Earl M. Maltz


Akhil Amar's new book is by any standard a major contribution to the literature on the Bill of Rights. Amar skillfully combines historical research and legal analysis to give the reader a variety of fresh, important insights into the role that the first ten amendments have played in the evolution of the American constitutional system. Among the many innovative concepts in the book is Amar's treatment of the question of whether the Fourteenth Amendment was originally understood to incorporate the Bill of Rights. Rejecting the traditional dogmas of both incorporation and anti-incorporation theorists, he proposes a new theory-"refined incorporationism"-which focuses, not on the original understanding of the first ten amendments themselves, but rather, on the understanding of those amendments during the Reconstruction Era.