Sandefur and Washington

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Also in the May 2005 Liberty, Tim Sandefur has a review implicitly praising the views of Jefferson and Washington, and criticizing Joseph Ellis, a snide biographer of the latter. I’ve disagreed with libertarian Sandefur a couple of times before regarding Lincoln and the Civil War: Sandefur and Federal Supremacy and Of Legal Fictions and Pro-Lincoln Libertarians: Reply to Sandefur (see also the LRC posts Sandefur and the War Between the States, Federalism and Libertarians on Eminent Domain and Smartass Sandefur Disses Kinsella).

A question I would post to the Sandefurs of libertarianism–those who admire Jefferson and Washington and other Founders, but who also upport Lincoln’s constitutional and moral right to invade the South: if you had asked Jefferson, or Washington, while, say, they were President, if they believed the Constitution authorized them to conscript soldiers and attack certain Southern States, to keep them from leaving the Union, and to kill hundreds of thousands of American citizens–what would they say? It is obvious Jefferson and Washington would have vehemently denied such a right. In fact, had anyone proposed that such a power be put in the Constitution, it obviously would never have been ratified. This gedankenexperiment is a good way to easily see that the original understanding of the Constitution clearly would not have authorized Congress to go to war against seceding states. Which shows that any libertarians who advocate such a constitutional right have to adopt something along the lines of the “living constitution”–that is, no constitution, no limits–mentality advanced by power-hungry leftists and socialists.

2:59 pm on April 10, 2005