Free Minds & Free Markets

Stossel: What Trump's Court Pick Means for Liberty

Judge Kavanaugh will mostly advance freedom, says Cato's Ilya Shapiro.

Hearings begin today for President Trump's Supreme Court pick, Brett Kavanaugh.

John Stossel wonders whether Kavanaugh will be good for liberty.

Libertarians are right to worry. Kavanaugh has shown deference to government when it spies on people.

In one case, Kavanaugh allowed the government's "metadata collection program," in which the government stored phone data collected from millions of Americans.

Kavanaugh even went out of his way give comments on that case, saying the metadata program "serves a critically important special need—preventing terrorist attacks on the United States."

But a government report later found "no instance in which the program directly contributed to...disruption of a terrorist attack."

Yes, says Ilya Shaprio, the Cato Institute's senior fellow in constitutional studies, Kavanaugh disagrees with libertarians on national security. But on just about every other issue, Kavanaugh would likely advance liberty.

Shapiro notes that Kavanaugh is one of the best judges in the country at opposing government regulation on individuals and companies. As a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, Kavanaugh tried to strike down lots of regulations: net neutrality, EPA admissions rules, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. He didn't always succeed, but he argued that they were all bureaucratic overreaches.

Shapiro tells Stossel that Kavanaugh would also likely overturn Kelo v. City of New London, the eminent domain decision that upheld the right of governments to take private property for nearly any reason.

Kavanaugh is also good on gun rights. Citing the Second Amendment, he tried to overturn a D.C. ban on all semi-automatic rifles.

The left fears Kavanaugh mostly for other reasons. Sen. Kristen Gillibrand warns, "What's at stake is freedom for LGBTQ Americans, for equal rights, for civil rights."

Sen. Bernie Sanders, meanwhile, warns he would "tell women they don't have the constitutional right to control their own bodies."

But their biggest fears are misplaced, Shapiro tells Stossel. Kavanaugh is unlikely to change rulings on Roe v. Wade and gay marriage, because he and Chief Justice John Roberts respect precedent, especially if changing it would disrupt people's lives.

The left can breathe easier on those things, says Shapiro, but he notes that Kavanaugh will likely overturn one thing that is dear to the left: affirmative action.

"Kavanaugh could provide the fifth vote to overturn that 40-year-old experiment with using racial preferences to promote some kind of nebulous diversity."

Should libertarians be happy with Kavanaugh overall, Stossel asks? "Definitely," Shapiro says. "He's not going to agree with us all the time, certainly. But no judges or justices do."

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The views expressed in this video are solely those of John Stossel; his independent production company, Stossel Productions; and the people he interviews. The claims and opinions set forth in the video and accompanying text are not necessarily those of Reason.

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  • Fist of Etiquette||

    This makes it sound like Kavanaugh was the second best you were going to get from Trump.

  • KevinP||

    Thank you for this appointment, President Trump.

    President Clinton, Reason's favored candidate might have appointed Sen. Elizabeth Warren to the court. On the bright side, she would have been the first Indian-American on the court.

  • Injun, as in from India||

    Indian-American who?

  • Homple||

    Plastic feather, not dot.

  • DrZ||

    I thought that plastic feathers were banned with plastic straws?

  • Robert||

    Not who, how!

  • Robert||

    Or woo-woo-woo-woo.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    As Stossel points out, Kavanaugh might not be the perfect pick but he has a strong record of limiting government over reaching power on the 2nd, 4th, 5th, 6th, and 8th Amendments.

    At least people and judges are talking about limiting government power which has not necessarily been the case over the last 10-20-30-40 years.

    Good video Stossel.

  • OpenBordersLiberal-tarian||

    One of the most fundamental human freedoms is the right to access abortion care at any point in pregnancy. Kavanaugh's lack of commitment to Roe v. Wade automatically makes him an anti-liberty extremist, no matter what he thinks of your precious "2nd Amendment rights." All libertarians should oppose him for that reason alone.

