William Forbath

Recent Articles

Rights Stuff

The Second Bill of Rights: FDR's Unfinished Revolution -- and Why We Need It More Than Ever By Cass R. Sunstein • Basic Books • 294 pages • $25.00 Most of the world's constitutions include three kinds of rights: civil, political, and social. The U.S. Constitution, however, makes no mention of “social rights,” and the Supreme Court says the Constitution's “majestic generalities,” such as “equal protection of the laws,” confer no “affirmative rights” -- no right to housing, for example, or to a minimally adequate education. Still, state constitutions and specific pieces of legislation do create such rights (particularly to education), and many liberals often claim that health care or a living wage ought to be a matter of right. But are rights the right way to carry out these goals? The prolific liberal constitutional scholar Cass Sunstein has written a book to convince us that rights are the right stuff, and to make his case he reaches back to what he calls the “greatest speech of the...