Cover: Separating Power in HARDCOVER

Separating Power

Essays on the Founding Period

Product Details


Print on Demand

$67.00 • £58.95 • €60.95

ISBN 9780674801400

Publication Date: 04/25/1997


5 x 7-1/2 inches


Add to Cart

Media Requests:

Related Subjects

Many constitutional scholars believe that if they could only pierce the fog created by the Constitution’s wonderful obscurity and our own historical distance, the thoughts of men like Jefferson and Madison could help resolve current political controversies. But in Separating Power, Gerhard Casper advances the unsettling opinion that we must face questions about the separation of powers without the Founding Fathers’ help: they cannot guide us because they themselves were hopelessly confused… [The Founding Fathers] sought to cooperate rather than to engage in jealous turf battles. So even if they left us with no cohesive separation-of-powers doctrine, as this fine book makes clear, perhaps the Founding Fathers’ spirit of compromise could teach us how we should approach our own political problems.—Douglas A. Sylva, The New York Times Book Review

In Separating Power, Gerhard Casper gives a brief, brisk but authoritative account of the origins of what we now take for granted as a principle of American society: the separation of the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government… What makes Separating Power so refreshing is Casper’s insistence on the sheer newness of the problem in 1789. Throughout the five linked essays that make up the book, he keeps reminding us that everything the Washington administration did was being done for the first time… It is certainly bracing to revisit, via Casper’s lucid scholarship, these superb politicians at work, inventing the government we now feel compelled to reinvent.—Michael Stern, The San Francisco Examiner & Chronicle

Mr. Casper reexamines the question of constitutional rigidity. He concludes, and provides powerful historical evidence supporting his point, that there is, in fact, a great deal of flexibility within checks and balances.—Jason Bertsch, The Washington Times

Originalists taught that constitutional law must return to founding understandings as a guide to current interpretive questions about the meaning and scope of the constitution. What they didn’t teach was how little such an inquiry would yield. Casper’s beautiful and rich account of founding ideas about separating powers reveals just how little the framers had finally worked out, and how much our modern understanding differs from what they did work out. This book, in its simple and elegant directness, is a compelling account of the struggles and complexity that confronted the founding generation as they erected a constituting regime of separated powers. It will undermine arguments that imagine that the framers gave us a structure already worked out. If one thought constitutional law should be about returning to the answers the framers left us, this book shows unavoidably that there were few answers, if any, that the framers meant to leave.—Lawrence Lessig, University of Chicago Law School

Recent News

Black lives matter. Black voices matter. A statement from HUP »

From Our Blog

Photograph of the book Fearless Women against red/white striped background

A Conversation with Elizabeth Cobbs about Fearless Women

For Women’s History Month, we are highlighting the work of Elizabeth Cobbs, whose new book Fearless Women shows how the movement for women’s rights has been deeply entwined with the history of the United States since its founding. Cobbs traces the lives of pathbreaking women who, inspired by American ideals, fought for the cause in their own ways