Randy Barnett: Is the Constitution Libertarian?

Randy Barnett
September 29, 2015

On Tuesday, October 6th, IGS will hold the annual Baxter Liberty Initiave Lecture, which features intellectual leaders whose expertise and scholarship focus on the ideal of freedom in political and economic life. Randy Barnett, the Carmack Waterhouse Professor of Legal Theory at Georgetown University Law Center, will deliver this year's lecture, followed by a response from Berkeley Law professor Fred Smith. Click here to register for the lecture.

Here is a sneak peak of Professor Barnett's lecture: 

Truth be told, libertarians have a love-hate relationship with the Constitution. On the one hand libertarians, like most Americans, revere the Constitution. Libertarians particularly appreciate its express guarantees of individual liberty and its mechanisms to preserve limited government. If being American is to subscribe to a creed, then the Constitution, along with the Declaration of Independence, are the foundational statements of this creed.

But some libertarians have issues with the Constitution as well. And here I speak for myself, as well as others. There was a reason I eschewed writing about and teaching Constitutional Law when I became a law professor in favor of teaching Contracts. For, after taking Constitutional Law in law school, I considered the Constitution a noble, but largely failed experiment in limiting the powers of government. In my con law class, every time we got to one of the “good parts” of the text that protected liberty, we turned the page to read a Supreme Court opinion explaining why that clause did not really mean what it appeared to mean.

To read more, check out Professor Barnett's article in the Washington Post.