The Corner

Barnett V. Kurtz

After reading Randy Barnett’s excellent piece on Bennett, I must agree with Andrew that Stanley Kurtz lets Bennett off too easy. Bennett’s defense of his gambling — a defense that I accepted — is that he did nothing wrong because he was never irresponsible. That is, he never wagered the “milk money” or endangered his ability to care for this loved ones and meet familial responsibilities. Barnett rightly points out that Bennett rejects this defense out of hand when the subject is drugs. On the drug issue, Bennett morphs from public moralizer to prohibitionist. To call Bennett an “enforcer” of the drug laws is to diminish his active and enthusiastic participation in the escalation of prohibition. Bennett has been an advocate for the most draconian drug policies, often on “moral” grounds. And whereas Kurtz believes there is a legitimate debate over drug legalization, Bennett never has. Instead he has always been dismissive of anything but a zero-tolerance policy. I don’t expect this experience to change Bennett’s policy views on prohibition, but perhaps he’ll rethink his kenn-jerk assumption that all drug use is irresponsible and immoral.

Jonathan H. Adler — Mr. Adler is an NRO contributing editor and the inaugural Johan Verheij Memorial Professor of Law at Case Western Reserve University School of Law. His latest book is Marijuana Federalism: Uncle Sam and Mary Jane.


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