Randy Barnett: Democrats and Republicans Have ‘Contrasting Views of the Constitution’

A man holding a copy of the U.S. Constitution on May 1, 2014 in New York City.
Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Washington, DC

Randy Barnett discussed his new book “Our Republican Constitution: Securing the Liberty and Sovereignty of We the People,” on Breitbart News Daily SiriusXM with host Stephen K. Bannon.

Barnett, the Carmack Waterhouse Professor of Legal Theory at the Georgetown University Law Center and the Director of the Georgetown Center for the Constitution, explores the different views of the Constitution between Democrats and Republicans and lays out the differences in layman’s terms.

In essence, Barnett posits that Republicans view the Constitution, coupled with the Declaration of Independence, as empowering government to protect the rights of the individuals, while Democrats view the Constitution as a rationale for majority rule, which often tramples the rights of the individual.

There are two different conceptions of the Constitution based upon views of who ‘We the people’ really are. Are “we the people” a group, so “we the people” govern? A lot of people believe that. But if “we the people” governs as a group, then the only way that happens is by a majority of “we the people.” And so majoritarian rule is what democracy stands for.

That’s leads to a Democratic Constitution that wants to empower the majority and then has a real problem with anything that gets in the way of a majority like a judge, an individual, or a minority. That’s the Democratic Constitution. The Republican Constitution starts with the Declaration of Independence that says “we the people” are individuals, each of whom are endowed with unalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And then the next sentence of the Declaration says, “It is to secure these rights that governments are instituted among men.” So first come rights. The government is not “us.” The government is our servant and they have a job to do. Their job is to protect our rights both from each other and also in the case of the Constitution, from the government itself.

“The was a book that was written for a popular audience,” said Barnett, versus an academic audience, to discuss the contrasting views of the Constitution between Democrats and Republicans.

“I tell the story between these two concepts, between the Republican and Democratic Constitutions that goes all the way back to the beginning and, in the meantime, along the way, I tell a lot of individual stories.” Those include anecdotes involving Ben Franklin, James Madison and others, as well as his own role in challenging Obamacare, as well as Medical Marijuana cases, according to Barnett.

The book is “Our Republican Constitution: Securing the Liberty and Sovereignty of We the People,” by Randy Barnett.

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Listen to the full interview below: