From Appendix to Heart: Tracing the History of the Bill of Rights (Book Review)
34 Constitutional Commentary (2019) (Forthcoming)
20 Pages Posted: 25 Sep 2019
Date Written: September 16, 2019
The Bill of Rights is one of those texts that seems to stand for principles as old as the nation. Gerard Magliocca's recent book, The Heart of the Constitution, unsettles this assumption. Magliocca reminds us that the Bill of Rights was not always just one thing—indeed, for a while, it wasn’t a “thing” at all. Its name, its recognition as a single, thematically-coherent document, its rise to the status of venerated text—all were products of history. Magliocca has provided a rich account of the Bill of Rights’ place in American culture across two centuries in this crisp, concise, eminently readable book. One need not agree with every detail of Magliocca’s account to recognize that it is a valuable contribution to our understanding of constitutional history. This review essay highlights three of Magliocca’s key arguments before concluding with thoughts about the questions future scholarship on this subject might address.
Keywords: Bill of Rights, Legal History
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