Mark A. Graber


The Bill of Rights: Creationand Reconstruction ("The Bill of Rights")' is a professionally rewarding and disturbing masterpiece. The work is professionally rewarding because Professor Akhil Amar develops a meticulously detailed, historically sophisticated, and largely persuasive account of how the liberties set out in the Bill of Rights were originally understood and the original relationship between the Bill of Rights and the Fourteenth Amendment. This is state of the art legal scholarship that will no doubt influence the way the next generation of constitutional lawyers and historians study fundamental constitutional rights. Professor Amar's book is professionally disturbing in part because, having agreed to write an essay for this symposium, there seems little of substance to contribute other than five pages of extravagant praise and five pages of nitpicking. The Bill of Rights is also professionally disturbing because what I believe to be state of the art legal scholarship is yet another work by a distinguished law professor that evinces little interest in what scholars in my home discipline, political science, are saying about American constitutionalism. The consistent lack of engagement in legal writing with contemporary political science scholarship is particularly surprising given that constitutionalist concerns are far more central to political science than to the numerous disciplines that have informed much contemporary legal commentary. Professor Amar's work demonstrates and acknowledges the numerous contributions contemporary historians are making to American constitutional studies. Political scientists who read The Bill of Rights, however, are likely to feel themselves treated more as the citizens to whom Professor Amar wishes to speak than the fellow scholars with whom he wishes to converse.