Serving Two Masters

According to the latest LP press release:

Constitution burning

Elena Kagan is another bad pick for the Supreme Court. If confirmed, it is likely that she will vote on cases with the intent of advancing political policy goals.

Kagan will probably vote to advance liberal policy goals, just as some other justices vote to advance conservative policy goals. That is not the place of justices, who should be applying the Constitution, not trying to rewrite it to make society work better according to their views. …

Once upon a time, Congress felt it had a duty to legislate in accordance with the Constitution. Likewise, past presidents believed that they should veto laws that were not clearly constitutional. But in more recent years, both branches have thrown this crucial duty away. …

And so on.

So are they the Libertarian Party or are they the Constitution Party? Which is their more basic value: the nonaggression principle or the Constitution? If there is a “duty” on the part of Federal officials to set aside their own judgment in favour of the Constitution, does that mean they also had a duty to enforce the fugitive slave cause?

, ,

12 Responses to Serving Two Masters

  1. Stephan Kinsella May 13, 2010 at 3:04 pm #

    Superb. Right on. But what else can we expect–the LP is not very libertarian.

    The judge should not use the cover of the Constitution to do something immoral (unlibertarian), of course — as I noted in my post Higher Law.

  2. Darren O'Connor May 13, 2010 at 3:27 pm #

    Yeah, the national LP is pretty messed up. Not sure what hope there is for them in the near future. I often find myself in arguments with minarchist/constitutionalist types in my state party (LPNC), trying to convince them of the error of their ways. Not much luck, though.

  3. John May 13, 2010 at 3:37 pm #

    Libertarians (Narveson, Lomasky types) suffer from the same inherent contradiction of all ideologies which suppose that collectivism can somehow be respectful of individual freedom.
    “I believe in individual freedom and democracy” is like saying “I believe in nonexistent entities.”

    The constitution served a purpose, the it served it as best it could, and still failed miserably. Slavery is just one of the countless evils the constitution allowed.

    Time to move on folks. Freedom needs to evolve. Democracy’s time is over.

    • Roderick May 13, 2010 at 4:54 pm #

      Narveson’s an anarchist.

      • John May 13, 2010 at 5:32 pm #

        Hi Roderick,

        That’s what I hear, but I’m only familiar with his The Libertarian Idea (1988). I am guessing he made the jump to anarcho-capitalism after writing that book.

        Would that be correct?

    • Rad Geek May 13, 2010 at 6:11 pm #

      John: The constitution served a purpose, the it served it as best it could, and still failed miserably.

      Well, if you imagine that the purpose it served was to limit the power of government, it clearly failed at that. But that seems more like the purpose that latter-day libertarians wish the Constitution was designed to serve, rather than the purposes it was actually designed to serve. It was, after all, adopted as an alternative to a preexisting constitution (the Articles of Confederation), and the main differences that were supposed to recommend the new U.S. Constitution were: (1) that it provided for a stronger central government, which would be able to (2) extract taxes and pay interest on war bonds, (3) pass fugitive slave laws and crush slave uprisings in the South, and (4) organize and facilitate government land-grants to politically-connected speculators in the Western territories. Did a pretty solid job at all of those things, far as I can see. Certainly, with the exception of the course-reversal on slavery (after decades of successfully upholding the slave system in spite of growing opposition), their posterity still enjoys all the blessings of a strong central government, a permanent tax apparatus, and effective government control over the allocation of land.

      It’s not just a matter of what the Constitution ended up allowing; it’s what it was designed to do from the get-go.

  4. John May 13, 2010 at 5:48 pm #

    Thanks for the link – I’ll give it a read.

  5. WorBlux May 13, 2010 at 11:44 pm #

    As I’m sure Long is aware, Spooner made a pretty good argument that fugitive laws as they were enforced were unconstitutional, and that the constitution cannot be interpreted as being both binding as a contract (which is what it purports to be using “we the people” rather the monarchical terms such as dominion, or subjects) and justifying slavery by referencing the principles of common law both in interpretation and application at the time the Constitution was drafted.

    • Roderick May 14, 2010 at 11:58 am #

      Right, but the people who treat the Constitution as sacred writ don’t take a Spoonerite approach to interpretation.

  6. Alexander S. Peak May 14, 2010 at 6:54 pm #

    While it may be true that the Dallas Accord is no longer in effect, I don’t see anything in this press release that is in conflict with the Dallas Accord. At no point does Mr. Benedict say the federal government should actually be involved in any area of life. The point of the release is to say that Congress’s attitude is, “It’s not our responsibility to care whether or not our laws are constitutional. We’ll pass whatever we want, and let the courts handle our mess!” This is a point that I think anarchists can accept, even while we recognise that the Constitution is not a legally binding document or contract, and has no real legitimacy.

    I see no reason to assume that Mr. Benedict treats the Constitution as sacred writ. For that matter, I see no reason to assume that Mr. Benedict doesn’t take a Spoonerite approach to the Constitution. Whether Mr. Benedict is an anarchist or a minarchist I know not.

    I share Kinsella’s view on the how a Supreme Court Justice should rule.

    Alex Peak

    • Roderick May 14, 2010 at 7:44 pm #

      Clarification: by a Spoonerite approach I meant the approach to constitutional interpretation in The Unconstitutionality of Slavery, not the rejection of the Constitution in No Treason: The Constitution of No Authority. Whatever his position on the latter, I’d be willing to bet he’s not a Spoonerite in the former sense.

Leave a Reply

Powered by WordPress. Designed by WooThemes