Document Type

Book Review

Publication Date


Publication Information

32 Const. Comment. 61 (2017) (book review)


In Our Republican Constitution, Randy Barnett argues that the United States Constitution rests on a foundation of individual rather than collective popular sovereignty. Grounding the legitimacy of the government in the authority given it by each individual rather than by the People as a whole echoes the thesis, advanced in Barnett’s prior work, that the government must justify incursions upon individual liberty. If the People as a body are sovereign and the Constitution is designed to facilitate democratic self-governance, legislation is presumptively legitimate because it represents the sovereign will of the democratic majority. If the individual is sovereign, by contrast, legislation does not represent the sovereign will but rather the work product of government officials who serve as the agents of individual sovereigns. The citizen is thus positioned to demand that his agents explain why legislation lies within the authority he has constructively given them to secure his natural rights.