Frank Meyer: Fusionist as Federalist
Jonathan H. Adler
Case Western Reserve University School of Law; PERC - Property and Environment Research Center
October 31, 2011
Publius, Vol. 34, No. 4, p. 51, Fall 2004
Case Legal Studies Research Paper No. 05-17
Frank S. Meyer played a central role in defining the post-war American conservative movement. Through his writings and political activities, he defined and defended an ideological "fusion" of traditional conservative principles and libertarian political beliefs. While concerned with maintenance of an objective moral order and the pursuit of virtue in the individual, Meyer argued that the freedom of the person is the central and primary end of political society. The American system of government, with its horizontal and vertical separations of power, came closer than any political system in history to providing the protection for individual liberties necessary for the effective pursuit of virtue. Federalism was particularly important as it could forestall the centralization of government power. Virtue, to have any meaning, had to be freely chosen, but providing for individual freedom provided no guarantee that individuals would pursue virtuous ends. By the same token, federalism and the separation of powers did not guarantee that state governments would adopt wise or moral policies, as the history of the civil rights struggle attests. Nonetheless, Meyer believed federalism was essential if individual freedom was to endure.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 18
Keywords: Frank Meyer, Individual Freedom, Conservative, Libertarian
JEL Classification: K40
Date posted: July 26, 2005 ; Last revised: April 17, 2012
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