Simon Gilhooley is Assistant Professor of Political Studies and American Studies at Bard College, NY. He is the author of "The Antebellum Origins of the Modern Constitution: Slavery and the Spirit of the American Founding" (Cambridge, 2020).

Book Review: The Cult of the Constitution by Mary Anne Franks

The Cult of the Constitution is a rich and insightful account of the role of the U.S. Constitution in American political life. Arguing that 1787 marked the creation of ‘not merely a constitution, but a cult’ (34), Mary Anne Franks draws out the parallels between fundamentalist approaches to religion and to the Constitution. A vital point of commonality, Franks argues, is a practice of ‘victim-claiming’ in which powerful individuals and groups position themselves as vulnerable and therefore entitled to use their power to disarm and censor those threatening them (xii-xiii). This line of thought enables the penetrating account of the Constitution’s role that Franks develops, which situates the Constitution firmly and productively within its immediate socio-political context. Continue reading