Saturday, May 15, 2010

Tertium Quids descends into self parody

Have you ever noticed that nine times out of ten, when a so-called "Libertarian" blog bothers to comment on an overreach by big Republican government, the "Libertarians" side with the the "show me your papers" wing of the Republican Party.

Norm Leahy of Tertium Quids has the government's back as it tries to conduct a politically motivated search of academic research records at Virginia's most prestigious institution of higher learning. Leahy ridicules the very idea that the University of Virginia should want to defend academic freedom.

Since we're ridiculing things, I thought perhaps I'd offer my two cents on some misconceptions Norm Leahy seems to be laboring under.

1) Leahy ridicules UVA for employing a law firm to defend itself against Attorney General Cuccinelli's big government overreach in the case of Michael Mann. Leahy seems to think that UVA should just scrape together a handful of professors and students from its law school to mount a defense. An old legal saying goes something like this: "A lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client." For a wide range of reasons it is critical to obtain outside counsel when defending an overreaching attorney general.

2) Leahy complains that UVA turned over research conducted by another academic at the school to Greenpeace and complains that the school should turn over documents to the attorney general without stopping to consider the consequences to future research and recruiting of top faculty. The key distinction Leahy misses is that Greenpeace is a private organization that does climate research while Attorney General Cuccinelli is leading a government investigation and the 4th Amendment's guarantees against unreasonable searches applies. What kind of "Libertarian" is a knee jerk supporter of big government overreach? Not a very good one, I suppose.

3) Leahy finally reveals his underlying motivation for his attack on UVA when he complains about the treatment of climate change denying former state climatologist Patrick Michaels. Leahy isn't motivated by Libertarian principles, academic freedom, or a desire to promote good public policy. Leahy is only interested in political payback and providing support to climate-change supporters.

At its core, the Michale Mann case is about an elected official misusing his official powers to punish a scientific researcher for pursuing a line of research that official--and his political donors--disagree with. The idea that someone who presents himself to the world as a "principled Libertarian" would take the side of the overreaching government actor in this scenario is simply ridiculous. Norm Leahy's version of libertarianism is a joke.

1 comment:

James Young said...

Let me make sure I understand this: you're objecting because the government is seeking records generated by a government employee in the performance of his government duties?

Got it.