Republican Candidates Battle for the Law Professor Vote:

Here's the tally so far; a surprisingly large percentage of well-known conservative professors have signed up with a campaign.

Rudy Giuliani: Lillian Bevier, Steven Calabresi, Ronald Cass, Charles Fried, John McGinnis, Daniel Rodriguez, George Priest, Nicholas Quinn Rosencranz, Ron Rotunda

Fred Thompson: Michael Abramowicz, Jonathan Adler, John Baker, Michael Dimino, Viet Dinh, John Duffy, Brian Fitzpatrick, Rick Garnett, Orin Kerr, Caleb Nelson, Eugene Volokh, Todd Zywicki

Mitt Romney (technically an advisory committee on the Constitution and the Courts): Michelle Boardman, Mary Anne Glendon, Alan Ferrell, Douglas Kmiec, Stephen Presser, Brad Smith

John McCain: If law professors are organizing themselves on behalf of McCain, it's not easy to find on the web, though my colleague (and former head of the FTC) Tim Muris is a bigwig in the campaign.

Careful readers will note that Thompson thus far has an overwhelming edge among Volokh Conspiracy bloggers (no, we haven't discussed this among ourselves, and I'm pretty certain there won't be a blog endorsement). I find it especially interesting that Romney, who was pro-choice until recently, seem especially popular among the "serious Catholic" law professors.

As for me, I can't say I have a strong preference, and I find that, as usual for someone like me who is very libertarian and highly skeptical of politicians, the choice is a choice among lesser evils, to wit: Thompson's "Lawyers for Thompson" site attacks Giuliani for being pro-choice and pro-gay rights, which are among Giuliani's greatest virtues as a candidate. I thought Giuliani was about as good a mayor as New York is going to get, but I can't forget that he abused his prosecutorial office for political gain as U.S. attorney in the 1980s, and he is probably the least likely of all the major candidates in both parties to rethink the drug war. At least Giuliani has stayed true to his liberal positions on social issues; Romney's sudden conversion to pro-life conservatism suggests that either his current or his former views were purely opportunistic. And then there's McCain-Feingold.

Ron Paul is a tempting protest vote, and I did support him in 1988 when he ran as a Libertarian, but he strikes me as running less of a "libertarian" campaign than a pacifist, populist campaign that does have some appeal to young and idealistic libertarians, but has too much appeal to the old, paranoid, and racist pseudo-conservatives. There seems to be a right-wing version of the Popular Front mentality among many Paul supporters: just like it was okay for Social Democrats to ally with Stalinists for "Progressive" ends in the old days, it's okay to ally with 9/11 and various other conspiracy theorists, southern secessionists, Nazis and fascists, anti-Semites and racists, against the common enemy of the modern "welfare-warfare" state. Count me out!

So I have no strong preference among the Republican candidates at this point. Even if I did, I can't imagine why anyone would care enough to bother putting my name on a list, but then partisan politics isn't my thing.

UPDATE: Not surprisingly, I've heard from some Paul supporters urging me to reconsider. Also not surprisingly, none of them have provided any indication that my description of the Paul coalition is inaccurate, or that Paul has gone out of his way to discourage support from the conspiracy-mongers and "white nationalists."

jvarisco (www):
That's not quite fair about Romney - yes he did change his mind, but he was hardly rabidly pro-choice at any time; the Mormon church is pretty pro-life, and as governor he vetoed stem cell research. I"d hardly call him a "liberal" even back in 1994. Especially considering that Thompson lobbied for pro-choice groups (and then tried to pretend he didn't).

It will be interesting to see how Thompson's support holds up - his campaign has not exactly been going well. Perhaps he will start actually doing events?
11.18.2007 9:22pm
Cornellian (mail):
More or less agree with DB about each of the candidates, though I'm a bit more forgiving of Ron Paul's inadvertent tendency to attract the lunatic fringe.
11.18.2007 9:25pm
rho (www):
but has too much appeal to the old, paranoid, and racist pseudo-conservatives

That's just awesome.

Golly, do ya think Ron Paul appeals to racist pseudo-conservatives because he's a crypto-racist?
11.18.2007 9:43pm
Anderson (mail):
At least Giuliani has stayed true to his liberal positions on social issues

I don't quite get how to square this with his none-too-subtle hints about appointing justices who would reverse Roe. And frankly, I find Giuliani so appalling a human being that I am sad to see anyone respectable supporting him.

OTOH, I certainly appreciate the Republicans' dilemma this time around. However unappealing the "Obama or Hillary" choice, I can't imagine what I'd do if I were trying to find a Republican to vote for. Thompson seems as good as any. He may have too much common sense to put up with the Cheney-Addington types.
11.18.2007 9:44pm
Anderson (mail):
Golly, do ya think Ron Paul appeals to racist pseudo-conservatives because he's a crypto-racist?

