Free Thoughts

A weekly show about politics and liberty, featuring conversations with top scholars, philosophers, historians, economists, and public policy experts. Hosted by Aaron Ross Powell and Trevor Burrus. See for privacy and opt-out information.


The Conscience of the Constitution

Timothy Sandefur joins Trevor Burrus and Jason Kuznicki for a conversation about America’s founding documents: the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the Declaration of Independence.

Which is the Constitution’s primary value: liberty or democracy? Is it enough to tell lawmakers to just “go back to the Constitution” when Constitutional interpretation varies so wildly? What does the Constitution have to say about slavery? Individual rights? Voting rights?

Sandefur is a principal attorney at the Pacific Legal Foundation and the author of the 2014 book The Conscience of the Constitution: The Declaration of Independence and the Right to Liberty. He also heads the Pacific Legal Foundation’s Economic Liberty Project, which protects entrepreneurs against intrusive government regulation.

Show Notes and Further Reading:

Supreme Court Cases

Troxel v. GranvilleGrutter v. BollingerLawrence v. TexasBarron v. BaltimoreMuller v. Oregon

John Locke, Second Treatise of Government

William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England

Akil Amar, America’s Unwritten Constitution

J. Harvey Wilkinson, Cosmic Constitutional Theory: Why Americans Are Losing Their Inalienable Right to Self-Governance

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 2014-02-24  58m