Within a few months of the start of this blog a couple things happened:

The College Libertarians of FSU became the Young Americans for Liberty at FSU.

Several of the members of that organization, including the posters here, joined The Free Press, an independent, student, political, philosophical  paper.

Please join us at http://www.freepressonline.net/

Thank you!


Upcoming Supreme Court Cases, Analyzed

The Supreme Court of the United States recently issued writs of certiorari for several appeals cases. The court has a history of letting government grow past the bounds of the constitution. When the court does tell government that it has over-reached, they rarely include any sort of enforcement or punitive measures. I fully expect most of the cases upcoming to be poorly decided. We know that the high court is going to make several bad decisions, let’s look at a few and decide how they should decided.

As a note: they probably won’t declare that the president, the congress, and the court itself have all acted un- and extra-constitutionally, and that they must return to what the constitution says… so… while they should decide that for nearly every case, I’m not going to repeat it again and again below.

Another note: I’m not a lawyer. I have very little legal education, but probably more than the average person. No guarantees made about the quality of this post.

McDonald v. Chicago

This is the biggest gun rights case since D.C. v. Heller (which was decided in 2008, but the biggest one before that was in the 1930s, I think). In D.C. v. Heller, the majority decided that the second amendment means what it says (amazing that 4 of the 9 justices thought otherwise (this is the document that gives them their jobs; would you ever say that your employment contract doesn’t mean exactly what it says?)). The District of Columbia had a handgun ban (for new handguns), and laws that restrict the usability of all legally owned firearms by law abiding citizens. The court decided that “the people” referenced in “…the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed” were the same people referenced in the first amendment and the fourth amendment (and I would say the ninth and tenth amendments, but the court doesn’t care about those). Realizing that there is a right to keep and bear arms, and that there are purposes for this exceeding what is explained in the prefactory clause, the court decided that the restrictions D.C. had were too much because they prevented self-defense. The decision in Heller only applies to the federal government, because D.C. is directly under the control of the federal government (Congress has direct power over it).

Which leads to the question of whether it applies to the states. Most of the protections from the federal government in the U.S. Constitution have been extended to be protections from the several states, as well, through the language in the fourteenth amendment. The fourteenth amendment states, in part: “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” This has been taken by the court to mean (more or less) that the states may not violate the rights that the federal government may not violate (insert your own joke here).

“Incorporation” is the legal mumbo-jumbo term used to refer to how the protections apply to the states, decided by the arbitrary whim of the Supreme Court. Some protections in the bill of rights do not apply to states the same way that they apply to the federal government. The second amendment has not yet been brought before the high court for a decision on how it applies to the states. McDonald v. Chicago will do this. Good guy and attorney Alan Gura, the lead counsel for the petitioner (McDonald), was the lead counsel for the respondent (Heller) in Heller. Chicago has a handgun ban and some other highly restrictive gun laws, in obvious violation of the second amendment (if it applies to them).

I ended up writing a lot, so let’s get on with it. So how should the court decide? They should find that the second amendment does apply to the states, and that Chicago’s laws infringing the right to keep and bear arms are unconstitutional.

Carr v. U.S.

First off: sex offenses are bad, m’kay? I don’t support them.

Some guy was convicted of a sex offense in 2004 (I didn’t bother looking up what he did, specifically, in order to prevent becoming prejudiced). In 2006 a sex offender registration requirement law was enacted by the federal government. This sex offender didn’t register. In 2007 he was arrested for something, and the government found out that he was an unregistered sex offender. They charged him with violating the law that was passed after he was convicted.

Sex offender registries are ineffective. Some crimes designated ‘sex offenses’ cause no harm, and should not be crimes at all, and some are barely crimes or sex offenses, but they carry the same stigma, which is wrong.

But besides that; The registration requirement law should not apply retroactively. Retroactive laws are prohibited in Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution, “No… ex post facto Law shall be passed.” The law cannot apply retroactively. Simple.

Migliaccio v. Castaneda

An imprisoned man needed medical care and it was delayed. He died. The government admitted fault. The family is suing the individuals because of the delays. There exists a law which restricts lawsuits and judgments against the government and government agents. But Obamacare won’t be anything like this. The law prevents government employees from being personally liable for their decisions, prevents punitive damages against the government, and prevents juries from being used in the cases.

That law is probably unconstitutional, it sure is bad and unfair.

Toss the law.

Berghuis v. Thompkins

And my first defense of the state in these analyses:

Some criminal received the Miranda warning, he indicated that he understood it, and he talked. The police did not coerce him. He did not explicitly waive his rights.

He confessed. Dumb move, but it is within his rights to do. He doesn’t get protection for acting foolishly. One need not explicitly waive one’s rights in order to talk. If he were to have waived his rights than he would have no control over the degree to which he talks. Talking (or not talking) without waiving one’s rights is the only way to control what rights are kept.

Don’t let him off.

