Supreme Court

Why Libertarians and Conservatives Clash Over the Meaning of the Constitution

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Peter Lawler, a conservative professor of government at Berry College, and Ilya Somin, a libertarian professor of law at George Mason University, recently conducted a fascinating debate inspired by my new book Overruled: The Long War for Control of the U.S. Supreme Court. Reviewing the book at the Volokh Conspiracy, Somin kindly described Overruled as "an impressive account of the conflict over judicial review between conservatives and libertarians." In a nutshell, libertarians think the courts should actively police the other branches of government and strike down overreaching laws. Many conservatives, by contrast, favor the philosophy of judicial deference championed by early 20th century Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., who declared, "a law should be called good if it reflects the will of the dominant forces of the community even if it will take us to hell."

Writing in response to Somin at the Library of Law & Liberty, Lawler stands up for the conservatives. Yes, he concedes, the libertarian view "maximizes individualism" by consistently championing both "social liberalism" and "economic conservatism" in court. But a problem arises, Lawler maintains, when "the judiciary interposes itself in political controversies while operating under an understanding of liberty that is deeply questionable and surely time-bound." As evidence of the judiciary's questionable defense of liberty, Lawler points to the Supreme Court's decisions in favor of privacy rights and gay rights, among other issues.

Lawler is absolutely correct that the libertarian and conservative legal movements have come to grips on these fronts. But as I argue in Overruled, the fissure goes much deeper than the debate over "social liberalism." Indeed, the fault-line originates with two very different interpretations of the U.S. Constitution. For example, according to the revered conservative jurist and legal theorist Robert Bork, under our system of government, "in wide areas of life, majorities are entitled to rule, if they wish, simply because they are majorities." For Bork, that meant the courts should butt out of most legal disputes and instead let the democratic process run its course. (Chief Justice John Roberts invoked that very sort of judicial deference when he upheld Obamacare in 2012.)

In comparison, here's how the libertarian legal theorist Stephen Macedo responded to Bork:

When conservatives like Bork treat rights as islands surrounded by a sea of government powers, they precisely reverse the view of the Founders as enshrined in the Constitution, wherein government powers are limited and specified and rendered as islands surrounded by a sea of individual rights.

In other words, it's a clash of constitutional visions between the libertarians and the Holmes-Bork devotees.

In his review of Overruled, Ilya Somin concludes that the libertarian legal movement is currently on the rise. But he also notes that the other side is "unlikely [to] give up without a fight." Peter Lawler's eloquent defense of old-school legal conservatism is further proof that this fight is not over yet.

NEXT: Looming Cuts to Medicaid Docs "Threaten Access to Care" Sez NY Times

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  1. wow…me first huh. OK.

    Nice Article?

    1. Yeah, I find this kind of stuff fascinating. Though the true libertarian viewpoint is to call for the privatization of courts.

      1. On what grounds do you base that statement?

  2. Of all the historical SCJ most people can name there is truly only 1 that was not a complete authoritarian ass. The ones who get remembered are the ones who support more involved government.

    Bonus points for those who can guess the 1 to which I refer.

      1. Not sure if that’s who you had in mind as a jurist, but Marbury v Madison is certainly the case that jumps to mind about the role of the court.

    1. Janice Rogers Brown?

      Wait, not on yet.

    2. Hmmm…two guesses for me:

      1. Jay, just because of his support for jury nullification.

      2. Wilson, got to get some credit on this front for his authorship of the Constitution.

      1. DING DING DING!

        Jay is the winner!

        1. And to put a finer point on it: Jay clearly understood the proper role of government better than any other just commonly known. Hands down.

          1. John Jay was a goddamned Federalist and high Whig a**hole.

            Damn John Jay;
            Damn anyone who won’t damn John Jay;
            Damn anyone who won’t light a candle and sit up all night damning John Jay.

    3. Sotomayor?

      1. He was very good. His dissents in the Civil Rights Cases (1883) and Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) are must reads.

    4. Justice Johnny Fuckerfaster?

    5. Kennedy?

    6. First and foremost Louis Brandise (who led Holmes out of the high Whig the darkness into the light) and, based solely on his dissent in Terry v. Ohio, William O Douglas.

    7. Brewer? Maybe Peckham?

  3. Macedo is exactly right.

    Which is why authoritarians like Bork have to disappear the 9th and 10th Amendments.

    When your jurisprudence requires you to disregard the explicit language of 1/5th of the BOR, you may have problem.

