David McIntosh of the Wall Street Journal urges Senators to “Vote No on Sotomayor”. McIntosh gives some excellent examples of Judge Sotomayor’s lack of respect for property rights, the Second Amendment, and racial equality. Many conservative or libertarian-leaning individuals will state that a judge’s priority should be to uphold the Constitution – I would argue that this criteria slightly misses the mark. The Constitution – and laws, in general – are meaningless, in and of themselves. Let us not forget that the Constitution used to consider blacks to be only 3/5 of a person. The focus of a judge’s (or any public official’s) attention should instead be the principles on which the Constitution was based. Granted, these principles have not always been consistently practiced in our nation, but that is a result of inconsistency in the application of those principles. The moral and philosophical foundation of our Constitution is granite. That foundation is the idea that every human being is an end unto himself, that society is subordinate to the individual, the the “common good” does not exist – only the sum of the good of individuals. When the Constitution is viewed in this way – with full knowledge of the underlying principles – it is clear that it is one of, if not the, greatest documents in human history.
So, when it comes to the Second Amendment, property rights, racial equality, and the unborn – it is not the Constitution, per se, that our public officials should be concerned with, but the principles of individual liberty. I would like to briefly look at the ramifications of these principles for the issues listed above.
The Second Amendment should be, without question, held inviolate. In the natural state of man, every individual has the right to defend himself, those he values, and his property. This right emanates automatically from man’s right to his own life. As this right to self-defense exists as a part of man’s nature and thus predates government or society, government has no right to abridge this freedom (unless it has been abused in order to harm others). One of the most insidious violators of humanity throughout history has been government. Because government possesses firearms, I see no rational objection to firearms being included in man’s right to self-defense.
Man’s survival is not granted to him by nature. In order to survive, man must produce. In order to produce he must be allowed to own property. The right to property emanates from man’s right to his own life. Again, this right is inherent in man’s nature, thus predating government and rendering government morally impotent in any attempts to violate it.
The problem with discussing “racial equality” is that the term is not uniformly employed. Obviously, the law should be objective and impartial. But it should be remembered that, as F. A. Hayek said: “There is all the difference in the world between treating people equally and attempting to make them equal.” Too often, programs aimed at social inequalities violate the rights of individuals. Quotas, for instance, may seem to provide much-needed help to minorities who have, in the past, been oppressed. But they violate the rights of non-protected classes of citizens who, in this day and age, have not contributed to those past crimes against certain minority groups.
“The Unborn”, there’s a forbidding topic. I am, for the record, pro-life. Though I do not wish to discuss those views on this site I will offer my assurances that they are not, in any way, based on my religion – I am a firm believer of the separation of morality and the state. However, I will say that both sides of the aisle frequently miss the mark on the abortion debate. The pro-choice side frequently argues from the point of women’s rights, while the pro-life side frequently argues from the point of religion. Both of these approaches are inconsistent with a proper view of government and individual rights. IF abortion is the termination of a human life (i.e. a person achieves human status before birth), then the rights of the mother have no place in the discussion as she has no right to end another life. IF abortion is not the termination of a human life (i.e. a person does not achieve human status before birth) then the religious arguments carry no weight as you cannot legislate on the basis of subjective morality. So the issue is, as always, a question of individual rights.
I believe that all of our current political and economic problems can be traced to one root: a lack of understanding of and respect for individual rights. We must, as a nation, rediscover objective morality and, as our Founding Fathers did, hold the individual sacred above all else.