Why Rand Paul's case for 'judicial activism' scares both liberals and conservatives

The response to Paul’s speech has been instructive. Conservative law professor and former George W. Bush administration official John Yoo, for example, attacked Paul’s “immature views on politics and the Constitution,” arguing that “Paul’s claims about judicial activism raise fundamental doubts about his positions on social issues.”

On the left, meanwhile, Vox’s Andrew Prokop faulted Paul for “voic[ing] his support for an infamous and long-obsolete Supreme Court ruling asserting that ‘liberty to contract’ was a fundamental Constitutional right.”

For conservatives like Yoo, the problem with Paul’s speech is that he explicitly endorsed the Supreme Court’s 1965 ruling in Griswold v. Connecticut, which struck down a state law banning the use of birth control devices by married couples on the grounds that it violated their right to privacy. According to many conservative legal thinkers—including both the late Robert Bork and current Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia—the Griswold Court had no business interfering with the state’s broad power to regulate morality and private sexual behavior.