This is the foreword to Lies the Government Told You by Andrew P. Napolitano
Andrew P. Napolitano is a true rarity among judges and media personalities: He is a passionate defender of liberty who understands that the United States Constitution puts strict limits on federal power. Judge Napolitano’s tremendous knowledge of American law, history, and politics, as well as his passion for freedom, shines through in Lies the Government Told You, as he details how throughout American history, politicians and government officials have betrayed the ideals of personal liberty and limited government.
Anyone who knows Judge Napolitano understands that he does not pull his punches or excuse any constitutional violations in order to support any group or political interest. Thus, Lies the Government Told You explains how politicians of both parties have routinely disregarded the constitutional limits on federal power and violated our natural rights.
One of the most important lessons Judge Napolitano teaches is how many shared premises there are by advocates of big government from both the right and the left. For example, Judge Napolitano exposes how both the conservatives’ war on marijuana and the liberals’ war on tobacco are manifestations of paternalism — the idea that government has the legitimate authority to stop adults from doing bad things, like smoking substances that politicians and bureaucrats do not approve of. Of course, smoking, whether of marijuana or tobacco, does have negative health consequences — but respecting the right of individuals to be wrong, as long as they do not interfere with the rights of others, is one of the pillars of a free society.
Lies the Government Told You also avoids the all-too-common error of drawing a distinction between “personal” liberty and “economic” liberty, and focusing on attacks on one type of freedom while ignoring or even supporting attacks on the other category of liberty. When the freedom movement began in the nineteenth century, supporters of liberty, who were then known as “liberals,” made no distinctions between government actions that interfered with economic liberties, such as laws infringing upon private contracts, and government actions that restricted personal liberty, such as limits on the freedom of speech. Supporters of liberty were also likely to understand the grave threat posed to liberty and constitutional government by a militaristic foreign policy. Thus, they were also supporters of peace.
However, beginning in the Progressive Era, promoters of big government co-opted the rhetoric of the promoters of freedom, even stealing the label “liberal.” Whereas liberal once referred to a supporter of freedom, beginning in the Progressive Era, the term liberal began to refer to supporters of the welfare state. The division between supporters of “economic” and “personal” freedoms was accelerated by the Cold War, when many supporters of free markets allowed their (justifiable) loathing of communism to lead them to embrace militarism abroad and limitations on personal freedom at home. Thanks to this division between the supporters of personal and economic liberty, it is not uncommon to find opponents of socialized medicine arguing for the Patriot Act, and supporters of gun control arguing for free speech.
Fortunately, Judge Andrew P. Napolitano is one of a