Barak Obama, Constitutional Scholar

In Barak Obama’s resume was a statement that he taught constitutional law as an “adjunct professor” at U of Chicago Law School. I have never considered this to be a major achievement since adjunct professors are not paid and the subject he taught was more related to his other interests. Constitutional law was not one of them.

At the school, Mr. Obama taught three courses, ascending to senior lecturer, a title otherwise carried only by a few federal judges. His most traditional course was in the due process and equal protection areas of constitutional law. His voting rights class traced the evolution of election law, from the disenfranchisement of blacks to contemporary debates over districting and campaign finance. Mr. Obama was so interested in the subject that he helped Richard Pildes, a professor at New York University, develop a leading casebook in the field.

His most original course, a historical and political seminar as much as a legal one, was on racism and law. Mr. Obama improvised his own textbook, including classic cases like Brown v. Board of Education, and essays by Frederick Douglass, W. E. B. Dubois, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X, as well as conservative thinkers like Robert H. Bork.

Mr. Obama was especially eager for his charges to understand the horrors of the past, students say. He assigned a 1919 catalog of lynching victims, including some who were first raped or stripped of their ears and fingers, others who were pregnant or lynched with their children, and some whose charred bodies were sold off, bone fragment by bone fragment, to gawkers…

Should we be surprised at his knowledge, or lack of it, on the basics of constitutional law ? Even his attempt to correct his clueless comments about judicial review are incoherent

Apparently unaware of the most basic principles of constitutional law, going back to Marbury v. Madison in 1803, he said:

I’m confident that the Supreme Court will not take what would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress.

And I — I’d just remind conservative commentators that for years what we’ve heard is the biggest problem on the bench was judicial activism or a lack of judicial restraint; that, uhhh, an unelected, uhhh, group of — of people would somehow overturn, uhhh, a duly constituted and — and passed, uh, law. Uh, well, uh, uh, is a good example. Uhh, and I’m pretty confident that this, — this court will recognize that, uh, and not take that step.

The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals responded

Overturning a law of course would not be unprecedented — since the Supreme Court since 1803 has asserted the power to strike down laws it interprets as unconstitutional. The three-judge appellate court appears to be asking the administration to admit that basic premise — despite the president’s remarks that implied the contrary. The panel ordered the Justice Department to submit a three-page, single-spaced letter by noon Thursday addressing whether the Executive Branch believes courts have such power, the lawyer said.

Marbury vs Madison is one of the oldest and most basic cases that would be studied by a law student interested in Constitutional Law. The fact that our president does not know this ranks with his comments on speaking “Austrian” in Austria and his estimation of the number of US states.

Is he really this dim ? Did Harvard turn out this affirmative action dullard and inflict him on the country ?

18 thoughts on “Barak Obama, Constitutional Scholar”

  1. I think it is fairly plain he is comparing and contrasting what the right has called “judicial activism” and the case being considered at the moment.

    In other words, he is claiming it is just “judicial activism” in action if they change his health package. I have read some, which seems to contain cogent argument, pieces that claim there is no constitutional objection to his package.

    I’m sure actual lawyers will be all over this for some time.

    He is going to slaughter Romney so he will have time.

  2. It seems to me that this is like Chairman Mao dictating to the faithful what the official line shall be in the event the law is found unconstitutional. The effect – just like his intervention in the Trayvon case – will be to further divide the country against itself. What seems to be rather extraordinary is not only his dictating to the Supreme Court on a pending case – but his attempt to redefine the public’s perception of their proper role in a way that is clearly at odds with the Constitution.

  3. Hussein didn’t study constitutional law or any other law, He skated through law school on charm and affirmative action.

    I do have pity on the poor DoJ lawyer who caught the Judge in a bad mood. It ruined her day, and the next 48 hours. Although I am sure they will have some grunt write a mealy mouthed apology to the Judge and Radar will get Eric, I am not paying attention, Holder to sign it.

    Holder, to my amazement is dumber and less knowledgeable than his boss. I wouldn’t hire either of them to do anything as a lawyer, not even plead out a traffic ticket.

    The really interesting thing is whether the political geniuses in the Obama campaign thought up the idea of attacking SCOTUS as a strategy, or whether they simply panicked. Surely, a good lawyer’s first reaction would be that it is not proper to comment on a case sub judice. But, as I said above Hussein is not even minimally competent as a lawyer.

    If it is a strategy, it is a bad one. If SCOTUS rules in favor of Obamacare, it will look like he has bullied them. If it rules against, it will look like he did not know what he was talking about.

    If he keeps up the attack after, they rule against, he will join FDR as an enemy of SCOTUS, and that was FDR’s worst performance in his excessively long reign.

    My guess is that they panicked. That is bad. Always remember what it says on the cover of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: “Don’t Panic”, those words will serve you well.

