The book begins by retelling the extraordinary events that led to the drafting and ratification of the Constitution and the quick addition of the Bill of Rights. Then, in well under 100 pages, it elucidates the constitutional structure that the Constitution creates. The authors evidence a great respect for the work of the Founders, and they have harsh words for those who treat the Constitution like a Rohrshach blot. But they are also painfully honest about the flaws in the original design--and in particular, the Founders' accommodation of slavery. The chapter devoted to this subject is one of the most interesting and will be instructive even for those who know a fair amount about the Constitution. (For example, how many lawyers know that, were it not for the infamous three-fifths provision, which counted a slave as three-fifths of a person for purposes of congressional apportionment, John Adams, not Thomas Jefferson, would have won the pivotal presidential election of 1800?)* * *The Paulsens' book fairly presents both sides on major interpretive issues, but they do not hide their own point of view. They favor a form of originalism and judicial restraint. They are decidedly Hamiltonian in their view of national and presidential power, but at the same time they support a robust conception of the individual rights set out in the Bill of Rights and post-Civil War Amendments. Substantive due process, which they trace back to Dred Scott, however, is another matter.
And who is the reviewer? Justice Samuel Alito.