Should individual liberty be a society’s sole measure?

In It is Dangerous to be Right when the Government is Wrong, Andrew P. Napolitano argues his central premise that liberty is the overriding concern of the U.S. Constitution and of the American experiment, and is precisely the realm of individual freedom that government is most likely to now impede.

A brief background of the founding principles of the United States is given, and then numerous examples through our history are given to demonstrate how those principles are overlooked, neglected, and sometimes outright trampled. At times the treatment of historical issues becomes a bit labored and tedious.

Napolitano does a fair job illustrating government encroachment with real examples, and most readers will find themselves irate that such actions are being undertaken by our own government, which has historically existed to serve the people.

However, Napolitano sometimes gives a confused view of how liberty actually works. For instance, in criticizing national government actions in the realm of marriage in relation to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), Napolitano suggests that the U.S. government should leave such things to the States. But he also challenges any State encroachment upon marriage relationships, too, leaving the reader wondering who is left to regulate marriage, if anyone should.

After lauding the Judeo-Christian heritage that gave rise to the U.S. Constitution and our form of government, Napolitano seems to set as the highest goal of any organized society the preservation of individual liberty. Yet this ignores the Judeo-Christian heritage that limits individual liberty, as we see in the Old Testament laws that directed farmers to leave the corners of their fields unharvested so that the poor could get it themselves.

I also would have liked Napolitano to treat the question of how those principles that he asserts preserve liberty are either consistent with or violate a Judeo-Christian ethic.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through the Book Sneeze (BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com>) book review program. I was not required or encouraged to write a positive review; the thoughts expressed here are my own.

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