    1. The arguments from the 9th and 10th amendments are circular. To figure out what was reserved we first have to know what wasn’t.

      1. They arent circular to people who understand natural law.

        1. Nobody understands what natural law is. The whole philosophy of natural law is largely abandoned precisely because it is, by its nature, circular.

          1. Nobody understands what natural law is.

            Speak for yourself.

            I dont understand it perfectly, but the same applies to anything.

      2. That’s what the rest of the Constitution is for.

        1. Exactly. Which is why the 9th and 10th have been ignored.

          1. The 9th and 10th have been ignored for two reasons:

            (1) If you accept and are willing to enforce the rest of the Constitution as written, they really don’t add much.

            (2) If you are determined to ignore Constitutional language in pursuit of your goals, then what’s a couple more provisions that you will ignore?

            The Founders foresaw the dangers to their plan. And those dangers are nicely encapsulated by Bork. They had hoped that these amendments would be speed bumps on the road to reversing the meaning and intent of their plan, but it turned out that these speed bumps were inadequate.

            1. The 9th and 10th have been ignored for two reasons:

              (1) If you accept and are willing to enforce the rest of the Constitution as written, they really don’t add much.

              This is generally my opinion. If you adhere and respect the rest of the constitution, the 9th and 10th are almost superfluous.

              1. If you adhere and respect the rest of the constitution, the 9th and 10th are almost superfluous.

                Almost as though their inclusion was not only purposeful, but emphasized

            2. I don’t blame The Founders for not foreseeing travesties like the Commerce Clause, rational basis, or Slaughterhouse. But they should have foreseen that checks and balances needed more weight on the citizen side than a single useless vote every two years, and that impeachment was such a drastic remedy that it would never be used where it counted.

              1. I don’t think anything they could have done would have mattered with an electorate this apathetic, ignorant, and distracted.

              2. “a single useless vote every two years”

                I’m inclined to think that was the point.

              3. Remember, it used to be people could not vote directly for Senators at all. Senators were chosen by the state governments. I can’t say anything has improved.

      3. The arguments from the 9th and 10th amendments are circular.

        Well, not really. Here’s the text:

        The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

        Nothing circular there. It is a prohibition on the claim that if a right isn’t in the BOR, it doesn’t exist. It may beg the question of what the “others retained by the people” are, but its not circular.

        The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

        I don’t see any circularity or question-begging here, although its a little convoluted and unclear. This provides that if the Constitution doesn’t delegate a power to the feds, its reserved to the states or the people, and if it doesn’t prohibit a power to the States, its reserved to the people. Would have been better to have two sentences here, IMO.

        1. We have to figure out what the constitution allows before we figure out what is reserved. As centuries of SCOTUS decisions have shown, that isn’t an easy question to answer.

          1. Its not that hard, Bilbo.

            The Constitution allows the government to act only when it is exercising an enumerated power.

            And, it cannot exercise those enumerated powers to infringe on the BOR (or such other rights as are identified as extant even though they are not listed in the BOR).

            1. But the question of what those enumerated powers are is very difficult, particularly after the passage of the 14th amendment. The line of commerce clause cases demonstrate this.

              1. The line of commerce clause cases demonstrate this.

                Isn’t it generally argued (by libertarians) that the commerce clause has merely been abused by activist, progressive government and jurists? From this libertarian’s perspective, the commerce clause was designed to be a brake on state (as opposed to federal) power.

                1. “From this libertarian’s perspective, the commerce clause was designed to be a brake on state (as opposed to federal) power.”

                  It would seem odd to put it in Art. I, Sec. 8 then.

              2. But the question of what those enumerated powers are is very difficult,

                There’s a pretty straightforward list. Which, unless you are trying to enact a sub rosa amendment via “interpretation”, is certainly not that hard to apply, as jurisprudence goes.

                As to the 14th, it authorizes Congress to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this amendment. So it adds, effectively, an additional enumerated power. The only provision of the amendment that could support much legislation is this:

                No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

                Which, honestly, seems to be more the business of the federal judiciary to enforce, than Congress to legislate. To the degree it authorizes legislation, it would be legislation that applies to the States, in any event.

                Again, I fail to see how the 14th Amendment throws the entire Constitutional scheme up in the air. At most, it hedges the authority of the states and allows the feds to pass legislation binding on the states. Which is, oddly, the one thing it hasn’t really been used for.

