The Volokh Conspiracy
Mostly law professors | Sometimes contrarian | Often libertarian | Always independent
One of the joys of publishing a popular book in the age of Twitter and Facebook is immediately hearing that people have read and enjoyed the book. As an academic, one normally waits months or years for such feedback, if one ever receives it at all. Another bonus is the number of reviews that are swiftly posted. Since Our Republican Constitution: Securing the Liberty and Sovereignty of We the People was published on April 17th, quite a few reviews have appeared on line. Most have been positive, and even enthusiastic. Here are some links and blurbs:
Shoshanna Weissmann in the Weekly Standard: A Republican Constitution—If You Can Keep it:
The book is an invaluable read. Whether one believes judicial restraint is a virtue or vice, he will leave these pages both with a greater knowledge of historical context surrounding our founding document and challenged to confront his preconceptions about the original meaning of the Constitution and its implications. Our Republican Constitution adds greater depth to the picture of the Constitution and its constraints on government that Barnett has been painting for years.
Aaron MacLean in the Washington Free Beacon: A Constitution, If You Can Keep It:
Barnett has a gift for the clear exposition of complicated ideas, and curious, intelligent, but non-expert readers will learn much about the battle for the soul of the Constitution from this book. . . . Whoever carries forward the banner of Republican constitutionalism will face great challenges of statesmanship: how to inspire citizens to love a multi-century old document, or to rally to a doctrine of natural rights no longer taught in most schools. Barnett's book is a fine place to look for help.
Adam Carrington, The Federalist: How We The People Can Reclaim 'Our Constitution':
Our Republican Constitution comes at an important time. The Obamacare decision exposed fissures in the conservative view of the courts. In this context, Barnett rightly and convincingly rejects the kind of deference practiced by Chief Justice Roberts, showing how that approach abdicates the judge's role in our constitutional system.
Spencer Irvine, Accuracy in Academia: Defending Our Republican Constitution:
This book is probably the most methodical explanation of the origins and importance of the 'republican' Constitution and should be mandatory reading for America's children.
Sanford Levinson, The Military Book Club: Who are "We the People"? The two competing answers have defined constitutional politics since the Republic's inception.
Barnett has written an interesting and accessible book that can be read with profit even by people who strongly disagree with him. And those who do agree will find important arguments that will be useful against those who engage in sometimes rote opposition to libertarian readings of the Constitution.
Patrick Frey, Patterico's Pontifications: Review: Randy Barnett's "Our Republican Constitution"
I'm not absolutely certain I agree with all of Barnett's conclusions, but his philosophy intrigues me enough that I will be buying and reading his other books. If you love liberty—and wonder how we got to the point where the Constitution no longer seems to protect it—"Our Republican Constitution" is well worth your time.
Greg Piper, The College Fix: 'Judicial restraint' is killing constitutional rights on college campuses:
It's time to recruit allies for a full-frontal assault on "judicial restraint," the mantra of lawless prosecutors and mobs. . . . We must demand that judges don't shirk their duties when presented with core constitutional questions. . . .
Today brings a new review by Ian Millhiser of Think Progress: The Plan To Build The Yuugest, Classiest, Most Luxurious Constitution You've Ever Seen:
It is only a slight exaggeration to say that the ongoing Republican primary presents GOP voters with a choice between Trumpism and the vision expressed in Barnett's new book, Our Republican Constitution: Securing the Liberty and Sovereignty of We the People. . . . Despite its flaws, however, Our Republican Constitution is worth studying because it is one of the clearest and most unapologetic articulations of a world view that is currently competing for control of one of our nation's major political parties. This world view's primary rival, of course, is the swaggering, racist populism offered by Mr. Trump.
Millhiser's highly critical review merits consideration in a separate post. As I will explain, despite its misguiding and somewhat bizarre effort to frame me as like Trump (bizarre in light of his statements I just quoted that acknowledge Trump and I are polar opposites)—and despite our fundamental disagreements about the Constitution—I found it to be generally accurate and fair in its presentation of my thesis.