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The Declaration Of Independence And The American Theory Of Government: “First Come Rights, And Then Comes Government”, Randy E. Barnett Jan 2019

The Declaration Of Independence And The American Theory Of Government: “First Come Rights, And Then Comes Government”, Randy E. Barnett

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

The topic of this panel is the Declaration of Independence, to which I devoted a chapter of my recent book, Our Republican Constitution. I want to draw on that book to make five points.


Framer’S Intent: Gouverneur Morris, The Committee Of Style, And The Creation Of The Federalist Constitution, William M. Treanor Jan 2019

Framer’S Intent: Gouverneur Morris, The Committee Of Style, And The Creation Of The Federalist Constitution, William M. Treanor

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

At the end of the proceedings of the federal constitutional convention, the delegates appointed the Committee on Style and Arrangement to bring together the textual provisions that the convention had previously agreed to and to prepare a final constitution. Pennsylvania delegate Gouverneur Morris was assigned to draft the document for the committee, and, with few revisions and little debate, the convention subsequently adopted the Committee’s proposed constitution. For more than two hundred years, questions have been raised as to whether Morris as drafter covertly made changes in the text in order to advance his constitutional vision, but the legal ...


Originalist Theory And Precedent: A Public Meaning Approach, Lawrence B. Solum Oct 2018

Originalist Theory And Precedent: A Public Meaning Approach, Lawrence B. Solum

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

Much ink has already been spilled on the relationship of constitutional originalism to precedent (or, more specifically, the doctrine of stare decisis). The debate includes contributions from Randy Barnett, Steven Calabresi, Kurt Lash, Gary Lawson, John McGinnis with Michael Rappaport, Michael Paulsen, and Lee Strang, not to mention Justice Antonin Scalia—all representing originalism in some form. Living constitutionalism has also been represented both implicitly and explicitly, with important contributions from Phillip Bobbitt, Ronald Dworkin, Michael Gerhardt, Randy Kozel, and David Strauss. Some writers are more difficult to classify; Akhil Amar comes to mind. And there are many other contributions ...


After All These Years, Lochner Was Not Crazy—It Was Good, Randy E. Barnett Jul 2018

After All These Years, Lochner Was Not Crazy—It Was Good, Randy E. Barnett

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

For this year’s Rosenkranz Debate, we have been asked to debate the question: Lochner v. New York: Still Crazy After All These Years? It is my job to defend the “negative” position. My burden is not to establish that Lochner was correctly decided, but merely that it was not “crazy.” I intend to meet that burden and exceed it. I intend to show how Lochner v. New York was not at all crazy; in fact, it was a reasonable and good decision.


The Triumph Of Gay Marriage And The Failure Of Constitutional Law, Louis Michael Seidman Jan 2015

The Triumph Of Gay Marriage And The Failure Of Constitutional Law, Louis Michael Seidman

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

The Supreme Court's much anticipated invalidation of gay marriage bans improved the personal lives of millions of ordinary Americans. It made the country a more decent place. Even Chief Justice Roberts, at the conclusion of his otherwise scathing dissent, acknowledged that the decision was a cause for many Americans to celebrate.

But although the Chief Justice thought that advocates of gay marriage should "by all means celebrate today's decision," he admonished them "not [to] celebrate the Constitution." The Constitution, he said, "had nothing to do with it".

Part I of this article quarrels with the Chief Justice's ...


Constitutional Skepticism: A Recovery And Preliminary Evaluation, Louis Michael Seidman Jan 2014

Constitutional Skepticism: A Recovery And Preliminary Evaluation, Louis Michael Seidman

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

The aim of this article is to recover and reevaluate the American tradition of constitutional skepticism. Part I consists of a brief history of skepticism running from before the founding to the modern period. My aim here is not to provide anything like a complete description of the historical actors, texts, and events that I discuss. Instead, I link together familiar episodes and arguments that stretch across our history so as to demonstrate that they are part of a common narrative that has been crucial to our self-identity. Part II disentangles the various strands of skeptical argument. I argue that ...


How Nfib V. Sebelius Affects The Constitutional Gestalt, Lawrence B. Solum Jun 2013

How Nfib V. Sebelius Affects The Constitutional Gestalt, Lawrence B. Solum

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

The thesis of this essay is that the most important legal effects of the Supreme Court's decision in NFIB v. Sebelius are likely to be indirect. Sebelius marks a possible shift in what we can call the “constitutional gestalt” regarding the meaning and implications of the so-called “New Deal Settlement.” Before Sebelius, the consensus understanding was that New Deal and Warren Court cases had established a constitutional regime of plenary and virtually unlimited national legislative power under the Commerce Clause (which might be subject to narrow and limited carve outs protective of the core of state sovereignty).

After Sebelius ...


Construction And Constraint: Discussion Of Living Originalism, Lawrence B. Solum Mar 2013

Construction And Constraint: Discussion Of Living Originalism, Lawrence B. Solum

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

Jack Balkin's Living Originalism raises many important questions about contemporary constitutional theory. Can and should liberals and progressives embrace originalism? Can the New Deal expansion of national legislative power be given originalist foundations? Is there a plausible originalist case for a right to reproductive autonomy and hence for the Court's decision in Roe v. Wade? Is the fact of theoretical disagreement among originalists evidence for the thesis that the originalist project is in disarray?


Originalism And Constitutional Construction, Lawrence B. Solum Jan 2013

Originalism And Constitutional Construction, Lawrence B. Solum

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

Constitutional interpretation is the activity that discovers the communicative content or linguistic meaning of the constitutional text. Constitutional construction is the activity that determines the legal effect given the text, including doctrines of constitutional law and decisions of constitutional cases or issues by judges and other officials. The interpretation-construction distinction, frequently invoked by contemporary constitutional theorists and rooted in American legal theory in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, marks the difference between these two activities.

This article advances two central claims about constitutional construction. First, constitutional construction is ubiquitous in constitutional practice. The central warrant for this claim is conceptual ...


Why Jeremy Waldron Really Agrees With Me, Louis Michael Seidman Jan 2013

Why Jeremy Waldron Really Agrees With Me, Louis Michael Seidman

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

Herewith a response to Jeremy Waldron's review of my book, On Constitutional Disobedience. I conclude that Waldron actually agrees with all of my key claims.


Political And Constitutional Obligation, Louis Michael Seidman Jan 2013

Political And Constitutional Obligation, Louis Michael Seidman

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

In his provocative, courageous, and original new book, "Against Obligation: The Multiple Sources of Authority in a Liberal Democracy," Abner Greene argues that there is “no successful general case for a presumptive (or ‘prima facie’) moral duty to obey the law.” In my own book, "On Constitutional Disobedience," I argue that there is no moral duty to obey our foundational law–the Constitution of the United States. This brief article, prepared for a symposium on the two books to be published by the Boston University Law Review, I address three issues related to these claims. First, I discuss what seem ...


Depoliticizing Federalism, Louis Michael Seidman Jan 2012

Depoliticizing Federalism, Louis Michael Seidman

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

In his great biography of President Andrew Jackson, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. celebrated Jackson’s defense of the rights of states and opposition to federal power. Yet as a mid-twentieth century liberal, Schlesinger was a strong supporter of the federal government and an opponent of states’ rights. Was Schlesinger’s position inconsistent? He did not think so, and neither does the author. In Jackson’s time, an entrenched economic elite controlled the federal government and used federal power to dominate the lower classes. State governments served as a focal point for opposition to this domination. By mid-twentieth century, the federal government ...


Should We Have A Liberal Constitution?, Louis Michael Seidman Jan 2011

Should We Have A Liberal Constitution?, Louis Michael Seidman

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

In this brief essay, I attempt to accomplish two things. In Part I, I defend my proposed constitution against its putative liberal critics. In Part II, I argue that given contingent but highly plausible empirical assumptions, the differences between my constitution and a liberal constitution are less dramatic than one might suppose. There are often sound, nonliberal grounds for supporting institutional arrangements that appear liberal. It turns out, then, that liberalism is both less attractive (Part I) and less necessary (Part II) than its defenders suppose.


