Just what is meant by "liberal"

David Brooks made an almost offhand comment on NPR news yesterday. He was arguing the conservative side of the Supreme Court situation. He said, after years of “liberal” decisions coming out of the Court, why is that that when some “conservative” decisions, suddenly they are playing politics? There was no chance to follow up on that.

I’ve heard this before in variety of ways, and I’ve tried to ask people about it when I get the chance. Just what are they talking about? Civil rights? More people able to vote? Fairness in housing? Laws about equal opportunity? All of these things seem to me to be in line with the principles of the Constitution, the culmination of the vision of people who wanted freedoms but couldn’t figure out to deal with the reality of Medieval leftovers, like slavery.

And the recent conservatives changes are directly from those Dark Ages. Just read Alito’s decision on Dobbs (overturning Roe).


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The matter is that the duty of any judge is to interpret the law and and applies his interpretation of the text to the case.

In most cases, the text is clear and the judge has no margin to choose.

In some cases, he has a choice to make.

Doing so, he must abstract himself from his personal opinion. But at the same time, he must give an interpretation which agrees with the spirit of the text, and the spirit of the time.

And he must take care of the consequences of his decision. To judge is not an exercise in abstraction.

The first main reproach i do to the conservative judges of SCOTUS is that they don’t judge in the name of the whole people but in the name of their political agenda.

The second one i do is that they don’t give a dam about the consequences of their decisions.

I have worked in public law for morte than thirty years. I have seen judges of many political views taking decisions contrary or conform their political tendencies.

I have seen some, in some cases judging from their political views.

In France every case of importance in public and administrative law is judged by a panel of judges. The French council of state, which is the supreme French administrative court, has been accused in a very short lapse of time of being a liberal and a conservative, and of doing politics, because he was judging different cases in favor or against the government.

Not sure that it will help you

For one, it saddens me to strongly believe you are right. Racism remains entrenched in too many cultures. We know that for over two hundred years, buying and selling people from Africa became an industry of necessity for all the people caught up in the world of slavery. This was conservatism, desperately fighting to maintain the world of slavery.

A lot of people represent themselves or their policies as conservative. Today, that word raises a red flag for me. If I am interested in a conservative message, I listen with the ears of critical thinking.

To me, conservatism has morphed from the parliamentary role of the loyal opposition to a diabolical enemy of American democracy.

A remedy made popular from Trumpism politics is to deny truths, claim fake news, and write the history to support the misleading and erroneous explanation of events to suit the desired political position. Don’t “say gay” comes to mind as an unbelievable law.

Just what is meant by “liberal”

I think “liberal” means being socially aware and responsible. It is governing from democratic policies that guarantee a more equitable style for human dignity for all.

Nowadays, or historically ?

I try again

[Liberal, a pejorative word ?]

I will add that Milton Friedman, the guru of Reagan, Thatcher, and Pinochet called himself a liberal. And Trump as a businessman is a liberal.

Basically, a liberal is an adept of personal freedom.

Now nowadays, the word has become an insult when used by conservatives who are in fact liberals in the traditional meaning of the word.

Now, there are many topics and matters. I have tried to sum up them in a matrix

Matrix des positionnements politiques

I mean:

-Economy: market against administrated economy
-Environment: Is the climate change a truth or an hoax ? ?

  • Social welfare: parental allocations, state health insurance and so
    -Societal: genre, LGBT rights and so, abortion, the right to live as one wants
  • Cultural : right of expression, artistic or no, of information and so
  • Race and colonialism : self-explaining i think
    -State authority: is the policeman always right, are the judge enough punishing, and so
    -Religion: Self-explaining

One can be ultra-left on some topics, and ultra right on others. A libertarian would be ultra-right on economy, social welfare, ultra-left about societal, cultural, state authority, and should be about religion. He could be ultra-left on the other ones.

Does that makes him a liberal, a social-democrat or something like that ? For me no.

The debate about society, race, colonialism and so, has supplanted the debate about class and economy, and environment. And that’s a victory for capitalism !!!

Now, i am going to give an exemple, about the work of the judge :

An illegal immigrant enters into France. The french police wants to expel him back to his country. the man contests the decision in front of an administrative judge.

The European convention of human rights states :grinning:

Right to respect for private and family life

  1. Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence.

  2. There shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.

It means that the judge must balance the rights of the man to a familial life in France with the interests of the French state.

How long has he lived in France ? does he have family, wife, children or friends? Has he worked in France?

Has is committed some misdemeanor ?

An ultra-left judge reflex would be to cancel the state decision, an ultra-right judge reflex would be to uphold it.

The duty of the judge is to make an honest balance and to refer to the preceding cases to decide this one. not easy !

And that, independently of his political opinions.

A few years ago, an independent French NGO has computed statistics. Some judges never cancel the state decision, some cancel very often. The average rate of cancellation was roughly 10 %.

Are French judges liberals ?

Incidentally, the European court of Human Rights has judged that abortion was not a matte rof privacy and that article 8 did not apply.

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I’m a liberal on many things, a progressive on some things, and a meh, I don’t care, as long as they aren’t hurting anyone. Except for religion- that’s a BIG NO. The list above left our sexual and gender orientation, of which I’m a just a meh, I don’t care, as long as they aren’t hurting anyone. So that chart leaves out a lot of things.

for me, it is included in societal.

but i am open to any proposition to get a better list

Yeah, I guess it could be.

I have no ideas.

great answer, the granularity is overwhelming.