Cover: The Original Meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment: Its Letter and Spirit, from Harvard University PressCover: The Original Meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment in HARDCOVER

The Original Meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment

Its Letter and Spirit

Product Details


$36.00 • £31.95 • €32.95

ISBN 9780674257764

Publication Date: 11/02/2021

Academic Trade

488 pages

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

Belknap Press


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Jacket: The Original Meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment

PAPERBACK | $22.95

ISBN 9780674295537


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The book’s impressive array of historical materials makes an important contribution to our understanding of the 14th Amendment.—Raymond Kethledge, Wall Street Journal

By any standard an important contribution to the ongoing discussion of the subject… [A] must-read.—Earl M. Maltz, National Review

A major contribution to our understanding of what many consider the single most important amendment to the Constitution. It may well reshape our understanding of the Fourteenth Amendment.—Ilya Somin, Volokh Conspiracy

The most detailed legal history to date of the constitutional amendment that changed American law more than any before or since… The corpus of legal scholarship is richer for it.Washington Examiner

Offer[s] a theory of interpretation that draws upon the public historical meaning of the amendment—a theory that challenges the incorrect paths the Supreme Court has taken… The strength of their argument is to correct misinterpretations of the amendment and show how it was meant to protect a cluster of rights for freed slaves that were long assumed to exist generally for all citizens.Choice

As complete an account of the intellectual and political origins of the Fourteenth Amendment as one could hope for. As a work of history, it bristles with surprises. As a contribution to constitutional theory, it poses challenging new questions for both originalists and nonoriginalists.—Richard H. Fallon, Jr., author of Law and Legitimacy in the Supreme Court

Evincing the highest academic values of openness, integrity, and truth-seeking, this book reflects a systematic and even-handed consideration of the origins and original meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment, one of the most vital subjects in constitutional law. The definitive treatment of the subject for years and decades to come.—Saikrishna Bangalore Prakash, author of The Living Presidency

Provides fresh and interesting—and sometimes surprising—arguments about how best to interpret the Fourteenth Amendment. A major theme of the book is that both liberal and conservative judges have been significantly mistaken in their interpretations of the Amendment. This book is designed to set them straight and to provide guidance for new and better interpretations. A truly excellent and challenging analysis of the historical record.—Sanford V. Levinson, author of Framed: America’s 51 Constitutions and the Crisis of Governance

An outstanding account of the original public meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment’s most important provisions. Comprehensive and clear, methodical and elegantly written, this work shines new light on the meaning and spirit of the Reconstruction Framers’ work. Anyone who wants to understand the Fourteenth Amendment—one of the great achievements of American constitutionalism—should consult this book.—Jack M. Balkin, Yale Law School

Antislavery constitutionalism meets modern originalism in this sweeping reading of the original public meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment. Engaging for critics and adherents of originalism alike, this inventive fusion of history and constitutional theory catapults Republican antislavery to the forefront of today’s rights disputes.—Pamela Brandwein, author of Rethinking the Judicial Settlement of Reconstruction

The Fourteenth Amendment, by far the longest of the momentous Reconstruction amendments, is a landmark in the continuing struggle for racial equality in America, but its importance hardly ends there. Its political as well as legal origins, meanwhile, carry profound significance for the history of race, citizenship, the U.S. Constitution, and much more. In this breakthrough book, Barnett and Bernick brilliantly explore the amendment’s origins while grappling with its original meaning, in ways that will command attention from historians as well as legal scholars and constitutional lawyers.—Sean Wilentz, author of No Property in Man

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