A Libertarian Argument Against the Judges Finding Obamacare Unconstitutional

Steven Landsburg has made an argument showing that even though libertarians are against Obamacare, one should still have reservations for the judges to find it unconstitutional.  Why is that?  Because even though mandatory healthcare could be considered constitutional by the Commerce Clause, declaring it unconstitutional is judicial overreach, which is something that it antithetical to libertarians.  So even though libertarians find it a bad policy, getting rid of it by an anti-libertarian action doesn’t make it any better.  Some of the comments are thought provoking as well.

About shaunmiller

I have just completed a visiting position as an assistant professor at Dalhousie University. My ideas are not associated with my employer; they are expressions of my own thoughts and ideas. Some of them are just musings while others could be serious discussions that could turn into a bigger project. Besides philosophy, I enjoy martial arts (Kuk Sool Won), playing my violin, enjoying coffee around town, and experimenting with new food.
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5 Responses to A Libertarian Argument Against the Judges Finding Obamacare Unconstitutional

  1. John McAdams says:

    Well if you are going to define libertarianism to include judicial restraint, by all means you need to oppose judges imposing gay marriage on the nation.

    I think judicial restraint is not the same thing as libertarianism, but rather a complementary principle. Eventually, an imperial judiciary will trample liberty.

    We’ve seen that in things like forced busing for racial balance.

    • shaunmiller says:

      I don’t think that’s how libertarianism views it. They see your private life as your life and so they would suggest that living one’s life (even a homosexual one) is none of the governments business. Thus, the judges are not imposing gay marriage on the nation. Rather, they are upholding liberty. Indeed, more than that, I think a true libertarian would say the government shouldn’t get involved in marriages at all.

      I don’t think judicial restraint is the same thing as libertarianism, nor did I suggest that. In this, I think they would be strict constitutionalists as far as interpreting the constitution. Thus, I don’t see how judicial restraint will trample liberty. If anything, having the judges not get involved seems to give more liberty, according to libertarians. Libertarians would be against forced busing for racial balance, so I’m not sure what your point is in your comment.

  2. John says:

    I just had a friend send me this…. Looks like you are becoming popular, Shaun. Well, I think that this is a bad argument. I mean, how can one (libertarian) really accept the claim that because a liberty revoking law was in place that –may or may not be- constitutional, revocation of the law is overreach? I mean, really? Libertarians are not concerned with the Constution. Indeed, the commerce clause is ipso facto anti libertarian. No sophisiticated, intelligent, libertarian will support the commerce clause and thus this bill regardless of it’s judicial state is rendered in violation of liberty in it’s totality.

    • shaunmiller says:

      You actually left a comment about this when this was posted on facebook. I think Landsburg’s position is some combination of libertarian/constitutionalist, meaning that libertarian views would be ideal, but the constitution is first priority. I could be wrong, but that’s how I’m reading him. Your points are valid and consistent with your views. Could one be a libertarian/constitutionalist as the way I’ve described and still be consistent? If not, then Landsburg has some problems.

  3. John says:

    Not if the constitution possesses anti-libertarian ideals. I mean, the constitution would have to be consitent, that is: the elements of the set “Constution” would have to all be consitent or map into the set “libtarian”; it’s possible I suppose. However, I don’t think that one can be a constitutionalist and a libertarian if they endorse the commerce clause or other “addtions”. They could only endorse a very simple Constution -that presents problems for us, however.

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