Libertarianism and Antidiscrimination Law

The latest issue of Cato Unbound is devoted to the topic of “Discrimination and Liberty,” inspired by Rand Paul’s controversial remarks about the 1964 Civil Rights Act. In the lead essay, George Mason University law professor David Bernstein criticizes Paul’s comments and offers “a better libertarian approach to antidiscrimination law.” Freeman Editor Sheldon Richman, Cato Institute Research Fellow Jason Kuznicki, and Harvard economist Jeffrey Miron will all weigh in with reply essays over the next week. Read them all here.

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  • Brian Sorgatz||

    Threadjacking alert: This is the sequel to an earlier threadjacking of mine in which I announced that I was threatened with homelessness. I'm happy to report that I've miraculously found an apartment—under circumstances that are both good and bad for my karma as a libertarian. You can read about it at my new blog post, "I didn't exactly learn rugged self-reliance, but at least I refused any more help from my mother."

  • Jizz Mopper||

    Stop jacking all over the place.

  • Brian Sorgatz||

    But I wish to be a seminal figure in the libertarian movement.

  • Old Mexican||

    You're just not that interesting.


  • ||

    Oh wow, now that really makes a lot of sense dude. Well done.


  • Suki||

    I hope this is something like "make no law that enforces discrimination" sort of thing. The solution to Jim Crow was not more laws but the repeal of bad laws. Unfortunately, we got more bad law.

  • ||

    This is so easy:
    Government has no right to discriminate. Private citizens do.
    The end.

  • New World Dan||

    Hopefully, one day, Rand Paul will learn that debating philisophical issues with liberal pundits and the undeducated masses is like arguing with your wife. No matter how right you are, you're still wrong. Just say "Yes, dear." and then go do what you would have done anyway.

  • ¢||

    The bots are interested!

    SPOILER ALERT— Kuznicki will be playing the good boy-in-blue in this show:

    Today, anti-racist infringements on constitutionally protected lib-
    erties entail relatively mild restrictions on intra- and interstate com-
    merce, with relatively mild penalties and due process of law for
    alleged transgressors—features totally absent under Jim Crow.
    Goldwater considerably overstated his case when he claimed that the
    Civil Rights act of 1964 “bids fair to result in the development of an
    ‘informer’ psychology in great areas of our national life—neighbors
    spying on neighbors, workers spying on workers, businessmen spying
    on businessmen.”

    Suck it up, racists!

  • mr simple||

    Confronted with the hate speech analogy, progressives will typically reply that supporting freedom of speech is completely different from supporting the right to engage in discriminatory action.

    Here's where his argument breaks down. Progressives don't give a rat's ass about free speech. The only freedom they believe in is the freedom to live your life they way they plan.

  • Old Mexican||

    Getting rid of JIm Crow was one thing. However, the Statists' quest to make man a "perfect" being could not simply stop there. No, the State must stop discrimination wherever it is found and however it is defined. People cannot have choice, 'cause choice implies freedom, and freedom implies inequality - thus we all must be turned into slaves, in order to be perfect.

  • Tony||

    What legitimate reason does the state have to recognize and encourage the freedom of racists to act on their racism?

  • tarran||

    What legitimate reason does the state have to recognize and encourage the freedom of homosexuals to act on their homosexuality?

  • Tony||

    Not exactly parallel, dumbshit.

  • tarran||

    Actually, they are; if the state declines to jail someone for engaging in homosexual acts, are they encouraging them, or merely leaving them alone?

    If I were to propose that the government promote people to experiment with homosexuality, you probably would think it a waste of tax dollars - I expect you would reason that people should be free to pursue whatever romantic partners they wish without restriction (excepting pedophilia of course), and that the state should neither encourage nor discourage them.

    You would argue this despite the fact that a powerful argument may be made that society has a compelling interest in controlling reproduction & thus sexuality.

    When one looks at how racism manifests itself, one sees two broad categories of actions, injuries (let's burn the black guys out of their home) or non injuries (I refuse to buy supplies from a 'black' store).

    The latter or non-injuries in that in a free society, people are free to choose who they do business with. One man may boycott GE because it makes nuclear weapons. Another person may boycott GE because it has a hispanic CEO. A third guy may boycott GE because they gave money to the Landover Baptist Church.

    Three guys carry out the same act. Under your rubric, though, one should be criminally liable, and the other two should be free.

  • Tony||

    You would argue this despite the fact that a powerful argument may be made that society has a compelling interest in controlling reproduction & thus sexuality.

    Not powerful at all, in that any such argument would immediately run afoul of the easiest understanding of equal protection.

    Under your rubric, though, one should be criminally liable, and the other two should be free.

    No. Any individual has the right to boycott anything for whatever reason. Businesses that cater to the public don't have the right to refuse service to persons based on race. These are separate things entirely, with separate rationales.

    Homosexuality is an identity, sometimes even a protected class. Government has no role other than to ensure equal protection. Racists are not a protected class of any kind, and they are characterized not by birth traits but by an attitude universally condemned by modern society, the acting upon which causes a society that sanctions inequality by not pushing back against it, and for which there is ample evidence. My arguments are consistent and both rely on equal protection.

  • tarran||

    These are separate things entirely, with separate rationales.

    Really, how?

    I have A that I seek to trade for B. I don't like one guy with a supply of B, so I refuse to trade with him. I instead go to another guy who also has B and trade with him instead.

    You're saying that if A is money, and B is, hearing-aids, I have that right, but that if A is Hearing-Aids, and B is money, I don't?

    Yesss, very consistent....

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Tony,

    What legitimate reason does the state have to recognize and encourage the freedom of racists to act on their racism?

    What legitimate reason is there for a state to be, in the first place? Your question is loaded, Tony.

  • Tony||

    So that we don't have to live in an anarchic hellhole?

  • ||

    I'm hungry. Recipe, anyone?

  • Zeb||

    There is a difference between not acting on something and recognizing and encouraging it.

  • Tony||

    In my opinion, not in this case.

  • tarran||

    Wow... just wow...

    the last time I read your argument, Tony, it was being used by someone to explain why we thought the U.S. government should nuke Iran. Because, after all, there was no difference between leaving Iran alone and encouraging it to nuke Israel.

  • Tony||

    I don't know about that. All I'm saying is that, especially and unequivocally in the case of the 1960s, government not acting was the same thing as government sanctioning racial segregation, since it was rampant in certain regions, and anyway government had to act to end the laws that supported it.

  • tarran||

    If the government not acting would support segregation, why were the Jim Crow laws passed anyway?

    Why were businessmen willing to fight Jim Crow laws all the way to the Supreme Court, & state attorney generals willing to press the matter so fiercely?


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