I think this might be the first official review (other than Amazon reviews) I’ve seen for The Odd Clauses. Thanks, nice Shelf Awareness!
Most American citizens know at least enough about the Constitution and the Bill of Rights to namecheck their freedoms of speech, religion and privacy. Less well-known, however, are provisions allowing letters of marque and reprisal and forbidding bills of attainer. It’s their very unfamiliarity, though, that makes these clauses the perfect entry point for lessons about the founding document of the U.S. government, because while plenty of folks have strong feelings about gun control, no one much cares about privateering. That’s the thinking behind Odd Clauses, Boston University law professor and former Supreme Court clerk Jay Wexler’s follow-up to Holy Hullabaloos: A Road Trip to the Battlegrounds of the Church/State Wars.
Considering the seriousness of the subject matter, Odd Clauses is surprisingly goofy and quite funny. For example: he uses the (factual!) example of a Scottish penguin knighted by the Norwegian King’s Guard to illustrate the nobility clause. Another recurring joke involves Justice Scalia biting his gavel in half out of pure originalist rage. This is silly stuff, but Wexler’s jokes serve a purpose, keeping the reader engaged with even the most arcane topics. For example, he uses the weights and measures clause to illustrate legislative powers: Congress has passed the buck on the metric system for decades, even appointing a committee to make recommendations it ignored. But responsibility for our wacky system still lies with Congress. Wexler’s strong legal chops, combined with his experience writing humor pieces for places like McSweeney’s and Spy, qualify him to crack wise while shedding light on this and other examples of what he refers to as the Constitution’s “bat-eared foxes.” –Kelly Faircloth freelance writer
Discover: An unconventional take on the U.S. Constitution that deftly balances humor with education.