Randy Barnett, the Carmack Waterhouse Professor of Legal Theory at the Georgetown University Law Center and Director of the Georgetown Center for the Constitution, delivered at the 2013 Seegers Lecture on Jurisprudence., “Popular Sovereignty and the Judicial Duty to Assess the Rationality of Laws.” This was Barnett’s second time speaking at the Valparaiso University Law School, as he previously presented a paper at the law school 22 years ago.
Barnett’s presentation focused on the idea that in order for a legitimate government to exist, popular sovereignty requires the judicial examination of laws that restrict the fundamental freedoms of the people. Barnett suggested that sovereignty lies in the entirety of the people, and the government must receive the consent of all sovereign individuals in enacting legislation. This leads Barnett to the conclusion that any restriction on a fundamental liberty is unconstitutional if it could be shown the legislation was irrational, arbitrary, or discriminatory.
Barnett received his B.A. from Northwestern University, and his J.D. from Harvard Law. Barnett teaches courses in constitutional law and contracts at the Georgetown University Law Center. Barnett has also argued before the U.S. Supreme Court in prominent cases, such as Gonzalez v. Raich, which addressed whether Congress could prohibit Californians from growing marijuana for medical use, a practice permitted under California law, and NFIB v. Sebelius, which challenged the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).
The Seegers Lecture Series is sponsored by the late Edward A. Seegers, who made various contributions to Valparaiso University. Among his many contributions is a fully endowed law school chair in honor of his parents, Louis and Anna Seegers, which is currently held by Professor Bruce Berner.