Spencer Kellogg | @TheNewTreasury
Earlier this week, President Trump’s press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked to leave The Red Hen restaurant in Lexington, Virginia due to her support of the President’s stance on illegal immigration along the southern border of the United States. While the action by the Red Hen staff has drawn derision from both conservative and liberal commentators alike, principled libertarians have pointed out that private businesses possess a constitutional and free market right to not do business with a customer on the basis of ideological or religious preferences.
Reason magazine was among the first news outlet’s to point out the hypocrisy of ‘bake the cake’ liberals who believe the Red Hen staff has a right to pick and choose their patrons based on ideological preference but demanded a Colorado baker make a wedding cake for a homosexual couple. Representative Thomas Massie agreed with the magazine and went a step further on Monday when he condemned what he sees as an anti-libertarian platform pushed by Gary Johnson and Bill Weld during their 2016 bid for the White House.
By tweeting the 2016 LP presidential ticket was “never really a libertarian ticket” Massie is putting his finger squarely on the button that has energized so many within the libertarian base to push for new leadership in the party ranks ahead of their bi-annual convention this weekend in New Orleans. Libertarians, by their very nature, are a contrarian bunch that enjoys debating the nuances of liberty that crop up across the country and in 2016 the major ideological quarry inside the party’s membership was regarding a Colorado baker who refused to bake a wedding cake for a homosexual couple. Johnson, the front-runner, and eventual nominee stood firm in his belief that government has a right to force association by private businesses regardless of religious belief.
In a 7-2 ruling released in early June, The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Masterpiece Cakeshop and owner John Phillips. The ruling, written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, stated that Phillips had a right to refuse service to customers based on religious freedom: “The religious and philosophical objections to gay marriage are protected views and in some instances protected forms of expression.” Two of the major tenants of libertarianism are freedom of association and free market capitalism. To follow each of these to their logical conclusion is to believe that private businesses possess a right to refuse service on the basis of religious or ideological grounds and that the market, instead of the state, should be the ultimate arbitrator in that businesses’ windfall.
It remains to be seen if the tweet made by Massie is an indication of any Presidential aspirations that the Representative may have himself. Regardless, Massie’s statement is a stark refutation of Governor William Weld, who is assumed by many in the Libertarian Party to be one of the candidates running for its Presidential Nomination in 2020.
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