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Liberty for All: Reclaiming Individual Privacy in a New Era of Public Morality Hardcover – November 1, 2006

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Editorial Reviews

Book Description

In this eye-opening look at today’s tension between public morality and individual privacy, legal scholar Elizabeth Foley warns that we have abandoned crucial constitutional principles. She analyzes urgent contemporary issues—abortion, gay marriage, cloning, and others—and calls for a return to original, revolutionary principles of limited government and individual liberty.

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From the Back Cover

"Elizabeth Price Foley's path-breaking account of the Founders' views of 'individual sovereignty' and the limits this entails for both federal and state power is well worth the price of the book. Her powerful advocacy of the American 'morality of law,' as embodied in the Constitution, is a compelling antidote to those who would limit personal liberty by appealing to 'public morality.' A must read for everyone interested in how the Constitution is supposed to protect individual liberties."
-- Randy Barnett, author of Restoring the Lost Constitution and The Structure of Liberty

"Elizabeth Foley has authored a slim and provocative volume, making a persuasive case that much of contemporary constitutional law thinking is mistaken. It's the most engaging book on constitutional law that I've read in quite a while."
-- Glenn Harlan Reynolds, Beauchamp Brogran Distinguished Professor of Law, University of Tennessee

"This book will surprise and unsettle anyone who reads it. It grabs hold of some of the most familiar precedents and principles in constitutional law and shakes them hard, as if in a kaleidoscope. It then invites us all to look at them again, harder and better. It is that rare work of scholarship that really does earn the title, original. It is learned, eccentric, cogent, and provocative, all at once. And it leaves me thinking that Professor Foley may well be right in her radical reinterpretation of constitutional liberty."
-- Tom Gerety, Collegiate Professor, New York University and President Emeritus, Amherst College


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (November 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300109830
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300109832
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 2.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #319,688 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Elizabeth Price Foley is Professor of Law at Florida International University (FIU) College of Law (, a public law school located in Miami, Florida, where she teaches constitutional law, health care law and bioethics, and civil procedure. She writes about constitutional law and the intersection of constitutional law with health care law/bioethics.

Foley is a self-described "recovering liberal" turned classical liberal/libertarian. She is passionate about educating Americans--not just law students--about the Constitution, its original meaning, and the importance of preserving its structure and principles.

Foley lives in Key Largo, FL, with her husband, daughter, and a dog named Thomas Jefferson. Her personal webpage can be found at

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Bronx Book Guy on July 15, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Books of this sort are interesting but too doctrinaire and selective to be convincing ... surely to the level of assurance suggested. This is furthered by the author -- again not unique to her -- questionable use of history, often ignoring troubling matters that would make her conclusions harder to reach. Thus, even if you respect her argument of libertarian views based on individual sovereignty (I do), how she gets there and how she applies it leaves something to be desired.

A few examples. As is typical of the genre, at least of those favored by the blurbs on the back of the book, the author argues recent courts have 'invented' things to fit the Constitution into what they feel is necessary for society. Interesting. After all, the author opposes Justice John Marshall's (who was at the founding) rejection of applying the Bill of Rights to the states in 1833 (before the 14th Amendment). One can also cite the Slaughterhouse Cases. That was 1873. And, a myriad others before the New Deal. As some note, pre-New Deal cases quite often upheld regulations. The 'Lochner Court' stereotype, notwithstanding.

Or, in general, all the liberty violations upheld in the past by the courts (no sending contraceptives thru the mail, various sexual practices, prohibtion laws [the fact a few did not doesn't suggest 'original understanding' which she claims is a primary drive of her jurisprudence] etc. One might also note times have changed -- there weren't even any police forces back in 1789. Modern society requires more laws (though citations of spitting on the sidewalk as an issue, is that not a public nuisance, is curious); but in many ways we are more free than we were in the past.
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0 of 9 people found the following review helpful By K. Brigan on January 15, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Kind of interesting, but the author lapses into standard assumptions and bigotry, even immediately after talking about the "tyranny of the majority." Her hatred of fat people, for example, leaves one wondering if the rest of her arguments are so unexamined. She skirts over the obvious instances (religion, primarily) where the majority can be dangerous, but--even though this is directly related to her main thesis--ignores the impact of assumption and bigotry. Thinking that all fat people are lazy (she uses this lie at least twice), without any actual scientific basis for this assumption, does far more damage to everyone's freedom than the obvious act of trying to convert someone to your religion. It's the sneaky hatreds that are the worse, but she can't even identify them in herself. Similarly, she also never discusses the impact of governmental inertia and incompetence as a force of tyranny. Yes, she's too sure of herself, and stuck in theory, not reality.
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0 of 21 people found the following review helpful By JOJOE ROGERS on January 13, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Where are the constitutional values for liberty>? I do not recommend this book.
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