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Feb 4, 2004

Restoring the Lost Constitution: The Presumption of Liberty

A Cato Institute Book Forum featuring the author of Restoring the Lost Constitution: The Presumption of Liberty, Randy E. Barnett, Cato Institute and Boston University School of Law; with comments by Walter Dellinger, Duke University and O’Melveny & Myers; and Judge David Sentelle, U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Moderated by Roger Pilon.

Randy Barnett shows how the courts over the years have been cutting holes in the Constitution and its amendments to eliminate the parts that impede the growth of government. The Supreme Court has rendered toothless the Commerce Clause, the Necessary and Proper Clause, the Privileges or Immunities Clause, and the Ninth and Tenth Amendments. In the process, the original Constitution has been lost. Barnett offers a practical way to restore those provisions, adopting a Presumption of Liberty to give the benefit of the doubt to citizens when laws restrict their rightful liberties. He also provides a new, more realistic theory of constitutional legitimacy and explains why the Constitution should be construed to protect the rights retained by the people.