Suzanna Sherry

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Stanford Law Review

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Robin West has written a book that every constitutional scholar would like to like. In Progressive Constitutionalism, she promises us a new and historically accurate interpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment that will deliver us from the quagmire of fruitless debate between the far left and the far right, and provide a constitutional solution to some of today's most important disputes. She also explains why this interpretation is inherently difficult for the judicial branch to recognize, and thus recommends that progressives turn to Congress instead. West's past contributions to constitutional jurisprudence have been impressive, creating in her readers high expectations for Progressive Constitutionalism. West's great strength as a scholar lies in her ability to cut to the heart of jurisprudential disputes and to shed new light on their character. She displayed this talent in writing the seminal article on disagreements within the feminist legal community. She demonstrates this talent again in several chapters from Part III of the book, in which she insightfully dissects various intersections among conservatives, liberals, natural lawyers, positivists, individualists, and communitarians. Undoubtedly, West's taxonomies have contributed significantly to constitutional jurisprudence. Unfortunately, West's ability to propose, justify, and apply constitutional doctrine does not match her keen ability to redescribe scholarly debates. Because West devotes much of the book to doctrinal matters, "Progressive Constitutionalism" ultimately is profoundly disappointing.

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