Ilya Somin reconsiders federalism and the protection of individual freedoms.
I just returned from a speaking engagement with the National Association of Attorneys General (Midwestern) in Indianapolis. The city used to be a dump; now it’s thriving. (In these pre-Final Four days, it’s the place to be.) The NAAG event was tremendous: it’s a shame they don’t transcribe or podcast the discussions. The panelists (yours truly included) yell at each other on the blogs but lo, they’re actually is a trans-party, Yale-to-GMU constituency for the rule of law—and they meet in a hotel room and learn from each other. The NAAG’s Dan Schweitzer, who called this thing together, is a genius and a treasure to the republic. He’s hiding his light under a bushel. There ought to be a law against that.
Apropos law: this may have been the last time Indianapolis has hosted NAAG, or the Final Four, or maybe the Indy 500. Because, you see, the Indiana legislature has enacted a version of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which says that government needs a pretty good reason before burdening the free exercise of religion. Two decades ago, the federal RFRA passed Congress almost unanimously, with the support of the ACLU and the Chamber of Commerce and everyone in–between. Now, it’s painted as a sinister plot of evangelical nutcases who hate gays and don’t want to deal with them. (The Indiana legislature yesterday clarified the law to make clear that that’s not what they had in mind, but that hasn’t mollified the corporate-ACLU coalition: they’re against the actual RFRA.) What happened?
What happened is that people with religious preferences lost a revolution—the sexual revolution. As a rule, revolutions aren’t good for the losers; and the yelp that you shouldn’t be discriminated against on account of your faith is futile because that discrimination was the point of the revolution.
To my friends in the libertarian and LBGT communities (was that the right term?): you solemnly assured us that there’d be no social cost to your agenda, and you appealed to our sense of justice and compassion. It turns out that the social cost—the demise of a religious and social consensus that by and large has served us well—is huge; but it’s sunk. That accomplished, will at least one of you stand up for justice and compassion—or was that also a head fake?
Pesach Sameach. And Happy Easter. In any event, have a good weekend.