The Volokh Conspiracy

Mostly law professors | Sometimes contrarian | Often libertarian | Always independent

Volokh Conspiracy

"Friends of Liberty are Warmly Disposed …

to any decision that favors freedom against authority, even against representative government. The student of the Constitution requires something more ...."


A good line from Louis Henkin, writing in 1971. His "something more" is "a workable accommodation of competing values properly achieved and reasonably justified"; others might say "an understanding of the original meaning of the Constitution, both those parts that secure freedoms and those that secure government power"; others might say "a focus on the traditions of the American people, and on the precedents that embody those tradition." But in any event, he is surely right that not all restraints on liberty, even all foolish or immoral ones, are unconstitutional, and that the Constitution is aimed at securing not only liberty from governmental excesses but also other "competing values" as well.