“Do we have a democracy or a republic, and why does it matter?

The Menard Family George Washington Forum to Host a Constitution Day Lecture – “Do We Have a Democracy or a Republic, and Why Does It Matter?” – Thursday, September 15 at 7:30 p.m. at Galbreath Chapel on College Green.

The speaker, Randy E. Barnett, is the Carmack Waterhouse Professor of Legal Theory at Georgetown University Law Center, where he teaches constitutional law and contracts, and director of the Georgetown Center for the Constitution.

After graduating from Northwestern University and Harvard Law School, Barnett tried numerous criminal cases as a prosecutor at the Cook County District Attorney’s Office in Chicago. The author of 12 books and more than 100 articles, Barnett is the most recent author The Original Meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment: Its Letter and Its Spirit (2021) with Evan Bernick. In 2004, he argued the medical marijuana case of González vs. Raich before the United States Supreme Court. In 2012, he was one of the lawyers representing the National Federation of Independent Business in its constitutional challenge to the Affordable Care Act.

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The 14th Amendment was passed in 1868 during post-Civil War Reconstruction and is often referred to as the “equal protection” amendment. Brown v. Board of Education and Roe v. Wade are two of the well-known cases involving the 14th Amendment.

In their book, Barnett and Bernick argue that while the 14th Amendment “substantially altered the Constitution, giving the federal judiciary and Congress new powers to protect the basic rights of individuals from violation by the states…the Supreme Court has long misunderstood or ignored the original meaning of the amendment’s key clauses, covering the privileges and immunities of citizenship, due process, and equal protection of the laws,” according to the Harvard University Press book webpage.

“Barnett and Bernick argue that the Fourteenth Amendment was the culmination of decades of debate over the meaning of the pre-war Constitution. Anti-slavery advocates made arguments based on natural rights, the declaration Although their arguments lost in court, the Republican Party was formed to advance an anti-slavery political agenda, eventually bringing about the Then, when abolition alone proved insufficient to thwart Southern repression and ensure civil equality, the Fourteenth Amendment was enacted. It went beyond abolition to enshrine in the Constitution the concept of Republican citizenship and granted Congress the power to protect basic rights and ensure equality before the law.Finally, Congress used its powers to pass s Reconstruction-era civil rights laws that tell us a lot about the initial scope of the amendment,” according to the website.

All are welcome. This lecture is made possible by a gift from the Muck Family Foundation and the Jack Miller Center for Teaching America’s Founding Principles and History.

Angela C. Hale