On the Colloquy: The Constitutional Politics of the Tea Party Movement

The online companion to the Northwestern University Law Review is proud to feature a four-part series on the constitutional politics of the Tea Party:

The essays originated as a panel discussion at the 2011 Annual Meeting of the Association of American Law Schools. Professor Richard Albert offers a brief introduction to the online series and explains the impetus for convening a group of renowned constitutional law scholars to discuss the rise of the Tea Party movement.

Professor Randy Barnett, author of the Repeal Amendment, defends the nature of the Tea Party movement and gives a first-hand account of the development of his constitutional proposal, which has attracted significant support from the group. Professor Barnett also responds to criticisms of the Amendment leveled by Professor Levinson, arguing that his proposal is, if anything, too modest in scope.

Professor Sandy Levinson continues the debate with a critique of Professor Barnett’s proposed Repeal Amendment, which would allow the legislatures of two-thirds of all states to repeal any congressional legislation. Levinson argues that such an amendment undemocratically empowers small states to kill federal legislation.

Professor Jared Goldstein assesses popular constitutionalism in light of the Tea Party movement. After discussing the movement’s constitutional vision and rhetoric, Goldstein suggests that popular engagement with the Constitution and control over its interpretation may not promote democratic values as expected.

Professor Ilya Somin observes that the Tea Party is the first popular constitutionalist movement in many years primarily focused on limiting federal power. He then argues that the Tea Party’s efforts to impose stricter limits on government power would further two important objectives: strengthening democratic accountability and limiting popular hostility towards minorities and foreigners.


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