Leonard Levy's new book, a compendium of his law review articles, book chapters, and basic shorter writings on themes with which he has long been identified, is a treasure chest of sound and reasonable analysis of American constitutional history. As one reviewer of the manuscript put matters: "There is not a clinker amongst them." For anyone who thinks that liberal analysis has grown soft and flabby, a good dose of Levy's book should set the record straight.
Seasoned Judgments is divided into three parts: Rights, Constitutional History, and The Marshall Court. In this progression from the general to the concrete, Levy never ignores the context as well as the content of the judicial process. Indeed, it is this linkage that separates him from nearly all other commentators and writers on the subjects covered. Whether discussing why the original Constitution lacked a Bill or Rights, or why the Fourth Amendment uses the imperative form "shall not" rather than the conditional form "ought not," the reader enters a world of explanation rich in detail and carful scholarly elaboration.
Well-known as editor in chief of the multivolumed Encyclopedia of the American Constitution, this new volume extracts some of Levy's own contributions to that effort. As a result, one can, for the first time, gain a clear sense of the author's own profound sense of the major issues confronting American law from the founding fathers to the present. The analysis of such still unresolved issues as flag desecration, the exclusionary rule, testimonial compulsion, taxation without representation, and the nature of the Constitution itself, will be of tremendous appeal to historians and political scientists as well as attorneys and judges.