Institute of Politics

Justin Amash

U.S. Representative from Michigan’s 3rd Congressional District

  • Spring 2021 Pritzker Fellow

  • Seminar Series: "Why I Am a Libertarian"


Justin Amash is a former member of Congress who represented Michigan’s Third District in the U.S. House of Representatives from January 2011 to January 2021. First elected as a Republican, Rep. Amash left the Republican Party in July 2019 and later joined the Libertarian Party, becoming the highest-ranking Libertarian Party officeholder in the country. During his time in office, Rep. Amash came to be particularly concerned by the harms of power centralization in Congress and increasing partisanship, and since leaving office he has been exploring ways to combat these trends.

In Congress, Rep. Amash earned a reputation as one of its most transparent and accessible members thanks to his frequent vote explanations on social media and many town halls. His legislative efforts focused heavily on congressional openness and protecting individual rights.

Prior to his congressional service, Rep. Amash served one term as a state legislator in the Michigan House of Representatives. Before that, he worked as a business lawyer for a Michigan law firm and consulted for his family’s business. Rep. Amash has an AB in Economics from the University of Michigan and a JD from the University of Michigan Law School.


“Why I Am a Libertarian”

If various polls and surveys conducted over the last decade are to be believed, the number of Americans holding “libertarian” views falls somewhere between “not very many” and “wow, that’s a lot.” The results vary widely because the methods for identifying libertarians vary widely - because, after all, what does it mean to be a libertarian anyway?

Libertarians are often described as socially liberal and fiscally conservative. This can be a useful heuristic, but it lacks nuance, and it won’t tell you how libertarians approach real issues in today’s world. Life involves applying abstract principles to concrete problems; to appreciate libertarian policy choices - or recognize libertarianism in oneself or others - one must first understand libertarian principles.

In these seminars, we’ll discuss the outlines of libertarianism and what libertarianism looks like in modern politics. By the end of the series, I hope you’ll recognize something I already know: You’re more libertarian than you think.

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