Biodefense And Constitutional Constraints, Laura K. Donohue Jan 2011

Biodefense And Constitutional Constraints, Laura K. Donohue

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

The United States and United Kingdom have different approaches to quarantine law that reflect each country’s unique historical context and constitutional structure. Under the Tudors, England vested quarantine authority in the monarch, with its subsequent exercise conducted by the military. As the constitutional structure changed, the manner in which quarantine was given effect subtly shifted, leading to constitutional reforms. Authorities transferred first to the Privy Council and, subsequently, to Parliament, where commercial interests successfully lobbied them out of existence. By the end of the 19th Century, quarantine authorities had been pushed down to the local port authorities. In the ...


Constitutionalism: A Skeptical View, Jeremy Waldron Mar 2010

Constitutionalism: A Skeptical View, Jeremy Waldron

Philip A. Hart Memorial Lecture

On March 17, 2010, Professor Waldron, University Professor and Professor of Law at New York University, Chichele Chair of Social and Political Theory at All Souls College, Oxford delivered the Georgetown Law Center’s thirtith annual Philip A. Hart Lecture: “ Constitutionalism: A Skeptical View.”

Professor Waldron teaches legal and political philosophy at New York University School of Law. He was previously University Professor in the School of Law at Columbia University. He holds his NYU position conjointly with his position as Chichele Professor of Social and Political Theory at the University of Oxford (All Souls College). For 2011-2013, he is ...


The Constitutionality Of Mandates To Purchase Health Insurance, Mark A. Hall Apr 2009

The Constitutionality Of Mandates To Purchase Health Insurance, Mark A. Hall

O'Neill Institute Papers

Health insurance mandates have been a component of many recent health care reform proposals. Because a federal requirement that individuals transfer money to a private party is unprecedented, a number of legal issues must be examined.

This paper analyzes whether Congress can legislate a health insurance mandate and the potential legal challenges that might arise, given such a mandate. The analysis of legal challenges to health insurance mandates applies to federal individual mandates, but can also apply to a federal mandate requiring employers to purchase health insurance for their employees. There are no Constitutional barriers for Congress to legislate a ...


The Misconceived Assumption About Constitutional Assumptions, Randy E. Barnett Jan 2009

The Misconceived Assumption About Constitutional Assumptions, Randy E. Barnett

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

Both originalists and nonoriginalists alike often assume that background assumptions widely held when the Constitution or its amendments were enacted are part of the original meaning of the text. Originalists sometimes appeal to these background assumptions to render the meaning of more abstract words or phrases more determinate; nonoriginalist point to odious or outmoded assumptions as proof that original meaning is objectionable and should be rejected.

In this paper, the author examines the proper role of background assumptions in constitutional interpretation when ascertaining the meaning of the terms, and in constitutional construction when applying this meaning to particular cases and ...


Is The Constitution Libertarian?, Randy E. Barnett Jan 2009

Is The Constitution Libertarian?, Randy E. Barnett

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

Ever since Justice Holmes famously asserted that “the Constitution does not enact Mr. Herbert Spencer’s Social Statics,” academics have denied that the Constitution is libertarian. In this essay, I explain that the Constitution is libertarian to the extent that its original meaning respects and protects the five fundamental rights that are at the core of both classical liberalism and modern libertarianism. These rights can be protected both directly by judicial decisions and indirectly by structural constraints. While the original Constitution and Bill of Rights provided both forms of constraints, primarily on federal power, it left states free to violate ...


