The Constitutional Stakes of the 2020 Election

June 06, 2019


What’s at stake, for the Constitution and the Supreme Court, in the 2020 election? If President Trump is re-elected and has the chance to appoint more Supreme Court justices, will the Court—and the country—fundamentally transform in a way not seen in generations? Professors and constitutional theorists Bruce Ackerman of Yale Law School and Randy Barnett of Georgetown University Law Center explore these questions and more in a wide-ranging discussion with host Jeffrey Rosen.



Bruce Ackerman is Sterling Professor of Law and Political Science at Yale, and the author of eighteen books on political philosophy, constitutional law, and public policy. His major works include Social Justice in the Liberal State and his multivolume constitutional history, We the People. His most recent book is Revolutionary Constitutions: Charismatic Leadership and the Rule of Law (2019). He was a lead witness for President Clinton before the House Judiciary Committee’s Impeachment Hearings, and a principal spokesman for Al Gore before the Florida legislature during the election crisis of 2000.

Randy Barnett is the Carmack Waterhouse Professor of Legal Theory at the Georgetown University Law Center, where he teaches constitutional law and contracts, and is Director of the Georgetown Center for the Constitution. He was previously a prosecutor in the Cook County States’ Attorney’s Office in Chicago and has been a visiting professor at Penn, Northwestern and Harvard Law School. His publications include twelve books, including his latest, Our Republican Constitution: Securing the Liberty and Sovereignty of We the People (2016). He was one of the lawyers representing the National Federation of Independent Business in its 2012 constitutional challenge to the Affordable Care Act.

​​​​​​Jeffrey Rosen is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the National Constitution Center, the only institution in America chartered by Congress “to disseminate information about the United States Constitution on a nonpartisan basis.” 

Additional Resources

Our Interactive Constitution is the leading digital resource about the debates and text behind the greatest vision of human freedom in history, the U.S. Constitution. Here, scholars from across the legal and philosophical spectrum interact with each other to explore the meaning of each provision of our founding document. 

This episode was engineered by David Stotz with editing by Greg Scheckler and producer Jackie McDermott. Research was provided by Lana Ulrich, Jackie McDermott, and Ben Roebuck.

Stay Connected and Learn More
Questions or comments about the show? Email us at [email protected]

Continue today’s conversation on Facebook and Twitter using @ConstitutionCtr.

Sign up to receive Constitution Weekly, our email roundup of constitutional news and debate, at

Please subscribe to We the People and our companion podcast, Live at America’s Town Hall, on Apple PodcastsStitcher, or your favorite podcast app.

Sign up for our email newsletter