    Of course, there's also the fact he was nominated by an illegitimate President who cheated his way to "victory" based on Russia hacking the election.


  • Rockabilly||

    Expose the Russian Robots on FaceBook Brainwashing the peoples to friend Trump !!

    And how about the Climate Control?

    Who will control the climate if not government?


  • DrZ||

    Mr. Trump is more legitimate than the Congress that let the abortion issue go to the Supreme Court instead of solving the problem themselves. They have clearly shown that they did not understand how the Constitution works and the current crop is little better.

    Roe vs. Wade never belonged in the SC.

  • UnrepentantCurmudgeon||

    "One of the most fundamental human freedoms is the right to access abortion care at any point in pregnancy"

    Unmitigated bullshit. Just keep your pants zipped

  • R. K. Phillips||

    Of course, Roe v. Wade was determined NOT on the right to an abortion, but the right to privacy.

  • MoreFreedom||

    Why are you posting here? You're obviously not a libertarian. And like liberals/socialists/Democrats these days, you just make false allegations. As for abortion, any real libertarian knows that's an issue involving a conflict of rights, and isn't as you allege, "one of the most fundamental human freedoms" especially say compared to freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of assembly, freedom to carry guns to protect yourself, or even freedom of contract. And I see nothing that supports your allegation that Trump cheated, especially compared to how Obama put the fix in for Hillary, his administration attempted to discredit his candidacy with false Russian collusion allegations (while Hillary was colluding with Russians to create a fake dossier) and illegal leaks about the investigation. And shall we mention her real cheating with debate questions or control over the DNC?

    Trump is IMHO the most libertarian president since Reagan.

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    Ain't perfect. But rejecting him in hopes that Trump will roll the dice and pick someone better who will be approved before the new Senate in January, or by the new Senate after January, is a fool's game, and implies that Trump actually does roll the dice for judicial picks.

  • wreckinball||

    This only makes it 5-4 good guys and Roberts will probably now morph into Kennedy,.

    IMO this guy should be about as non-controversial as it gets.

  • Jerryskids||

    Watching the shit-show right now. It's not even laughable to see the likes of Blumenthal and Booker and Harris waxing indignant over the inability to examine *all* of Kavanaugh's records to fairly and meticulously reach a conclusion as to his fitness for the bench. They've all already said Kavanaugh is the most evil person ever nominated and they wouldn't vote for him if Jesus Christ Himself materialized on the hearing room floor and begged them with tears flowing down His cheeks to vote to confirm Kavanaugh. I sure would like to hear Grassley ask them how much time they think they would need to thoroughly examine Kavanaugh's record, because you know damn well the real answer is "as long as it takes until the Democrats are back in power".

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Grassley is out of his league. He's dealing with people who do not recognize rules of order.

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    How much of his records are in the public domain?

  • loveconstitution1789||

    All his court opinions are.

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    I suppose critters in Congress could have done some work on their own. But that would require work.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation hearings began on a chaotic note, with Democratic protesters repeatedly interrupting the proceedings with belligerent, shrieking heckling.
    As the chairman of the Senate Judiciary committee, Sen. Grassley (R-Iowa), attempted to call the hearings to order, hecklers almost immediately began heckling the lawmakers.
    Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) promptly interrupted Grassley, demanding a delay to the hearings. Sen. Klobuchar (D-Minn.) then followed up with another call to delay the hearings. The Democratic lawmakers were upset over documents the White House released last night, which they said came too late.
    "We cannot possibly move forward," Sen. Kamala Harris said. Sen. Blumenthal then moved to adjourn the meeting, a call which received a roaring ovation from the hecklers.

    Senate confirmation hearings

  • Quo Usque Tandem||

    Once Kavanaugh joins Gorsuch on the Supreme Court, it won't much matter what happens to Trump. That, and the fact that HRC did not win the presidency, will be a legacy for decades. The Democrats of course realize this and will do anything to keep it from happening. And I wouldn't put anything past them.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Imagine when Trump gets to pick SCOTUS replacements for RBG, Breyer, and Thomas.

