Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Editorials: Where I rant to the wall about politics. And sometimes the wall rants back.

Citizens United and libertarian schizophrenia

Jerry Stratton, January 22, 2010

I was just talking with a friend on facebook about how I identify as a libertarian, and still expect to see fiscally-sane policies I like from Republicans and civil-liberties policies I like from Democrats. But that while I’m often disappointed by both parties, I’m much more disappointed by the Democrats. Here’s an example: we have a law that forbids issue-oriented advertising regarding political candidates during an election. How can that not be unconstitutional? How can forbidding issue-oriented political discussion possibly be a desirable law in a free society?

McCain-Feingold was the main reason it took me a long time to warm to John McCain. I initially thought he was just engaged in malicious protection of his own incumbency; but after watching his presidential campaign I think he honestly believed that misguided law was a good thing. He continued to follow campaign finance reform laws, his own and others, while his opponent did not.

The Supreme Court just invalidated that law in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. Here’s how the vote came down: Justices Kennedy, Roberts, Scalia, Thomas, and Alito on the side of free speech. Justices Sotomayor, Stevens, Ginsburg, and Breyer against it. A pure partisan split, with the “conservatives” acting as the true liberals, and the “liberals” acting to protect the power of government against free speech.

We saw a similar split when the Kelo decision came down, and when the Raich decision came down. The more “extreme-right” the nominator, the more likely the judge was to vote for freedom. If you want to know why libertarians tend to fall on the side of the Republicans today, that’s your answer. It’s frightening that a law like McCain-Feingold was struck down on only a 5-4 vote. It’s even worse that there weren’t enough Republicans on the bench to come to the right decision in Raich and Kelo. The message is clear: if we want to keep our freedoms, we need to elect more of the kind of people who selected Kennedy, Roberts, Scalia, Thomas, and Alito for the court. More Reagans, more Bushes. And especially more Reagans and George W. Bushes.

  1. <- Plucking congress
  2. Forfeiture: legalized bribery ->