The Boyd School of Law will host Georgetown Law's Randy Barnett who will deliver the inaugural Dean's Speaker Series lecture on Popular Sovereignty and Judicial Review. A reception will immediately follow the presentation.
For over one hundred years, what we call the power of judicial review has been under attack as inconsistent with the concept of popular sovereignty based on the consent of the governed. Judicial restraint is thought to be required because the power of judicial review is counter-majoritarian, by which is meant it runs counter to the collective or majoritarian popular sovereignty that justifies our Constitution.
In this lecture, Barnett will contest the majoritarian conception of popular sovereignty that leads some to question the legitimacy of judicial review. Building upon the opinions of James Wilson and John Jay in the Supreme Court’s first great constitution case, Chisholm v. Georgia (1793), Barnett identifies an alternative individual conception of popular sovereignty that is entirely compatible with a nondiscretionary duty of judges to invalidate legislation that unconstitutionally infringes upon the rights retained by the people. Indeed, given the fact that the consent of the governed upon which popular sovereignty rests can only be presumed or supposed, the judicial examination of laws restricting the liberties of the people are essential to the legitimacy of the government established by the Constitution of the United States.