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Old Liberals


Earlier today I asked readers to send the names of “old liberals”–old-line New Dealer, who, as Steve Hayward puts it, find themselves as horrified by the political correctness and power politics of present-day, “new liberals” as are we conservatives. Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. has received frequent mentions; an undoubted liberal, Schlesinger was also a stout anti-Communist, and he now spends a goodly amount of his time fulminating against “diversity.” Another winning suggestion: David Schippers, the Democrat from Chicago who served as counsel to the House Judiciary Committee during the Clinton impeachment hearings. But the most intriguing emails concern people I’d never heard of–honorable liberals, tucked away here and there, who are doing their best to stick up for the liberal tradition as they understand it. From one reader:

“Amazingly, I came across a couple [of 'old liberals'] during my recent sojourn at Harvard Law School. Prof. Richard Fallon is a con law professor I had there and he constantly stunned me with his refreshingly candid take on the activism of the court. One specific instance I recall most vividly was when we were assigned to read the Supreme Court case that upheld the law banning protests in front of abortion clinics. If you have ever read that case and are familiar with first amendment law, it becomes clear that the Court there engaged in a bout of intellectual dishonestly that rivals anything done before or since. I read the case the night before and was outraged. I expected Prof. Fallon — whose liberal credentials are unquestioned — to try and mount some defense of a case that is simply defenseless. I came to class loaded for bear. I was stunned the next day when he prefaced the lectured by saying that the Court’s opinion in this case was the most intellectually dishonest opinion he had ever read. He went on to say that he sympathized with the result and the purpose behind the law, but that there was no way to dress this case up and give it any legitimacy. I was pleasantly surprised and genuinely impressed.”

Professor Fallon, hear, hear.


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