By Garrett Epps

ISBN-10: 0199974748

ISBN-13: 9780199974740

In 1987, E.L. Doctorow celebrated the Constitution's bicentennial by means of interpreting it. "It is 5 thousand phrases lengthy yet reads like fifty thousand," he stated. exceptional felony student Garrett Epps--himself an award-winning novelist--disagrees. it is approximately 7,500 phrases. And Doctorow "missed a great deal of excessive rhetoric, many literary tropes, or even a hint of, if no longer wit, at the very least irony," he writes. american citizens might venerate the structure, "but all too seldom is it read."

In American Epic, Epps takes us via a whole interpreting of the Constitution--even the "boring" parts--to in achieving an appreciation of its energy and a holistic figuring out of what it says. during this ebook he seeks to not offer a definitive interpretation, yet to hear the language and think about its that means. He attracts on 4 modes of examining: scriptural, felony, lyric, and epic. The Constitution's first 3 phrases, for instance, sound spiritual--but Epps unearths them to be extra aspirational than prayer-like. "Prayers are addressed to a person . . . both a secular king or a divine lord, and nice care is taken to call the addressee. . . . This does the opposite. The speaker is 'the people,' the phrases addressed to the area at large." He turns the second one modification right into a poem to light up its ambiguity. He notices oddities and omissions. The structure lays out ideas for presidential appointment of officials, for instance, yet no longer removing. may still the Senate approve every one firing? Can it withdraw its "advice and consent" and strength a resignation? And he demanding situations himself, as visible in his striking dialogue of the protection of Marriage Act (DOMA) in gentle of Article four, which orders states to provide "full religion and credits" to the acts of different states.

Wry, unique, and dazzling, American Epic is a scholarly and literary journey de strength.

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Extra resources for American Epic: Reading the U.S. Constitution

Example text

Washington’s first term had to end exactly four years after it began, and so on, quadrennium by quadrennium. The same was true of members of Congress. Meanwhile, the Congress was elected in the fall of every even-numbered year and was to meet each December. But members elected in November did not take office until March. As a result, the Constitution required a meeting of the existing Congress in December of each even-numbered year even though its successor had already been chosen during the previous fall.

If it passes again, they send it on to the other house. If both houses re-pass by two-thirds, the bill becomes law without any presidential action; if not, the bill fails. ” The presidential veto is at once weaker and more powerful than the king’s asserted “negative” on parliamentary bills. The king’s veto was absolute—but that made it such a potent weapon that kings had been forced to stop using it. Because Congress could theoretically override a presidential veto, however, it seemed less drastic an action than an absolute veto.

So since the chief justice presides only when the president is a defendant, clearly others may be impeached—exactly who is laid out later in the Constitution. Section Four. ” Congress has since set one uniform day for congressional elections around the country. As long as state legislatures elected senators, however, the Constitution prohibited Congress from specifying when legislatures must meet to choose new ones. State legislative sessions are usually fixed by state law, and a congressional power to schedule them might have permitted future Congresses more control over the state legislatures than they needed.

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