Saturday, December 24, 2011

Ron Paul Is For States' Rights, Not Libertarianism

Let's say you don't want the federal government to ban abortion. There are two ways you might go from there. First, you might give individuals the right to decide, letting women choose whether or not to have abortions. Second, you might leave the issue of abortion up to states, so that each state can permit or ban abortion as it pleases.

Protecting individual rights is the genuine libertarian option. If you want to respect people's rights to make their own choices about their bodies, you'll make sure the right to have an abortion is put into the hands of the people. This may require the federal government to interfere with what some states are doing, if they pass laws banning abortion. But libertarians shouldn't have a problem with this. If some Americans were enslaving other Americans, any reasonable libertarianism would push the government to stop that. If a state is doing the enslaving, the federal government should stop the state from doing so, to protect individual rights. Individual rights, after all, are what make libertarianism appealing.

Ron Paul mostly wants to turn the issue of abortion over
to the states. (Not entirely -- he wants the Federal government to ban dilation and extraction as a method of performing abortions, but I'll set that aside for now.) This is in keeping with a number of his other views. He's against having the Federal government ban flag burning, but sees it as an appropriate thing for states to ban. His comments on the Lawrence vs. Texas decision, where the Supreme Court ruled Texas'
sodomy laws unconstitutional, express his views most clearly:
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.
There's nothing libertarian about this. It's a defense of the rights of state and local governments to wield tyrannical power over individuals as they see fit. Instead of giving individuals the right to do as they please with their own bodies unless they harm other individuals, states are given the power to "regulate social matters like sex" as they wish.
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