Equality versus freedom

The pursuit of equality by Progressives and liberals is eroding freedom to a staggering degree.

Under the Constitution and the Fourteenth Amendment’s equal protection clause, which prohibits the state governments from denying “to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws,” equality means equal treatment. In general, if a law treats a person differently for a legitimate reason (such as prohibiting a child from driving on a public street), the law is constitutional, but if a law treats a person differently for an illegitimate reason (such as prohibiting a black adult from doing something that is permitted for a white adult), the law is unconstitutional.

However, for decades, Progressives and liberals have been tirelessly working to redefine equality, insisting that equality means equal results. For example, President Lyndon B. Johnson said, “We seek . . . not just equality as a right and a theory but equality as a fact and equality as a result.”

A year earlier, Congress passed and President Johnson signed a federal law—the Civil Rights Act of 1964—that (among other things) is being used to redefine equality in terms consistent with Progressive-liberal ideology. Title VII of the Civil Right Act created a federal agency—the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission—to enforce a number of federal laws, and “equal opportunity” as defined under federal law is completely different from equal protection as required under the Constitution’s Fourteenth Amendment (when interpreted according to its original meaning). Indeed, the concept of equal opportunity has been used to support affirmative action programs that treat people differently on the basis of race and sex.

Moreover, the concept of “disparate impact” (or disproportionate impact) has been used to bring about equal results. Basically, even when people have not been treated differently because of a personal characteristic (such as race or sex), the Supreme Court takes into consideration whether an employment policy or practice has a more negative impact on people from one group (such as black people or women) than people from another group (such as white people or men). In doing so, the Court not only violates the equal treatment of people, but it also gives employers a strong incentive to lower the standards used when examining the capabilities of people applying for certain jobs, including jobs where the safety of the public is at stake.

Notably, along with race, the clear language of Title VII prohibits discrimination because of a person’s “sex” (which is a scientific term based on biological facts), not gender or gender identity (which are ideological concepts based on Progressive-liberal dogma). Yet the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has redefined “sex” to include gender and gender identity. In recent years, the federal government has forced schools to allow biological males (who “identify” as females) to change and shower in the same locker rooms as teenage girls, and the federal government has forced employers to use the pronoun “she” not “he” when referring to biological males; likewise, “he” not “she” for biological females. Furthermore, many state and local governments have adopted policies that deal with gender identity.

On a wide range of issues, the power of government (federal, state, and local) is being used to force private citizens, including parents and schoolchildren, to submit to Progressive-liberal ideology. And this is being done in the name of equality.

The Constitution, though, does not require the government to disregard facts, and the Supreme Court itself has affirmed this fundamental principle. The Court has previously held, “The Constitution does not require things which are different in fact or opinion to be treated in law as though they were the same.” But whether the Court will reaffirm this principle in today’s political environment is uncertain.

Now, as for other specific issues, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has also redefined “sex” to include sexual orientation. Additionally, many state and local governments have prohibited businesses from discriminating on the basis of a person’s sexual orientation, and some of these laws are extreme in their injustice. For example, under the federal Civil Rights Act, individuals have been prohibited from discriminating in certain places open for use by the public (hotels, restaurants, et cetera), whereas under state and local discrimination laws, individuals (such as photographers) have been forced to participate in private events (such as gay weddings) and punished for refusing to participate.

Another issue of significance involves prohibiting various types of discrimination by private groups, such as golf clubs, student clubs, boys clubs, girls clubs, and so on. Progressives and liberals argue that people have (or should have) a right to membership in certain private groups, and that, correspondingly, private groups do not have a right to exclude people based on personal characteristics. Clearly, the right to liberty is severely violated when a private group is forced to accept members against its wishes. An essential aspect of liberty is the right to discriminate in private life; in particular, the right to associate, or not associate, with private individuals and private groups of one’s own choosing. Nevertheless, some private groups, including the Boy Scouts, have already caved in after intense pressure from Progressive-liberal politicians, corporations, and militant activists.

Yet another issue of great consequence involves providing various types of financial assistance to not only citizens, but also noncitizens, including illegal immigrants. Progressives and liberals argue that people have (or should have) a right to certain services and benefits (such as health care), and that, correspondingly, government has a responsibility to secure these services and benefits for people.

Overall, Progressives and liberals, as the self-proclaimed champions of “social justice,” are pursuing a goal of reducing then eliminating social inequality and economic inequality. However, social inequality and economic inequality are not unjust.

At the Constitutional Convention, Alexander Hamilton, stating a fact that was fully understood in the Founding Era, said that “inequality would exist as long as liberty existed, and that it would unavoidably result from that very liberty itself.”

Ultimately, people are unequal with respect to nearly everything (from ambition to talent to personal circumstances), and therefore, people are unequal with respect to social and economic achievements. But people are equal in one important way; all people are born equal in rights.

Nevertheless, the current belief that people have a “right to equality” is false. Every human being has a right to life, a right to liberty, and a right to property, but no human being has a right to equality. Unlike life, liberty, and property, which exist naturally, equality does not exist naturally.

In short, human rights are natural rights. And the United States was created on this principle, which is set forth in the nation’s founding document, the Declaration of Independence, along with the principle that governments are instituted to secure the natural rights.

Moreover, the Constitution’s equal protection clause does not provide a right to equality. To repeat, this clause (when interpreted according to its original and only legitimate meaning) guarantees the equal protection of whatever man-made laws already exist at the moment.

The United States is the land of the free. In the end, though, following a Progressive-liberal approach (which reinterprets the Constitution and redefines human rights), freedom would be discarded in the dustbin of history, replaced by equality. The government would make the decisions, big and small, over innumerable aspects of an individual’s life.

| Paul Pauker