Justice Richard B. Sanders
Do State Constitutions and Courts Still Protect Liberty?
Mon Aug 11 13:31:18 2003

Do State Constitutions and Courts Still Protect Liberty?
Featuring Justice Richard B. Sanders , Washington State Supreme Court. The Cato Institute 1000 Massachusetts Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20001 Watch the Event in RealVideo ...

Constitutional federalism is designed to protect individual liberty by dividing power between the federal and state governments, leaving most power with the states or the people. Writing in the Harvard Law Review over a quarter of a century ago, Justice William J. Brennan invoked that "double protection" as he urged lawyers and judges to look to state constitutions to better secure liberty. Is that how federalism is working today? In particular, how are state courts interpreting their states’ police power? Please join us as Justice Richard B. Sanders, sitting on Washington state's highest court, discusses his own experience under our federal system.

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Since the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington, Cato Institute scholars have published a series of articles examining various issues, ranging from military strategy to civil liberties to the economic and political impact of the attacks. Below you'll find these pieces arranged by topic. Media should click on the "press information" link at the left for list of Cato experts in each of these areas.

Did U.S. Intervention Contribute to September 11?
In 1998, Cato's Ivan Eland wrote a Briefing Paper entitled "Does U.S. Intervention Overseas Breed Terrorism? The Historical Record." In it, he argued that U.S. policy concentrates too much on apprehending and retaliating to terrorism instead of examining its motivation and root causes. He concluded that "the United States could reduce the chances of such devastating--and potentially catastrophic--terrorist attacks by adopting a policy of military restraint overseas.

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The Cato Institute was founded in 1977 by Edward H. Crane. It is a non-profit public policy research foundation headquartered in Washington, D.C. The Institute is named for Cato's Letters, a series of libertarian pamphlets that helped lay the philosophical foundation for the American Revolution.
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The Cato Institute seeks to broaden the parameters of public policy debate to allow consideration of the traditional American principles of limited government, individual liberty, free markets and peace. Toward that goal, the Institute strives to achieve greater involvement of the intelligent, concerned lay public in questions of policy and the proper role of government.
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How to Label Cato

Today, those who subscribe to the principles of the American Revolution--individual liberty, limited government, the free market, and the rule of law--call themselves by a variety of terms, including conservative, libertarian, classical liberal, and liberal. We see problems with all of those terms. "Conservative" smacks of an unwillingness to change, of a desire to preserve the status quo. Only in America do people seem to refer to free-market capitalism--the most progressive, dynamic, and ever-changing system the world has ever known--as conservative. Additionally, many contemporary American conservatives favor state intervention in some areas, most notably in trade and into our private lives.

"Classical liberal" is a bit closer to the mark, but the word "classical" connotes a backward-looking philosophy.

Finally, "liberal" may well be the perfect word in most of the world--the liberals in societies from China to Iran to South Africa to Argentina are supporters of human rights and free markets--but its meaning has clearly been corrupted by contemporary American liberals.

The Jeffersonian philosophy that animates Cato's work has increasingly come to be called "libertarianism" or "market liberalism." It combines an appreciation for entrepreneurship, the market process, and lower taxes with strict respect for civil liberties and skepticism about the benefits of both the welfare state and foreign military adventurism.

The market-liberal vision brings the wisdom of the American Founders to bear on the problems of today. As did the Founders, it looks to the future with optimism and excitement, eager to discover what great things women and men will do in the coming century. Market liberals appreciate the complexity of a great society, they recognize that socialism and government planning are just too clumsy for the modern world. It is--or used to be--the conventional wisdom that a more complex society needs more government, but the truth is just the opposite. The simpler the society, the less damage government planning does. Planning is cumbersome in an agricultural society, costly in an industrial economy, and impossible in the information age. Today collectivism and planning are outmoded and backward, a drag on social progress.

Market liberals have a cosmopolitan, inclusive vision for society. We reject the bashing of gays, Japan, rich people, and immigrants that contemporary liberals and conservatives seem to think addresses society's problems. We applaud the liberation of blacks and women from the statist restrictions that for so long kept them out of the economic mainstream. Our greatest challenge today is to extend the promise of political freedom and economic opportunity to those who are still denied it, in our own country and around the world.


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