Opinion writer

In the most recent effort to reform the way many towns in St. Louis County, Mo., soak their poorest residents for revenue, the libertarian public interest law firm the Institute for Justice filed suit against the town of Pagedale, which fines residents for everything from mismatched curtains, to holes in window screens, to putting a grill in the front yard (instead of the back.) Here’s a video from IJ explaining the lawsuit:

The lawsuit has set off an interesting debate between conservatives and libertarians (roughly) over substantive due process, or the notion that the Constitution protects us against policies that are inherently unfair, irrational and intrusive. One the pro-substantive due process side (or the side of courts striking down oppressive policies like those in Pagedale) are The Post’s George F. Will, the Pacific Leadership Foundation’s Timothy Sandefur and, of course, attorneys for the Institute for Justice. On the anti-side, National Review’s Matthew Franck, Clarence Thomas, Hadley Arkes and, well, Matthew Franck, who’d prefer that unfair laws be changed by way of the democratic process.

If you’re interested in this sort of thing, see also Damon Root’s history of political ideologies and judicial restraint.