The 14th Amendment is back, even though it never really went away. Almost from the moment it entered the Constitution in 1868 the 14th amendment has been the most dynamic, important part of our fundamental law. Nevertheless, we have here five new or recent books centering on the amendment. Three are interpretive studies—what does the amendment really mean? The others are collections of source materials on the Reconstruction Amendments—the 13th, 14th, and 15th—with the 14th the center of attention.

It is not as though the drafting and original meaning of the amendment had suffered scholarly neglect. Yet there are two reasons for this plethora of new work. First, since the last spate of studies, many novel interpretations of it have become part of constitutional law, the right to same-sex marriage being just one example. Such new rights raised anew the question of how expansive the amendment is, with its protections for privileges and immunities of citizens of the United States, as well as its guarantees of due process of law, and equal protection of the law for all persons.

Second, alongside these legal innovations there has been a scholarly sea change regarding theories of constitutional interpretation. For most of the 20th century, scholarly debates set devotees of the “living constitution,” say, Harry Blackmun and Thurgood Marshall, against “originalists”

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