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When the term 'dinosaur' was coined in 1842, it referred to fragmentary British fossils. In subsequent decades, American discoveries—including Brontosaurus and Triceratops—proved that these so-called 'terrible lizards' were in fact hardly lizards at all. By the 1910s 'dinosaur' was a household word. Reimagining Dinosaurs in Late Victorian and Edwardian Literature approaches the hitherto unexplored fiction and popular journalism that made this scientific term a meaningful one to huge transatlantic readerships. Unlike previous scholars, who have focused on displays in American museums, Richard Fallon argues that literature was critical in turning these extinct creatures into cultural icons. Popular authors skilfully related dinosaurs to wider concerns about empire, progress, and faith; some of the most prominent, like Arthur Conan Doyle and Henry Neville Hutchinson, also disparaged elite scientists, undermining distinctions between scientific and imaginative writing. The rise of the dinosaurs thus accompanied fascinating transatlantic controversies about scientific authority.
What does it mean to have a constitutional right in an era in which most rights must yield to 'compelling governmental interests'? After recounting the little-known history of the invention of the compelling-interest formula during the 1960s, The Nature of Constitutional Rights examines what must be true about constitutional rights for them to be identified and enforced via 'strict scrutiny' and other, similar, judge-crafted tests. The book's answers not only enrich philosophical understanding of the concept of a 'right', but also produce important practical payoffs. Its insights should affect how courts decide cases and how citizens should think about the judicial role. Contributing to the conversation between originalists and legal realists, Richard H. Fallon, Jr explains what constitutional rights are, what courts must do to identify them, and why the protections that they afford are more limited than most people think.
Energy in the Executive is a leading character in the definition of good government. It is essential to the protection of the community against foreign attacks; it is not less essential to the steady administration of the laws.
– The Federalist No. 70
TODAY, THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES IS ROUTINELY described as the most powerful person in the free world. It was not always thus. For one thing, the United States did not initially occupy a large space on the world stage. For another, the significance of the President's position within American government has changed enormously over time.
In 1789, fewer than one thousand people worked for the federal government. The State Department had only nine employees; the War Department began with just two. The government’s primary day-to-day concerns were collecting taxes and delivering the mail. Without a proper staff, the first President, George Washington, relied on just four men to advise him: the members of his Cabinet. Although that group was notably able, considerable duties often fell on Washington alone. Today, by contrast, the President has a staff of more than 1,800 people and oversees a bureaucracy with roughly 2.7 million employees.
The Constitution was essentially an economic document based upon the concept that the fundamental private rights of property are anterior to government and morally beyond the reach of popular majorities.
– Charles A. Beard
[A] constitution is not intended to embody a particular economic theory.…It is made for people of fundamentally differing views.
– Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.
WHEN THE HISTORIAN CHARLES BEARD WROTE IN 1913 that “[t]he Constitution was essentially an economic document,” he claimed too much. The founders intended the Constitution to protect many values, not just property. Nevertheless, property and contract rights ranked high among those that the Constitution was initially designed to safeguard. Prominent framers and ratifiers worried particularly about legislation excusing debtors from obligations to their creditors. They viewed such legislation as immoral because it violated the sanctity of promises and as imprudent because it discouraged commercial lending. (If the legislature could excuse promises to repay money, banks would be less willing to loan money in the first place.) In one of the rare provisions of the original Constitution that creates rights enforceable against the states (rather than the federal government), Article I, Section 10, provides that “[n]o State shall…pass any…Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts.” The Fifth Amendment forbids the federal government from taking “private property…for public use, without just compensation.” The Fourteenth Amendment, which was added to the Constitution in 1868, forbids state and local governments, as much as the national government, to deprive anyone of property without due process of law.
No State shall…deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
– Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment
IN 1994, JENNIFER GRATZ APPLIED FOR ADMISSION TO THE University of Michigan. Gratz was a good student. Her adjusted high school grade-point average was 3.8 on a 4-point scale, and she had achieved a solid but not top-notch score on a standardized college admissions test. At many colleges, this record would have ensured admission. At the University of Michigan, it did not. After applying in the fall, Gratz received a letter in January notifying her that she would need to wait until April for a final decision: although she was “well qualified,” she was “less competitive than the students who have been admitted on first review.” In April a second letter arrived, this one with the news that Gratz had been rejected.
Unwilling to accept this result, Gratz filed suit in federal court, alleging that the University of Michigan had violated her Fourteenth Amendment right not to be deprived of “the equal protection of the laws.” In particular, Gratz, who is white, argued that Michigan unconstitutionally discriminated against her by granting race-based admissions preferences to members of historically underrepresented minority groups.
[While] the Constitution protects against invasions of individual rights, it is not a suicide pact.
– Kennedy v. Mendoza-Martinez (1963)
War is hell.
– General William Tecumseh Sherman
ON APRIL 12, 1861, CONFEDERATE MILITARY FORCES FIRED on Fort Sumter, in the harbor of Charleston, South Carolina, and within a few days forced the surrender of Union soldiers stationed there. Confronted with the gravest crisis in American history, President Abraham Lincoln knew that he must convene the Congress of the United States – which was then out of session and absent from Washington, not due to return until the fall. But Congress was large, even then, and opinionated and divided. Lincoln therefore thought that he could manage the crisis better alone. So he called Congress into a special session but postponed the meeting date until July 4.
In the period between April 12 and July 4, Lincoln ordered a blockade of Southern ports – a step almost universally regarded as an act of war. Article I of the Constitution assigns the power “[t]o declare War” to Congress, which had not yet convened. Also before July 4, Lincoln called for volunteers for the army and ordered fifteen ships added to the navy, even though the Constitution specifically gives Congress, not the President, the powers to “raise and support Armies” and to “provide and maintain a Navy.”