Book Review: Conservatives and the Constitution: Imagining Constitutional Restoration in the Heyday of American Liberalism by Ken I. Kersch (2019).


Much recent scholarship on conservatives and the Constitution examines the movement's remarkable success in shaping legal and constitutional rules. In his rich and sophisticated analysis of conservative constitutional discourse from the 1950s to the 1980s, Ken Kersch argues that those discussions are much more than tools to advance a conservative agenda in courts. The book's motivating claim is that the remarkable durability of the conservative movement is not caused solely or--perhaps even predominantly--by shared policy preferences or by common class, racial, or economic interests. Instead, a shared identity and common worldview has bound together a potentially fractious coalition that includes libertarians and social conservatives, anti-abortion activists and entrepreneurs, foreign-policy hawks and religious fundamentalists. Kersch's book artfully describes how conservative intellectuals used stories about the Constitution to produce that shared identity.