Led by the Supreme Court, American courts have built a fascinating body of law on a combination of the United States Constitution and federal statutes. At a time in which concerns about official abuse of power remain intense and perhaps even gain in intensity, constitutional remedies are of interest to every American.
As Professors Wells and Eaton explain in this excellent study, the jurisprudence of constitutional remedies effectively defines the rights of injured citizens at their point of contact with power. They provide chapter and verse on both the theory and practice of the law governing alleged violations of constitutional rights by officials and sometimes governments.
In this volume Wells and Eaton have done a service to both the legal profession and the public. On the technical side, their work will be a great aid to lawyers who desire a comprehensive summary of the law. As a chronicle, it provides a useful description of the law for historians as well as laypersons who wish to understand it.
Particularly noteworthy in the work of Wells and Eaton, each distinguished for long-term scholarship in the area, are their careful analyses of discrete areas of the law and their subtle explorations of the relationships among them. Just one illustration of such probing is the section on the relationship between qualified immunity and substantive constitutional rights.
The history of the so-called “constitutional tort” in our law is a unique one. This theory emerged from the aftermath, or Reconstruction, of our great internal cataclysm, the Civil War. The Ku Klux Act, enacted in 1871, became the statutory foundation for an all-purpose set of remedies built on the Constitution itself.
Wells and Eaton present a detailed accounting of how courts developed the abstract language of both statute and Constitution to meet a changing culture and