Kurt Lash's Majoritarian Difficulty: A Response To A Textual-Historical Theory Of The Ninth Amendment, Randy E. Barnett Jan 2008

Kurt Lash's Majoritarian Difficulty: A Response To A Textual-Historical Theory Of The Ninth Amendment, Randy E. Barnett

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

Kurt Lash believes that, in addition to individual natural rights, the Ninth Amendment protects collective or majoritarian rights as well. In this essay the author explains why Lash’s majoritarian vision is contrary to the antimajoritarianism of the man who devised the Ninth Amendment, James Madison, and those who wrote the Constitution. Not coincidentally, it is contrary to the individualism of the other amendments constituting the Bill of Rights, and the public meaning of the Ninth Amendment as it was received during its ratification. It is also contrary to the individualist conception of popular sovereignty adopted in the text of ...


Constitutional Possibilities, Lawrence B. Solum Jan 2008

Constitutional Possibilities, Lawrence B. Solum

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

What are our constitutional possibilities? The importance of this question is illustrated by the striking breadth of recent discussions, ranging from the interpretation of the United States Constitution as a guarantee of fundamental economic equality and proposals to restore the lost constitution to arguments for the virtual abandonment of structural provisions of the Constitution of 1789. Such proposals are conventionally understood as placing constitutional options on the table as real options for constitutional change. Normative constitutional theory asks the question whether these options are desirable--whether political actors (citizens, legislators, executives, or judges) should take action to bring about their plans ...


Originalism And The Natural Born Citizen Clause, Lawrence B. Solum Jan 2007

Originalism And The Natural Born Citizen Clause, Lawrence B. Solum

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

The enigmatic phrase "natural born citizen" poses a series of problems for contemporary originalism. New originalists, like Justice Scalia, focus on the public meaning of the constitutional text, but the notion of a "natural born citizen" was likely a term of art, derived from the idea of a "natural born subject" in English law--a category that most likely did not extend to persons, like John McCain, who were born outside sovereign territory. But the constitution speaks of "citizens" and not "subjects," introducing uncertainties and ambiguities that might (or might not) make McCain eligible for the presidency.

What was the original ...


Unenumerated Duties, Robin West Jan 2006

Unenumerated Duties, Robin West

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

The article aims to make problematic the relative absence of questions about the affirmative duties of legislators to pass laws to achieve various welfarist ends in liberal constitutional theory. The duty to legislate for the public good is a bedrock of both classical and modern liberal theory, yet there is almost nothing in liberal constitutional theory about the possible constitutional grounding of the moral duties, whether enumerated or unenumerated, of legislators. The full explanation for this absence rests on a set of jurisprudential assumptions that lead moral questions about governance to be understood solely as adjudicative questions of law. Yet ...


Critical Constitutionalism Now, Louis Michael Seidman Jan 2006

Critical Constitutionalism Now, Louis Michael Seidman

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

The starting point for this essay is the claim that if the texts that critical scholars studied are unstable over time, then this must also be true of the studies themselves. There is no reason to suppose that the critical perspective, uniquely among all possible perspectives, reflects timeless and contextless truth. The question I want to ask, then, is what meaning the critical perspective has for us now in our new and dramatically transformed environment. I proceed in four parts. First, I address the meaning that critical scholars attributed to constitutional law in the late twentieth century. Second, I describe ...


Constitutional Texting, Lawrence B. Solum Jan 2006

Constitutional Texting, Lawrence B. Solum

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

"Constitutional Texting" introduces an account of constitutional meaning that draws on Paul Grice's distinction between "speaker's meaning" and "sentence meaning." The constitutional equivalent of speaker's meaning is "framer's meaning," the meaning that the author of the constitutional text intended to convey in light of the author's beliefs about the reader's beliefs about the author's intentions. The constitutional equivalent of sentence meaning is "clause meaning," the meaning that an ordinary reader would attribute to the text at the time of utterance without any beliefs about particular intentions on the part of the author. Clause ...


