Monday, December 19, 2011

Why does Ron Paul hate freedom?

Let's talk about Ron Paul for a second. The golden child of big-L Libertarians everywhere, Ron Paul has been making waves yet again this election cycle for his often confrontational and aggressive questioning of other candidates during debates. He is generally lauded as a candidate who seeks to preserve American freedoms by limiting the role of the federal government in the country's affairs, preferring to leave important decisions up to the states. For this, he receives lots of accolades as being a "pro-freedom" and "small government" candidate who seeks to uphold the Constitution above all else.

But is it true?

No, absolutely not. Rep. Ron Paul, R-TX has introduced legislation that is fundamentally the opposite of the ideals of freedom from government expressed in the Constitution. Specifically, I'm talking about H.R. 539, also known as the We the People Act of 2009. This bill, sponsored by Ron Paul, appears on its face to limit the role of the federal government in deciding certain matters Paul feels are best left to the states. The relevant portion of the bill states:
SEC. 3. LIMITATION ON JURISDICTION.
The Supreme Court of the United States and each Federal court--
(1) shall not adjudicate--
     (A) any claim involving the laws, regulations, or policies of any State or unit of local      government relating to the free exercise or establishment of religion;
     (B) any claim based upon the right of privacy, including any such claim related to any       issue of sexual practices, orientation, or reproduction; or
     (C) any claim based upon equal protection of the laws to the extent such claim is based upon the right to marry without regard to sex or sexual orientation; and
(2) shall not rely on any judicial decision involving any issue referred to in paragraph (1).
So Ron Paul's legislation would completely remove all claims relating to religion, sex, or privacy from the jurisdiction of the federal courts and the Supreme Court, leaving these matters up to the state supreme courts to decide for themselves. "But doesn't that increase freedom by removing the federal government from interfering in state matters?" you might be asking. Ron Paul would certainly have you believe so. His spin on the matter was expressed in an essay he penned as early as 2003:
Consider the Lawrence case decided by the Supreme Court in June. The Court determined that Texas had no right to establish its own standards for private sexual conduct, because gay sodomy is somehow protected under the 14th amendment “right to privacy.” Ridiculous as sodomy laws may be, there clearly is no right to privacy nor sodomy found anywhere in the Constitution. There are, however, states' rights— rights plainly affirmed in the Ninth and Tenth amendments. Under those amendments, the State of Texas has the right to decide for itself how to regulate social matters like sex, using its own local standards. But rather than applying the real Constitution and declining jurisdiction over a properly state matter, the Court decided to apply the imaginary Constitution and impose its vision on the people of Texas.
Representative Paul casts this matter in a state vs. federal light- the federal government shouldn't have jurisdiction over a "properly state matter," and that "the State of Texas has the right to decide for itself how to regulate social matters like sex, using its own local standards."
Ron Paul probably has a Google News Alert set for "nip slip 10th amendment"
Make no mistake though: this is about as anti-freedom as it gets. What Ron Paul is saying here is that HE BELIEVES THE STATE GOVERNMENT SHOULD HAVE THE RIGHT TO LEGISLATE PRIVATE SEXUAL BEHAVIOR BETWEEN CONSENTING ADULTS. He thinks it's ok for the state to legislate these things so long as the Feds aren't interfering with their "right" to do so. I cringe whenever I hear Ron Paul being described as pro-liberty or pro-freedom because of this mindset. Ron Paul thinks that the Texas State Legislature should be allowed to tell two consenting adults what orifices they can and can't use in their sexual activity, and that THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT SHOULDN'T BE ALLOWED TO INTERFERE WITH THE STATE'S RIGHT TO DO SO. I can't think of anything the government shouldn't be allowed to interfere with MORE than private sexual behavior between consenting adults in their own homes, the strongest bastion of privacy in our Supreme Court jurisprudence. Former Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis said it best in one of his dissenting opinions: "the right to be let alone — the most comprehensive of rights and the right most valued by civilized men. To protect that right, every unjustifiable intrusion by the government upon the privacy of the individual, whatever the means employed, must be deemed a violation of the Fourth Amendment."Olmstead v. U.S., 277 U.S. 438, 478 (1928) (Brandeis, J., dissenting). But Ron Paul doesn't care about that. He is perfectly fine with discrimination and government intrusion into private matters, so long as it's being done at the hands of the State government rather than the federal. Arkansas wants to pass a law criminalizing homosexuality, punishable by a mandatory minimum of 10 years in state prison? As long as the Arkansas State Supreme Court says it's ok, the Supreme Court can't interfere. Does that sound like pro-freedom to you?

"But wait!" you say, "isn't there a long history of binding precedent that would prohibit states from enacting such draconian laws?" Yes, there is, thankfully. Unfortunately, Ron Paul also doesn't give a shit about this, as is evident from the text of the bill:
SEC. 7. CASES DECIDED UNDER ISSUES REMOVED FROM FEDERAL JURISDICTION NO LONGER BINDING PRECEDENT.

Any decision of a Federal court, to the extent that the decision relates to an issue removed from Federal jurisdiction under section 3, is not binding precedent on any State court.
So not only does he want to throw out federal review of cases relating to religion, sex, or privacy, he also wants to throw out any case that might bind the courts to prior decisions made when people like Ron Paul weren't pushing for totalitarian control. Griswold v. Connecticut? Sorry, no longer binding precedent, so you may or may not have a right to your own contraceptive freedom under Ron Paul's law. Roe v. Wade? Sorry, there's now a federal bureaucrat named Ron Paul who doesn't believe in science standing between you and your doctor, interfering with your private medical decisions and metaphorically wrapping his skinny little Rumplestiltskin fingers around your uterus. (Side note: Ron Paul seems to claim some kind of prescience about abortion-related matters by virtue of being an obstetrician/gynecologist. He also rejects the proven science of evolution, so his opinion on scientific matters doesn't count for shit in my opinion- you don't get to be taken seriously as a man of science if you reject the fundamental and PROVEN scientific concept driving all biological activity on this planet).

Ron Paul's vision of America is one in which the State government is allowed to tell you who you can worship, who you can fuck, and who can watch you do both, and there's not a damn thing the federal government can do about it if you don't like it. If that sounds like freedom to you, I suggest you put down your copy of Totalitarian Regimes Monthly and go read the goddamn United States Constitution a little more closely. Ron Paul may be a champion of federalism and states' rights, but don't for a second confuse those ideals with personal freedom. He's proven that he doesn't care about your right to that.

1 comment:

Kimberly said...

Ugh, this makes me sick to my stomach. I've never been a fan of Ron Paul, except for the entertainment value he adds to the shows he appears on (by which I mean I laugh AT him). May libertarians take heed!