                1. The list isn’t straightforward at all when the necessary and proper language is taken into account.

                  1. Necessary and proper refers to the enumerated powers.

              3. The line of commerce clause cases demonstrate this.

                The line of commerce clause cases shows what happens when you disregard the plain text of the Constitution to grant new powers to Congress. This will naturally result in a lot of handwaving and angst, as it works itself out.

                How did the 14th Amendment, BTW, make a big change in commerce clause jurisprudence?

                1. Commerce had nearly as broad a meaning then as it does now. “Necessary” had a very broad meaning too.

                  Just because you (and me) want the constitution to be a libertarian document doesn’t mean it is.

                  1. Actually, commerce was clearly understood as trade (as opposed to production), a distinction that we have found convenient to ignore. And which, if applied, invalidates most of the legislation adopted under the new understanding of the Commerce Clause.

                    There is a quote in Wickard, the case that turned the Commerce Clause into a grant of plenary power, to the effect that even though the plaintiff’s activities were neither interstate nor commerce, they were nonetheless subject to the interstate commerce clause. The Court admitted, in the plain of day, that what they were doing was illegitimate.

                    The necessary and proper clause is not the easiest to apply, but its pretty clear that it is not a plenary grant of power in and of itself. In the scheme of things, it was pretty clearly intended to allow Congress to do some gap filling in pursuit of their enumerated powers. It has become an exception that has consumed the rule. Which is yet another indictment of SCOTUS.

                    The Constitution may not be a perfectly libertarian document, but if it was applied as written, we would have a much more libertarian government than we do.

                    1. Your a lawyer, so I know you year Gibbons at some point. “Commerce, undoubtedly is traffic, but it is something more, it is intercourse.” So no, the definition was not restricted to simply trade.

                    2. So what do you think “intercourse” means, in this context?

                      It means trade. Not production. Find me a definition that says otherwise.

                      The IC Clause was mainly used for over 100 years to regulate common carriers (that is, “traffic”). Without knowing more about Gibbons, I can’t say that the reference to “intercourse” refers to anything more than trade.

                    3. One more, then I’ll quit, I promise:

                      Congress has the authority to regulate interstate commerce. Per the 10th Amendment, the power to regulate intrastate commerce is reserved to the states.

                      It is an abuse of the language, in context, to say that the Necessary and Proper Clause negates the 10th Amendment and gives Congress the authority to regulate intrastate commerce.

                      Thus, if Congress wants to, say, ban marijuana, it is only authorized to ban the interstate commerce in marijuana. It is not authorized to ban the growth or intrastate sale of marijuana. Even though such an intrastate ban might be “necessary” for the interstate ban (I would argue it is not, as it is perfectly possible to ban interstate transport and sale without banning intrastate activity), it is not “proper” as doing so is a violation of the 10th Amendment.

                    4. “Actually, commerce was clearly understood as trade (as opposed to production), a distinction that we have found convenient to ignore.”

                      Really? Where are you getting that from?

          2. We have to figure out what the constitution allows

            It’s not for the Constitution to *allow* a right. Rights exist separately from the Constitution. You are implying that with no Constitution, there are no rights.

      4. If I write a document, say the Constitution of My Refrigerator, and it includes in it, an article, oh, lets call it article 8, to pretend it’s a big document, and in that article, I write:

        BilboTeabaggins gets all the cake and pie in the refrigerator.

        But near the end of the document, I write “All food in the refrigerator not reserved for Bilboteabaggins is reserved for other users of the refrigerator.”

        You don’t need to know, in detail, what foods are reserved for other users of the refrigerator. We know that cake and pie are reserved for Bilboteabaggins. Simple logic tells us that all other foods: carrots, yogurt, soft drinks, are reserved for everyone else.

        That’s how the Constitution is worded. It’s not difficult to decipher.

        1. The constitution isn’t worded quite that way, though. It says that Congress has the power to do X, and anything necessary and proper to do X. Your strawman is showing.

          1. The necessary and proper clause only allows Bilbo to open the fridge, move other people’s food out of his way, etc. as needed to get the cake and pie.

            It does not allow him to take all the other foods.

            1. And where do you get that from? I think your problem is you are conflating your opinion and actual evidence. Your opinion really doesn’t just make it so, you have to have some evidence for your assertions.

              1. It is not difficult to read a sentence and determine what it means. It’s even less difficult when you do more than pay lip-service to the intended spirit of a law, not just the letter of that law. After all, we’re not all lawyers-turned-politicians, trying to find niggling loopholes to authorize more power for ourselves.

                And the Supreme Court is most certainly not infallible.

