Top libertarian legal scholars: Johnson and Weld are moderates, not libertarians

Even if you only occasionally frequent law commentary online, you have probably heard of Ilya Shapiro of the CATO Institute, as he is one of the most prominent voices on libertarian perspectives on the law today.

Shapiro took it upon himself to respond (read “Is Johnson-Weld a Libertarian Ticket?” here) to recent comments made by Libertarian Party presidential nominee Gary Johnson and his running mate, Bill Weld.

In an interview with Tim Carney, Johnson called religious freedom a “black hole” and advocated for strong federal anti-discrimination laws for the private sector, which is in contradiction with the libertarian principle of freedom of association-and contrary to the LP platform.

Shapiro came down hard on Johnson, saying “it makes him no different than progressives in that regard – or social conservatives, who miss the distinction in the other direction, restricting individual rights in addition to government powers.”

Meanwhile, while talking to Nick Gillespie, Weld named-not Clarence Thomas-but Stephen Breyer and Merrick Garland as ideal Supreme Court justices.

Weld, according to Shapiro, is “the living expositor of the difference between a libertarian and someone who’s “socially liberal and fiscally conservative.””

Shapiro concludes his article with this:

And so, what we’re left with is a Libertarian Party ticket that’s positioning itself as “moderate” more than anything else. Again, that may well be a clever political ploy – though it makes the dubious bet that there are more #NeverHillary Democrats than #NeverTrump Republicans – but it’s not very encouraging for libertarians who want to “vote [their] conscience.”

Georgetown Law’s Randy Barnett, perhaps the most influential libertarian legal scholar, concurred with his colleague:



So who are true libertarians left with if they want to vote their conscience?

Perhaps they will choose Constitution Party nominee Darrell Castle, who is modeling his campaign platform after Ron Paul, championing sound money, constitutionalism, non-interventionism, and national sovereignty.

One thing is for sure, Gary Johnson and Bill Weld will never be confused with foot-soldiers from the Ron Paul Revolution.