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Event Governance Civil Justice

Our Republican Constitution: Securing the Liberty and Sovereignty of We the People

Thursday October 2016


Randy Barnett Carmack Waterhouse Professor of Legal Theory, Georgetown University

Since 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled on some of the biggest, most divisive issues in constitutional law, from the Second Amendment and corporate political speech to religious freedom and gay marriage. These landmark decisions have intensified already heated debates.

According to distinguished legal theorist Randy Barnett, these debates highlight America's long struggle between two fundamentally opposing constitutional traditions. The first tradition holds that the Constitution is a "living document" and that today's majority should not be constrained by the dead hand of past majorities; the competing "originalist" view argues that the meaning of the Constitution should not evolve over time and that it exists, above all, to protect individual freedoms from hostile majorities. In his latest book, Our Republican Constitution: Securing the Liberty and Sovereignty of We the People, Professor Barnett lucidly explains how this disagreement lies at the heart of America's current national divide.

"[Barnett makes] the urgent case for reclaiming our Republican Constitution" (William Kristol).
"[Barnett is] one of the most insightful constitutional scholars and political philosophers of his generation" (Mike Lee).

Randy Barnett is the Carmack Waterhouse Professor of Legal Theory at Georgetown University, where he directs the Georgetown Center for the Constitution, and is a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute. A former criminal prosecutor in Chicago, Barnett has also taught at Boston University, University of Pennsylvannia, Northwestern University, and Harvard University. In 2004, he argued the medical marijuana case of Gonzalez v. Raich before the Supreme Court; in 2012, he represented the National Federation of Independent Business in its constitutional challenge to Obamacare. Barnett holds a B.A. from Northwestern University and a J.D. from Harvard University.