Tuesday, April 17, 2018

72 years after the ink dried on the parchment, the grandsons of the framers of the Constitution were shooting each other down


A review of Nullification and Secession in Modern Constitutional Thought. Sanford Levinson, ed. Lawrence, KS: University of Kansas Press, 2016.

The undead walk among us still, or so asserts Sanford Levinson, the editor of an important collection of essays on nullification and secession.  Levinson and company are as mainstream a group political scientists, law professors, and historians as one might wish for, and thus the importance of this collection.  For decades, nay more than a century, the respectable members of the academy assured the public that such heresies as nullification and secession were long ago consigned to the dustbin of history, forever buried with the appropriate wooden stake through the heart via Lee’s surrender at Appomattox.  Not so, say our contributors, and not just in these United States.  It seems that the forces and proponents of political consolidation throughout the globe are meeting with resistance, non-cooperation, material nullification, and even secession.  The contributors to this volume are to be commended for attempting to understand these phenomena, both historic and contemporary, with detachment and fairness, and all the more since it is clear few if any of the contributors have much sympathy with nullification, secession, or its modern day proponents. Furthermore, the essays contain many fine insights into some of the more problematic aspects of the American political order.

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