Blaze Books sat down with libertarian lawyer extraordinaire, and one of the chief litigators of the Affordable Care Act, Randy Barnett in order to get his book recommendations on a variety of subjects near and dear to readers’ hearts. Below are the first set in a multi-part series, in which Barnett gives us his three best books on the origins of the Constitution, and some commentary on each of the titles he selected.
1. Inventing the People: The Rise of Popular Sovereignty in England and America by Edmund S. Morgan
The progressives urged that the “will of the people” should override individual rights and liberties. This book explains how the fiction of “the People” was developed in England and the US to counter the fiction of the divine right of the king. (Though rule by “the people” may be a fiction, however, the rights of the people are very real.)
2. Ratification: The People Debate the Constitution, 1787-1788 by Pauline Maier
The first comprehensive treatment of the fascinating story of the ratification of the Constitution, told state-by-state as events unfolded. If you didn’t already know how the story ended, you might well be surprised. Remarkably even-handed in its treatment of the federalists and anti-federalists. Should be read by everyone who loves the Constitution and seeks to understand it.
3. The Ideological Origins of American Federalism by Alison L. LaCroix
Identifies how the distinct American vision of federalism evolved from colonial American resistance to parliamentary rule.
4. BONUS: Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation by Joseph J. Ellis
Offers fascinating vignettes of the founders. My favorite is Madison and Jefferson’s carriage ride through the country organizing resistance to the Adams administration, in which Jefferson then served as Vice President.
Randy E. Barnett is the Carmack Waterhouse Professor of Legal Theory at the Georgetown University Law Center, where he directs the Georgetown Center for the Constitution. Before teaching, he was a criminal prosecutor in Chicago with the Cook County States Attorney’s Office. In 2004, he argued the medical marijuana case of Gonzales v. Raich in the U.S. Supreme Court; and in 2012, he represented the National Federation of Independent Business in its challenge to the Affordable Care Act. He was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in Constitutional Studies in 2009.
Professor Barnett’s publications includes more than one hundred articles and reviews, as well as ten books, including Restoring the Lost Constitution: The Presumption of Liberty (Princeton, expanded edition, 2014), A Conspiracy Against Obamacare: The Volokh Conspiracy and the Health Care Case (Palgrave, 2013); Constitutional Law: Cases in Context (Wolters Kluwer, 2d ed, 2013), Oxford Introductions to U.S. Law: Contracts (Oxford, 2010), Contracts: Cases and Doctrine (Aspen, 5th ed. 2012), and The Structure of Liberty: Justice and the Rule of Law (Oxford, 1998), which was translated into Japanese.
You can read more about Randy Barnett at his website.