What I’ve Learned So Far
Before I offer some substantive riffs on Akhil Amar’s new book–The Unwritten Constitution, I thought I would point out some of the new (and cool) facts that I’ve discovered as a result of reading this (though I’m not done yet):
1. There was more than one version of the Constitution circulated during the ratification debates. Basically, this involved typographical differences, but a more important distinction involves the inclusion of the phrase “Year of our Lord” in one printing (to describe the year 1787) that was omitted from other printings. Thus, there is a dispute over which version of the Constitution is the true one.
2. In 1840, Congress refunded the fines imposed under the Alien and Sedition Act and called the statute unconstitutional.
3. Casey‘s dicta stating that “a decision to overrule [a precedent[ should rest on some special reason over and above the belief that a prior case was wrongly decided” has never been cited by a majority opinion of the Court.
Next week I’ll probably talk about some of my criticisms of the book.