Supreme Court

Conservatives vs. Liberals vs. Libertarians at the Supreme Court


In response to my recent list of the "Top 10 Libertarian Supreme Court Decisions," South Texas College of Law professor Josh Blackman created a handy info-graphic breaking the list down under the overlapping headings of Liberal, Conservative, and Libertarian. "Libertarians find allies where they can," he writes. Check it out below.

I don't agree with his placement of every case, but on the whole it's an interesting way to think about the big picture. And I certainly don't disagree with Blackman on this observation: "Often, libertarians are torn between liberals and conservatives, and sometimes can feel comfortable with neither."


NEXT: Teacher Tax Nixed in Nevada

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. “Often, libertarians are torn between liberals and conservatives, and sometimes can feel comfortable with neither.”


    That is odd. I have to think about it more but i don’t think i ever feel torn.

    1. much like natalia imbruglia, i’m often TORN


    2. And this:

      “Libertarians find allies where they can,”

      Hey guys, how’s that ally search going?
      Well, we find them where we can.

    3. And Joshua, your quote left out the best part, the preface:

      “And I certainly don’t disagree with Blackman on this observation: ”

      WTF? “don’t disagree”. To what degree? Are you at 72% of not disagreeing?

  2. Bucanan is a fascist Anti-Semite who never got over his love for the Wermarcht. And he is also a socon Catholic who makes Rich Santorum look moderate. There is nothing libertarian about that loathsome bastard.

    1. This is what I came here to say. Also, you forgot “mercantilist.”

        1. Thanks for your work. I also assumed that it was Pat Buchanan and couldn’t begin to understand.

      1. But he was endorsed by Rothbard. Perhaps the LRC crowd isn’t as infallible as they claim.

      2. Also, he’s the bastard some of a haf-breed squaw raised on ho cakes.

        1. Wait, Pat Buchanan is Lizzie Warren’s son?

    2. And don’t get me started on that awful politician NY Times.

    3. They’re talking about Supreme court decisions, not TV talking heads, John.

    4. John,

      I agree with your mild disapproval of Buchanan. But I might have gone farther were there not adults reading.

  3. Definitely not torn.

    It’s the freaks on one side who want to wield the government to enforce their morality and the freaks on the other side who want to wield the government to enforce their egalitarianism — each of whom can’t fathom the others’ point of view — who should feel torn.

    1. The Progressives split into two parties. The Moral Socialists and the Economic Socialists.

      Which is why the so called “small government party” is a joke. All that is left of the small government era is the slogan. It is amazing what you can do with slogans. Some people believe “prohibited” means “unavailable”. When the true meaning is “distributed by criminals”.

  4. It is nonsensical to categorize SC decisions by a political rubric — especially when legal systems and theory are (or should be) process-based, rather than outcome-based.

    I seriously question how Lawrence v Texas could end up on any “top ten” list that focused on process.

    1. Gayrriage is the #1 liberty issue of our times. Donate $3 or more and you might get to play B-ball with Carmello Anthony and Obama!


    2. Because fuck the people of Texas if they think they have the right to tell me if I can bugger my wife because of federalism?

      1. That’s outcome-based thinking. I agree with the outcome in Lawrence v Texas (as any libertarian should; anti-sodomy laws are evil), but the process involved to get to that outcome was nonsense.

        1. You’re probably right about the way they actually did it but I think there are legitimate process-based ways to say anti-sodomy laws are unconstitutional.

          1. Possibly, but I simply wanted to address the idea that we should be evaluating decisions by their outcomes, rather than process. Murder and theft are terribly un-libertarian — but subverting the 4th Am is a poor process to get at a particular thief.

            Bad process today potentially means bad outcomes tomorrow.

          2. such as… ?

            1. planned parenthood v. casey? possibly the most ridiculous example of gobbledygook judicial activism in the history of jurisprudence…

              “the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.” yea. THAT constitutional right.

              but of course that RIGHT doesn’t extend to drug use, prostitution, etc. what utter rubbish.

              drug use is as natural as sex. consider that there are specific RECEPTORS in the brain (mu, etc.) that certain drugs are agonists for.

              but THAT “right” wasn’t addressed by casey. lol

              1. Boy am I glad you weren’t the Jack. Who alaways seems a little off.

              2. Good point about receptors. By making filling those receptors in some ways illegal what is to prevent them from making filling them in other ways against the law?

