• Articles

    Does the NSA Violate Your Constitutional Rights? | Learn Liberty

    Many people don’t know what their constitutional freedoms are or why they have them in the first place. They’ve gotten so used to the freedoms they’ve enjoyed as Americans that they haven’t noticed just how rare and fragile they really are. Before America’s founding, the British king George III would issue what were called general warrants, which empowered local authorities to look for wrongdoing anywhere and to use their discretion to find any kind of treasonous behavior, including among the people that would come to be our Founders. But this became such an abuse of dictatorial authority that after the Revolutionary War a prohibition on general warrants was written right…

  • Episode 111: Building a Better Government (with Richard A. Epstein)
    Articles,  Blog

    Episode 111: Building a Better Government (with Richard A. Epstein)

    Trevor Burrus: Welcome to Free Thoughts from Libertarianism.org and the Cato Institute. I’m Trevor Burrus. Aaron Ross Powell: And I’m Aaron Powell. Trevor Burrus: Joining us today is Richard Epstein, the Lawrence A. Tisch Professor of Law at NYU School of Law and the Director of the Classical Liberal Institute. He is the author of many important books including Takings: Private Property and the Power of Eminent Domain and Simple Rules for a Complex World. His most recent book is The Classical Liberal Constitution. Welcome to Free Thoughts, Richard. Richard Epstein: It’s great to be here. Trevor Burrus: I would like to start with a broad question. There are many…

  • Episode 139: The Philosophical Foundations of the Constitution (with Roger Pilon)
    Articles,  Blog

    Episode 139: The Philosophical Foundations of the Constitution (with Roger Pilon)

    Aaron Powell: Welcome to Free Thoughts from Libertarianism.org and the Cato Institute, I’m Aaron Powell. Trevor Burrus: And I’m Trevor Burrus. Aaron Powell: Joining us today is our colleague Roger Pilon, he’s the Vice President for Legal Affairs and founding director of the Center for Constitutional Studies at the Cato Institute. Welcome to Free Thoughts, Roger. Roger Pilon: Thank you, good to be with you. Aaron Powell: The First Amendment reads, in part, “Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech.” So we’ve got those words written down, how do we know what they mean? Roger Pilon: We look at the text as a start and if that…

  • Articles

    Episode 148: Liberty and Coercion: The Paradox of American Government (with Gary Gerstle)

    Trevor Burrus: Welcome to Free Thoughts from Libertarianism.org and the Cato Institute. I’m Trevor Burrus. Joining me today is Gary Gerstle, the Paul Mellon Professor of American History at the University of Cambridge and the author of the new book, Liberty and Coercion: The Paradox of American Government from the Founding to the Present. Welcome to Free Thoughts, Gary. Gary Gerstle: Thank you very much. Trevor Burrus: So, I would start with the interesting and provocative title of your book, Liberty and Coercion. Why did you choose those two concepts, which I guess are somewhat antithetical concepts, as your—for your overview of American history? Gary Gerstle: Well, for me, those…

  • Articles

    Episode 149: Our Republican Constitution (with Randy E. Barnett)

    Trevor Burrus: Welcome to Free Thoughts from Libertarianism.org and the Cato Institute. I’m Trevor Burrus. Aaron Ross Powell: And I’m Aaron Powell. Trevor Burrus: Joining us today is Randy E. Barnett, the Carmack Waterhouse Professor of Legal Theory at Georgetown University Law Center and the Director of the Georgetown Center for the Constitution and a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute. He is the author of the new book Our Republican Constitution. Welcome to Free Thoughts. Randy Barnett: Thanks both of you for having me back. Trevor Burrus: So you and I were heavily involved in the Obamacare litigation, the first round of that and that’s how you opened up…

  • Free Thoughts, Ep. 204: Lessons from the Anti-Federalists (with William J. Watkins, Jr.)
    Articles,  Blog

    Free Thoughts, Ep. 204: Lessons from the Anti-Federalists (with William J. Watkins, Jr.)

    Trevor Burrus: Welcome to Free Thoughts. I’m Trevor Burrus. Aaron Powell: And I’m Aaron Powell. Trevor Burrus: Joining us today is William J. Watkins, Jr., Research Fellow at Independent Institute in California and Former Prosecutor and Defense Attorney who has practiced in various state and federal courts. He is the author of Crossroads for Liberty: Recovering the Anti-Federalist Values of America’s First Constitution. Welcome to Free Thoughts, Bill. William J. Watkins, Jr.: Guys, thank you for having [00:00:30] me. Great to be here. Trevor Burrus: The subtitle of your book says America’s First Constitution. I assume you’re referring to the Articles of Confederation? William J. Watkins, Jr.: That would be…

  • Interpreting the Bill of Rights
    Articles,  Blog

    Interpreting the Bill of Rights

    IN “DEMOCRACY’S DISCONTENT,” I BEGIN WITH THE CONTRAST BETWEEN TWO POLITICAL PHILOSOPHIES, ONE LIBERAL, THE OTHER REPUBLICAN. THE MAIN DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE LIBERAL AND THE REPUBLICAN PUBLIC PHILOSOPHIES LIES IN THE CONCEPTION OF FREEDOM AND OF CITIZENSHIP THAT THEY AFFIRM, AND THE LIBERAL CONCEPTION TO BE FREE, TO BE A FREE CITIZEN, IS TO BE ABLE TO CHOOSE MY OWN ENDS, WHATEVER THEY MAY BE, CONSISTENT WITH RESPECTING A SIMILAR LIBERTY FOR OTHERS. IN THE REPUBLICAN CONCEPTION, FREEDOM IS A MORE DEMANDING NOTION. TO BE FREE IS TO SHARE IN SELF RULE, TO PARTICIPATE IN SELF GOVERNMENT. NOT JUST TO GO AND VOTE EVERY TWO YEARS OR FOUR YEARS, BUT…

  • Episode 174: The Libertarian Student Movement (with Wolf von Laer)
    Articles,  Blog

    Episode 174: The Libertarian Student Movement (with Wolf von Laer)

    Aaron Powell: Welcome to Free Thoughts from Libertarianism.Org and the Cato Institute. I’m Aaron Powell. Caleb Brown: And I’m Caleb Brown. Aaron Powell: Joining us today is Wolf von Laer. He is the CEO of Students for Liberty. Welcome to Free Thoughts. Wolf von Laer: Thank you so much for having me. Aaron Powell: Will you start by telling us, what is Students for Liberty? Wolf von Laer: First of all, I would like to say thank you to the Cato Institute, not only for hosting me, but also, Students for Liberty was incubated in your very halls here. So we are now ten years old, but [00:00:30] we got…

  • Episode 140: The Constitution in Practice: From Liberty to Leviathan (with Roger Pilon)
    Articles,  Blog

    Episode 140: The Constitution in Practice: From Liberty to Leviathan (with Roger Pilon)

    Aaron Ross Powell: Welcome to Free Thoughts from libertarianism.org and the Cato Institute, I’m Aaron Powell. Trevor Burrus: And I’m Trevor Burrus. Aaron Ross Powell: And today, because America demanded it, we are back with more Roger Pilon. He is Vice President for Legal Affairs and founding director of the Center for Constitutional Studies at the Cato Institute. Last time we went into an examination of the philosophical underpinnings of the social contract and ultimately our government and so today we’re going to be talking more about the history of our Constitution specifically and interpreting it. But why don’t you start by giving our listeners a very brief version of…