Randy E. Barnett is Patrick Hotung Professor of Constitutional Law and the Director of the Georgetown Center for the Constitution at the Georgetown University. He is the author of The Structure of Liberty: Justice and the Rule of Law.
I believe there is a natural law for human behavior. Human creatures have an inherent basic nature that separates them from other creatures. Moreover, their happiness depends on their actualizing the potential they have as human beings. Humans beings have a nature and they exist in the world, which also has a nature. If they try to achieve or pursue happiness somehow disregarding their own nature or the nature of the world they find themselves in, they are likely to be defeated in their objective of achieving happiness. I mean, unlike other creatures, human beings don’t fly, and if you think that your happiness involves jumping off a building thinking you can fly, you are going to be very disappointed.
The most important problem is establishing a structure within which people can pursue happiness. Each of us must make our own decisions about how to pursue happiness, but our decisions or actions can interfere with other people also pursuing happiness —our actions inevitably have the potential of interfering with the actions of others. Law provides the basic framework or structure within which people can make their decisions in a way so that they will not hinder the choices of others pursuing their own happiness. Law provides what we call the boundaries within which we can make our choices. The law is there to create equal domains or jurisdictions for each one of us to make our choices.