(p. A13) Over the past three decades, Richard A. Epstein has repeatedly argued–with analytical rigor and astonishing erudition–that governments govern best when they limit their actions to protecting liberty and property. He is perhaps best known for “Takings,” his 1995 book on the losses that regulations impose on property owners. Of late, he has exposed the flaws of a government-administered health system.
In “The Classical Liberal Constitution,” Mr. Epstein takes up the political logic of our fundamental law. The Constitution, he says, reflects above all John Locke’s insistence on protecting natural rights–rights that we possess simply by virtue of our humanity. Their protection takes concrete form in the Constitution by restricting the federal government to specific, freedom-advancing and property-protecting tasks, such as establishing a procedurally fair justice system, minting money as a stable repository of value, preserving a national trade zone among the states, and, not least, guarding the rights listed in the Bill of Rights.
For the full review, see:
JOHN O. MCGINNIS. “BOOKSHELF; Book Review: ‘The Classical Liberal Constitution,’ by Richard A. Epstein; Our understanding of the Constitution lost its way when we embraced the idea that rights are created by a benevolent state.” The Wall Street Journal (Mon., March 23, 2014): A13.
(Note: the online version of the review has the date March 23, 2014, and has the title “BOOKSHELF; Book Review: ‘The Classical Liberal Constitution,’ by Richard A. Epstein; Our understanding of the Constitution lost its way when we embraced the idea that rights are created by a benevolent state.”)
The book under review is:
Epstein, Richard A. The Classical Liberal Constitution: The Uncertain Quest for Limited Government. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2013.