Hm. One could construct an argument that Paul doesn't mind the support of the nutty Right, because he figures his minimalist federal gov't would be unable to implement any of their scary programs anyway?
11.18.2007 9:53pm
Milhouse (www):
You're right about Giuliani's disgraceful stint as US Attorney. But I'd add that he carried the same bullying nature and disregard for civil liberties with him into office as mayor. Perhaps New York needed a "strong man" to clean up the mess that it was in, but that's a dangerous concept.

You know all those things the paranoid BDS lefties have been saying about civil liberties under Bushitler and Ashkkkroft (until he turned into a saint a few months ago during the Gonzales hearings)? The tales of abuse of the USA PATRIOT Act, and how we were all in imminent danger of waking up to that 2am knock on the door and being dragged off to Gitmo, never to be heard from again? I'm afraid that if Giuliani becomes president all those stories might become true.

BTW, he's not the only one we made from that mold in New York. Our beloved governor Elliot Spitzer is exactly the same. His stint as Attorney General was a reprise of Giuliani's performance as US Attorney. And now we're finding out about his underhanded plot to destroy Joe Bruno. They're both equally bad news, never mind that they've chosen different parties to infest.
11.18.2007 10:20pm
EdwardScissorfoot (mail):
Thompson's "Lawyers for Thompson" site attacks Giuliani for being pro-choice and pro-gay rights. . .
I couldn't find that on the site. Is it possible for someone to point that part out?
11.18.2007 10:20pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
Golly, do ya think Ron Paul appeals to racist pseudo-conservatives because he's a crypto-racist?
Sure. And I think liberals took the same position on the U.S. invasion of Iraq that Saddam Hussein did (against) because they were fans of Saddam Hussein.

Or perhaps sharing the same views on some issues does not mean that one shares the same views on other issues?
11.18.2007 10:22pm
frankcross (mail):
I'm curious how and why the other conspirators chose Thompson. Perhaps a post of explanation sometime?
11.18.2007 10:29pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
ES: Lower right-hand side of the page; it's an ad sponsored by the campaign, not "Lawyers for Thompson" per se, but it's on the LFT page.
11.18.2007 10:30pm
Humble Law Student (mail):

Prof. Adler has written about Thompson's stances a few times. In particular, I think they like Thompson's position (or at least frankness) on federalism.
11.18.2007 10:33pm
Giuliani's multiple assaults on the First Amendment make him a non-starter for this Republican. (I don't even need to get to his dreadful record on the Second Amendt.)

There seems to be a right-wing version of the Popular Front mentality among many Paul supporters

I have not been following the Paul movement closely, but my impression was that he was tapping into the rabidly ant-war faction left adrift by the feckless Democrats. Why would the "Popular Front" types, if they exist, be drawn to him?


I certainly appreciate the Republicans' dilemma this time around.

I appreciate the sentiment, but the other side of the aisle does not look much more appealing. And if the Dems went with a slightly more mainstream cast of characters, I could see myself switching sides.
11.18.2007 10:36pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
Instead of finding ways to put "kkk" in various names, could we all agree to just put some sort of bold heading at the top of the post that says "Reasonable people should skip reading this?" It'd have the same effect, and it'd save a lot of time.

The same rule can apply to the words "Dimocrat" and "Rethuglican."
11.18.2007 10:39pm
I have no idea what the "old, paranoid, and racist pseudo-conservatives" are. Maybe I should not ask - I might find out I'm one!
11.18.2007 10:43pm
Peacitarian (mail):
Mr. Bernstein, thanks for your informative post.

Because Ron Paul thinks the war in Iraq and related military interventions are not in our interest, it makes perfect sense for him qua libertarian to make peace a central issue of his campaign. Perhaps you disagree with his assessment of the war, but libertarianism certainly demands a commitment to ending a war one thinks is unconstitutional and unwise. And because most Americans are against the war, making peace a central issue of his campaign is also tactically smart (though perhaps not for winning the Republican primary).

I also think that any true libertarian candidate, or a 95% libertarian like Paul, will unfortunately appeal to racists and other sundry characters, who see repealing the New Deal, abolishing the Federal Reserve, true federalism, and less foreign entanglements as serving their own malignant agendas. Accordingly, it says little about Paul that he appeals to such characters, though I do think he could phrase some of his issues to appeal even less to them, especially because Paul does, in fact, completely rejects and finds appalling their agendas.

11.18.2007 10:49pm
Either four Volokh Conspirators are idiots, or there is a true dearth of candidates worthy of endorsement.

If Thompson is the best of the bunch, that's pathetic, IMHO. I think the Conspirators should have endorsed no one, given this field.

Maybe one of the other Conspirators can break ranks and endorse Hillary Clinton. That way you'll have at least one of you in the ranks of the next President :)
11.18.2007 10:56pm