In his latest column for The Washington Post, George Will praises Timothy Sandefur's superb new book The Conscience of the Constitution: The Declaration of Independence and the Right to Liberty. As Will explains, the book addresses perhaps the most fundamental debate in American politics: namely, the battle between what Sandefur calls "the individual's right to freedom" and "the power of the majority to govern." Sandefur, a principle attorney at the Pacific Legal Foundation, comes down squarely on the side of the individual. Here's a snippet from Will's review:
Sandefur says progressivism "inverts America's constitutional foundations" by holding that the Constitution is "about" democracy, which rejects the framers' premise that majority rule is legitimate "only within the boundaries" of the individual's natural rights. These include — indeed, are mostly — unenumerated rights whose existence and importance are affirmed by the Ninth Amendment.
Many conservatives should be discomfited by Sandefur's analysis, which entails this conclusion: Their indiscriminate denunciations of "judicial activism" inadvertently serve progressivism. The protection of rights, those constitutionally enumerated and others, requires a judiciary actively engaged in enforcing what the Constitution is "basically about," which is making majority power respect individuals' rights.
In 2013, Reason TV interviewed Sandefur about the ongoing legal challenges to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Watch that interview below.