by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
If you are like me, you have more books on the shelves than you can ever read, which also means that when you do read them, it may be a later calendar year than their release dates. Still, many of them retain freshness for several years at least. …
… The Original Meaning of the 14th Amendment: Its Letter and Spirit, by Randy E. Barnett and Evan D. Bernick. I start with the one most intellectually challenging even for specialists in the field — but also the one that most comprehensively sheds much-needed new light on an old question. Constitutional law wonks have argued for a century and a half about how to interpret the phrases “due process of law,” “equal protection,” and especially the much-discussed but usually neglected “privileges or immunities,” all of which either do or should have profound ramifications for how the Constitution is interpreted in ways consequential for American life. Here, two eminent law professors provide the most rigorous “original meaning” exegesis imaginable while arguing for rehabilitation of the long-dormant “privileges or immunities” protections. It’s a work of intellectual density but brilliant and, for Constitution enthusiasts, absolutely fascinating.
The Essential Scalia: On the Constitution, the Courts, and the Rule of Law, edited by Jeffrey S. Sutton and Edward Whelan. Sticking with the theme of constitutional law, this is one in a series of collections of writings of the late great Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, all edited and compiled at least in part by Whelan. Using excerpts from Scalia’s opinions and speeches, along with short context-setting by the editors and a warm foreword by Justice Elena Kagan, this collection is a handy and eminently readable survey of key areas of controversy in constitutional law. As always, Scalia’s famous wit shines through, along with his wisdom.