U.S. v. Stevens

Stevens made video tapes of animal cruelty and tried to sell them. There is a federal law banning the manufacture, sale, etc. of depictions of animal cruelty, in interstate commerce. He was convicted of violating that law.

The case will deal with the first amendment, but it should also deal with the commerce clause. Congress did violate the prohibition of restricting free speech by making this law, but more importantly, congress has no power to make the law. The commerce clause does not give congress the power to make such broad laws restricting everything under the guise of interstate commerce. According to Judge Andrew Napolitano, a good source, I would say, the commerce clause only gives congress the power to make commerce regular by keeping the states from erecting barriers to free trade within the United States. So they don’t have the power they claim in the first place, but the court doesn’t care about that.

The court will look at free speech. From a Lockean/Rothbardian/Randian/similar view of rights, the guy has the right to free speech because he has property rights, and he may make with his property whatever he wants. The common exception to free speech, “Fire!” in a crowded theater, is a violation of the property rights of the theater owner and the ticketholders, and that is why it is not a right.

In any event: The guy committed no real crime (in filming and selling the videos), and the law is bad.

I think that is all for now.

I am very interested in any comments you may have. Am I wrong? Anything to add?

–Alex Boler

Language and the Battle of Ideas: “Capitalism”

I noticed three things the other day, and it got me thinking. The first was a preview of Michael Moore’s soon-to-be-released “Capitalism: A Love Story,” of which a significant part is an attack on America’s bailout culture of the last year or so. The second was a picture of a G20 protestor with a sign that read “No Bailouts No Capitalism” (the A’s were circled). The third was Ahmadinejad’s criticism of an unnamed nation for its “unbridled capitalism” which operates under a fiat currency system and a central bank that creates “[trillions] of dollars of unreal wealth…by printing worthless paper.”

Anyone else detect a misunderstanding of terms? How in the world did capitalism become associated with bailouts and central banks?

If Moore truly wanted to mock the bailout culture, wouldn’t a better title be “Government: A Love Story”? And shouldn’t the protester (especially given his anarchist sympathies) have chosen the slogan “No Bailouts No Government”? And the nation described by Ahmadinejad? Well, it exists in the same realm as square circles and four-sided triangles, because it’s a logical contradiction. He should be criticizing “unbridled government.” What’s going on here? I have a few thoughts on the matter.

My first thought is that it all could be an extension of the myth that the free-market caused our current economic woes. Of course, an easy response is to simply ask, “Where is this free-market of which you speak?” An economy is anything but laissez-faire when it is plagued by implicit promises of government bailouts; the presence of GSEs like Fannie and Freddie; not to mention the government programs, tax-codes, and artificially low interest rates which encourage unsustainable borrowing and spending. Now, I’m not sure that Michael Moore, the G20 Protester, and Ahmadinejad are willing to acknowledge these as the true causes of the most recent boom-and-bust. But they seem to acknowledge at least that there now exists large government intrusion in the economy. Yet they still aim their attacks at capitalism.

This leads me to another possible explanation, which has to do with different definitions of the word “capitalism.” On one definition, “capitalism” refers simply to a free-market economic system. Here, a “capitalist” might refer to someone who is ideologically inclined to favor a free-market economic system, regardless of how he participates in it. On another definition, “capitalism” refers (roughly) to the process or strategy by which an entrepreneur invests capital in order to make a profit. Here, a “capitalist” might refer to an economic actor who is out to maximize profits, regardless of his ideological inclinations. Somehow, I think these two definitions have become muddled together, such that “capitalism,” for many, has come to mean something like “an economic system that is favorable to the process by which entrepreneurs and firms maximize profits.” According to this definition, “capitalism” is consistent with bailouts and other government interventions. And this, I suspect, is where we get such notions as “crony capitalism,” which is in fact closer to fascism than laissez faire.

So, if I am on to something here (and I could be wrong), then is it possible that once we get past semantics we can find common ground with Michael Moore? Maybe. I mean, we’re against the bailouts too. But I wouldn’t pay to sit though one of his “documentaries” to find out. And besides, that’s not the point, as I mention Moore and company only to illustrate a point. And the point is simply that language is important. Unfortunately, “capitalism” has proven to be not only misleading, but in such a way that it suggests something completely opposite of what we really mean. I suggest dropping it in favor of “free-market” or “free economy.”

–Matthew Allen Miller

“Every generation needs a new revolution.” – Thomas Jefferson

Welcome to the new blog of the College Libertarians of Florida State University! Our goal is to educate the student body on the concept and ideal of liberty. Through education of all things relative to free-markets and a free-society, we hope to make a difference on and off campus.

This blog will contain posts by members of our organization, each with his/her own specializations and interests. This blog will serve as a forum to share the ideas and messages of libertarian students at FSU until ours is a society that believes in self-ownership, free-markets and equality of opportunity with legal privilege to none.

-Tom Laughlin, President of the College Libertarians of FSU