This is a review essay of Randy Barnett's book Restoring the Lost Constitution: The Presumption of Liberty (Princeton University Press, 2004). I consider Barnett's libertarian theory of constitutional law in three stages. In Part I, I criticize the external theory of political legitimacy that Barnett applies to the Constitution. I argue that this theory had nothing to do with the actual reasons the Constitution was accepted as legitimate when it was ratified. In Part II, I focus on Barnett's theory of constitutional interpretation and his account of the necessary and proper clause, the foundation of the presumption of liberty. I also critique Barnett's treatment of the Lochner era. In Part III, I examine Barnett's approach to governmental power under the Constitution, particularly with respect to the commerce clause and the state police power.
Stephen M. Griffin,
Barnett and the Constitution We Have Lost,
San Diego L. Rev.
Available at: https://digital.sandiego.edu/sdlr/vol42/iss1/16