Obama's Supreme puzzlement
By Michael M. Bates
Tracking Barack Obama's position on many issues is akin to watching the weather. Stick around a little while and it'll change. He can make a U-turn faster than a speeding fist bump.
The senator claims he's still actively working on refining his views, a rather peculiar exercise for a man whose supposedly rock-solid convictions propelled him to success. I mean, he's still going to get the U.S. out of Iraq immediately, right?
Holding a second press conference to explain what you said at the first press conference because "Apparently I was not clear enough this morning," isn't inspiring. Maybe next time Democrats will select a candidate with stronger credentials than merely having once been a community organizer, whatever the heck that is.
This guy is starting to make Monsieur Kerry, who voted for the $87 billion before he voted against it, look downright decisive. Democrats should have anticipated Barry's backtracking.
In 2005, at Florida's Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church on his separation of church and state tour, he admitted that "We (Democrats) are trying to decide what our core values are." Hold it a second. They've been in business for 200 years and this Harvard Law School graduate still doesn't know what his party's core values are?
Obviously, the man is befuddled. And that's putting it charitably.
CNN's Wolf Blitzer recently asked Obama about what he'd look for in appointing Supreme Court justices:
"Are there members, justices right now upon who you would model, you would look at? Who do you like?"
The presumptive Democratic nominee for president characterized Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, and David Souter as "sensible" judges, suggesting they would serve as models for his appointments. He then smoothly auto piloted to the customary drivel about the necessity of judges representing the vulnerable, the powerless and other theoretical Democrat constituencies.
As a former constitutional law professor – oh, that's right, it's been downgraded to "senior lecturer", Mr. Obama should know empathy isn't a judicial prerequisite. A judge's job is to interpret the law as passed by others. The vulnerable and powerless and others who, unlike the Family Obama, don't rake in $4.2 million a year should seek redress from the legislature, which enacts laws.
Anyway, at least we know the Illinois senator would name to the Supreme Court people such as Ginsburg, Breyer and Souter. Or do we?
The question's a fair one. Last month the Court struck down the District of Columbia's handgun prohibition. Obama hailed the 5-to-4 decision and said it would "provide much-needed guidance to local jurisdictions across the country." Moreover, he stated he's "always believed that the 2nd Amendment protects the right of individuals to bear arms" and applauded the Court for endorsing his view.
What he didn't hail, applaud, or even mention were the justices who voted against the majority decision. These included Ginsburg, Breyer and Souter.
The Supreme Court also looked at a Louisiana law extending the death penalty to the rape of a child. In another 5-to-4 decision, the Court ruled the Constitution doesn't permit capital punishment for raping a child. The majority opinion argued the death penalty for that crime "poses risks of over-punishment."
Senator Obama criticized the decision:
"I think that the rape of a small child, 6 or 8 years old, is a heinous crime and if a state makes a decision that under narrow, limited, well-defined circumstances the death penalty is at least potentially applicable, that that does not violate our Constitution."
Like many Americans, I agree with that. The problem is that Justices Ginsburg, Breyer and Souter don't. All of them voted to overturn the death penalty for child rapists.
We're expected to believe that Obama honestly disagrees on important policy issues with the same judges he's identified as models. You can bet that, if elected, he'll re-refine his views and decide Ginsburg, Breyer and Souter are right. His appointments will make the Supreme Court the instrument of change and hope for which we're all hungering and Barack Obama is uniquely qualified to provide.
An Obama Court can set aside constitutional interpretation and get into the important stuff like representing the vulnerable and the powerless. It'll be like having a bench full of community organizers.
Who could ask for more?
This Mike Bates column appeared in the July 10, 2008 Reporter Newspapers.
Get weekly updates about new issues of ESR!