Magazine August 15, 2016, Issue

Rights before Government

Our Republican Constitution: Securing the Liberty and Sovereignty of We the People, by Randy E. Barnett (Broadside, 320 pp., $26.99)

In his important new book, Randy Barnett — a Georgetown University law professor and my fellow blogger at The Volokh Conspiracy — reminds us that the Constitution did not create a democracy: It sought to constrain democratic impulses and was, in many key respects, quite undemocratic.

By invoking the idea of a “Republican Constitution,” Barnett means to call our attention to key features of the document’s structure and design, features that are often glossed over in contemporary debates about “judicial activism” and “judicial restraint.” The Constitution, as written, is undemocratic in that it seeks to blunt the exercise of majoritarian power.

Jonathan H. Adler — Mr. Adler is an NRO contributing editor and the inaugural Johan Verheij Memorial Professor of Law at Case Western Reserve University School of Law. His latest book is Marijuana Federalism: Uncle Sam and Mary Jane.

In This Issue



Books, Arts & Manners


Politics & Policy


Jefferson’s Wall I was disturbed to see Donald Critchlow abandon to the hard Left Jefferson’s “Letter to the Danbury Baptists” (“The Assault on Christians,” July 11). Out of context, one can read ...
Politics & Policy

The Week

‐ Maybe the Democrats should just go back to using fax machines. ‐ A lot of Republicans got very mad at Ted Cruz for pointedly declining to endorse Donald Trump at ...
Politics & Policy


ANTE MERIDIEM for Ivy What I desire in the morning is the music of guitar, its pottery-dull notes knocking knees in the lower strings and in the upper notes a skittering like the black-capped chickadee that ...


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