Constitutional Remedies: A Reference Guide to the United States Constitution

Constitutional Remedies: A Reference Guide to the United States Constitution

Constitutional Remedies: A Reference Guide to the United States Constitution

Constitutional Remedies: A Reference Guide to the United States Constitution

Synopsis

Understanding the impact of constitutional rights in the real world depends on understanding the law of constitutional remedies for their violation. Integrating the history, doctrine, and policy of constitutional remedy, Wells and Eaton explain how people go about trying to obtain redress for violations of their constitutional rights. Diverse issues arise when persons seek to bring a lawsuit against governments, officials, or private individuals for violation of their constitutional rights. Among them are whether the injury ought to be accorded constitutional status at all, or instead should be treated as a routine wrong, no different in principle from a traffic accident. If the case warrants constitutional status, the next issue is whether or not suit may be brought against the officer who committed the wrong or his government employer, and so on. On each of these and other issues the authors guide the reader through the complex body of doctrine, the lively case law debates, and the scholarly literature over the appropriate mix of policies and the means by which to achieve them.

Excerpt

Jack Stark

One can conceive of the United States Constitution in many ways. For example, noting the reverence in which it has been held, one can think of it as equivalent to a sacred text. Unfortunately, most of its devotees have had less knowledge and even less understanding of the document than they have had reverence for it. Sometimes it is treated as primarily a political document and on that basis has been subjected to analysis, such as Charles Beard’s An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution of the United States. One can plausibly argue that the Constitution seems most astounding when seen in light of the intellectual effort that has been associated with it. Three brief but highly intense bursts of intellectual energy produced, and established as organic law, most of the Constitution as it now exists. Two of those efforts, sustained over a long period of time, have enabled us to better understand the document.

The first burst of energy occurred at the Constitutional Convention. Although some of the delegates’ business, such as the struggle between populous and non-populous states about their representation in Congress, was political, much of it was about fundamental issues of political theory. a few of the delegates had or later achieved international eminence for their intellects. Among them were Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, and James Madison. Others, although less well known, had first-rate minds. That group includes George Mason and George Wythe. Many of the delegates contributed intelligently. Although the Convention’s records are less than satisfactory, they indicate clearly enough that the delegates worked mightily to constitute not merely a polity but a rational polity—one that would rise to the standards envisioned by the delegates’ intellectual ancestors. Their product, though brief, is amazing. William Gladstone called it “the most wonderful work ever struck off.”

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