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  • ISBN 13: 9780465098514

One of Washington Post's Notable Nonfiction Books of 2016

"[Cole's] narratives weave a compelling portrait of advocacy-driven constitutional change... the collection certainly stands apart from dense and dry legal texts in being readable, accessible and at times even gripping... a deeply hopeful book about an institution in which our hope may be dwindling."—

Washington Post

"Transforms one's understanding of the contributions of other forums-state legislatures, for example, and public opinion (at home and abroad)-in campaigns that eventually culminate in Supreme Court decisions."—New York Review of Books

"A fresh and revelatory account of constitutional reform from the bottom up. The book carries a hopeful message: Despite the undue influence wielded by elite institutions, ordinary citizens can and do drive constitutional change...Cole's examples of constitutional reform, on both the left and the right, bear out his claims."

"[An] illuminating pieces of opinion journalism"—American Scholar

"A convincingly argued book."—Dorf on Law

book is compelling, especially in today's climate of gridlock following the
death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia."—Kirkus Reviews (online)

"In Engines
of Liberty
, David Cole turns
constitutional law on its head. With his characteristic intelligence and
clarity, Cole demonstrates that the law changes from the bottom up, not the top
down, and that it is citizens, not judges, who are the ultimate custodians of
our nation's laws."

—Jeffrey Toobin, author of The Oath and The Nine

of Liberty
is a masterful account of how civil society organizations work,
and a passionate argument for why they are so important to our democracy. David
Cole offers invaluable knowledge and insight about the potential each of us has
to shape our nation's laws and public life. My hope is that Engines of
inspires a new generation of activists to rise up and launch their
own campaigns for civil liberties."—Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director, American Civil Liberties Union

expertly demonstrating how ordinary people can make a huge difference on
defining issues in our nation, David Cole has written an important, inspiring,
and essential book!"—Mary Bonauto, Civil Rights Project Director at Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders

skilled human rights practitioner unveils a characteristically thoughtful,
balanced anatomy of successful constitutional advocacy, which focuses less on
winning court battles than on shaping the popular sentiments that critically
drive or obstruct political change."—Harold Hongju Koh, Sterling Professor of International Law, Yale Law School

one is better than David Cole at explaining how Americans can fight for civil
liberties and civil rights. He is passionate yet careful, accessible yet
nuanced, Engines of Liberty wonderfully highlights his
intellectual virtues."—Randall Kennedy, Michael R. Klein Professor at Harvard Law School and author of For Discrimination

"Anyone who doubts
the ability of Americans to change both policy and law should read David Cole's
book. His analysis of how we go about protecting the rights of gun owners is
the most accurate I have ever read. This is a must read."

—David Keene, former president of the NRA

"David Cole is
one of our most astute and perceptive constitutional commentators. His work is

—Robert Post, Dean, Yale Law School

Engines of Liberty

The Power of Citizen Activists to Make Constitutional Law

By (author) David Cole

How did gay and lesbian couples' right to marry go from unthinkable to inevitable? How did the individual right to bear arms, dismissed as fraudulent by Chief Justice Warren Burger in 1990, become a constitutional right in 2008? And what compelled President George W. Bush to rein in many of his initiatives in the war on terror before leaving office, even though past presidents have had a free hand in wartime? We are likely to answer that, in each case, the Supreme Court remade our nation's most fundamental law.

Yet as the award-winning legal scholar David Cole argues in Engines of Liberty, citizen activists are the true drivers of constitutional change. Drawing on interviews with participants in the most successful rights movements of the last 30 years, he shows that time and again, associations of ordinary Americans confronting long odds have managed to transform the nation's highest law. And they have done so largely through advocacy outside the federal courts altogether.

We witness marriage equality advocates in the 1980s and 1990s uniting behind a strategy of state-based incrementalism that paved the way for their historic Supreme Court victory. We see the NRA building a loyal and active membership base that can swing elections and influence state and federal law, thereby shaping the debate about guns at the Supreme Court. And we watch as civil liberties and human rights groups encourage foreign populations and governments to challenge the president when few domestic institutions would.

Offering a new vision of the role we all play in shaping our Constitution and illuminating the tactics successful reform campaigns have employed, Engines of Liberty restores faith in the power of citizen activists to help shape our nation's future.
David Cole is the national legal lirector of the ACLU, and the Hon. George J. Mitchell Professor in Law and Public Policy at Georgetown University Law Center. An award-winning author, a regular contributor to the New York Review of Books, and the legal affairs correspondent for the Nation, he lives in Washington, DC.

Also By (author) David Cole




Hachette Book Group