An Especially Odd Invocation of Lochner

“Armando,” a featured writer at the Daily Kos, takes issue with David Brooks’s column suggesting that the federal government is guilty of overreach. Brooks’s column never mentions the Supreme Court, constitutional law, labor regulations, Oliver Wendell Holmes, baking, or anything else that would bring Lochner v. New York to mind.

Nevertheless, Armando, who apparently mistakes David “energetic government is good for its own sake” Brooks for a libertarian, and equates libertarianism with something or other having to do with Lochner, manages to invoke Lochner or Lochnerism six times in his blog post. This includes quoting Holmes’s famous line that the Fourteenth Amendment [which of course is inapplicable to the federal government] does not enact Mr. Herbert Spencer’s Social Statics. This is all in the service of accusing Brooks of being some combination of historically ignorant and dishonest. Ha.

UPDATE: Responding to an attempt to defend Armando, David Nieporent writes in the comments below:

1) David Brooks was not talking about an effort by the judiciary to impose conservative economics in place of democratically enacted legislation [one common rhetorical use of Lochner].
2) David Brooks was not talking about the judiciary.
3) David Brooks was not talking about conservative economics in the first place.

David Brooks is not a libertarian. He is an anti-libertarian. David Brooks does not embrace Lochnerism, whether that actually means the actual Lochner case or whether it stands for some metaphor about government. David Brooks does not advocate Herbert Spencer’s Social Statics, whether that means the actual Herbert Spencer’s actual Social Statics or some metaphorical idea of limited government. David Brooks explicitly wrote, “The progressives were right to increase regulations to protect workers and consumers.” David Brooks explicitly wrote “Franklin Roosevelt was right to energetically respond to the Depression.” David Brooks explicitly wrote “Lyndon Johnson was right to use government to do more to protect Americans from the vicissitudes of capitalism.”

When Armando writes that David Brooks’s “clear implication is that the Constitution itself reflects Brooks’ Lochnerian constitutional views,” Armando is on drugs. That isn’t David Brooks’s clear implication, unclear implication, or even a passing thought in David Brooks’s mind. David Brooks wrote nothing about the Constitution…