Ron Paul Supports Restrictions On Liberty At Local Level

While I support Ron Paul’s efforts to be included in the upcoming Fox debate, this does not mean that I agree with his views, consider his views to actually be libertarian, or even think he makes very much sense. I supported Paul’s inclusion in recent posts because of believing this to be the case of any candidate, regardless of what I think of their views. Unfortunately, despite his reputation for supporting freedom and defending the Constitution, Paul’s public statements and writings demonstrate that his view of the Constitution could result in a reduction in individual liberty.

Ron Paul’s statement in the House of Representatives opposing an amendment to ban flag burning on June 3, 2003 provides one example of how Paul’s views are inconsistent with regards to supporting individual liberty. (Hat tip to Irregular Times). Paul makes many excellent points against such an amendment:

First off, I think what we are trying to achieve through an amendment to the Constitution is to impose values on people- that is, teach people patriotism with our definition of what patriotism is. But we cannot force values on people; we cannot say there will be a law that a person will do such and such because it is disrespectful if they do not, and therefore, we are going to make sure that people have these values that we want to teach. Values in a free society are accepted voluntarily, not through coercion, and certainly not by law, because the law implies that there are guns, and that means the federal government and others will have to enforce these laws.

Here we are, amending the Constitution for a noncrisis. How many cases of flag burning have we seen? I have seen it on television a few times in the last year, but it was done on foreign soil, by foreigners, who had become angry at us over our policies, but I do not see that many Americans in the streets burning up flags. There were probably a lot more in previous decades, but in recent years it averages out to about eight, about eight cases a year, and they are not all that horrendous. It involves more vandalism, teenagers taking flags and desecrating the flag and maybe burning it, and there are local laws against that.

Then we get to Paul’s extreme version of federalism, which ignores the extension of Constitutional liberties to the states under the 14th Amendment:

Under the Constitutional principle of federalism, questions such as whether or not Texas should prohibit flag burning are strictly up to the people of Texas, not the United States Supreme Court. Thus, if this amendment simply restored the state’s authority to ban flag burning, I would enthusiastically support it.

If there was an amendment restoring the state’s authority to ban free speech would he also support this? It isn’t even clear that he currently believes states do not have the authority to ban free speech as he also argues:

Let me emphasize how the First Amendment is written, “Congress shall make no law.” That was the spirit of our Nation at that time: “Congress shall make no laws.”

This is hardly the only time Ron Paul has expressed his disbelief in First Amendment rights. As I’ve previously noted, Paul has incorrectly claimed that, “The notion of a rigid separation between church and state has no basis in either the text of the Constitution or the writings of our Founding Fathers.” He has also supported keeping “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance, has co-sponsored the school prayer amendment, and supported keeping the Ten Commandments on a courthouse lawn. Paul has both criticized secularism and claimed that the Founding Fathers envisioned a Christian America. Ron Paul’s version of the Constitution is contradicted in the writings of the founding fathers, many court decisions, and in the view of most historians.

I also find it curious that Paul comes to such a restrictive interpretation of the Constitution with regards to First Amendment rights but has no problem with the ambiguities of the Second Amendment when he defends the rights of individuals to own guns. Unfortunately Paul interprets the Constitution based upon his own personal views as opposed to how it was actually written.

Traditionally libertarians have opposed restrictions on individual liberty at any level of government, not only when coming from the federal government. Rights are believe to be based upon the individual, not state or local governments. Ron Paul’s willingness to tolerate violations of individual liberties as long as this comes from a state as opposed to the federal government explains why so many white supremacists neo-Nazis are backing his campaign. What is more puzzling is why any libertarian would support a candidate whose views are so inconsistent with individual liberty.


  1. 1
    Tyler says:

    “A state recently admended its state constitution to strip a portion of its citizens of basic individual rights of choice in which the government has no business meddling. Some years ago, states had the power to disenfranchise significant portions of their populations from taking part in state government. It took Federal intervention to change the latter, ultimately it will take Federal intervention to change the former.”
    I disagree with this completely. The reason is that you cannot politicize a moral and all of a sudden people believe it to be moral. What it takes is a change in philosophy. A group of individuals to get the ball rolling. Now, I am not sure what Constitution you’re referring to but it will not be Federal intervention that solves anything. When’s the last time something coercive has changed your philosophy? Do you think that Osama bin Laden has changed our philosophy through coercive force?
    “I don’t deny that expanded government power can be threat to individual freedom. I simply reject the idea that a small government will be beneficial to human freedom. Too small a government allows private interests with the money and the power to do so to oppress Americans without anyone to stop them. Right now, as flawed as the American government is, American business is a far greater threat to the freedoms of individual Americans. Much of this has been facilitated by government policies of which conservatives on both sides of the aisle approved very strongly.”
    By American business you mean fascism, right? I am an opponent of fascism and a proponent of Capitalism. Which we do not have. I oppose American businesses that use the government (the only means in which a business can gain a monopoly on something) to get what they want. Such as the bailouts, grants, etc. Businesses are sometimes in the hands of evil people but cannot operate without the government to help them. In capitalism a business is FORCED to provide goods & services to please the consumer. Otherwise they will fail. With government intervention, though, we see businesses that are “too big too fail”. Government is the biggest part of the problem. Businesses cannot continue evil practices if left in the hands of consumers who do not what the product.
    My revised history is actually what you missed in school. The anti-federalists are not a conspiracy group. They are documented founders of America. I don’t see what you don’t see here. Ron Paul is just another anti-federalist.
    The country that is in total shambles,  you must be proud of. Seeing as how you support a strong federal government. This is where we are today because of Hamilton-like thinking. The federalists. If you don’t see that the federal government has expounded exponentially you’re lying to yourself. We got here to day, not because we followed the anti-federalists but because we ignored them. We took the federalists position, your position, and now we are in shambles.
    What would happen if the federal Constitution was amended to have a permanent PATRIOT act? Would you argue that is what the Founding Father’s intended simply because it was amended? I sure hope not. If that’s the case, the more people like you out there, the worse off this country is going to get.
    You do not know my personal beliefs. I am not sure how you’re getting away with saying I am pro-big government. I want SMALL state, local, and federal government. You want large federal government to override the state government. I, on the other hand, want more rights and freedom from government in general.

  2. 2
    Ron Chusid says:

    “My revised history is actually what you missed in school.”

    No, you are using a revisionist history to try to justify your own beliefs.

    “The anti-federalists are not a conspiracy group.”

    Nobody is saying they are.

    “Seeing as how you support a strong federal government.”

    No, it is you who have so far taken the position of supporting a strong government–except at the state level. I am supporting placing individual liberties above both the Federal and State government while your position would allow violations of basic liberties if done at the state level as opposed to the federal level.

    “You want large federal government to override the state government.”

    In this case I’m calling for respect for individual liberty to override both the federal government and the state government. You are limiting this to the federal government but not the state government.

  3. 3
    Tyler says:

    Ron, what revisionist history am I using? Point me in that direction please.
    I do not support a strong central, state, or local government. Period. I am pro-economic freedom and pro-individual freedom. I think I mentioned that in my last post. I’m an anti-federalist so you don’t have to convince me on individual freedom. After all, Samuel Adams was inspired by John Locke. If I take after Samuel Adams who takes after John Locke, then I take the position of natural rights.
    I do not believe in the state, local, or federal government to step all over these rights. Nor do I believe that the federal government should overstep state governments. You say simply because I do not approve of a Federal takeover of the State, that I don’t support rights? Having put it in that way, do you see how silly and fallacious your argument is? It’s a straw man argument. The issue is states rights vs federal rights then you somehow conclude that since I favor state rights, I don’t like individual liberty? Even if states have used laws to try to suppress others, whatever the states Constitution permits, which most likely is going to be taken after the Bill of Rights, then that law will go to the Supreme Court of the State. If done justly, the law will be struck down.
    Even your case against States rights neglects that Federal laws also tramp all over rights. I’ve mentioned the PATRIOT act tons of times. Or the Sedition act. I am unsure where you get off thinking that Federal laws are better than State’s laws.

  4. 4
    Ron Chusid says:

    “The issue is states rights vs federal rights then you somehow conclude that since I favor state rights, I don’t like individual liberty?”

    The question is not whether you like individual liberty but the result.

    “Even if states have used laws to try to suppress others, whatever the states Constitution permits, which most likely is going to be taken after the Bill of Rights, then that law will go to the Supreme Court of the State. If done justly, the law will be struck down.”

    That is not what has happened historically. If the Bill of Rights do not apply to the states, the states might be free to write any laws which violate them.

    “I am unsure where you get off thinking that Federal laws are better than State’s laws.”

    I never said that federal laws are better than state’s laws. I am speaking of the Bill of Rights, which we do benefit from applying to the states.

    This has really gone on far longer than it should. If you do not understand these basic issues yet I do not think you ever will so I am putting an end to this discussion here.

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