This book reconstructs the fascinating but obscure history of the Eleventh Amendment to the US Constitution, which limits the exercise of US judicial power when American states are sued. Its modern meaning was largely shaped around cases concerning the liability of Southern states to pay their debts during and after Reconstruction: by shielding states from liability, the Supreme Court's interpretation of the Eleventh Amendment eased the establishment of post-Reconstruction Southern society and left a maddeningly complicated law of federal jurisdiction.
Book — 1 online resource (xi, 292 pages) Digital: data file.
Introduction: The Argument for the Secret Constitution
1. Redemption Under Law
2. Radical Gettysburg
4. Loyalty and Betrayal
6. The Revolution That Never Was
7. Equality Without Vision
8. A Maxim of Justice: Its Birth and Rebirth
9. The Secret Constitution Resurgent
10. Government as Partner Against the Past
11. Neither Blue Nor Gray
Afterword: Election Blues 2000.
This study points to the Civil War as the most significant event in American legal history. The basic principles of the postbellum legal order, believes the author, are so radically different from the Constitution of 1787 that they should be recognized as a second American Constitution, establishing a Second Republic. The first Constitution was based on the principles of peoplehood as a voluntary association, individual freedom, and a republican elitism. The guiding premises of the second Constitution - as articulated in Lincoln's visionary address at Gettysburg and enacted in the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments - were in contrast, organic nationhood, equality of all persons, and popular democracy. Thus, although we may yearn for continuity with 1787, in fact our values, commitments, and aspirations for America have radically changed. By finally recognizing our radical discontinuity with the first Republic, says Fletcher, we can put an end to debilitating arguments about the Founders' intent and consciously and energetically pursue the full implications of our true beliefs about what America should and can become. (source: Nielsen Book Data)
Americans hate and distrust their government. At the same time, Americans love and trust their government. These contradictory attitudes are resolved by Fletcher's novel interpretation of constitutional history. He argues that we have two constitutions-still living side by side-one that caters to freedom and fear, the other that satisfied our needs for security and social justice. The first constitution came into force in 1789. It stresses freedom, voluntary association, and republican elitism. The second constitution begins with the Gettysburg Address and emphasizes equality, organic nationhood, and popular democracy. These radical differences between our two constitutions explain our ambivalence and self-contradictory attitudes toward government. With September 11 the second constitution-which Fletcher calls the Secret Constitution-has become ascendant. When America is under threat, the nation cultivates its solidarity. It overcomes its fear and looks to government for protection and the pursuit of social justice. Lincoln's messages of a strong government and a nation that must "long endure" have never been more relevant to American politics. "Fletcher's argument has intriguing implications beyond the sweeping subject of this profoundly thought-provoking book."-The Denver Post. (source: Nielsen Book Data)