Constitutional Rights

Government can be freedom’s best friend when it protects citizens’ constitutional rights. Here’s how the Goldwater Institute is ensuring your rights are protected.

<p>Government can be freedom’s best friend when it protects citizens’ constitutional rights. Here’s how the Goldwater Institute is ensuring your rights are protected. </p>

A reader wrote me regarding a recent column of mine that derided the rise of the nanny state and its threat to our way of life as a free people. I had written that New York City's new ban on trans fats amounts to yet another usurpation of the rights of adults to make their own choices regarding the risks they are willing to take when engaging in any particular behavior.

I don't smoke. I don't like smoke. I sit in the non-smoking section of restaurants. In fact, I favor a smoking ban on publicly owned property in closely confined areas where non-smokers have no easy escape from tobacco fumes.

That said, most smoking bans are pernicious. They represent prying, busybody government at its worst - regulations without any respect for property rights, foisted on the public by anti-tobacco zealots armed with pseudo-science - about which more in a moment.

But first, let's turn the clock back a few years.

Last year, the United States House of Representatives passed legislation that would have limited contingency fees collected by attorneys and set caps on non-economic damages at $250,000.  But the bills never made it out of the Senate.  In response, President Bush has indicated he will make tort reform a priority during the presidential campaign.  He also remarked that, "The senators must understand that nobody in America has ever been healed by a frivolous lawsuit."[i]

Buried under the ground in Waxahachie, Texas, sits the world's most expensive mushroom farm.  The miles of abandoned concrete tunnels that were to be an economic engine now grow edible fungus.  Numerous states, including Arizona, heavily courted the project, but Texas "won" and billions of dollars were poured into the so-called supercollider. Instead of putting Texas on the map as a leader in cutting-edge technology, Texas now claims the honor of hosting one very expensive mushroom farm.

Big victories often render the victors irrelevant. When Dr. Jonas Salk discovered a vaccine for polio in 1955, this landmark achievement for mankind meant the army of scientists who had been fighting to find a cure had to look for new work.

We can only hope that the same fate will befall the researchers who today are working to cure AIDS, cancer and a host of other human ills.

Seventy years after the end of Prohibition, it is illegal for Arizona consumers to purchase wine directly from out-of-state wineries.

Arizona is one of two dozen states that prohibit the direct shipment of out-of-state wines to in-state consumers. Although the number of nationwide wineries and available wines has increased by over 500 percent over the past 30 years, wholesalers continue to dictate the availability of out-of-state wines to Arizona consumers.

Arizonans Concerned About Smoking is pushing a statewide ban on smoking in private restaurants and bars. The group argues that a ban is necessary to protect the rights of nonsmokers to be in smoke-free environments. But ban proponents misunderstand the nature of rights in a free society.

Imagine a controversial legal case involving the free exercise of religion. A case with far-reaching implications throughout the United States, involving prominent political figures and emotional rhetoric.

Raising Arizona

In the 1980's TV series Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, galactic explorer Arthur Dent discovers that the ultimate answer to "life, the universe, and everything" is 42.

While the Goldwater Institute does not claim to have solved any of the deep mysteries of the cosmos, we do have "42 Ideas for a Free and Prosperous Arizona," that can be implemented this year to expand our freedom and economic prosperity. For example:

The Cato Institute and Goldwater Institute filed an amicus curiae brief on behalf of Belinda Dupuy in Dupuy v. McEwen.

According to the Cato Institute:

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