      5. All you have to do is read the rest of the document. Then you will see what was carved out for the Federal government. At that point, with regards to federal authority, it makes no difference if it was reserved to the states or to the individual.

  4. As evidence of the judiciary’s questionable defense of liberty, Lawler points to the Supreme Court’s decisions in favor of privacy rights and gay rights, among other issues.

    The problem with those issues isn’t that they are supported by “an understanding of liberty that is deeply questionable and surely time-bound”

    Its that the “right” decision has little to no support in the text of the Constitution. And, by privacy rights, we all know he means abortion.

    The Court is not empowered to enforce an “understanding of liberty”. It is empowered to enforce the Constitution. Which, as a document, is inherently time-bound, and as a political document is inherently deeply questionable. The Framers, not being idiots, actually have a solution to this: amend it if you don’t like it the way it is.

    To me, most of the nattering about SCOTUS jurisprudence arises from the desire to have SCOTUS amend the Constitution, rather than a messy, lengthy, and uncertain amendment process.

    1. To me, most of the nattering about SCOTUS jurisprudence arises from the desire to have SCOTUS amend the Constitution, rather than a messy, lengthy, and uncertain amendment process.

      Bolded for emphasis.

    2. Privacy is what the 4th amendment is all about. It’s very easy to understand: Don’t touch my stuff. Leave me alone.

      Whether that supports allowing abortion is an entirely different matter, upon which the two sides will never agree: it either murders the fetus or enslaves the mother. But privacy is right smack in the 4th amendment, clear as a bell.

      1. Oh yeah, I know that.

        I was merely noting that, in the context of the context of “Supreme Court’s decisions in favor of privacy rights and gay rights”, it is pretty clearly a euphemism for abortion, not search-and-seizure law.

      2. The fourth is very simply about stuff and information. Abortion and gay rights are ninth or fourteenth, to the extent that they are federal at all.

  5. Holmes believed in the dictatorship of the many and Bork hated people doing what he thought was immoral.

  6. For example, according to the revered conservative jurist and legal theorist Robert Bork, under our system of government, “in wide areas of life, majorities are entitled to rule, if they wish, simply because they are majorities.”

    It’s strange to hear such a view described as “conservative”. My understanding is that conservatives shared the founders’ concern about the powers of tyrannical or momentary majorities. That is, if conservative constitutional thinking is in any way rooted in The Federalist Papers.

    1. It’s a gross and unfair simplification of Bork’s jurisprudence.

      His argument was closer to the position that majorities rule where the constitution doesn’t otherwise interfere, but its honestly too complex to get deep into it. Whether you agree with him or not, dude was one of the most important scholars of the 20th century and his masterworks of law (particularly on antitrust) are well worth picking up.

      1. Where exactly does the Constitution not “otherwise interfere?”

      2. I have to agree with some of the skepticism regarding Bork’s argument. It strikes me as begging the question. Isn’t “where the constitution otherwise interferes” the entire point of constitutional law?

        1. For example, Bork argued that because “Necessary and Proper” is ambiguous (and was ambiguous in the 18th century), the courts should generally allow congress to decide what is necessary and proper because they are the branch closest to the people.

          1. And that’s the abdication that we object to.

            Those are legal words in a legal document to be interpreted and applied by the Court.

            You might as well say “Welp, the people who wrote this contract language are closer to it than we are, so we’ll always let one of the parties tell us what it means.”

            1. They have interpreted it. McCulloch v. Maryland, for example. The earliest decisions deferred to Congress to determine what means were adapted to a constitutional end.

              1. Bilbo, you are under the mistaken impression that I give much weight to what SCOTUS has said.

          2. Congress is the branch closest to the people, alright… you just have to cut through the miles of lobbyist/special interest layers first. 😛

      3. His argument was closer to the position that majorities rule where the constitution doesn’t otherwise interfere

        Oh, we get it. Its just that Bork had it backwards.

        The Constitution sets up a fairly narrow zone (the enumerated powers) where majorities are allowed to rule, not a wide zone where majority rules, limited only by the fairly narrow zone marked out by the BOR.

        1. I agree. The point of the Constitution was to establish “the table” of things that were subject to political/governmental control, and then clearly say what was “on” the table, with the understanding that anything not explicitly mentioned (or directly necessary by implication) was “off” the table — not even to be a legitimate part of the political discussion, much less the subject of law. For centuries, sneaky folks in all three branches of Federal government have sought to bring once forbidden things to the table, by hook or by crook — and they have mostly succeeded. We need to prune back the thicket of laws that have resulted from this ceaseless, rust-like activity — not to mention reduce the size of government that depends on them — and we need to once again recognize and firmly emphasize the clear boundaries that the Constitution was created to establish.

