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Is America a Republic or a Democracy?

The United States Constitution created a republic, not a democracy, Georgetown University law professor Randy Barnett explains in his new book, Our Republican Constitution.

“It all is based on two different readings of what ‘We the People’ means in the Constitution,” he told Heritage’s Rob Bluey last week in an interview for The Daily Signal.

If you take “We the People” to mean a group and you believe that the group must rule. The only way “We the People” rule is majority rule. Under that rubric we need a democratic constitution to empower the people, to voice their opinions, their will, through the representative bodies and that’s what makes law. The majority gets to put their opinions or preferences into law.

Barnett goes on to explain what the Constitution really means:

The alternative reading of “We the People” sees “We the People” as individuals, each of whom are endowed with the individual rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. And then the next sentence of the declaration says, “to secure these rights — governments are instituted among men.” That established the principle that first comes rights, then comes governments, and government’s purpose is to secure the rights of the individual. And if you take this vision of government, then we need a republican Constitution to provide the law that governs those who govern us.

 

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