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Another very clear and concise presentation of the failure of the Government to uphold the principles of the American Revolution and the Constitution. More importantly it presents a method (Article 5/US Constitution) whereby the People can reclaim their Rights from the State. The book leaves much unsaid in this area; however, their are many other groups the reader may find online who support a Convention of States under Article 5 of the Constitution. I believe this 2nd American Revolution is the only way to restore our Liberties and Freedom from a Government who views the People of the United States as its "Property" to be controlled and managed from birth until death.
I read this immediately after finishing Barnett's previous book, "Restoring the Lost Constitution." There's a lot of overlap, but it served as a nice "refresher course" of that longer, denser work. It emphasizes two things that RTLC hit on rather lightly: (1) how the structure of the Constitution is intended to protect the rights of the individual against the will of the majority, and (2) the role that judges play in upholding this priority of individual rights over "majority will." A host of accumulated, judge-made legal doctrines and presumptions act together to cause today's judges to shirk this responsibility. Indeed, the citizen whose rights are violated by a law passed either by Congress or a state (or by an administrative rule) is a virtual David versus Goliath when challenging the enactment in court, because the scales have been tipped in advance so far in favor of the government.
I particularly liked the metaphor of an ocean liner. It's designed not to sink, but there are lifeboats just in case. If you're needing to use the lifeboats, well, it's good that they're there, but you're already in trouble. So it is with the Constitution. The overall structure *should* have been enough to vigorously protect individual rights against governmental intrusion, but the Bill of Rights added later provided the lifeboats, just in case that failed. Because of how judges generally--and the Supreme Court specifically--have misread and misapplied the fundamental principles of the Constitution, we've lost the great structural protections, and we're in the lifeboats, with only the text of a few specifically enumerated rights to protect us. (Barnett doesn't say this, but I'd even add that the lifeboats have holes in them, when the courts can shrug and authorize things like mass surveillance of our communications, allegedly for our own protection.)
I filled my Kindle edition with highlighting. My two favorites both come from near the end of the book:
"Crucially, the “due process of law” requires that the magistrate or judge hearing such a challenge be impartial. If the judge hearing a challenge simply “presumes” that the legislature is acting properly, or “defers” to the legislature’s own assessment of its powers, then that judge is not acting impartially. Even worse, if the “presumption” in favor of legislation is irrebuttable, then the person dressed in a black robe is not acting as a judge at all."
"The only "living constitution" is one that is followed; a constitution whose text is ignored is a dead one."
As one who has taken an oath to support and defend the constitution while serving my country, I feel like I know the constitution well. However, I truly learned what is meant by a "democratic constitution" and a "republican constitution." That said, this book isn't the easiest read but neither is the constitution. As the author stated "I admit that the story I just told about the weakening of the checks and balances provided by the separation of powers seems both confusing and daunting. Perhaps you had difficult even following it. And this is the simplified version." Uh, no kidding! I had to return to many paragraphs to absorb all the information but it was well worth the read and no doubt will refer to his book many times over the years. Thanks Mr. Barnett
A very impressive, thoughtful analysis comparing a majoritarian (Democrat) view of the Constitution to an individual rights (Republican) view. Barnett is a law professor at Georgetown, clearly conservative (libertarian??) and has thought deeply about the topic. Those of us who hold the opinion that the courts have drifted too far into legislating from the bench will find some support from this book. Others, however, may find part of their opinions challenged. Mr. Barnett presents a historical context, beginning with the writing of the Constitution and changes: amendments and court rulings- that affect us now. I'm still studying this book- may return and add more later. I've enjoyed it enough that I've bought copies for friends.
A deeply important book, Barnett not only discusses the political theory of the American founding, but he also close reads the Declaration of Independence, along with the Constitution and the Federalist Papers. Barnett takes a constitutional originalist conservatarian perspective and does a great job explaining Lockean natural rights theory--its validity and application--along with the Lockean/Nozickean theory of property. Laden with historical narrative and character study, along with explication of our founding documents, Barnett's book is now the gold standard, to my estimation.
Rather than "feeling the Berne," today's youth need to carefully read this book before they are swept up in a movement they don't understand and unwittingly throw away the treasure which has been the Constitutional Republic of the United States of America.
This book is a great resource for helping to remind us of our founding documents the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States as a police officer and police trainer the history of these documents are often neglected in training for state statutes and procedures. To be better, more effective, fair and impartial these founding documents and what they mean to American
This book should be mandatory reading in every high school in the United States. It takes a critical element of the Founder's intent, the concept of "We the people" as a statement of individual, not collective, importance, and makes it crystal clear. Many thanks to Mr. Barnett for translating complex scholarly ideas into easy to grasp contemporary terms.
So much great information in this book about our constitution. It’s formation and growth, both good and less desirable is amazing. I believe we need to get back to the basics as our founders intended. Growth with the times is important, but the basic principles are imperative. We need to enact Article V of the Constitution.