Five Great Books on Constitutional Law for Any Legal Professional
- A Matter of Interpretation: Federal Courts and the Law by Antonin Scalia
- Democracy and Distrust by John Hart Ely
- The Federalist Papers by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay
- The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court by Jeffrey Toobin
- The Anti-Federalist Papers and the Constitutional Convention Debates compiled by Ralph Louis Ketcham
For good reason, it’s referred to as “the law of the land”. The United States Constitution forms the basis from which all other laws and even many societal norms can be formed. For those interested in some of the many, great literary works on this crowning facet of the American legal system, look no further. Here are five excellent books on constitutional law that are great for all manner of legal professionals and laymen alike.
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1. A Matter of Interpretation: Federal Courts and the Law by Antonin Scalia
Based on its originality and specific subject matter, past chief justice Antonin Scalia’s A Matter of Interpretation: Federal Courts and the Law is a valuable read. Here, Scalia delves into the core concept of interpretation and how the courts do and perhaps should approach this through the eyes of the US Constitution. Of growing relevance in today’s political climate, the topic of interpretation through the document’s authors’ eyes versus interpretation through a modern lens is addressed head-on.
2. Democracy and Distrust by John Hart Ely
What exactly is the role of the United States Supreme Court, and what should that role entail going forward? These are the types of questions posed by this academically important work by author and legal scholar John Hart Ely. Here, Ely, himself widely believed to be one of the most cited legal minds in American history, presents the case for the top court’s role in society today. Special emphasis on procedural law and the effective continuance and evolution of government based on the constitution are also found here.
3. The Federalist Papers by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay
Arguably among some of the most important documents to today’s understanding of the US Constitution and its writers’ intentions can be found within the pages of what is now known collectively as The Federalist Papers. This set of articles and varying documents are the original products of the crafters and those near to them at the time and hence explain and justify the various components of the framing document. As History experts state: “These are a series of eighty-five letters written to newspapers in 1787-1788 by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay, urging ratification of the Constitution.”
4. The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court by Jeffrey Toobin
Certainly, the framework of constitutional law is laid naked for all to see in the US Constitution and the legal results it ultimately produces, but what really goes on behind the ultra-secretive, closed-door proceedings of America’s top court? Does anyone really know? In this great book on constitutional law, expert and author Jeffrey Toobin takes the reader into the closed chambers to see how this area truly works.
5. The Anti-Federalist Papers and the Constitutional Convention Debates compiled by Ralph Louis Ketcham
Finally, yet another great angle of legal debate and case approach to this day is based in the past’s various voices of constitutional dissent, surprisingly, as opposed to support. Not everyone agreed with the constitution and what it meant for the future. Among big names of the time, like Patrick Henry and John DeWitt, there was a movement against this new, framing legal document, and appropriately, it was named “The Anti-Federalist Movement”. Subsequently, The Anti-Federalist Papers remain as another valuable insight into constitutional debate and interpretation to this day.
The constitution is undeniably important to understand, especially for those working in the legal profession. These five books are among some of the best for keeping that professional crowd, as well as the rest of us, informed on the subject. For additional guidance on literature surrounding the US Constitution, your local library or college/university is typically a great option to get started with.