By Garrett Epps
In 1987, E.L. Doctorow celebrated the Constitution's bicentennial via studying it. "It is 5 thousand phrases lengthy yet reads like fifty thousand," he stated. individual criminal student Garrett Epps--himself an award-winning novelist--disagrees. it truly is approximately 7,500 phrases. And Doctorow "missed a great deal of excessive rhetoric, many literary tropes, or even a hint of, if now not wit, not less than irony," he writes. americans could venerate the structure, "but all too seldom is it read."
In American Epic, Epps takes us via a whole studying of the Constitution--even the "boring" parts--to in achieving an appreciation of its strength and a holistic knowing of what it says. during this booklet he seeks to not supply a definitive interpretation, yet to hear the language and consider its which means. He attracts on 4 modes of examining: scriptural, felony, lyric, and epic. The Constitution's first 3 phrases, for instance, sound spiritual--but Epps reveals them to be extra aspirational than prayer-like. "Prayers are addressed to anyone . . . both a secular king or a divine lord, and nice care is taken to call the addressee. . . . This does the opposite. The speaker is 'the people,' the phrases addressed to the area at large." He turns the second one modification right into a poem to light up its ambiguity. He notices oddities and omissions. The structure lays out principles for presidential appointment of officials, for instance, yet no longer elimination. may still the Senate approve every one firing? Can it withdraw its "advice and consent" and strength a resignation? And he demanding situations himself, as obvious in his outstanding dialogue of the safety of Marriage Act (DOMA) in mild of Article four, which orders states to provide "full religion and credits" to the acts of different states.
Wry, unique, and superb, American Epic is a scholarly and literary journey de strength.
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Additional resources for American Epic: Reading the U.S. Constitution
Section Eight. Important though the structural provisions are, the heart of Article I lies in Section Eight. Article I is the longest article in the Constitution; Section Eight is the longest section. Lawyers, and judges adjudicating cases, parse Section Eight clause by clause, like pathologists dissecting a corpse—does a given assertion of congressional power fit under the “interstate commerce” clause, the “intellectual property” clause, the bankruptcy clause, or some other? Such an inquiry is necessary if we are to understand Section Eight as law, which must of necessity contain limitations as well as extensions.
Congress has since set one uniform day for congressional elections around the country. As long as state legislatures elected senators, however, the Constitution prohibited Congress from specifying when legislatures must meet to choose new ones. State legislative sessions are usually fixed by state law, and a congressional power to schedule them might have permitted future Congresses more control over the state legislatures than they needed. ” By writing a required annual meeting into the Constitution, the Framers sought to forestall a situation in which a president would prevent Congress from meeting.
This makes the leader of the House a constitutional officer—probably the most important in the legislative department. The Senate was to be led by the vice president, the first reference to that office. The vice president, unlike the Speaker, was not chosen by the members of the House he would lead. ) Article I also lays out the responsibility in cases of impeachment. The House has “sole Power of Impeachment,” meaning that it alone can vote to require a trial of the impeached official on charges of the House’s choice; the Senate has “sole Power to try” impeachments, meaning that the Senate sits as a court after the House has brought a successful impeachment.
American Epic: Reading the U.S. Constitution by Garrett Epps