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Full-Text Articles in Political Science

America's Forgotten Constitutions: Defiant Visions Of Power And Community, Robert Tsai Mar 2014

America's Forgotten Constitutions: Defiant Visions Of Power And Community, Robert Tsai

Robert L Tsai

The U.S. Constitution opens by proclaiming the sovereignty of all citizens: "We the People." Robert Tsai's gripping history of alternative constitutions invites readers into the circle of those who have rejected this ringing assertion--the defiant groups that refused to accept the Constitution's definition of who "the people" are and how their authority should be exercised. America's Forgotten Constitutions is the story of America as told by dissenters: squatters, Native Americans, abolitionists, socialists, internationalists, and racial nationalists. Beginning in the nineteenth century, Tsai chronicles eight episodes in which discontented citizens took the extraordinary step of drafting a ...


A New Introduction To American Constitutionalism, Mark Graber Oct 2013

A New Introduction To American Constitutionalism, Mark Graber

Mark Graber

A New Introduction to American Constitutionalism is the first text to study the entirety of American constitutionalism, not just the traces that appear in Supreme Court decisions. Mark A. Graber both explores and offers original answers to such central questions as: What is a Constitution? What are fundamental constitutional purposes? How are constitutions interpreted? How is constitutional authority allocated? How do constitutions change? How is the Constitution of the United States influenced by international and comparative law? and, most important, How does the Constitution work? Relying on an historical/institutional perspective, the book illustrates how American constitutionalism is a distinct ...


"Simple" Takes On The Supreme Court, Robert Tsai Dec 2012

"Simple" Takes On The Supreme Court, Robert Tsai

Robert L Tsai

This essay assesses black literature as a medium for working out popular understandings of America’s Constitution and laws. Starting in the 1940s, Langston Hughes’s fictional character, Jesse B. Semple, began appearing in the prominent black newspaper, the Chicago Defender. The figure affectionately known as “Simple” was undereducated, unsophisticated, and plain spoken - certainly to a fault according to prevailing standards of civility, race relations, and professional attainment. Butthese very traits, along with a gritty experience under Jim Crow, made him not only a sympathetic figure but also an armchair legal theorist. In a series of barroom conversations, Simple ably ...


Eloquence And Reason: Creating A First Amendment Culture, Robert L. Tsai Oct 2008

Eloquence And Reason: Creating A First Amendment Culture, Robert L. Tsai

Robert L Tsai

This book presents a general theory to explain how the words in the Constitution become culturally salient ideas, inscribed in the habits and outlooks of ordinary Americans. "Eloquence and Reason" employs the First Amendment as a case study to illustrate that liberty is achieved through the formation of a common language and a set of organizing beliefs. The book explicates the structure of First Amendment language as a distinctive discourse and illustrates how activists, lawyers, and even presidents help to sustain our First Amendment belief system. When significant changes to constitutional law occur, they are best understood as the results ...


Sovereignty As Discourse, Robert Tsai Dec 2007

Sovereignty As Discourse, Robert Tsai

Robert L Tsai

This is a review of Howard Schweber's book, "The Language of Liberal Constitutionalism" (Cambridge University Press, 2007). Schweber argues that "the creation of a legitimate constitutional regime depends on a prior commitment to employ constitutional language, and that such a commitment is both the necessary and sufficient condition for constitution making." I critique the power and limits of this reformulated Lockean thesis, as well as Schweber's secondary claims that, for constitutional language to remain legitimate, it must increasingly become autonomous, specialized, and secular.


Democracy's Handmaid, Robert Tsai Jan 2006

Democracy's Handmaid, Robert Tsai

Robert L Tsai

Democratic theory presupposes open channels of dialogue, but focuses almost exclusively on matters of institutional design writ large. The philosophy of language explicates linguistic infrastructure, but often avoids exploring the political significance of its findings. In this Article, Professor Tsai draws from the two disciplines to reach new insights about the democracy-enhancing qualities of popular constitutional language. Employing examples from the founding era, the struggle for black civil rights, the religious awakening of the last two decades, and the search for gay equality, he presents a model of constitutional dialogue that emphasizes common modalities and mobilized vernacular. According to this ...


Sacred Visions Of Law, Robert Tsai Feb 2005

Sacred Visions Of Law, Robert Tsai

Robert L Tsai

Around the time of the Bicentennial Celebration of the U.S. Constitution’s framing, Sanford Levinson called upon Americans to renew our “constitutional faith.” This Article answers the call by explicating the ways in which two landmark constitutional law decisions—Marbury v. Madison and Brown v. Board of Education—have been used by jurists over the years to tend the American community of faith. Blending constitutional theory and the study of religious form, the Article argues that the legal symbols have become increasingly linked in the legal imagination even as they have come to signify very different sacred visions of ...


Fire, Metaphor, And Constitutional Myth-Making, Robert Tsai Oct 2004

Fire, Metaphor, And Constitutional Myth-Making, Robert Tsai

Robert L Tsai

From the standpoint of traditional legal thought, metaphor is at best a dash of poetry adorning lawyerly analysis, and at worst an unjustifiable distraction from what is actually at stake in a legal contest. By contrast, in the eyes of those who view law as a close relative of ordinary language, metaphor is a basic building block of human understanding. This article accepts that metaphor helps us to comprehend a court’s decision. At the same time, it contends that metaphor plays a special role in the realm of constitutional discourse. Metaphor in constitutional law not only reinforces doctrinal categories ...