Timothy Sandefur's insightful new book provides a dramatic new challenge to the status quo of constitutional law and argues a vital truth: our Constitution was written not to empower democracy, but to secure liberty. Yet the overemphasis on democracy by today's legal community-rather than the primacy of liberty, as expressed in the Declaration of Independence-has helped expand the scope of government power at the expense of individual rights. Now, more than ever, the Declaration of Independence should be the framework for interpreting our fundamental law. It is the conscience of the Constitution.
Is liberty or democracy the primary constitutional value? At a time when Americans are increasingly facing violations of their civil liberties, Timothy Sandefur's insightful new book explains why the Declaration of Independence, with its doctrines on the primacy of liberty, the natural rights of man, and the limits on legitimate government, should serve as the guidepost for understanding the Constitution. The author takes the reader through the ideas of substantive due process and judicial activism and defends them from mainstream criticisms while drawing on examples from literature, television, and Supreme Court cases. The Conscience of the Constitution: The Declaration of Independence and the Right to Liberty argues that modern legal doctrines, which value democracy over liberty, are endangering individual rights and corrupting our civic institutions.
Timothy Sandefur is a Principal Attorney at the Pacific Legal Foundation. As the lead attorney in the Economic Liberty Project, he works to protect businesses against abusive government regulation. He has won important victories for free enterprise in California, Missouri, Oregon, and other states. He also works to prevent the abuse of eminent domain, having participated in many significant eminent domain cases, including Kelo v. New London. He is the author of three books, Cornerstone of Liberty: Property Rights in 21st Century America (2006), The Right to Earn A Living: Economic Freedom And The Law (2010), and The Conscience of The Constitution (2013), as well as some 45 scholarly articles on subjects ranging from eminent domain and economic liberty to copyright, evolution and creationism, slavery and the Civil War, and legal issues in Shakespeare and ancient Greek drama. He is a graduate of Chapman University School of Law and Hillsdale College. He is an Adjunct Scholar with the Cato Institute, and his articles have appeared in Liberty, National Review, The San Francisco Chronicle, Regulation, The Washington Times, and other places. He is a frequent guest on radio and television programs, including the Jim Lehrer News Hour, The Armstrong and Getty Show, NPR's This American Life, CNBC's Street Signs, Now with David Brancaccio and CPSAN's Book TV.