SharksWithLasers -- Seth Cooper

A CUTTING-EDGE BLOG FOR THE WORLD OF THE 21st CENTURY, Currently operated by Seth L. Cooper, a 27 year-old attorney in Seattle (sethlcooper at comcast dot net)

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

FEDERALIST SOCIETY GIG: I had myself an interesting time this evening, back at my old stomping grounds—Seattle University. Prof. Randy Barnett made a presentation based upon his new book, Restoring the Constitution: The Lost Presumption of Liberty. Prof. James Bond provided the audience with brief commentary following Barnett’s talk. Thanks to Geoffrey Hymans and my good friends at the Puget Sound Lawyers’ Chapter of the Federalist Society, along with the Seattle University Student Chapter of the Federalist Society, the whole thing went well and good food was provided afterwards.

It was my hope to have the book finished in time for the event, but alas, it was not to be. I still have a few chapters to go. But I was definitely able to follow the talk, which—like the book—proved to be very interesting. While I intend on composing an Amazon review, I’ll simply say that while I agree with much of the book’s content—particularly as it concerns the methodological framework it provides for interpreting and constructing the constitution, and the originalist interpretations he gives to key clauses from the constitution—much of my disagreements stem from more fundamental differences of law and philosophy. Indeed, it would be difficult for a scholar beginning his work by eschewing the notion of constitutional legitimacy resting upon consent of the governed—as Barnett does—to give a comprehensive view of our constitution that is NOT very individualistic in its orientation.

Bond called Barnett’s book and his ideas “incisive and provocative.” Quite so. His remarks were short but pointed out that the constitution had other interests in mind besides just liberty and that that must NOT be forgotten. I most definitely agree.

On the other hand, I’ve already come away with a better understanding of the Ninth Amendment and the Fourteenth Amendment's Privileges or Immunities Clauses, and I look forward to concluding the book and continuing to think it all through.

At Barnett’s lecture I also had the pleasure of running into Prof. David Engdahl, who is just finishing up his sabbatical. Some of Barnett’s work is right up his Engdahl’s alley and I look forward to more Engdahl scholarship in the future.

(Everett, WA)

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