the right to bear arms among ordinary people, it would certainly allow individual states to end it. Pitched battles would likely take place of the definition of Militia. A militia is not an armed gang of hoodlums like the fellows gathering at Cliven Bundy's ranch; a militia is a paramilitary adjunct to the army, subject to the orders of army officers. If the army does not recognize the militia, it's not a militia. Militias typically exist only in places without a standing professional army, but the United States has had a standing professional army ever since the Civil War. The last time regiments of unaffiliated volunteers were allowed to participate was during the Spanish-American War, with groups such as Teddy Roosevelt's Rough Riders. Six Amendments is a book well worth reading with an open but critical mind. Everyone will have their favorite chapters, but I think those concerning gerrymandering and campaign finance are the most compelling. These two issues are on the verge of destroying our democratic republic, so I am heartened to read Stevens' advocacy of viable solutions. Will you agree with them? Don't take my word for it - read the book!

  24. 5 out of 5

    David Schwan

    The author is a former US Supreme Court Justice and writes about 6 amendments of the US Constitution he feels are needed. The first one he writes about has to do with the "Anti-Commandeering Rule" which describes what the federal government can and cannot require of local and state officials. Interestingly the current opinion (which states that local and state officials cannot be compelled to enforce federal gun laws) is in place due to the National Rifle Association (NRA) which makes it likely n The author is a former US Supreme Court Justice and writes about 6 amendments of the US Constitution he feels are needed. The first one he writes about has to do with the "Anti-Commandeering Rule" which describes what the federal government can and cannot require of local and state officials. Interestingly the current opinion (which states that local and state officials cannot be compelled to enforce federal gun laws) is in place due to the National Rifle Association (NRA) which makes it likely not to be revised. Local and state goverments are using the current opinion to defy the federal government on immigration policy (sanctuary cities). The book does a so-so job to keeping the issues and arguments from being clear and concise and some passages tend to be tedious to read, if not for this I would give a higher rating.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Raimo Wirkkala

    Stevens may be a retired judge but he still writes, for the most part, like a judge. Much of this thin volume reads as if written for peers in the legal profession, which is a shame because the arguments Stevens makes are very important and need to be more accessible to the general reader. He does better in the final two chapters which deal with capital punishment and the Second Amendment. On those two subjects he is able to drop the legalese and citing of precedents (again, for the most part) l Stevens may be a retired judge but he still writes, for the most part, like a judge. Much of this thin volume reads as if written for peers in the legal profession, which is a shame because the arguments Stevens makes are very important and need to be more accessible to the general reader. He does better in the final two chapters which deal with capital punishment and the Second Amendment. On those two subjects he is able to drop the legalese and citing of precedents (again, for the most part) long enough to convey his thinking in a more personal fashion. He does that more effectively than, perhaps, he imagines. Still, his recommendations deserve a lot more consideration than they will ever receive.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Nate

    While I appreciated the message and found Stevens's ideas interesting and illuminating (some of these problems were ones of which I had never heard, such as commandeering), I didn't think his arguments for the amendments were very strong, relying on only one small reason followed by a history of the idea and Stevens's beliefs without anything to back it up. It didn't convince me to do any of them, though I do support some of them now after I have read more about them (read: googled them and open While I appreciated the message and found Stevens's ideas interesting and illuminating (some of these problems were ones of which I had never heard, such as commandeering), I didn't think his arguments for the amendments were very strong, relying on only one small reason followed by a history of the idea and Stevens's beliefs without anything to back it up. It didn't convince me to do any of them, though I do support some of them now after I have read more about them (read: googled them and opened up a bunch of links). He seems to think that presenting them in a loopy way will definitely convince us then moves on to the history of the idea's legal interpretation.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Melissa Miles

    This short, dense book should be required reading for every American, preferably before reaching voting age. Stevens' prose is erudite and somewhat specialized, but not impenetrable, and rewards deliberate reading. The book's overarching concern is the restoration and expansion of genuine democracy in the United States based on the Constitution, and his solutions are clear, straightforward and sound. Although Stevens was appointed by Gerald Ford, this 2014 essay illustrates how far today's Repub This short, dense book should be required reading for every American, preferably before reaching voting age. Stevens' prose is erudite and somewhat specialized, but not impenetrable, and rewards deliberate reading. The book's overarching concern is the restoration and expansion of genuine democracy in the United States based on the Constitution, and his solutions are clear, straightforward and sound. Although Stevens was appointed by Gerald Ford, this 2014 essay illustrates how far today's Republicans have careened to the ultra-right. Ah, for the days when justices of the Supreme Court were nominated and confirmed on their merits as jurists.

  28. 4 out of 5

    John Deardurff

    The prologue has a great introduction to the Constitution and all the current Amendments. Then at the end of the book, a copy of the entire Constitution is provided. Justice Stevens suggests six amendments to the Constitution over six chapters. He provides a history, related cases, and arguments for and against the status quo. Personally, I agree with three of the suggestions and disagree with the other three.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Paul Szydlowski

    I am not legal scholar, which this book helps make abundantly clear. There are times when I truly didn't know what the late Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens was even talking about - the sovereign immunity argument lost me - and i am not sure we need to specifically amend the constitution to accomplish what justice Stevens seeks, but getting money out of politics, ending political gerrymandering and restoring sanity to the meaning of the Second Amendment are all worthy goals.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Anne

    Whether you agree with Stevens and his choices of updates to the Constitution, he does make you think. He does argue that best case scenario would be the Congress recommending changes to the Constitution. He is not a fan of legislating from the bench. I don't see Congress making any changes that are politically risky and without the need to collaborate, his ideas of gun control or eliminating the death penalty will never happen.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.