Monday, February 21, 2011

RLC Videos: Justin Amash and Randy Barnett

Congressman Justin Amash
Chronologically speaking, I may have jumped the turnstile by posting videos of the dinner speakers at the February 12 national convention of the Republican Liberty Caucus in Arlington.  My choice was not random, however; I had already noticed that YouTube views of the speeches by financial analyst Peter Schiff and former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson were greater in number than the other videos I had posted from the convention.

The RLC convention lunch also had two speakers:  freshman U.S. Representative Justin Amash (R-Michigan), who at 30 years old is (I believe) the second-youngest Member of Congress as well as a longtime RLC activist in his home state, and Georgetown University law professor Randy Barnett.

Amash had also spoken at CPAC (the annual Conservative Political Action Conference) earlier in the week, where he was reportedly well-received.  Amash is perhaps the first Member of the House of Representatives to post all of his votes, and the rationale for most of them, on his Facebook page (, a practice he carried over from his time as a member of the Michigan state legislature.  He says he wants his votes to be subject to public scrutiny and that the new media -- in this case Facebook, but presumably also Twitter, Tumblr, and the rest -- are the easiest way to bring them to light.

Justin Amash represents the Grand Rapids area in Congress, the same part of Michigan once represented by Gerald R. Ford, who went on to become House Minority Leader, Vice President, and President of the United States. (One questioner suggests his hope for a similar career path for Congressman Amash.)  He is the youngest member of the congressional class of 2011, who were elected in the wave election of November 2010. He ran on a platform of "limited government, free markets, and individual liberty."

Congressman Amash's remarks are divided into two segments.  The first is his more formal address (though it is delivered without visible notes) and the second is a question-and-answer session with the audience.

RLC activist Laura Crockett introduces Congressman Justin Amash at the RLC convention lunch in part one:
Part two of Congressman Amash's presentation, a colloquy with RLC members:
After Congressman Amash finished his remarks and his answers to a number of questions, Professor Randy Barnett took the microphone and gave a speech entitled "Rediscovering the Libertarian Roots of the Republican Party."

Barnett, author of Restoring the Lost Constitution: The Presumption of Liberty, The Structure of Liberty: Justice and the Rule of Law, and other books, spoke largely about Chief Justice of the United States Salmon P. Chase, who as a lawyer in the 1840s in Ohio had argued several cases about slavery and the Fugitive Slave Laws. Chase was a founder of the Republican Party after serving in the U.S. Senate as a member of the Free Soil Party. (Chase was also the first GOP governor of Ohio, a Republican Senator for all of two days, and Secretary of the Treasury in Abraham Lincoln's cabinet.)

Barnett makes a strong case for the Republican party's libertarian origins. In the Q&A period, he also discusses the Repeal Amendment that he has proposed, along with the Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates, William Howell, which is gaining a lot of attention around the United States.

Listen closely to Professor Barnett's remarks for some astute analysis of the Privileges and Immunities Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment as well as some sharp commentary on the constitutionality of the "individual mandate" in the 2010 health care law (colloquially known as "Obamacare").

Professor Randy Barnett, Part One:
Professor Randy Barnett at the RLC convention, Part Two:
Professor Randy Barnett answers questions (part three):

Still more RLC videos will be posted here. Watch for them soon.

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