Applauding Judge Napolitano

by Don Boudreaux on March 10, 2011

in Civil Society, History, Law, Legal Issues, Video, War

Freedom Watch“‘s Judge Andrew Napolitano is a man of principle – a most admirable man whose intellect and character seem to me to be second to none.  Here’s evidence in support of my high opinion of Judge Napolitano.

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Yosef March 11, 2011 at 6:20 pm

“Are the rights that we have from birth, like free speech, privacy, travel, fairness from the government truly ours or can they be taken away…” Is how Judge Napolitano starts this segment. While agreeing 100% with what he has to say after that, about presidential overeach, this is part is ridiculous.
These rights are from birth? Where exactly is this the case? Children are the constant subjects of their parents, with the law only recognizing them as bearers of rights when they reach an age of majority–an age determined by other rights holders. There isn’t even in fact a single age of majority in which you are recognized as bearing all of your rights. You don’t even have the right to free association at birth.

vikingvista March 11, 2011 at 7:13 pm

It is unfortunate that to most liberty-loving people, rights are either arbitrary, mystical, wishful thinking, or nonexistent. It is a shaky foundation always vulnerable to statist sophistry.

But even in the CotUS, as you say, there are no equal rights from birth.

kapitalcon March 12, 2011 at 11:11 am

Perhaps a more logical interpretation includes the assumption that once children reach a given level of rational development, they naturally inherit these rights. That is to say, the rights are there at birth from virtue of one being human (these are natural rights), but in order for them to be used and benefited from, one must first grow into them. For a rational, loving parent, granting your five year old the same degree of privacy as an adult is simply counterintuitive on every level. Yet, once that child grows into an adult who demonstrates the capability of independence and rational thought, the right to privacy then manifests itself as a natural right of birth.


Yosef March 12, 2011 at 12:45 pm


Yes, that is one of the usual responses, but that is exactly my point. You say, “once children reach a given level of rational development, they naturally inherit these rights”. Putting aside the issue of the word inherit, who decides when a child reaches that level? If these rights come from “our humanity” as Judge Napalitano says, and as you say as well, are children not human? You are saying then that rights come from “our rationality”, but who decides that level? And since this level has to be decided (and in fact changes) how is it a natural right? Do you “inherit” your rights at 21? 18? 16? If you are a ‘very bright’ 15 year old? What about a ‘very dull’ 30 year old?
Also, I’m sorry, but I don’t really care about a “rational, loving parent”, why should use of our rights be conditional on that? Either we have those rights, and are free to exercise them, or we don’t.

jjoxman March 12, 2011 at 7:57 pm

I had a philosophy prof once who argued that children are endowed with rights at the moment they are able to claim their rights. Thus it is entirely self-motivating, and an exogenous cut-off age is nonsensical.

I’m not sure what I make of his argument, but it is interesting.

Yngvar March 12, 2011 at 12:23 am

Isn’t he a “truther”?


givejonadollar March 13, 2011 at 5:32 pm

I don’t like the format of Freedom Watch, but I understand why they don’t want a Piers Morgan type show where people are interviewed for an hour.

But, then again, the Judge does such a great job with interrogation, it would be wonderful to see him argue with someone like Donald Rumsfield for 1 hour.

However, as much as I love the Judge, I do feel he lets a lot of them off easy, but certainly we can understand why.

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