All things considered, it has taken a rather long time for this book to come
to print. There are three main causes for that, the second and third of which
I would not change even if I had the power to do so.
First, I wrote this book almost as much to convince myself of the merits of
its arguments as to persuade others to take those arguments seriously. And,
in keeping with the spirit of the main theme of this book, I was as per-
sistently skeptical of my own arguments as I could possibly be. Conse-
quently, and for better or worse, this skepticism compelled me to confront
my limitations in answering the questions I posed to myself about consti-
tutional commentary as civic education. Perhaps those with fewer limita-
tions, or those better at surmounting them, might have completed this book
much sooner.
Second, this book took its own time because I was fortunate to benefit
from the hard work of a number of people who were careful, sometimes (if
not often) severe, and always especially constructive skeptics of what I was
trying to do. Leif H. Carter read a number of earlier, rather di√erent drafts of
the manuscript, and his astute and sympathetic analysis of it compelled me
to reconsider just how much more work I needed to do to make it a publish-
able work. Susan Strauber brought to the final version of this manuscript
the same scrupulous attention to linguistic detail that she brings to her
own work in art history. However frustrating that scrutiny was to endure,
it compelled me to make the internal logic of the arguments as harmonious
as possible.
The anonymous reviewers for Duke University Press were incisive read-
ers who motivated me to meet their criticisms as best as I could. Writers
cannot ask more of their reviewers. One anonymous reader in particular
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