Plain, Honest Men (book review)

A book review from The Movie Snob

Plain, Honest Men: The Making of the American Constitution, by Richard Beeman (Random House 2009). I had the pleasure of hearing Professor Beeman speak at a luncheon last year. His topic was constitutional interpretation, and his angle, as I recall, was that people who try to ascertain the “original intent” of the people who wrote the Constitution are doomed because there was no single original intent that was shared by all the authors when they wrote things like the “necessary and proper” clause or the Equal Protection Clause. He was selling autographed copies of his recently published book, so I picked one up. I had never read an account of the great convention that devised the Constitution, so it was pretty much all new to me, and I generally thought it was interesting. And I picked up one fact that was definitely new to me, that the Constitution had already been ratified by nine states (which was the magic number before the thing went into effect) before New York voted on it — I had thought that New York’s vote was critical, and that one reason we venerate The Federalist Papers is that they helped persuade New Yorkers to ratify. Anyway, if you have a particular interest in the subject, I highly recommend this book; for people whose interest is more casual, it is probably a little too detailed.

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