In another thread I asked what the role of the Supreme Court in a Libertarian Society would be, and got this response.Is it actually possible to draft a Libertarian Constitution that is so clear and unambiguous that the need for interpretation by a body like the Supreme Court would be totally unnecessary?
I can’t imagine how that would be possible.
As I said in the other thread, it’s not possible. But if the constitution is ambiguous, it’s not the SC role to decide which outcome they like best.
What is triggering this hard-on for libertarian “purity”? It really is amusing.
You do realize that “unambiguously Libertarian” is not the same as “unambiguous,” right? If the first amendment of the Libertopian constitution is “No personal liberties will ever be infringed,” that will be both “unambiguously Libertarian” and “ambiguous.”
You were really dying for a gotcha, weren’t you?
No. What I’m “dying for” are straight answers to questions about if and/or how a Libertarian Society would function in the real world.
In theory, that’s the animating principle of European civil law (as opposed to Anglo-American common law). The law is in the code, and the role of the judge is to determine the facts and apply them to the code. Precedent is irrelevant; i.e., it doesn’t matter how prior courts have ruled. In practice, it doesn’t work out that neatly, of course.
Note that this structure has nothing to do with libertarianism. The structure of the legal system is largely orthogonal to the substantive law.
Actually, that is precisely the role of the Supreme Court.
Not in my Libertopia, it isn’t.
Not as opposed to “Anglo-American common law”, just American common law. The principle of judicial review, in the American sense of courts striking down unconstitutional laws, didn’t exist* in England until recently. The doctrine of parliamentary supremacy means that Parliament is the final arbiter of what the law is; the role of the courts is simply to apply it.
Precedent is of course a defining characteristic of English civil law, and not irrelevant.
*Except in the context of administrative law; the courts did have the power to strike down acts of administrative agencies which they deemed to have violated statutes. The principle of constitutional judicial review does exist in England now, but is limited to violations of European law.
Then in what sense is your Supreme Court “Supreme?”
There is no higher court. Same sense as here, outside of Libertopia.
So constitution ambiguities are resolved, how? Mortal combat?
Significant ambiguities are bounced back to the legislature, the legitimate voice of the people. Mortal combat would be cool though.
Could you please give 2 or three articles that your version of a Libertarian Constitution would contain that would not need interpretation?
Really? What happens when your “personal liberties” conflict with my “personal liberties”? Now someone has to decide whose “personal liberties” have more value. Who will that be? How will they make that determination? How can they without again violating your 1st admendment?
I’ve already explained to you that this is a straw man. But, what the hell, I’ll play.
An article that would require no significant interpretation would be one that provided the inventory of legitimate Federal powers, which must be explicitly enumerated and not found lurking mysteriously in the shadow of a penumbra.
They can’t. I provided it specifically as an example of an ambiguous (but Libertarian) amendment, one that the court ought to rightly laugh at as shapeless and unenforceable. As opposed to our own SC, who would undoubtedly find it strongly supportive of whatever they wanted it to.
Let me explain to you that this is certainly not a “strawman”, especially in this particular thread. A Libertarian Constitution would be a damn good indicator of what a Libertarian society might be like.
If this is your idea of “playing along”, you don’t seem to play well with others. You are basically saying that an article that would not be open to interpretation would be one so written that it would not be open to interpretation. It might help if you answered questions like these with the intent of providing information, instead of treating it like a “game” with opposing players.
There’s always going to be a need for interpretation of the law.
Like for example suppose your constitution contains a section that guarantees freedom of the press. Does that mean that television and radio journalists are free? They’re not literally using presses. I think most people would agree that they should the same rights as books and newspapers. But what about an internet blog? Is it entitled to the same rights as The New York Times? Somebody’s going to have to make a decision on what a “press” is.
And what’s “freedom”? Look at wikilinks - does the press have the right to publish classified information? Does the press have the right to publish information on how to make explosives? If the press got a list of credit card numbers belonging to private individuals, could it publish them? Again, somebody has to decide where to draw the line.
That said, it doesn’t necessarily have to be a court making these decisions. It could be the legislature which decides what laws mean when particular questions arise. That even makes some logical sense - the legislature is the body that created the laws so it presumably has the best sense of what the laws are supposed to mean.
But the problem with that is it turns the legislature into a self-regulating body. I think as a practical matter, we’re better having a body that’s independent of the legislature to watch over the laws the legislature enacts. It’s a bad principle to concentrate all power into one place. It’s better to divide up power and have several bodies each holding some power over the others.