Download American Epic: Reading the U.S. Constitution by Garrett Epps PDF

By Garrett Epps

In 1987, E.L. Doctorow celebrated the Constitution's bicentennial by way of analyzing it. "It is 5 thousand phrases lengthy yet reads like fifty thousand," he acknowledged. uncommon criminal student Garrett Epps--himself an award-winning novelist--disagrees. it really is approximately 7,500 phrases. And Doctorow "missed a great deal of excessive rhetoric, many literary tropes, or even a hint of, if no longer wit, no less than irony," he writes. americans may possibly 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 attaining an appreciation of its energy and a holistic figuring out of what it says. during this publication he seeks to not supply a definitive interpretation, yet to hear the language and examine its that means. He attracts on 4 modes of analyzing: scriptural, criminal, lyric, and epic. The Constitution's first 3 phrases, for instance, sound spiritual--but Epps unearths them to be extra aspirational than prayer-like. "Prayers are addressed to somebody . . . both a mundane 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 now not elimination. may still the Senate approve each one firing? Can it withdraw its "advice and consent" and strength a resignation? And he demanding situations himself, as noticeable in his brilliant dialogue of the security 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 amazing, American Epic is a scholarly and literary travel de strength.

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Additional info for American Epic: Reading the U.S. Constitution

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Would it have spoken as powerfully as it does to the people of Vermont, then independent, or Kentucky or Ohio, then being formed, or Louisiana or Oregon, undreamt of? The words “we the people” have a contemporary sound; in 1787 they were positively futuristic. The words, “we the people of the states” would instead have been archaic on the day of publication and would emphasize to any contemporary reader the historical distance between the Framing and today. Whatever impulse led the drafters to make the change has led to profound consequences, certainly in rhetoric and probably in politics.

The reason is obvious—the vice president, as president of the Senate, would otherwise be in charge of a proceeding that might let him take the president’s place. So since the chief justice presides only when the president is a defendant, clearly others may be impeached—exactly who is laid out later in the Constitution. Section Four. ” 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.

Unlike the Senate, there can be no interim appointments. Who may serve in the people’s house? The requirements are specific: members must be twenty-five years old; they must have been a citizen for at least seven years; and they must be “inhabitants” (note that at law this is not necessarily the same as being a “resident”) of the districts they represent. But note the peculiar language the Constitution uses to spell out these requirements: “No Person shall be a Representative who shall not” possess the specified qualifications.

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