Judges Must be Smoking Something Libertarians Say
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Tim O'Brien
DEARBORN. "The verdict at least
was right," said Libertarian Party of Michigan executive director Tim O'Brien,
referring to the recent court of appeals ruling striking down local government
smoking bans. "But those judges must have been smoking something themselves to
hold that the only problem is that the wrong level of government was making the
The three judge panel ruled against the City of Marquette,
holding that Michigan law prevents localities from passing communitywide bans
on smoking in restaurants. "The question of whether there should be a total ban
on smoking in restaurants must be left to the legislature," the court held.
"It apparently never occurred to the learned hands of the Michigan
judiciary," O'Brien observed, "that the question of whether there should be a
total ban on smoking in restaurants ought to be left to the restaurant owners.
Who is in a better position to determine what restaurant patrons actually
want?" he asked.
"We used to have a couple of powerful institutions in this
country called 'private property' and 'the free market.' When you respect those
concepts you have a society based on voluntary relationships rather than
political muscle. Then you don't have to try and guess what people want -- in
order to impose it on them. People vote with their money. If you leave the
market free to meet the wishes of consumers, it will do just that. Some
restaurants will cater to smokers. Some to nonsmokers. Some to those who don't
care one way or the other. Instead of imposing a single standard which must
necessarily exclude wishes of some, all preferences can thus be accommodated.
"And not only will the market show what people want, it will even tell
you in exactly what proportion because its natural selection process will
replace businesses that do not satisfy the wishes of their customers with ones
"If the citizens of Marquette genuinely prefer nonsmoking
restaurants, no local ordinance imposing that rule would be needed. The very
fact that a law must be passed to accomplish that goal is proof that this does
not represent the wishes of the people there.
"And, of course," he
concluded, "all of these same fundamentals of economics apply irrespective of
which level of government short circuits the market process. I guess those
judges must have been out finding something to smoke during college -- when the
rest of us were studying Adam Smith."