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Conservatives and the Constitution
Imagining Constitutional Restoration in the Heyday of American Liberalism

$84.99 (P)

Part of Cambridge Studies on the American Constitution

  • Date Published: May 2019
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9780521193108

$ 84.99 (P)
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About the Authors
  • Since the 1980s, a ritualized opposition in legal thought between a conservative 'originalism' and a liberal 'living constitutionalism' has obscured the aggressively contested tradition committed to, and mobilization of arguments for, constitutional restoration and redemption within the broader postwar American conservative movement. Conservatives and the Constitution is the first history of the political and intellectual trajectory of this foundational tradition and mobilization. By looking at the deep stories told either by identity groups or about what conservatives took to be flashpoint topics in the postwar period, Ken I. Kersch seeks to capture the developmental and integrative nature of postwar constitutional conservatism, challenging conservatives and liberals alike to more clearly see and understand both themselves and their presumed political and constitutional opposition. Conservatives and the Constitution makes a unique contribution to our understanding of modern American conservatism, and to the constitutional thought that has, in critical ways, informed and defined it.

    • Provides a rounded intellectual history of the modern US conservative movement and the evolution of conservative constitutional thought
    • Reveals the often ignored points of variation, contestation, and change in this tradition, across the conservative movement's diverse intellectual wings
    • Takes conservative ideas seriously to present the movement as it understands and imagines itself
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'In this important book, Ken I. Kersch argues that conservative constitutional thought emerged from multiple streams that competed before conservatives gained political power in the 1980s and coalesced around originalism. Kersch offers a fascinating story of conservatives of all stripes arguing about how to rescue the Constitution from the scourge of liberalism and restore the country to its past greatness.' Jack M. Balkin, Yale University, Connecticut

    'Engagingly told, richly documented, Conservatives and the Constitution argues convincingly that the modern constitutional conservative movement was built over decades via multiple reinforcing stories of how America has declined, because it has abandoned the commitments to transcendental, indeed divine justice on which conservatives say it was founded. Liberals and progressives should take note if they wish to persuade at least some of those who doubt them that justice, as well as history, are on their side.' Rogers M. Smith, Christopher H. Browne Distinguished Professor of Political Science, University of Pennsylvania

    'In the age of Trump, it's nearly impossible to remember the visceral thrill that conservative ideas gave those of us who first encountered them in the 1980s. Ken I. Kersch skillfully reconstructs the deep sources of these ideas, how different forms of conservatism cross-pollenated each other, and how they all were shaped by the modern activist state they deplored. America needs a thoughtful conservatism again, and there's no better place to start in reconstructing it than with Kersch's magnificent work.' Steven Teles, The Johns Hopkins University

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    Product details

    • Date Published: May 2019
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9780521193108
    • length: 428 pages
    • dimensions: 235 x 157 x 28 mm
    • weight: 0.73kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. The intellectual archipelago of the postwar American right
    2. The alternative tradition of conservative constitutional theory
    3. Stories about markets
    4. Stories about communism
    5. Evangelical and fundamentalist Christian stories
    6. Right-wing Roman Catholic stories
    Conclusion: the development of constitutional conservatism.

  • Author

    Ken I. Kersch, Boston College
    Ken I. Kersch is Professor of Political Science at Boston College. A noted scholar of American constitutional law and history and American political development and thought, he has won numerous awards for his work, including the American Political Science Association's Edward S. Corwin Award, the J. David Greenstone Prize from the American Political Science Association's Politics and History Section, and the Hughes-Gossett Award from the Supreme Court Historical Society.

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