      4. I agree with you on that. That is really a simplistic characterization of his philosophy, I was a little surprised by such a blatant misrepresentation.

        1. There is no misrepresentation. Bork had little actual respect for individual rights as demonstrated by his own writing.

          http://world.std.com/~mhuben/bork.html

          Bork was a conservative progressive; a judicial Rick Santorum.

    2. This is kind of what I was thinking. To me, you can’t really call yourself “conservative” and believe that the tyranny of the majority should over-ride the common language of the Constitution. All the examples given seem quite un-conservative.

      1. If the understanding of liberty is questionable then it is probably not any common understanding of constitutional mraning that is in dispute.

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  8. It isn’t just Conservatives that Libertarians clash with over the Constitution. The reason for both is the same and quite simple. Neither Conservatives, and to a greater degree Progressives, subscribe to the ideals that the Constitution attempts to embody and both are endlessly trying to circumvent it.

  9. I disagree with the idea in the Holmes quote. Clearly, checks and balances built into the Constitution anticipate the possibility of bad laws being proposed, and even enacted, so there are mechanisms in our system of government to blunt or prevent the effect of those bad laws, and even strike the laws down entirely. I don’t think bad laws should be struck down, simply because someone thinks they are “bad”: There will probably always be disagreement about that kind of thing. But I do think that SCOTUS has a responsibility to test laws against the Constitution, and a duty to strike down any that conflict with our founding document. I suppose that there could be a perfectly constitutional law that “takes us to hell,” but in my experience and study of history, any law that has ever turned us toward the dark side has been exceptionally unconstitutional, though often wrongly upheld by SCOTUS, via specious “reasoning.” Maybe SCOTUS shouldn’t be so activist as to seek out legislation to test in the Constitutional crucible, but it should not shy away from reasonable challenges to laws on constitutional grounds, which may come before the court.

    1. I also wanted to point out that I disagree with Bork, for the same reason I mentioned in reply to someone else’s comment here: Majorities are not “entitled” to rule everywhere the Constitution does not rule, even if that is our societal tradition and custom (although they get to rule in some circumstances, under certain State Constitutions and statutes). The authors of the Constitution did not trust democracy, and used democratic approaches sparingly, with deliberate checks and balances, in their design for the Federal government. The Constitution puts only a very few areas of life under Federal political control, and leaves everything else off the Federal table. If States want to enshrine democracy in areas of life not discussed by the Constitution, that is their prerogative. But it is important to understand that a “Republican form of government,” which the Constitution requires EVERY State to guarantee its citizens, is designed to protect the rights of the minority against the power of the majority. For someone like Bork to ignore this and declare “majority rules except where the Constitution says it doesn’t” betrays a conviction about our form of government that is at odds, I think, with its true structure and purpose.

      1. ^Well said. Thank you.

      2. I think it’s pretty straightforward that there is supposed to be a check and balance between all levels and branches of government to ensure that power in the country remains as decentralized. But primarily the ruling force in a Republic aught to be sovereignty of individual rights.

  10. When conservatives like Bork treat rights as islands surrounded by a sea of government powers, they precisely reverse the view of the Founders as enshrined in the Constitution, wherein government powers are limited and specified and rendered as islands surrounded by a sea of individual rights.

    He’s putting words in the mouths of the Founders there. The federal government was given enumerated powers in the Constitution, yes, but in its original form it barely limited state governments’ power at all.

  11. As evidence of the judiciary’s questionable defense of liberty, Lawler points to the Supreme Court’s decisions in favor of privacy rights and gay rights, among other issues.”

    Speaking of opinions that are “questionable” and “time bound”, how ingenious is being against privacy rights or equal protection for gay people likely to look in a hundred years?

    1. The answer to that question depends on if we’re even here, as a country (in any meaningful way), in a hundred years. Time progresses, and scientific knowledge progresses, but people often regress.

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  14. Left out of the discussion are the soi-desant “Liberals”, who want a rule to cover everything, and then the authority to enforce said rules with complete selectivity, which will allow them to be “fair” to everybody.