The Supreme Court In Bondage: Constitutional Stare Decisis, Legal Formalism, And The Future Of Unenumerated Rights, Lawrence B. Solum Jan 2006

The Supreme Court In Bondage: Constitutional Stare Decisis, Legal Formalism, And The Future Of Unenumerated Rights, Lawrence B. Solum

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

This essay advances a formalist conception of constitutional stare decisis. The author argues that instrumentalist accounts of precedent are inherently unsatisfying and that the Supreme Court should abandon adherence to the doctrine that it is free to overrule its own prior decisions. These moves are embedded in a larger theoretical framework--a revival of formalist ideas in legal theory that he calls "neoformalism" to distinguish his view from the so-called "formalism" caricatured by the legal realists (and from some other views that are called "formalist").

In Part II, The Critique of Unenumerated Constitutional Rights, the author sets the stage by briefly ...


Response To State Action And A New Birth Of Freedom, Robin West Jan 2004

Response To State Action And A New Birth Of Freedom, Robin West

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

I have just a few comments. The first comment is a contribution to the ''analytic" question posed by Professor Black's work and made explicit by Professors Peller and Tushnet's paper. To make the case for the constitutional status of welfare rights, I do not think it is sufficient-although it may well be necessary-to show that the "state action" problem is merely a pseudo-problem, whatever the reason for finding it not to be a problem. I do not agree with one of the claims put forward by Peller and Tushnet,' that Black's perceptive analysis of the state action ...


The Aretaic Turn In Constitutional Theory, Lawrence B. Solum Jan 2004

The Aretaic Turn In Constitutional Theory, Lawrence B. Solum

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

The author argues that the aretaic turn in constitutional theory is an institutional approach to theories of constitutional interpretation ought to be supplemented by explicit focus on the virtues and vices of constitutional adjudicators. Part I, The Most Dysfunctional Branch, advances the speculative hypothesis that politicization of the judiciary has led the political branches to exclude consideration of virtue from the nomination and confirmation of Supreme Court Justices and to select Justices on the basis of the strength of their commitment to particular positions on particular issues and the fervor of their ideological passions.

Part II, Institutionalism and Constitutional Interpretation ...


Tradition, Principle And Self-Sovereignty: Competing Conceptions Of Liberty In The United States Constitution, Robin West Jan 2002

Tradition, Principle And Self-Sovereignty: Competing Conceptions Of Liberty In The United States Constitution, Robin West

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

The “liberty” protected by the United States Constitution has been variously interpreted as the “liberty” of thinking persons to speak, worship and associate with others, unimpeded by onerous state law; the liberty of consumers and producers to make individual market choices, including the choice to sell one’s labour at any price one sees fit, free of redistributive or paternalistic legislation that might restrict it; and the liberty of all of us in the domestic sphere to make choices regarding reproductive and family life, free of state law that might restrict it on grounds relating to public morals. Although the ...


Is Progressive Constitutionalism Possible?, Robin West Apr 1999

Is Progressive Constitutionalism Possible?, Robin West

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

Progressivism is in part a particular moral and political response to the sadness of lesser lives, lives unnecessarily diminished by economic, psychic and physical insecurity in the midst of a society or world that offers plenty. This insecurity is unjust and should end; the suffering should be alleviated, and those lives should be enriched. To do so must be one of the goals of a morally just or justifiable state. Not all suffering and not all lesser lives, of course, give rise to such a response. The suffering attendant to accident, disease, war and happenstance is neither entirely chargeable to ...


Learning From Lincoln, William Michael Treanor Jan 1997

Learning From Lincoln, William Michael Treanor

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

The most arresting aspect of Jack Balkin's thought-provoking paper about the consequences of fidelity to the Constitution is his use of Abraham Lincoln. Professor Balkin offers Lincoln as a prime example of someone blinded by fidelity to the Constitution. Lincoln's fidelity to the Constitution, Balkin tells us, allowed him to make a kind of peace with slavery, to think that it was "not so great an evil that it had to be abolished immediately." This is such a powerful point because, 130 years after Lincoln's assassination, we mourn him still. We mourn him because we miss his ...