Georgetown Law’s Center for the Constitution Launches The Constitutional Discourse Series

February 6, 2020

Five new books draw on symposia and journal articles to explore a range of constitutional law themes

WASHINGTON – To fulfill part of its mission to celebrate watershed moments in constitutional law, the Georgetown Center for the Constitution at Georgetown Law is launching its Constitutional Discourse Series on Amazon. This series includes books comprised of articles written by top legal scholars and historians that revive memories of forgotten figures, commemorate important events in constitutional history, or debate contemporary constitutional issues. Center director and Georgetown Law Professor Randy Barnett serves as the series editor.

The first book in the series, Is the Rational Basis Test Unconstitutional?, examines whether the “rational basis” standard of review that the Supreme Court applies in the vast majority of constitutional settings could itself be unconstitutional. The Georgetown Center for the Constitution and the Institute for Justice’s Center for Judicial Engagement hosted a symposium that brought together some of the nation’s most distinguished constitutional scholars and experienced rational-basis litigators to discuss the topic. The symposium represented the first concerted academic effort to explore the constitutionality of modern rational-basis review. Authors: Evan Bernick, Randy Barnett (Georgetown Law), Dana Berliner (Institute for Justice), Erwin Chemerinsky (Berkeley Law), Richard Epstein (Chicago Law), Robert Farrell (Quinnipac Law), Tara Grove (William & Mary Law), Jeffrey Jackson (Washburn Law), John McGinnis (Northwestern Law), Clark Neily (CATO), and Suzanna Sherry (Vanderbilt Law).

The second book, The Original Meaning and Continuing Relevance of the Thirteenth Amendment, considers the modern role of the Thirteenth Amendment in our current understanding of the Constitution. Authors: Randy Barnett (Georgetown Law), Pamela Brandwein (Michigan), Eric Foner (Columbia), Christopher Green (Mississippi Law), James Oakes (City University New York), David Upham (Dallas), Lea VanderVelde (Iowa Law), and Rebecca Zietlow (Toledo Law).

The third book, The Origins and Iconization of the Bill of Rights, celebrates the 225th anniversary of the Bill of Rights. In their contributions, the late historian Pauline Maier and Georgetown political science professor Michael Douma each show that the convention of calling the first ten amendments “the Bill of Rights” was only established in the 20th Century. Authors: Pauline Maier (MIT), Colleen Sheehan (Villanova), Carol Berkin (City University New York), Jeff Broadwater (Barton College), Jud Campbell (Richmond Law), and Michael Douma (Georgetown).

The fourth book, The Life and Career of Justice James Wilson, discusses the life and influence of perhaps our most neglected framer, Associate Supreme Court Justice James Wilson, who was appointed by President George Washington in 1790. Authors: John Mikhail (Georgetown Law), Christopher Yoo (Penn Law), Eric Nelson (Harvard), Danielle Allen (Harvard), Emily Sneff, Michael McConnell (Stanford Law), Maeva Marcus (George Washington Law), and William Ewald (Penn Law).

The fifth book, A Debate on the Second Amendment, explores the meaning and constitutional interpretation of the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution which provides: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” Authors: Anthony A. Braga (Northeastern Law), Philip J. Cook (Duke), Robert J. Cottrol (George Washigton Law), George A. Mocsary (Wyoming Law), Stephen P. Halbrook, James B. Jacobs (New York University law) Zoe Fuhr, Donald Kilmer, David B. Kopel, Jonathan Lowy, Kelly Sampson, Nelson Lund (George Mason Law), Darrell A.H. Miller (Duke Law), Glenn Harlan Reynolds (Tennessee Law), and Allen Rostron (Missouri-Kansas City Law).

Most articles included in each book were originally commissioned for publication in The Georgetown Journal of Law & Public Policy. The Georgetown Center for the Constitution seeks to engage scholars, students, and judges in discussions about how to interpret and apply our written constitution.