The Law of the Land: A Grand Tour of Our Constitutional Republic. By Akhil Reed Amar. New York: Basic Books, 2015. 357 pp. $29.99 hardcover.

Date01 June 2017
Published date01 June 2017
Sabatello, Maya, & Marianne Schulze, eds. (2013) Human Rights and Disability Advocacy.
Philadelphia: Univ.of Pennsylvania Press.
Shapiro, Joseph P. (1994) No Pity: People with Disabilities Forging a New Civil Rights
Movement. New York:Three Rivers Press.
The Law of the Land: A Grand Tour of Our Constitutional Republic.
By Akhil Reed Amar. New York: Basic Books, 2015. 357 pp.
$29.99 hardcover.
Reviewed by Julie Novkov, Department of Political Science, University
at Albany, SUNY
Constitutional law scholar Akhil Amar’s latest book analyzes federal-
ism under the constitution through the creative means of a road
tour—an examination of critical interpreters, cases, and constitutional
provisions on the ground in 12 different states encompassing every
region of the continental United States. The book, however, is not an
analysis of the importance of regional constitutional politics on consti-
tutional development, but rather a series of observations designed to
illustrate how American constitutionalism manifests itself in a variety
of ways inf‌lected by its situation in the states. The seeds planted by
the constitution’s framework develop into the same American species
of plants, but their local soil, water, and sunlight conditions have
made them f‌lower differently.
Substantive issues that Amar addresses on the interpretive front
in the book’s f‌irst section includethe problems of crafting a multira-
cial union (Illinois), the modest populism of the constitution
embraced by Alabama’s Hugo Black, the practical reasoning of for-
mer politician and New Yorker Robert Jackson, and Justice Ken-
nedy’s gradual evolution toward a Californian ideal of equality. The
second section of the book uses landmark cases as both interpretive
and geographic lenses. He explores the meaning of segregation as
a form of American apartheid outside the south in a chapter on
Brown, considers the central democratic importance of political dis-
sent in a discussion of Iowa’s Tinker v. Des Moines, and explores the
relationship between state and federal constitutional law through
Florida’s litigation culminating in Bush v. Gore. The f‌inal section
addresses particularly vexed constitutional provisions in geographic
situ: Ohio’s and Texas’s engagement with presidents and the problem
of mandates and succession, Wyoming and the gendered and racial-
ized implications of the Second Amendment, Massachusetts and the
Book Reviews 457

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