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America’s Unwritten Constitution by Akhil Reed Amar

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INTRODUCTION

THE EIGHT THOUSAND WORDS OF America’s written Constitution only begin to map out the basic ground rules that actually govern our land. For example, the idea that racial segregation is inherently unequal does not explicitly appear in the terse text. The First Amendment prevents “Congress” from abridging various freedoms, but the Amendment does not expressly protect these freedoms from abridgment by the president or state governments. None of the Constitution’s early amendments explicitly limits state governments. Although everyone today refers to these early amendments as “the Bill of Rights,” this phrase, too, is unwritten. The phrases “separation of powers,” “checks and balances,” and “the rule of law” are also absent from the written ...

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