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The libertarian case for Romney


Timothy Sandefur and Doug Mataconis say there is no such case. I think this is a dramatic overreaction; one can be disappointed in Romney's libertarian credentials (why is the campaign microtargeting me with anti-free-trade brochures?) and recognize that there is a substantial material difference between Romney and Obama to libertarian ideals in practice. That difference can be found in one important place: the Supreme Court. Sandefur puts too much weight on the symbolic appointment of Robert Bork to his legal advisory committee, but Bork is a figurehead for purposes of the primaries. He is not going to be deeply involved in policy-making or judicial selection; the Romney Justice Department will largely be staffed by the same Federalist Society members that happily invite Sandefur to speak before them. Sandefur claims "Romney's appointees are just as likely to be bad as good," but that's true only if one lets the perfect be the enemy of the good. Justices Kennedy and Scalia are in their late 70s, and both are the critical fifth vote on tremendously important libertarian principles:

  • There are four justices on the Supreme Court ready to hold that the First Amendment does not bar Congress from regulating political speech against incumbents.
  • There are four justices on the Supreme Court ready to hold that the Second Amendment does not create any individual rights against the government.
  • There are four justices on the Supreme Court ready to hold that the Commerce Clause creates no constraint on Congress's regulatory powers.
  • There are likely at least four justices on the Supreme Court ready to hold that the government can choose to discriminate on the basis of race if "diversity" is at issue.
One can point to individual unhappy results from Republican-appointed justices, but it is a mathematical certainty that Obama-appointed justices will flip the Court on these critical issues of the rights of individuals against the government—none more critical than First Amendment protection for political speech. Once that falls, the game is over and libertarians have lost permanently. This alone is a dispositive libertarian case for Romney, even before one gets to the difference between a Romney and Obama on economic freedom and regulation. Related: Nunziata; Severino; Levey.


I normally agree with some of your points, Ted, but I think in this one you are off-base.
For one, the most likely justice that will leave during Obama's second term in office would be Justice Ginsburg. I am guessing that quite possibly that the other 3 justices that are fairly close in age, (Breyer, Kennedy and Scalia) won't leave the court until after 2016 and possibly during the term of office of the person elected in the 2020 Presidential election.

I would bet that a Romney Presidency would get at most one appointment, if Justice Ginsburg died in office. (I am thinking she would not retire with Romney holding the office of President, knowing the what type of person would be nominated to replace her)

You say

"•There are four justices on the Supreme Court ready to hold that the Second Amendment does not create any individual rights against the government."

I'll bet you that there are 9 who say that.

There are 4 who say that the Second Amendment does not protect anything we would consider a meaningful right to keep and bear arms.

And there are 5 who say that the Second Amendment doesn't "create" anything. It merely restrains the government from infringing upon the previously existing right to keep and bear arms.

yawn... yet another conservative post, begging Libertarians to "fall in line", and get behind Romney, like good little mindless lemmings. Here's a hint for you: Libertarians are NOT Republicans.

There is NO libertarian case for Romney. From the beginning, years ago, Romney distanced himself from the tea party / 912 Project groups. Now, he expects their vote? Don't count on it.

These pathetic posts begging people to "get in line" won't convince any Libertarians. Just admit it: your man has never had any respect for Libertarians or the tea party. He ignored a large and growing segment of the voting population. Now, conservatives are posting lame articles like this, hoping to convince libertarians to ignore their core beliefs, and get in line. The libertarians who don't vote for Gary Johnson will probably stay home on election day, and when Obama gets re-elected, the Republican Party has only itself to blame.

You say vote for the lesser of two evils? I say vote your conscience. And when I lose, hey, America spoke and elected Obama. America will get what it deserves. My conscience is clear.

Clear, concise, and true.

Nope, I disagree and will be voting for Johnson in 2012.

As a libertarian, there is no case for Romney. He might be slightly better than Obama, but that difference is very, very slight. Voting for and electing the lesser of two evils always results in more evil.

Johnson 2012. The only moral choice.

I don't understand what the first bullet point is referring to. Is there a case or statement I missed?

Go have your little temper tantrum in the voting booth and when the reality of an Obama 2016 is hitting home we will thank you, the self righteous libertarian 'don't blame me I helped Obama win by not voting for Romney's crowd.

I'm voting for Romney because of how nasty Obama's campaign has been and because I don't want to waste the opportunity to strengthen the Supreme Court.

Romney is not an ideal candidate and I'd probably agree with Gary Johnson much more frequently, but Romney is also a better candidate than John McCain because Romney is not a committed RINO. Romney is an opportunist who will do what Congress wants him to do and has basically all but said as much in the debates. The President's job is to sign or veto the laws that Congress passes, which means we need to elect a Congress where the Senate Tea Party Caucus (Rand Paul and his allies) controls the balance of power and can block anything they wish.

If Obama wins, that means that he will have a mandate to wage class warfare and demagogue about a completely fictitious "War on Women" that only exists in his delusional brain (the truth is that there is more discrimination against men than discrimination against women in America today and those who shriek about a "War on Women" are invariably socialists who are supported by handouts from the government and/or government employment). If Obama wins, it is a mandate for more socialism and more identity politics. If Obama wins, Democrats will no longer fear openly advocating gun control as Obama did in the 2nd debate. If Obama wins, future Democrat nominees will feel free to adopt Obama's strategy of telling outrageous lies in a desperate attempt to assassinate the character of their opponent. This would be used against a future Rand Paul nomination. Everybody who opposes Obama's socialist agenda should support Romney-Ryan this year. Either Romney will be a pleasant surprise as President (ala Scott Walker and Chris Christie) or he'll do something egregious to alienate large portions of the GOP and Rand Paul will probably run against him for the nomination in 2016 (and have a decent chance of winning). If Obama wins, I suspect we'll be wondering how Jeb "I want to raise taxes" Bush or Rick "Looney Tunes" Santorum got the nomination 4 years from now.

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Rafael Mangual
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