Randy Barnett: Losing Obamacare While Preserving the Constitution


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"We won in our effort to preserve the Constitution and, in fact, we moved the ball in a more positive direction," says Georgetown Law's Randy Barnett, one of the legal architects behind the constitutional challenge to Obamacare.

Chief Justice John Roberts' majority opinion in the 5-to-4 decision upheld Obamacare's individual mandate as an exercise of Congress' tax powers, while simultaneously rejecting the Obama administration's sweeping assertion of federal power under the Commerce Clause. Barnett argues that the chief justice "substituted a less dangerous tax power for a far more dangerous Commerce Clause power." Had the Supreme Court accepted the government's theory of the Commerce Clause, Barnett explains, Congress would have had the power "to do anything it wants with respect to the economy."

A professor of legal theory at Georgetown University Law Center and the author of nine books, including Restoring the Lost Constitution: The Presumption of Liberty (2004), Barnett represented the National Federation of Independent Business in its challenge to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Reason Senior Editor Damon Root recently sat down with Barnett to discuss the Obamacare decision, the "echo chamber" of liberal academia, and why the Constitution is fully consistent with libertarian principles.

Approximately 33 minutes.

Shot by Jim Epstein and Joshua Swain, and edited by Epstein.

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