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This is a well written book documenting six important cases concerning separation of church and state. They are all fairly recent cases, too. The first chapter contains a short history of America's lack of tolerance for religious difference, and shows why we need separation of church and state.
The history of segregation in the US from the 1800s to present day.
Irons, a civil liberties lawyer and history professor, brings to life the common people whose real-life circumstances proved precedent setting in Supreme Court decisions. He focuses on the human aspect of decisions, from the impact of the slave trade and related issues in the formation of the nation to the contradictory values of the founding fathers and subsequent lawmakers. Irons reveals that the Bill of Rights was not central to the views of one founder, James Madison; the focus on individual rights was actually a compromise designed to secure ratification of the Constitution. Irons examines how the law has intersected with politics, from the passage of the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth amendments during the radical reconstruction period through the Jim Crow era, when blacks were stripped of previously adjudicated rights. Irons clearly and repeatedly shows how the law reflects political reality above esoteric legal mandates. Irons continues his analysis to 1992, with case histories exploring the political context of the times. His work gives contextual richness to the history of an important American institution.
Peter Irons is a well known political and legal historian at University of California San Diego. His latest work traces the rise of the imperial presidency and how it has trumped Congress's constitutional power of declaring war. Irons sees this as a dangerous usurption of Congress's powers, and a drift towards militarism and an unaccountable presidency.
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