                “Stop smiling, you will attract the police.”

                “OK son you are allowed to pursue happiness – but if I find you are happy you are going to jail.”

        2. How do you think they should have gone about doing it? (Serious question, no snark)

          1. Something called the ballot box.

          2. I’m unaware of any Constitutional argument which would allow for the SC to overturn an anti-sodomy law, as long as it conformed to substantive due process, 4th-8th Am concerns, etc. Doesn’t mean that one does not exist, but if it does I haven’t heard it. Perhaps there’s something in the TX state constitution which allowed the TX Supremes to overturn.

            If not, I would be favorable to clemency and pardons from the Governor’s office, legislative attempts to overturn, and referenda on the subject, as most other states did to get rid of their anti-sodomy laws.

            1. To be more specific, an anti-sodomy law *passed by a state government* rather than the feds.

              1. another remedy is jury nullification.

                i totally agree, though. i can’t stand when people think lawrence was a libertarian victory.

                making up law (penumbras etc.) in order to seek a good result is wrong.

                and of course, gays (and people sympathetic to same including myself) could boycott texas.

                the wikipedia entry is instructive. in brief, the initial call was a clusterfuck with a gun, the cops encountered a bunch of bullshit resistance, the report of the man with a gun turned out to be a false report made out of spite, the cop actually got permission from a PA to arrest for the “deviate sexual conduct” he witnessed – the statute was that rarely used. the penalty: a fine of $100

                the interesting thing is that oconner found for the plaintiff’s for a totally different reason. she was pro bowers and still stuck with the bowers’ rationale. she just said since the statute had been changed to only apply to SAME SEX sodomy, that it was an EPC issue.

                the case was a mess…

                1. Uh. The penumbra is there. The 10th. Some times called the forgotten Amendment. You musta forgot.

              2. How about the 14th amendment? Especially since the law only applied when one “engages in deviate sexual intercourse with another individual of the same sex”.

    3. yes




      finally, somebody with respect for PROCESS vs. results when it comes to SCOTUS case law analysis

      and i totally agree about lawrence. very “penumbra’y”

      1. Liberty is nearly unlimited. The powers of government limited. The people do not have enumerated rights.

        Some people claiming to be libertarians should get over it. Or on it. As the desire moves and consent allows.

        I give it a 10. Or “I’ll take the 10th for all you have got. Alec.”

  5. To echo others here, “torn” is not a word that I would think would apply to libertarians and their “relationship” with leftists or right-wingers. It’s more “sometimes they can make common cause for the same result even if for differing reasons”.

    1. No, torn is a good word. It’s how our assholes feel after they’ve fucked us over.

    2. Honestly, it’s part of the whole “libertarians are conservative on economic issues and liberal on social issues” line. Once you start thinking about it, it isn’t really true. Way too many conservatives are nowhere near pro-freedom when it comes to markets and way too many liberals are nowhere near pro-freedom when it comes to anything other than, well, sex.

      1. I’ve never had “well sex”. Is it any fun? How do you do it? Got a link?

  6. “Torn” makes the assumption that we want to belong to one of the two major parties. We are neither apostates, heretics or infidels.

    1. We are empire. May God condemn the heretics of yore.

      1. And the hair ticks of the present.

  7. THe two circles don’t actually intersect. ANd there’s nothing in the third circle that goes in the middle and is labeled Libertarian.

  8. Why the fuck is Kyllo not in the intersection?

  9. Kelo isn’t on there?

  10. I don’t agree with his placement of every case…

    Yeah, no shit. Where did he get the idea that racism was not a core conservative value?

  11. I see two problems with this graphic.

    1)The cases are placed idiotically. McDonald wasn’t a libertarian case?

    2) More importantly, it lacks alt-text.

  12. Because it’s not. Your need to indicate otherwise tells us volumes about you.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.