    I’m a Crank. I think one of the best ways to make a bad law go away is to enforce it on the people who believe that it doesn’t apply to THEM. Want immigration reform? Start enforcing the current laws as written, focusing on the companies that hire illegals, and on foreign “celebrities”. No nation NEEDS Justin Beiber, and the immigration laws are such a clusterf*ck I’m SURE we have grounds to bounce his poncy little ass.

    Not that MY generation of mincing little teen heartthrobs were any better.

    Want Drug Law Reform? We should have insisted on busting Teddy “Regatta Weekend” Kennedy a dozen times at least.

    I’m SURE there’s some political icon we can bust for possession in the Capitol Building thus very moment. Probably tapping some intern.

  15. Libertarians have the fundamentally morally right position. Majorities DON’T and SHOULDN’T have the right to rule, if it means treating individuals unjustly. Society has progressed some since Oliver Wendall Holmes’ time. We not only don’t think it’s ok for the majority to force everyone else to share their religious practices, we also don’t think it’s ok for the majority to force their lifestyles, hairstyles, or sexual proclivities on others.
    And the basic trend is towards more libertarianism. The only consistent guiding principle is that anything done voluntarily between consenting adults should be legal, whether it’s sex or economic exchange. It doesn’t make any more sense to tell me that I can’t pay a stranger to drive me to the airport than it does to say I can’t fuck the same guy in my bedroom. Regardless of whether the majority thinks so or not. Majorities are, and always have been, full of moralistic busy-bodies and petty tyrants, and are totally capable of committing horrible injustices. And the more people have witnessed the injustices wrecked by majorities, the more they clamor for a greater sphere of individual freedom. That is what has led to the rise of the libertarianism legal movement.

    1. What injustices exactly?

      How do these injustices of the majority compare with the injustices of governments dominated by a minority–such as the various dictatorships that mar the twentieth century, the monarchies that dot our entire history, and the various god/priest kings that wander through our antiquity?

      Have governments dominated by majoritarian voting done anything comparable?

      In point of fact, is it not true that ONLY within governments dominated by majoritarian voting that individual freedom is any kind of concern at all?

  16. I don’t think the article (or the subsequent discussion) is entirely fair to Robert Bork. It is true that Bork essentially believed that the states should have free reign to legislate as they wished, and he was rather skeptical of the incorporation doctrine. But his main concern was federal law, and “states’ rights” is a perfectly valid libertarian point of view on federal law. He also excoriated the New Deal court for using the commerce clause as a backdoor to unlimited federal scope and power. “The Tempting of America” deals more with the Court’s abandonment of enumerated powers than it does with his “original intent” ideas.

    1. Misinterpretation of the commerce clause has been the chosen tool for eviscerating the rest of the Constitution so often one has to wonder how things would’ve played out had it never been added.

    2. One thing we really need to do is come up with another term besides “states’ rights”. The progtards in power are still recycling that old meme of “States Rights = SEGREGATIONZ!”.

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  25. I think it’s easier to understand the difference when you realize that modern conservatives and liberals are philosophically rooted in pragmatism (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pragmatism) from the progressivist era. Pragmatism basically says that it’s impossible to know the truth based on principle, thus you have to just stick fly paper and see what sticks and roll with it. Libertarians are rooted in principle and believe that certain things must be, despite how difficult or upsetting it might be to accept them (like legalization of drugs for instance and the chances of having a loved on become addicted), conservatives and liberals, not so much.

    Conservatives change their principles when it is convenient. You see many conservatives complain about the lack of respect for authority displayed towards police officers who have killed innocent and non-threatening citizens, however, they are silent and at times congratulatory when they see cops openly disrespecting the mayor. Amazing isn’t it?

  26. Not all conservatives, this one included, adhere to the attitude of Holmes, Bork, et al. We are not as far apart as the author alleges.

  27. Somin spoke at my school this October. Boy, can he respond to any question, any series of questions, quickly and succinctly.

  28. before I looked at the check of $5261 , I didnt believe that…my… neighbour could truley taking home money in their spare time at there computar. . there aunts neighbour has done this 4 only and just cleared the dept on their mini mansion and bourt Honda . site link….
    ?????? http://www.paygazette.com

  29. I don’t particularly like 9 judges deciding what is proper by their interpretation of the law or their political views. That few of a panel can too easily be manipulated by one ideology. Constitution is the one thing in this world that makes is different and if we drift away from it we will just become another failed country. I don’t like what I have observed over the last few years and just because we have been the US for almost 240 years does not mean we will continue to prosper.

  30. I Got Hooked On Having An Online Business Almost A Decade Ago When I Created An Online Course And Made My First.
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