Does the Constitution Still Matter? Evan Bernick from the IJ

Ever since Marbury v. Madison institutionalized the process of judicial review, the judicial branch has been responsible for deciding whether legislation is consistent with the federal Constitution. Some conservative critics of the Supreme Court decry its “judicial activism,” i.e., the imposition of judges’ personal policy preferences as constitutional commands. Other critics fault the Supreme Court for its “judicial restraint,” i.e., the court’s acceptance of government policies (like Obamacare) that mandate or regulate behavior, even when a plain reading of the Constitution seems to prohibit it. The Institute for Justice, the nation's premiere libertarian public interest law firm, is responding to this debate by calling for judicial engagement, or active judicial enforcement of the Constitution’s guarantees of individual liberty. Evan Bernick is the Assistant Director of the Center for Judicial Engagement at the Institute for Justice, and principal author of a new report, Enforcing the Constitution, featuring twenty case studies in both judicial engagement and its opposite, judicial abdication. Bernick has written extensively for the Huffington Post on how the Supreme Court can and should remain a bulwark of individual liberty. He joins Bob to highlight a few of these cases and prognosticate about the prospects for proper judicial enforcement of constitutional liberties.

Renée Flaherty on Civil Forfeiture Reform

The Institute for Justice, the nation’s leading public interest law firm, picks its battles carefully. Our liberties are being assaulted from multiple angles, leaving their dream team of attorneys to engage in legal triage – winning big cases for individuals that then set solid precedents to defend the rest of the population. Renée Flaherty recently argued in defense of a young man named Charles Clarke, whose $11,000 in cash savings were seized at an airport through so-called “civil forfeiture.” Although Clarke was never charged with a crime, and had a legitimate explanation for why he was carrying the cash, airport officers wrote an affidavit expressing suspicion that the money had been earned through a drug deal. Next, several police departments quickly laid claim on the "booty", effectively rendering Clarke guilty until proven innocent. Thankfully, and in large part due to the IJ’s efforts, states are taking a second look at civil forfeiture laws. Senator Rand Paul has even proposed a federal law that would rein in police forces and ratchet up the standard for probable cause. Bob is thrilled to have Flaherty as his guest this Sunday, to explain how the Institute for Justice is helping to stem the tide of civil forfeiture, a practice which has more than doubled since President Obama took office. If you’re not angry, you’re not paying attention – call 1-800-345-5639 to join the conversation at any time.

Ilya Somin on the Grasping Hand of Eminent Domain

Perhaps you remember the story of Susette Kelo, the owner of the "Little Pink House" in New London, Connecticut that was condemned to make way for an economic development project led by Pfizer. Maybe you were even a part of the public backlash – larger than any other stemming from a Supreme Court decision in recent memory. Ten years after the Justices voted 5-4 to uphold city's abuse of eminent domain, we can start to look at the impact of this major precedent with implications for all of our property rights and individual sovereignty. The question still remains: If the government can take your house to provide land for another party's private economic benefit, what can't it do? In his new book, *The Grasping Hand: Kelo v. City of New London and the Limits of Eminent Domain*, Ilya Somin offers the definitive account of the case as it has impacted broader trends in American jurisprudence. Somin joins Bob this Sunday to expose the special interests that are preventing effective eminent domain reforms at various levels of government. He also reveals how pivotal groups like the Institute for Justice have been in raising awareness about this issue, and how their efforts have translated into genuine change. Our property rights are at stake – Somin's message is an important one if we are going to resist the grasping hand of eminent domain.

All Powerful Federal Government – Did the Founders Blow It?

During the Constitution’s ratification process from September 1787 through mid-1788, each and every federalist (the supporters of ratification) promised America a federal government of limited (i.e. “enumerated”) powers. For about 120 years we were provided with maximum freedom to pursue our lives as we see fit. Promise kept. Then what happened?

The America we live in today is by no means the America that we were supposed to have. Were we given a flawed Constitution? One that mandated an all-controlling, all-seeing, liberty-denying Big Brother that was determined to make all of our personal decisions for us? Clark M. Neily III knows how we got from the government we were promised to the government we now have and he explains it in Terms of Engagement; How Our Courts Should Enforce the Constitution’s Promise of Limited Government. Clark joined Bob to discuss all this and more. You need to know how we got in this mess in order to know how to get out. A must-hear show.

Why Do You Need The Government’s Permission To Earn A Living?

It is perverse to think that in America, a person needs the government’s permission to sell his or her services to another American. It is especially unjust when that permission is routinely denied. If that permission is granted, and that person’s business income doesn’t generate enough tax revenue to satisfy the government’s insatiable appetite, the government can then shut that business down by denying its relicensing.
It is offensive when an industry group can successfully petition the government to keep out their competition. Isn’t lawful competition what the free market is all about? Thanks to organizations such as the Institute for Justice, barriers to honest work are coming down one at a time. In this episode, Bob McNamara, a senior attorney at the IJ who is a front line warrior defending the right to work. McNamara’s stories about the anti-competitive forces at work in transportation will enrage you and his successes will excite you. Taxis, jitney buses, inter city buses, limos, Uber and Lyft… Hear about the defense of capitalism from someone on the front lines.

Manny Klausner - A Libertarian Life

Manny Klausner has lived the ultimate Libertarian life. He co-founded Reason Magazine, was a Co-Founding Director of the Institute for Justice and acts as General Counsel to the Individual Rights Foundation. From studying with Mises to spending time in Chicago and California with Milton Friedman, he’s walked the walk and talked the talk. In this episode, Manny appeared as our guest on the show to discuss SCOTUS’ handing down the “Obamacare decision,” or the single greatest threat to our liberty that has ever been judicially created. Manny and Bob cover the Constitutional backdrop to the decision: what it means to our liberty and why. To paraphrase Jefferson in his first inaugural address, “we are all Libertarians.” Discuss the decision that changed the Constitution with Bob and Manny Klausner.

A Nation of Cowards

A commonly held perception is that America is a nation of tough competitors. Just give us a free enterprise system with no governmental interference and we will prosper and provide for our families. Perhaps that was once the case but no more. We’ve become a nation of cowards who are fearful of competition and insecure in our own abilities. There is no better proof of this than the system of occupational licensing in every state. Americans in every profession and occupation have pulled up the drawbridge. Once they are safely inside the castle, they keep others out. Why else would three states insist on licensing interior designers, other than to prevent newcomers from entering that occupation? It’s the same for funeral attendants, florists, and home entertainment installers.   No organization has done more to defend the right of a worker to earn an honest living without the need for expensive licensing fees and needless schooling that the Institute for Justice. To discuss the work of IJ and its new study on how occupational licensing hurts low income workers, Bob will be joined by Dana Berliner, Litigation Director of the IJ. What you learn will enrage you.

Property Rights of the Politically Powerful

The 5th Amendment to the Constitution, a part of the Bill of Rights, denies the government the power to take your property except for “public use.” Property rights are a core part of our political fabric. With these “rights,” our entire economic system would fail. Unfortunately, political power and cronyism have converged, with the assistance of the courts, to allow local governments to confiscate private property for no other reason than to give it to someone else! Eminent domain is a potent and sometimes unchecked power which continues to be abused by corrupt and ambitious local officials who transfer wealth to their well connected friends. Help may be on the way. . . or is it?   In this episode, Bob is joined by Bill Maurer of the Institute for Justice to discuss instances in which government has taken private property. It’s an issue which calls into question the allocation of power between the states and Washington. The issue involves the unfair destruction of vibrant minority communities and pits courts against elected officials and citizens against our government. In short, the fur will fly.