The U.S. Constitution found in school textbooks and under glass in Washington is not the one enforced today by the Supreme Court. In Restoring the Lost Constitution, Randy Barnett argues that since the nation's founding, but especially since the 1930s, the courts have been cutting holes in the original Constitution and its amendments to eliminate the parts that protect liberty from the power of government. From the Commerce Clause, to the Necessary and Proper Clause, to the Ninth and Tenth Amendments, to the Privileges or Immunities Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, the Supreme Court has rendered each of these provisions toothless. In the process, the written Constitution has been lost.
Barnett establishes the original meaning of these lost clauses and offers a practical way to restore them to their central role in constraining government: adopting a "presumption of liberty" to give the benefit of the doubt to citizens when laws restrict their rightful exercises of liberty. He also provides a new, realistic and philosophically rigorous theory of constitutional legitimacy that justifies both interpreting the Constitution according to its original meaning and, where that meaning is vague or open-ended, construing it so as to better protect the rights retained by the people.
As clearly argued as it is insightful and provocative, Restoring the Lost Constitution forcefully disputes the conventional wisdom, posing a powerful challenge to which others must now respond.
"A hopeful work--provocative, documented, resolute, reasoned, readable--delightfully devoid of legalistic obtuseness. It lights up a road back to limited government, albeit a steep road."--Willian H. Peterson, Washington Times
"This book is terrific in demonstrating the natural rights background to our Constitution and demonstrating that all rights cannot be listed in the Constitution. . . . [A]n excellent work."--Ronald Kahn, Law and Politics Book Review
"Step by step, Randy Barnett constructs an intriguing case for a moderately libertarian natural-rights Constitution that allows government action only when, and because, doing so protects the generously defined liberties of each person. Along the way he sheds new light on old controversies. This book should provoke the kind of controversy that advances our understanding of the Constitution."--Mark Tushnet, Georgetown University Law Center, author of The New Constitutional Order
"Randy Barnett makes two important arguments, one involving the interpretation of the Constitution by reference to original understandings, the other endorsing a libertarian tilt in resolving disputes about governmental powers. Constitutional scholars and students will find much to admire in Barnett's carefully nuanced arguments, whether or not they ultimately agree with his conclusions. But the book should attract general readers as well. It is remarkably well written, totally devoid of jargon, and presented in a conversational and courteous tone. A truly excellent book!"--Sanford Levinson, University of Texas School of Law, author of Constitutional Faith
Table of Contents
Another Princeton book authored or coauthored by Randy E. Barnett: