Monday, October 13, 2008

Another reason I won't be supporting Bob Barr

I know there are a number of Libertarians who have this fervent belief that the 14th Amendment was never ratified.

Few if any of them have actually read more than a few cherry-picked quotations on some web page, and haven't actually done any serious examination of the history--at least as professional historians have looked at it--and most don't care to do so. We live in an age wherein people truly value the strength of someone's arguments and evidence almost purely by whether we agree with their ideology.

So my presumption of the 14th Amendment's legitimacy will peeve not a few Libertarians and even my anarcho-capitalist friends, but to them I'd answer: if its conception was maculate, it has long been accepted for both precedent and practice in American jurisprudence, and it ain't going away. Nor do I want it to leave, even if I want it un-applied to corporations, because I happen to like the restrictions that due process places on the State.

All of which is long-winded preamble to stealing Rob Powers' recent post post at Outright Libertarians about Bob Barr and originalist construction:

This morning, I received an email from the Bob Barr campaign. In it, the Campaign Manager, Russell Verney, showed a complete lack of understanding of the Constitution. It's my opinion that Bob Barr himself does not have this same lack of understanding, but if he lets his staff continue to put out this 19th-Century nonsense, the voting public's perception may be that he agrees with them.

From the email:

[Barack Obama] has publicly stated his disdain for justices Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia, Samuel Alito and Chief Justice John Roberts.

Me too. Same for most Libertarians. These four men have made excuses for the worst attacks on the Constitution by this President. The Bob Barr who donates his time to the ACLU doesn't think much of these four men, either.

The email continues:

We don't believe in a living Constitution. We believe that where interpretation is needed, original intent is what should be considered. The Constitution of 1789 is as good today as it was then.

You have got to be kidding me. There's no way that Bob Barr agrees with this nonsense. The 1789 Constitution, complete with a definition of slaves as 3/5 of a person is "as good today as it was then"? Libertarians don't believe anything of the sort.

You see, the phrase "original intent," which is one of Ron Paul's favorites, is really just code for "I don't like the Fourteenth Amendment, so I'm going to pretend that it's not part of the Constitution." Ditto for the phrase "states rights." The Fourteenth Amendment has been a part of the Constitution for a very long time now. To ignore it is to be in a 19th-Century timewarp.

But here's the kicker:

Your gift of any amount will help us get the word out that there is not a dime's worth of difference between McCain and Obama.

And if Russell Verney has his way, there won't be a dime's worth of difference between Paul, Baldwin, and Barr. The Libertarian Party is not a place for apologists of the Confederacy. Those folks have a home -- the Constitution Party.

Slavery was wrong. Individual states infringing on the liberty of individuals based on immutable characteristics such as race, sex, national origin, sexual orientation, or gender identity, is wrong. That's why the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution was ratified and why Libertarians support the Fourteenth Amendment -- to guarantee every American, in every state, equal protection under the law.

Mr. Barr needs to give Mr. Verney a lesson on the Constitution, and he needs to publicly refute statements from his staff that deny the existence of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution.

Libertarians can and do differ [a lot] about the 14th Amendment, and whether it has been a force for good or evil in American society. But Rob's larger point--that you can't turn the clock back and ignore all the changes to the US Constitution since 1787--is spot on. That leaves plenty of room to argue about whether the US should have an income tax, a Department of Education, or a State-enforced monopoly on fiat currency.

There's plenty to do without living in an Ed Meese fantasy land in the only answers that will ever be valid for the US government were given in a Philadelphia conference hall with no air-conditioning in 1787.


Anonymous said...

We live in an age wherein people truly value the strength of someone's arguments and evidence almost purely by whether we agree with their ideology.

So you've noticed too, huh?

Which is why I personally appreciate yours, Duffy's, and LG's critiques, and when it comes to education... Hube's.

Because they, like those old 1980's computer games, tend to open doors into other rooms.... causing me to expand a little wider...

Anonymous said...

Does this mean you won't be liveblogging Bob Barr's interview on Radio Times tomorrow morning?

Anonymous said...

Is it okay if I vote for Barr anyway, if only to register my distaste for the two major party candidates?