REASON Profile: Davis Keeler


It may come as a surprise to many libertarians in this age of William Kunstler and Nader's Raiders, but there actually are some libertarian lawyers in this country. One of this hardy band, and one who combines his legal profession with full-time libertarian work, is Davis Keeler, a 34 year-old senior research fellow at the Institute for Humane Studies (1134 Crane St., Menlo Park, CA).

Mr. Keeler converted to libertarianism at Robert LeFevre's Rampart College during a summer vacation from law school at Northwestern. He says the experience ruined him for lawyering and, after practicing law for several years, he left his Chicago Loop firm to join the Institute, which was then under the direction of Baldy Harper.

While still in Chicago, Keeler edited and published RESEARCH REVIEW, a monthly summary and analysis of economic news which attracted readers from all over the United States, as well as from England, Sweden, Switzerland, South Africa, and elsewhere. The principle behind the REVIEW was that if the libertarian view is the correct view of reality, then it should have some predictive value. One of the basic economic tenents of libertarianism holds that government intervention creates dislocations. These dislocations carry with them opportunities for gain as well as risks of loss. "These are what I tried to explore for my readers in RESEARCH REVIEW, and again in my current Money columns in REASON."

Keeler had to give up RESEARCH REVIEW when he moved to the Bay area to join the Institute and create its Law & Liberty Project. The purpose of the Project is to work within the common law and constitutional framework of American law to promote individual liberty. In keeping with the Institute's philosophy, the Law & Liberty Project avoids activism in favor of work designed to affect the long range development of the law. "The law," says Keeler, "does not change society; it generally merely reflects changes which have already occurred in the community."

The Project provides fellowships for legal research and writing, for conferences, publications, assistance to legal scholars, and similar programs to build a strong underpinning of libertarian-oriented legal scholarship. "We have to make freedom legally respectable." The Law & Liberty Project publishes a Newsletter which goes to more than 10,000 judges, law professors, attorneys, and interested scholars.

Keeler lives in Menlo Park, California, with his pretty wife, Peggy, who is a nurse, and their two cats. Cats, he explains, are ideologically sound pets. While he has known many altruistic dogs and goldfish, he has never met a cat who did not have a firm grasp of rational self-interest. He is interested in science fiction, languages, history, and economics, and collects shares in South African gold mines. He is audited every year by the IRS.