    The Lefties will have probably burned Califronia to the ground by then.

  • Quo Usque Tandem||

    Burn California to the ground. Like rioters destroying their own neighborhood.

    After Kavanaugh, Dems not gaining ground in the mid terms, and of course a Trump second term will most certainly be enough to send them off the rails. I do think violence may become the order of the day in that event.

  • Robert||

    Then can we machine-gun them in the streets? Do we even have to wait until then?

  • loveconstitution1789||

    We will have the moral high ground when defending ourselves from their mask covered faces and molotovs.

  • CE||

    California's already burning to the ground by itself.
    They'll have to think of a faster way to destroy the state, like spending all its money on a high speed train to Merced.

  • DrZ||

    "They'll have to think of a faster way to destroy the state.."

    I agree. Right now it's a slow fizzle. It gets worse by the year, but not fast enough for California voters to notice - at least those who have not yet left the state.

  • UnrepentantCurmudgeon||

    "The Lefties will have probably burned California to the ground by then"

    They already have.

  • damikesc||

    Given their comments on voting no regardless and the constant interruptions --- why is Grassley even bothering? Stop the hearing and call the vote.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Old RINOs like Grassey think they can play nice with Lefties. He is sometimes on their side after all.

    Grassey still lives in Delusion-Land where he would not be rounded up like the rest of us and put in gulags by the Lefties.

  • UnrepentantCurmudgeon||

    Stop the hearing and refer the matter directly to the Senate floor. Why bother with a circus vote?

  • TLBD||

    The amount of shame I have for identifying libertarian after reading a Dalmia article would be nothing compared to the shame I'd feel if I called myself a Democrat.

  • Rockabilly||

    Is it wrong to say I'm enjoying the ProgTard outrage, the crying, the signs, the screaming, the speeches, and the endless virtue signaling?

    Well, is it?

    Naw, not really.

  • Quo Usque Tandem||

    No, not at all. Just picture a smarmy, complacent and condescending Hillary at the dais, just biding her time to coronation and pretending to participate in the process along the way.

  • Rockabilly||

    And Bill as 1st Male, 1st Lady.

    All those interviews about his duties.

  • CE||

    Maybe he could start an anti-workplace-harassment campaign.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Not one bit.

    I am running out of space for all these Lefty tear barrels.

    I wonder what I can sell these for? Maybe more once Commifornia needs water to put out the fires.

  • Rockabilly||

    I put my barrel out in the sun without a top and in awhile you'll be left with ProgTard Salt which you can sell at the local market.

  • wreckinball||

    The shit show began today. Seriously why are they even having it. Just vote tomorrow on the guy. I agree with the article.

    The only Reason articles that make sense are either written or involve Stossel.

  • DrZ||

    "The left fears Kavanaugh mostly for other reasons. Sen. Kristen Gillibrand warns, "What's at stake is freedom for LGBTQ Americans, for equal rights, for civil rights."

    Sen. Bernie Sanders, meanwhile, warns he would "tell women they don't have the constitutional right to control their own bodies.""

    If either of these two geniuses understood that the reason that questions like these went to the Supreme Court in the first place, it was because Senators like them to did not do their job and then feel back on the SC to do the jobs they should have done in the first place. This is also known as incompetence.

  • UnrepentantCurmudgeon||

    "Sen. Bernie Sanders, meanwhile, warns he would "tell women they don't have the constitutional right to control their own bodies."

    The Constitution doesn't give anyone the right to control his or her own body.

  • R. K. Phillips||

    The Constitution CANNOT give someone the right to control their body; they already have it, endowed by their creator.

  • Hank Phillips||

    True, but the LP platform of 1972 corrected that through spoiler votes and the Supreme Court, kleptocracy senators from the Comstock era be damned!

