Contracts, the Constitution and consent to be governed

How does a person exhibit his consent to be governed?  Constitutional scholar Randy Barnett explains this theory of consent,

One consents to obey the laws of the land because one has chosen to live here. Just as you are bound to obey your employer (within limits) . . . you are bound to obey the commands of the lawmaking system in place where you have chosen to live. . . . So long as you chose to remain, you have “tacitly” consented to obey the laws.” Call it the “love it or leave it” version of consent.[i]

While explicitly saying, “I consent” is unambiguous, Barnett argues that,

Simply remaining in this country, however, is highly ambiguous. It might mean that you consent to be bound by the laws . . . or it might mean that you have a good job and could not find a better one [elsewhere] . . . or that you do not want to leave your loved ones behind. It is simply unwarranted that to conclude from the mere act of remaining . . . that one has consented to all and any of the laws thereof.[ii]

Read the complete commentary at Consent.


[i] Restoring the Lost Constitution: The Presumption of Liberty, Randy E. Barnett, p. 17, Princeton University Press, 2004.

[ii] Id, p. 19.


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Published in: on February 26, 2008 at 12:05 pm  Comments (3)  

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