A profile by Seth Stern:
Most constitutional scholars initially ridiculed [Randy] Barnett’s argument against the individual mandate — that Congress cannot regulate or punish the “inactivity” of not buying something.
Few mock it anymore, now that two courts have adopted the same reasoning in ruling against the individual mandate’s constitutionality. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit will hear an appeal to one of those rulings this week in Atlanta.
In less than two years, Barnett, 59, has accomplished what few law professors ever manage to do: make an arcane constitutional argument so compelling and clear that it becomes part of the national conversation.
But what makes Barnett unique is how his influence has extended beyond the elite circle of litigators fighting the health care law and into the grass roots. He has helped members of the tea party movement and supporters on Capitol Hill formulate a proposed constitutional amendment that would authorize the repeal of laws enacted by Congress to which two-thirds of the states object. While its chances of being adopted are slight, that effort, and his work against the health care law, has made Barnett an intellectual favorite of House Republicans.
Still, Barnett feels no compunction about taking the GOP caucus to task when he believes its members have overstepped the proper bounds of federal power. In a recent newspaper opinion piece, Barnett accused House Republicans of “fair-weather federalism” for supporting a bill that would limit damages in medical malpractice lawsuits.
It’s a very interesting article; if you’re interested in how ideas can spread from the academy to litigators, policymakers, and judges, you should read it. Thanks to InstaPundit for the pointer.