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American Constitutionalism

by Stephen M. Griffin

Despite the outpouring of works on constitutional theory in the past several decades, no general introduction to the field has been available. Stephen Griffin provides here an original contribution to American constitutional theory in the form of a short, lucid introduction to the subject for scholars and an informed lay audience. He surveys in an unpolemical way the theoretical issues raised by judicial practice in the United States over the past three centuries, particularly since the Warren Court, and locates both theory and practices that have inspired dispute among jurists and scholars in historical context. At the same time he advances an argument about the distinctive nature of our American constitutionalism, regarding it as an instance of the interpenetration of law and politics.American Constitutionalism is unique in considering the perspectives of both law and political science in relation to constitutional theory. Constitutional theories produced by legal scholars do not usually discuss state-centered theories of American politics, the importance of institutions, behaviorist research on judicial decision making, or questions of constitutional reform, but this book takes into account the political science literature on these and other topics. The work also devotes substantial attention to judicial review and its relationship to American democracy and theories of constitutional interpretation.

Long Wars and the Constitution

by Stephen M. Griffin

In a wide-ranging constitutional history of presidential war decisions from 1945 to the present, Stephen M. Griffin rethinks the long-running debate over the imperial presidency and concludes that the eighteenth-century Constitution is inadequate to the challenges of a post-9/11 world. The Constitution requires the consent of Congress before the United States can go to war. Truman's decision to fight in Korea without gaining that consent was unconstitutional, says Griffin, but the acquiescence of Congress and the American people created a precedent for presidents to claim autonomy in this arena ever since. The unthinking extension of presidential leadership in foreign affairs to a point where presidents unilaterally decide when to go to war, Griffin argues, has destabilized our constitutional order and deranged our foreign policy. Long Wars and the Constitution demonstrates the unexpected connections between presidential war power and the constitutional crises that have plagued American politics. Contemporary presidents are caught in a dilemma. On the one hand are the responsibilities handed over to them by a dangerous world, and on the other is an incapacity for sound decisionmaking in the absence of interbranch deliberation. President Obama's continuation of many Bush administration policies in the long war against terrorism is only the latest in a chain of difficulties resulting from the imbalances introduced by the post-1945 constitutional order. Griffin argues for beginning a cycle of accountability in which Congress would play a meaningful role in decisions for war, while recognizing the realities of twenty-first century diplomacy.

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