We The People Book Club

Join Classroom Law Project for the We the People Book Club. This year’s series of books will focus on current events and Constitutional principles (and loosely relate to the Units in the WTP text). Meetings bring teachers together to network, learn, and discuss a variety of topics. Leading book club discussions are the always insightful Susie Marcus and Shelley Larkins, the winning, inquisitive, and fun attorney coach from Grant HS’s Con Team.

There is no charge to attend, however, registration is required as space is limited. Book Club meets once every-other-month at the Lucky Labrador from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Dinner is provided by Classroom Law Project.

Optional semester credits may be offered through Lewis & Clark.

Register now!

Unit 1 & 2 – Plain, Honest Men, Richard Beeman – October 10, 2017

In May 1787, in an atmosphere of crisis, delegates met in Philadelphia to design a radically new form of government. Distinguished historian Richard Beeman captures as never before the dynamic of the debate and the characters of the men who labored that historic summer. Virtually all of the issues in dispute—the extent of presidential power, the nature of federalism, and, most explosive of all, the role of slavery—have continued to provoke conflict throughout our nation’s history. This unprecedented book takes readers behind the scenes to show how the world’s most enduring constitution was forged through conflict, compromise, and fragile consensus. As Gouverneur Morris, delegate of Pennsylvania, noted: “While some have boasted it as a work from Heaven, others have given it a less righteous origin. I have many reasons to believe that it is the work of plain, honest men.”

Plain, Honest Men, Richard Beeman, 209, 424 pages.

 Unit 3 – Divided We Stand: The Battle Over Women’s Rights and Family Values That Polarized American Politics, Marjorie J. Spruill – December 5, 2017

Gloria Steinem was quoted in 2015 (the New Yorker) as saying the National Women’s Conference in 1977 “may take the prize as the most important event nobody knows about.” After the United Nations established International Women’s Year (IWY) in 1975, Congress mandated and funded state conferences to elect delegates to attend the National Women’s Conference in Houston in 1977. At that conference, Bella Abzug, Steinem, and other feminists adopted a National Plan of Action, endorsing the hot-button issues of abortion rights, the Equal Rights Amendment, and gay rights–the latter a new issue in national politics. Across town, Phyllis Schlafly, Lottie Beth Hobbs, and the conservative women’s movement held a massive rally to protest federally funded feminism and launch a Pro-Family movement.

Although much has been written about the role that social issues have played in politics, little attention has been given to the historical impact of women activists on both sides. DIVIDED WE STAND reveals how the battle between feminists and their conservative challengers divided the nation as Democrats continued to support women’s rights and Republicans cast themselves as the party of family values.

Divided We Stand: The Battle Over Women’s Rights and Family Values That Polarized American Politics, Marjorie J. Spruill, 2017, 448 pages.

Unit 4 – Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream, Doris Kearns Goodwin – February 6, 2018

Doris Kearns Goodwin’s classic life of Lyndon Johnson, who presided over the Great Society, the Vietnam War, and other defining moments the tumultuous 1960s, is a monument in political biography. From the moment the author, then a young woman from Harvard, first encountered President Johnson at a White House dance in the spring of 1967, she became fascinated by the man–his character, his enormous energy and drive, and his manner of wielding these gifts in an endless pursuit of power. As a member of his White House staff, she soon became his personal confidante, and in the years before his death he revealed himself to her as he did to no other.

Widely praised and enormously popular, Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream is a work of biography like few others. With uncanny insight and a richly engrossing style, the author renders LBJ in all his vibrant, conflicted humanity.

Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream, Doris Kearns Goodwin, 1991, 366 pages.

Unit 6 – The Crisis of the Middle-Class Constitution: Why Economic Inequality Threatens Our Republic, Ganesh Sitaraman – April 3, 2018

In this original, provocative contribution to the debate over economic inequality, Ganesh Sitaraman argues that a strong and sizable middle class is a prerequisite for America’s constitutional system.

For most of Western history, Sitaraman argues, constitutional thinkers assumed economic inequality was inevitable and inescapable—and they designed governments to prevent class divisions from spilling over into class warfare. The American Constitution is different. Compared to Europe and the ancient world, America was a society of almost unprecedented economic equality, and the founding generation saw this equality as essential for the preservation of America’s republic. Over the next two centuries, generations of Americans fought to sustain the economic preconditions for our constitutional system. But today, with economic and political inequality on the rise, Sitaraman says Americans face a choice: Will we accept rising economic inequality and risk oligarchy or will we rebuild the middle class and reclaim our republic?

The Crisis of the Middle-Class Constitution is a tour de force of history, philosophy, law, and politics. It makes a compelling case that inequality is more than just a moral or economic problem; it threatens the very core of our constitutional system.

The Crisis of the Middle-Class Constitution: Why Economic Inequality Threatens Our Republic, Ganesh Sitaraman, 2017, 302 pages.

Unit TBA – An As Yet Undecided Documentary Movie – May 1, 2018

We will decide on a documentary that everyone will watch on their own prior to our meeting, then we will discuss.

Unit 5 – Kafka Comes to America: Fighting for Justice in the War on Terror – A Public Defender’s Inside Account, Steven Wax – June 5, 2018

“Our government can make you disappear.” Those were the words Steven Wax never imagined he would hear himself say. In his twenty-nine years as a public defender, Wax had never had to warn a client that he or she might be taken away to a military brig, or worse, a “black site,” one of our country’s dreaded secret prisons. How had our country come to this? The disappearance of people happens in places ruled by tyrants, military juntas, fascist strongmen—governments with such contempt for the rule of law that they strip their citizens of all rights. But in America?

Wax interweaves the stories of two men that he and his team represented: Brandon Mayfield, an American-born small town lawyer and family man, arrested as a suspected terrorist in the Madrid train station bombings after a fingerprint was incorrectly traced back to him by the FBI; and Adel Hamad, a Sudanese hospital administrator taken from his apartment to a Pakistani prison and then flown in chains to the United States military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Kafka Comes to America reveals where and how our civil liberties have been eroded for a false security, and how each of us can make a difference. If these events could happen to Brandon Mayfield and Adel Hamad, they can happen to anyone. It could happen to us. It could happen to you.

Kafka Comes to America: Fighting for Justice in the War on Terror – A Public Defender’s Inside Account, Steven Wax, 2008, 323 pages.