Cover: Constitutional Redemption: Political Faith in an Unjust World, from Harvard University PressCover: Constitutional Redemption in HARDCOVER

Constitutional Redemption

Political Faith in an Unjust World

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Product Details


$42.50 • £34.95 • €38.50

ISBN 9780674058743

Publication Date: 05/09/2011


304 pages

6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

1 table


Constitutional Redemption is a wonderful book. Just when readers might think that there is nothing new that can be said about the U.S. Constitution and its meanings, along comes Balkin’s book, which, much to this reviewer’s surprise, offers a bracing and innovative perspective on the cultural and political life on the Constitution. As Balkin sees it, what constitutional scholars need to explain is America’s attachment to and continuing belief in that document, a document that is flawed and often seems out-of-date. To explain why Americans continue to believe in the Constitution’s legitimacy, Balkin turns to the idea of faith. It is faith in the Constitution’s redemptive promise that sustains the public’s attachment. ‘Redemption,’ Balkin argues, ‘is not simply reform, but change that fulfills the promise of the past.’ Redemption is important because all constitutions are marked by unfulfilled promises. While praising the idea of faith in the Constitution, Balkin attends to its dangers, warning readers that constitutions produce losers as well as winners and that faith can easily become idolatry. Constitutional Redemption is a landmark in constitutional scholarship.”—A.D. Sarat, Choice

A theoretically dense volume that will reward the scrutiny of constitutional lawyers.—Daniel Sullivan, The Daily

Balkin’s book is both acute and inspiring—Balkin at his best. Wonderfully articulate, provocative, and illuminating, Balkin offers a remarkably original and unified argument that the long history of struggle over the Constitution’s commitments can best be understood as a nation’s story of faith, doubt, and redemption.—James E. Fleming, The Honorable Frank R. Kenison Distinguished Scholar in Law and Professor of Law, Boston University

Conservatives claim to be the Constitution’s only true believers. Jack Balkin has written a liberal’s constitutional credo. A statement of faith, this book is also a brilliant meditation on what it means to be faithful to the American constitutional enterprise, lighting up the perplexing and profound intersections of constitutional history and morality. Let’s hope Balkin helps revive the vital progressive tradition of constitutional hope.—William Forbath, Lloyd M. Bentsen Chair in Law, University of Texas at Austin

A wonderful meditation on the American constitutional story. Balkin’s living originalism challenges both those who would unmoor constitutionalism completely from the past, and those who would have us ruled by long-dead white men in hideous wigs.—Mark Graber, Professor of Law and Government, University of Maryland

Part of the reason that all Americans can venerate the Constitution is that we each see it a little differently. What binds us together, Jack Balkin argues, is a shared faith that the promise of America can be redeemed through the Constitution. We do not decide what will happen in America simply by consulting the Constitution. We decide what the Constitution means partly by asking what America ought to be.—Richard Primus, Professor of Law, University of Michigan

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