For the People: What the Constitution Really Says about Your Rights

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Free Press, 1998 - Law - 259 pages
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When serving on a jury, can you ever interpret the Constitution yourself? When threatened by your city's taking of your property, do you have any recourse aside from lobbying or voting the bums out in the next election? If you disagree with a Supreme Court decision, is there anything you can do? In this bold and groundbreaking book, Akhil Reed Amar and Alan Hirsch answer "yes" to these questions and invite you to rediscover your Constitution. Over time, our rich constitutional rights have been obscured, along with this essential truth: We own our government, and government officials operate at our discretion. To preserve that ownership, the Framers of the Constitution gave the People crucial rights and responsibilities-- which, regrettably, have faded from view. At the ballot box, in the jury room, and on the battlefield, the People wield far more rights than we generally realize.

For example, through a kind of national referendum, we may amend the Constitution. This right, though rarely acknowledged by the lawyers and government officials who today dominate conversation about the Constitution, was at the very heart of the country's founding and was recognized as fundamental by the Framers. By majority vote we could, for example, pass term limits or affirm gay rights. The Framers also gave great power to juries as representatives of the People, expected to act as checks on the power of unelected judges. Although it is another right that has fallen into disuse, in some cases jurors may interpret the Constitution themselves. And the Framers placed primary responsibility for national security in the hands of a citizen body (the militia), as opposed to a professional army, in part so the People would have recourse if the government ever turned tyrannical. How many of us are aware of these rights? How many of us might work for new referenda or view jury service differently if we became aware of them?

We-- all of us, black and white, male and female, straight and gay-- are sovereign in our own nation. We are the rulers; government officials are our servants. It is high time to rediscover the true meaning of our Constitution.

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FOR THE PEOPLE: What the Constitution Really Says About Your Rights

User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

A strange sight, indeed: Popular sovereignty is taken seriously in a discussion of the Constitution. In this populist interpretation of the Constitution, Amar (Law/Yale) and Hirsch (a freelance writer ... Read full review


SIX The Unconstitutionality of Peremptory Challenges
SEVEN Rethinking the ForCause Dismissal
EIGHT The Right of Young Adults to Serve on Juries

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About the author (1998)

Akhil Reed Amar is Southmayd Professor of Law at the Yale Law School. He received his BA, summa cum laude, from Yale College, and his JD from Yale Law School. He has received numerous awards and honors, including the Paul Bator award from the Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy and an honorary doctorate of law (LLD) from Suffolk University.

Alan Hirsch is the founding Director of Forge Mission Training Network. He is the co-founder of, an international forum for engaging with world transforming ideas. He leads Future Travelers, a learning journey applying missional-incarnational approaches to established churches and is an active participant in The Tribe of LA, a Jesus community among artists and creatives in Los Angeles. Known for his innovative approach to mission, Hirsch is a teacher and key mission strategist for churches across the western world. His popular book The Shaping of Things to Come (with Michael Frost) is widely considered to be a seminal text on mission. Alan's recent book The Forgotten Ways, has quickly become a key reference for missional thinking, particularly as it relates to movements. His book ReJesus is a radical restatement about the role that Jesus plays in defining missional movements. Untamed, his latest book (with his wife Debra) is about missional discipleship for a missional church. His experience in leadership includes leading a local church movement among the marginalized as well as heading up the Mission and Revitalization work of his denomination. Hirsch is an adjunct professor at Fuller Seminary and lectures frequently throughout Australia, Europe, and the U.S.

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