The Volokh Conspiracy

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Volokh Conspiracy

Books on the Constitution for Libertarians and Conservatives

A recommended reading list for law students (and others) who are interested in the Constitution, constitutional history, and constitutional law.


I was recently asked on Twitter for a list of books–other than my own (see below)–on the Constitution "from a libertarian perspective." Because I don't think that's a good criteria for selecting books, I instead recommended books on the Constitution that–regardless of their authors' perspectives–should be of special interest to conservatives and libertarians. I thought I would post an expanded version of my list here (with apologies to the many I have neglected to mention). In compiling it, I have generally avoided books on particular clauses (e.g. First Amendment, Second Amendment, Takings Clause) or cases (e.g. Marbury, Brown, NFIB)–though I include one on Lochner–or noteworthy constitutional figures (e.g. Madison, Hamilton, Marshall). Instead, I have emphasized books about our constitutional history, mainly since the Founding, that have influenced my own thinking in some way, and a few about contemporary theory or debates about judicial role. Here it is:

Founding period and its antecedents:

Antebellum period through Reconstruction:

Post-Reconstruction through the Progressive Era and the New Deal:

Constitutional Theory:

Judicial Role:

Of course, there are numerous other excellent and influential books I might have mentioned by such well-known authors as John Hart Ely, Ronald Dworkin, Akhil Amar, James Ely, Bruce Ackerman, Richard Epstein, Barry Friedman, Richard Fallon, David Strauss, Jack Balkin, Sandy Levinson, James Fleming, Tom West and many more. But the books listed above are those that law students might not hear about from their professors or otherwise come across on their own.

UPDATE: Since this list is likely to circulate, it occurs to me that I probably should include my own works as well: