Popular Constitutionalism, Civic Education, and the Stories We Tell Our Children
54 Pages Posted: 19 Feb 2009 Last revised: 21 Nov 2011
Date Written: February 18, 2009
This Note analyzes a set of constitutional stories that has not been the subject of focused study-the constitutional stories we tell our schoolchildren in our most widely-used high school textbooks. These stories help reinforce a constitutional culture that is largely deferential to the Supreme Court, limiting references to popular resistance to the Court and often linking such popular resistance to the actions of self-interested politicians, at best, and historical villains, at worst. Our textbooks are especially critical of blunt institutional checks on the Court (like judicial impeachment and "court-packing"), but are sometimes receptive to subtler, longer-term checks (like social mobilization and judicial nominations). If judicial supremacy does run rampant, as popular constitutionalists claim, it would appear as though our public schools are complicit in its entrenchment.
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