We would like to introduce you to the second edition of Fault Lines in the Constitution, published in August 2019. Fault Lines has been so timely that Kathy Landwehr, our editor at Peachtree Publishing, asked us—Cynthia and Sandy Levinson, the co-authors—to revise it just two years after it was first published. As we wrote in our very first blog post, titled “Why a Book on the Constitution Changes More than the Constitution Itself,” in June 2017, the book “focuses on the political fallout in our times from the decisions made in 1787. And things keep falling out.”
We’ve kept the book current since then through our blog posts. For instance, in April 2018, we wrote in “Congress v. We the People” about the reasons congresspeople, especially senators, do not necessarily do what Americans want them to do, such as regulate firearms or solve immigration issues. And, after Hurricane Maria, we wrote in “Citizens in Need” about the plight of Puerto Ricans. Both of these issues relate directly to problems in our Constitution.
Two other posts—“Pardon Me?” and “’You’re Fired!’ ‘Oh, No, I’m Not’” in February and March 2018, respectively—continue to be so relevant today that they became the basis for an entirely new part in the second edition of Fault Lines. Part V is called “Can the President Really Do That?” and deals with presidential power, in particular, whom presidents can pardon and whom they can hire and fire. In fact, we called “Pardon Me?” a mini-chapter on the topic, which we admitted we missed in the first edition. That post was expanded to become a brand-new Chapter 13 and addresses such issues as whether presidents can pardon someone for any reason, including protecting themselves from possible criminal conviction.
The new Chapter 14 is titled “‘You’re Hired! (Maybe.) You’re Fired!’” and opens with President Donald J. Trump’s sudden firing of James B. Comey, then the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, in May 2017. Because of matters the FBI was looking into, some people wondered whether the president might have committed obstruction of justice. The Framers had debated giving the Senate the responsibility to approve or prevent the president from firing people. James Madison assured everyone that no president would fire someone without good reason. “The instances will be very rare,” he said, “in which an unworthy man will…[become] President of the United States.”
In addition to these new chapters, the second edition of Fault Lines in the Constitution brings everything up to date! For instance, the original book included the following graphic:
The updated version shows the following instead:
What differences do you see? Why do you think we replaced the earlier graphic?
Similarly, in 2017, we wrote that every congressional district held about 710,000 people. Today, we point out that that number has jumped to about 750,000 residents-per-district. In other words, the problem of getting our representative in the House to pay attention to us is quickly getting worse because each one has so many constituents. As a result, we even give the Constitution a different grade Fault Lines 2.0.
Through our blog, we will continue to keep you updated on ways that flaws in our Constitution affect us. Meantime, we invite you to check out our entirely updated edition, including the new Discussion Guide!