So Joe Knippenberg and others have asked: Could a libertarian really embrace Kennedy’s reasoning today? For myself, I would respect a lot more a straightforward argument about the equal protection from arbitrary deprivation of individual rights. But still, I’m no libertarian.
Kennedy: “Marriage responds to the universal fear that a lonely person might call out only to find no one there.”
Libertarian: Does that mean there’s an entitlement that government facilitate a world where individuals aren’t lonely? That sounds like wacky Great Society thinking!
Keep in mind, many to most libertarians really believe that government should get out of the marriage business.
A good thing about Kennedy’s opinion: He says that government should support marriage and parenthood, as both are indispensable for our social order. So he’d be for, I guess, the parts of reform conservatism that give parents as parents tax breaks, and all that. And he’d be for government’s responding in un-counterproductive ways to the collapse of marriage as a stabilizing relational institution in the lowest parts of our middle class. In some ways, Kennedy’s emo-relationalism is closer to the truth than straightforward individualism.