Monday, October 27, 2008

The lawyer asks:

Nathan Moore asks the right question in light of Barack Obama's 2001 interview (noted below):

"...can he actually take the oath of office of the presidency, and swear to uphold and defend the Constitution without perjuring himself?"

Nathan doesn't go far enough though. Here's the oath (with my own emphasis):
I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.
From what I've heard and read Obama is planning on enacting Constitution 2.0 instead.

Regardless, Clinton proved that presidents get a pass on perjury. So it looks like voters are on deck for the preserving, protecting and defending. I don't even want to consider who/what is next in the lineup.


N.S. Allen said...

Sen. Obama didn't say anything even vaguely along the lines of what Moore claims he did, which makes his entire argument so much wasted space.

In the interview in question, Obama said that he thought that it was a bad thing that the civil rights movement had become so fixated on court action, because, given the purely negative rights provided for in the Constitution, there was little hope of making economic progress, that way.

He didn't say that having only negative rights in the Constitution was a bad idea. He said that, given that it only provides those negative rights, trying to assert positive, economic change through the courts, which are limited to interpreting and enforcing the Constitution, is futile. Better to go organize within the community or to urge the legislature to do something of its own volition, without trying to force them through the courts.

The two things are not the same. The fact that "the lawyer" didn't notice this makes me worried about the rigor of our nation's law schools.

(Maybe he should study a little more. Perhaps under someone who has taught constitutional law at a prestigious, American university. I know! How about he ask for lessons from Barack Obama?)

N.S. Allen said...

Here are a few quotations from the interview, for the sake of illustration, taken from the ultra-liberal Fox News.

These should, I think, make it clear that Obama is saying that the courts aren't the appropriate place to handle economic reform, rather than that the Constitution should be altered so that they will be.

(I've edited for capitalization and spelling mistakes and punctuation, in the linked transcript, as well as ellipsing out some "you knows" and similar, verbal tics. All emphasis mine.)

Obama says, while talking about the lack of economic change produced through the courts:

"I think one of the tragedies of the civil rights movement was that the...movement became so court focused. I think there was a tendency to lose track of the political and organizing activities on the ground that are able to bring about the coalitions of power through which you bring about redistributive change. And in some ways we still suffer from that."

Then, later on, a caller asks: "Is it too late for that kind of reparative work, and is that the appropriate place for reparative economic work to take place?"

Obama responds: "You know, maybe I am showing my bias here as a legislator, as well as a law professor, but...I am not optimistic about bringing about major redistributive change through the courts. You know, the institution just isn't structured that way. Just look at very rare examples where, during the desegregation era, the court was willing to, for example...order...changes that cost money to local school districts. And the court was very uncomfortable with it. It was hard to manage. It was hard to figure out. You start getting into all sorts of separation of powers issues, you know, in terms of the court monitoring or engaging in a process that is essentially is administrative and takes a lot of time. The court is not very good at it and politically it is hard to legitimize opinions from the court in that regard."

Eric said...

Speaking of wasted space...