The Conscience of the Constitution

The Declaration of Independence and the Right to Liberty

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Timothy Sandefur’s insightful book provides a dramatic new challenge to the status quo of constitutional law and argues a vital truth: our Constitution was written not to empower democracy, but to secure liberty. Yet the overemphasis on democracy by today’s legal community—rather than the primacy of liberty, as expressed in the Declaration of Independence—has helped expand the scope of government power at the expense of individual rights. Now, more than ever, the Declaration of Independence should be the framework for interpreting our fundamental law. It is the conscience of the Constitution.

Click here to watch Timothy Sandefur discuss The Conscience of the Constitution on the Cato Daily Podcast.

Praise for the book

The Conscience of the Constitution posits a role for the Fourteenth Amendment in protecting natural rights from abuse at both the federal and state level. It is a great defense of individual liberty.”
—Senator Rand Paul

“Now the nation no longer lacks what it has long needed, a slender book that lucidly explains the intensity of conservatism’s disagreements with progressivism. For the many Americans who are puzzled and dismayed by the heatedness of political argument today, the message of Timothy Sandefur’s The Conscience of the Constitution: The Declaration of Independence and the Right to Liberty is this: The temperature of today’s politics is commensurate to the stakes of today’s argument.”
—George Will, The Washington Post

“Expertly combining law, history, and political philosophy, Timothy Sandefur offers both a powerful defense of the Constitution and a winning case for why the Supreme Court is duty‐​bound to protect a wide range of individual rights from the grasp of overreaching majorities.”
—Damon Root, Reason Magazine

About the Author

Timothy Sandefur is an adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute, an attorney at the Pacific Legal Foundation, and the author of Cornerstone of Liberty: Property Rights in 21st‐​Century America and The Right to Earn a Living: Economic Freedom and the Law.