As everyone knows, the United States Constitution is a tangible, visible document. Many see it in fact as a sacred text, holding no meaning other than that which is clearly visible on the page. Yet as renowned legal scholar Laurence Tribe shows, what is not written in the Constitution plays a key role in its interpretation. Indeed some of the most contentious Constitutional debates of our time hinge on the extent to which it can admit of divergent readings.
In The Invisible Constitution, Tribe argues that there is an unseen constitutionimpalpable but powerfulthat accompanies the parchment version. It is the visible document's shadow, its dark matter: always there and possessing some of its key meanings and values despite its absence on the page. As Tribe illustrates, some of our most cherished and widely held beliefs about constitutional rights are not part of the written document, but can only be deduced by piecing together hints and clues from it. Moreover, some passages of the Constitution do not even hold today despite their continuing existence. Amendments may have fundamentally altered what the Constitution originally said about slavery and voting rights, yet the old provisos about each are still in the text, unrevised. Through a variety of historical episodes and key constitutional cases, Tribe brings to life this invisible constitution, showing how it has evolved and how it works. Detailing its invisible structures and principles, Tribe compellingly demonstrates the invisible constitution's existence and operative power.
Remarkably original, keenly perceptive, and written with Tribe's trademark analytical flair, this latest volume in Oxford's Inalienable Rights series offers a new way of understanding many of the central constitutional debates of our time.
Tribe (constitutional law, Harvard) a leading constitutional scholar, carefully argues that the text of the Constitution is silent on many of the most fundamental questions of constitutional law. He argues that these questions are addressed through underlying principles that create an "invisible constitution." He shows that these principles apply to a range of topics from the earliest constitutional interpretation to present controversies. Tribe defines the terrain of the invisible Constitution by exploring beyond the document's text and offering a half-dozen models to determine this "invisible" architecture. It is this architecture that provides the rationale for including foundational principles behind the written text when arriving at new interpretations of constitutional meaning. Tribe argues that these foundational principles create strong bonds that underlie the textual guarantees, which lead to answers on relevant questions that the written Constitution cannot provide. His original views here are carefully distinguished from the ideas of an "unwritten Constitution." His provocative analysis and arguments will challenge readers' understanding of constitutional provisions. Strongly recommended for all academic libraries.