I first began to see the full scope of these victories last month when I had lunch with a serious libertarian historian of campaign finance law. It was the eve of the Citizens United decision, which would effectively scrap most restrictions on independent campaign spending by individuals, groups, and corporations. He told me that if the ruling came down as expected -- and it did -- then he might have to find himself a different line of work. Mission accomplished.
The lawsuit that tore down most of our restrictive campaign finance laws was brought by a conservative filmmaker with an ax to grind against Hillary Clinton. The basis of arguing against that law was laid out by libertarian legal scholars who pointed out that the free speech clause of the First Amendment ("Congress shall make no law...") is clear. Libertarians argued that the case against prohibiting corporations from taking part in campaigns was specious. It didn't matter if it was an individual speaking or people speaking corporately. The real rub was whether the government can silence speech.
And they painted the argument that money isn't speech as a bit of liberal naivete. After all, money makes the mass exercise of speech possible. Wendy Kaminer wrote in The Atlantic that "as a practical matter, money is speech" and, the clincher, "Few reproductive choice advocates would insist that money isn't choice."
As with the First Amendment, so with the Second. The 2008 Heller decision, which finally and unambiguously stated that law abiding U.S. citizens have a "right to keep and bear arms," was the result of several lawsuits, included one launched by scholars associated with the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, and argued by libertarian lawyer Alan Gura. Cato thought its role in the case so important that it commissioned the book Gun Control on Trial.
You will find the entire article at this link.
While these may be small victories against ever-advancing government tyranny, they are victories just the same, and I find them to be not a little encouraging given this nation's often seemingly steadfast determination to imitate the Roman Empire in committing suicide.
I have often said that America was founded by people who were essentially libertarians, and if this nation is to be saved, it will be libertarian principles that ultimately save it.
There may be hope for America yet.
Photo credit: ncrider.com.