  4. The Obama quote you presented shows he’s unclear with his own argument. To paraphrase Obama:

    1) supreme court would be taking an unprecedented step of striking down a law passed by a majority of legislators and
    2) there are many old complaints about the supreme court striking down a law passed by a majority of legislators.

    So Obama has just contradicted himself with some sloppy speech-making.

    And although his unfortunate words can be seen as incoherent, they don’t support the idea that he is a Constitutional dim wit.

    There are a lot of substantive issues being discussed before the Supreme Court. Please let’s not waste more time on Obama’s mis-spoken posturing.

  5. I don’t have a side. Never had, the ultimate free lancer … if you will. ;)

    I believe the kerfuffle is over the forced acquisition of insurance which seems to be unconstitutional. You have difficult country to legislate in, not always a plus. Obama is trying to institute some form of health care with his main reason being it’s cheaper that way. A huge cost of doing business in the states is health insurance. If you can spread that cost, as most advanced societies do, you can free your business from a large cost and administrative penalty. No I am not a lawyer.

  6. “Please let’s not waste more time on Obama’s mis-spoken posturing.”

    Why not? I will keep kicking him until he leaves the White House, on Jan 20, 2013, I Pray.

  7. I’ll keep kicking him because it’s so much fun. Yeah, I do like deflating pretentious gits – why do you ask?

  8. “If you can spread that cost, as most advanced societies do, you can free your business from a large cost and administrative penalty. No I am not a lawyer.”

    Nor an accountant.

  9. “If you can spread that cost, as most advanced societies do, you can free your business from a large cost and administrative penalty. No I am not a lawyer.”

    Nor an accountant. Indeed! ;)

    This did not last long:

    “Knowing PenGun’s history, I no longer respond to him/her.”

    My history … how … fascinating.

    OK I guess I’ll explain as you do seem to insist.

    If you have a pure capitalist society and you charge whatever the traffic will bear for medical services then very many people will have to take pot luck as the average middle class income is barely enough to pay insurance or more realistically a retainer to a company that provides medical services as it’s main purpose. I say this as it appears, and I am not an American, that medical service is usually a vertically integrated cartel in your system.

    To use this middle class as a useful work force and perhaps more importantly consumers then health care of some kind is needed. That becomes a part of employment most usually and is a cost of doing business. As the entire cost is born by the business/wages it impacts your bottom line.

    A society, most of the advanced ones, can chose to spread this burden through a health care plan which is subsidized by the government. This ‘spreads’ the cost over the entire society and makes the actual cost born buy business/wages much less. It makes the country that has a good health plan a cheaper place to do business. Certainly TANSTAAFL but with the cost spread business is relieved of quite a burden. Many countries find this a useful way to operate.

  10. Pengun’s argument is a classic example of the socialist fallacy that govt control of production can keep costs down by imposing uniformity and economies of scale and spreading costs. To help evaluate this argument, consider whether it holds in the real world in any economic sector, and consider whether govt-run medical systems that try to hold down aggregate medical costs by spreading costs around actually deliver superior care for the same money as do private systems.

    What really holds down costs and improves quality is competition in a system where customers are spending their own money.

  11. Even in the private sectors, economies of scale are often a chimera. It’s easy to do a superficial analysis of the economies that will supposedly be gained by consolidating engineering and/or manufacturing across multiple product-line divisions; not so easy to assess to costs that will be incurred by longer human communication paths and decision cycles, the loss of common culture among those involved in a product line, and the resultant quality problems.

  12. “What really holds down costs and improves quality is competition in a system where customers are spending their own money.”

    Why then is your medical system about twice as expensive per capita as the rest of the first world? You have third world results for infant death and life expectancy among other things. You do have a quickly responsive system though, it is the only metric you excel in. Money talks I guess. The rest of your results are fair to poor.

  13. Most of the problems in the US system are consequences of third-party payment systems and overregulation by govt. Most patients are not spending their own money; the real customer is the govt or an insurance company. Making our system even more centralized and dependent on third-party payment, as you would have us do to be like Canada, would make our system worse for patients. Indeed that is precisely what Obama’s health scheme promises to do. It will inevitably reduce the level of service in order to save money. It will also do nothing to reduce litigation, which is a major cost driver.

    The “third world results for infant death and life expectancy” assertion is bullshit. American stats are misleadingly skewed downward by the greater heterogeneity of its population as compared to other advanced countries, by international differences in how infant deaths are reported, and by the fact that American medicine is extremely advanced and routinely attempts to deliver high-risk infants who would have been aborted or stillborn (and probably ignored in infant death stats) in other countries.

    Canadians who can afford to still come to the USA when they need advanced medical treatment or procedures that require long waits in Canada. I’m not aware of many (any?) US citizens who go to Canada for medical treatment.

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