  • Spookk||

    In other words, the guy is a total corporatist lackey. Just what we need :/

  • PG23COLO||

    Kavanaugh defends the administrative state more often than not. That has been his job for the past decade or so, as an appellate judge on the D.C. Circuit.

    Kavanaugh also defends the federal criminal legal system which convicts nearly everyone charged in federal court. Kavanaugh has shown no original thinking on the rights of criminal defendants and very little appreciation for the history and significance of jury rights.

  • PG23COLO||

    Kavanaugh is a great admirer of William Rehnquist, an enemy of individual rights and a protector of the omnipotent state.

    Hardly consistent with a defender of liberty. Stossel, don't believe everything you are told!

  • XM||

    I'm actually looking forward to BK possibly casting the deciding vote on ending Affirmative Action.

    You may never find another racist policy that's been so thoroughly dressed up and presented as something positive. Your race literally has nothing to do with academia.

    The dems will likely gain ground in the midterm, but there lurch towards socialism wont' be long term winning issue, and the wealthy progressives who run big companies will start pushing back against their agenda. Or should I say, they won't pay for their Utopian society. That's when the real fun begins.

  • SQRLSY One||

    "...EPA admissions rules..."

    What does that mean? Rules about who can be employed by the EPA? Or that the EPA has rules about NEVER "admitting" that they are a bunch of the-sky-is-falling Chicken Littles, Nervous Nellies, and over-regulating Ninnies, Nannies, and parasitical suckers of the taxpayers' teats?

  • SQRLSY One||

    "...EPA admissions rules..." (From the article).

    What does that mean? Rules about who can be employed by the EPA? Or that the EPA has rules about NEVER "admitting" that they are a bunch of the-sky-is-falling Chicken Littles, Nervous Nellies, and over-regulating Ninnies, Nannies, and parasitical suckers of the taxpayers' teats?

  • BioBehavioral_View||

    Too Much — Too Few

    The Constitution stated that "judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution . . .". What, though, is "Equity"?

    Equity: Justice according to natural law.

    As the Anti-Federalists had noted in opposing adoption of that then-proposed constitution, equity confers upon the Judiciary the power to judge according to the inferred spirit of the law and its inferred intent pursuant to "natural law" or that which is fair and right — as inferred by the judges.

    Who, then, discriminates between that which is fair and right versus that which is unfair and wrong? Again, the judges.

    Consequence of incorporating "Equity" into the Constitution? To risk subordinating the will of the people via their own elected representatives to the often arbitrary, capricious, and whimsical will of non-elected lawyer-judges.

    Never in history had a people bestowed so many powers so great upon so few judges.

    -From the novel, "Retribution Fever"

  • Hank Phillips||

    Ever notice how nobody likes to talk about freedom anymore? Since freedom is understood to mean freedom from coercion, proponents of coercion have gradually shifted to the vaguer, muzzle-loaded synonyms of earlier, more monarchic centuries. But this does not mean we have to adapt to their language or political persuasions--not even for the sake of politeness.

  • 1440 minutes||

    Kavanaugh is either a boot-licking shill or a renowned expert in the history of the SCOTUS nomination process since our founding. I'm going with boot-licking shill. If Kavanaugh gives our dictator wannabe a get-out-of-jail-free card, then we are in *big* trouble.

  • FusterCluck||

    What do you think the SCOTUS does? What a useless comment.

  • mmmjv||

    I don't care what he means for liberty. After what they did to Merrick Garland, and after Mitch McConnell's statement that no future nominee will ever get even a hearing unless the NRA approves (yes he really said that) any Supreme Court nominee chosen by a Republican president needs to be obstructed as much as possible by the Democrats. Which means if the Democrats take the Senate no action at all taken on any future nominees as long as Trump or any other Republican is in the White House.

  • FusterCluck||

    I love how the new left pretends to be adults.

  • Migrant Log Chipper||

    the jv (as in junior varsity) in your handle fits like a glove.


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