THE LOGIC OF AMERICAN GOVERNMENT: Applying the Constitution to the Contemporary World by Daniel L. Feldman

THE LOGIC OF AMERICAN GOVERNMENT: Applying the Constitution to the Contemporary World

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How the US Constitution, as a living document, best adapts to the needs of today's citizenry. Feldman (Reforming Government, 1981) is a Harvard-trained lawyer and an eight-year member of the current New York State Assembly. A longtime specialist in public administration and constitutional law, Feldman writes in hopes of aiding ordinary citizens to better understand ""the constitutional values that structure the logic of American government."" But even he admits that his philosophy of the Constitution will likely interest only the reader who is a scholar or a professional. As his theme, Feldman contends that ""the logic of American government consists of a number of critical tensions among certain basic values. These values coexist in a dynamic balance, essentially stable but constantly undergoing marginal change."" This balance of constitutional values--liberty, equality, property, security, and efficiency--provides the best guide to American policy-making now and in the future, according to Feldman. A parallel guide to public policy that runs the danger of being a simplistic blueprint, Feldman's book is divided into three parts. Part One covers the theoretical framework of the five values in balance; Part Two applies the framework to interpret such cases as the right of Nazis to march in Skokie, the Iran-contra affair, and the recent RICO Act. In the last part, competing constitutional theories are examined and rejected by the author, who naturally favors his own ""five-value utilitarian approach."" A policy-maker's manual or a government official's primer but, alas, not a book to interest many nonspecialists.

Pub Date: Feb. 21st, 1989
Publisher: Morrow