Tuesday, March 11, 2014

New Release: Ackerman, "We the People, Volume 3: The Civil Rights Revolution"

New from Harvard University Press: the third volume of Bruce Ackerman's We the People. From the Press:
The Civil Rights Revolution carries Bruce Ackerman’s sweeping reinterpretation of constitutional history into the era beginning with Brown v. Board of Education. From Rosa Parks’s courageous defiance, to Martin Luther King’s resounding cadences in “I Have a Dream,” to Lyndon Johnson’s leadership of Congress, to the Supreme Court’s decisions redefining the meaning of equality, the movement to end racial discrimination decisively changed our understanding of the Constitution.
Ackerman anchors his discussion in the landmark statutes of the 1960s: the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the Fair Housing Act of 1968. Challenging conventional legal analysis and arguing instead that constitutional politics won the day, he describes the complex interactions among branches of government—and also between government and the ordinary people who participated in the struggle. He showcases leaders such as Everett Dirksen, Hubert Humphrey, and Richard Nixon who insisted on real change, not just formal equality, for blacks and other minorities.
The Civil Rights Revolution transformed the Constitution, but not through judicial activism or Article V amendments. The breakthrough was the passage of laws that ended the institutionalized humiliations of Jim Crow and ensured equal rights at work, in schools, and in the voting booth. This legislation gained congressional approval only because of the mobilized support of the American people—and their principles deserve a central place in the nation’s history. Ackerman’s arguments are especially important at a time when the Roberts Court is actively undermining major achievements of America’s Second Reconstruction.
A few blurbs:
“Bruce Ackerman has already transformed our understanding of the Constitution and constitutional interpretation. With this essential volume, he enables us to view the civil rights revolution in an entirely new way.”—Laura Kalman 
“The American people have reconstructed their constitutional system from time to time, but these ‘constitutional moments’ never roll out exactly the same way. The Civil Rights Revolution, the third volume of the Ackerman synthesis, sorts through the differences among these transformations, bringing to light the common principles and processes that impart foundational status to their institutional and normative commitments. Today, with the legacy of the civil rights revolution in doubt, Ackerman’s benchmarks are invaluable, both for assessing the constitutional commitments established in those years and for evaluating the legitimacy of efforts to upend them.”—Stephen Skowronek
More information is available here.