Saturday, June 04, 2016

"Scholars Across the Political Spectrum"

Mark Tushnet

... say that Donald Trump "shows contempt for ... the rule of law," according to Adam Liptak. As someone on Facebook pointed out (sorry, I lost the reference), all the quoted scholars are libertarians or libertarian-leaning (except for John Yoo, who is, I would say, an authoritarian). Still, Lipton's formulation is almost certainly correct. It literally goes without saying that standard liberals would endorse the view Liptak describes. So, Lipton's line doesn't mean that once one surveys libertarians, one has surveyed "the political spectrum."

I feel compelled to note that -- except for blatantly strategic reasons that I actually wouldn't find compelling -- I almost certainly wouldn't endorse the view that Trump shows contempt for the rule of law and the First Amendment -- not because I agree with his views, of course, but because "the rule of law" and "the First Amendment" are almost entirely without content, so that I don't know how someone could show contempt to "them" -- if there's no there there, I can't see how you could be contemptuous of "it." (Of course the claim that there's no there there is backed up by a fairly complicated argument not worth developing here -- an important component is that a reasonably well-socialized lawyer can mutter words showing that any proposition asserted to show contempt for the rule of law is actually consistent with the rule of law properly understood, and that those words are indistinguishable in principle from other words uncontroversially regarded as professionally respectable).

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