Obamateurism of the Day

posted at 8:05 am on January 29, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

Yesterday’s big takeaway from Barack Obama’s State of the Union was having a Constitutional law professor scold the Supreme Court for a recent decision — and getting the particulars wrong on national television. Could it possibly get worse than that? HA reader Marvin K and Patriot Post notice that the Con-Law prof seems a little confused about what’s actually in the Constitution:

We find unity in our incredible diversity, drawing on the promise enshrined in our Constitution:  the notion that we are all created equal, that no matter who you are or what you look like, if you abide by the law you should be protected by it; that if you adhere to our common values you should be treated no different than anyone else.

Is “the notion that we are all created equal” actually enshrined in our Constitution?  Er, no. The closest one can get is the 14th Amendment, which guarantees that people cannot be denied “equal protection of the laws.”  There is only one use of any form of the word create, in Article I Section 6, barring former members of Congress from receiving emoluments from offices created or pay increased while serving as a member.  The “notion”, actually a principle, that we are all created equal is found in the Declaration of Independence, not the Constitution:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Even apart from that, Obama gets the idea of equal protection wrong.  Quite clearly, equal protection must apply regardless of whether one complies with the law. Constitutional protections are not granted only “if you abide by the law”; they’re inherent and not conditional.   Some specifically protect Americans from the power of government after being accused of not abiding by the law.  The notion that they only apply if one adheres to our “common values” is a complete misreading of the Constitution and its purpose of limiting government, not the people.

And if Obama really believed what he said, then why is he trying terrorists (who clearly reject our values and refuse to recognize our laws) in criminal court with these same Constitutional guarantees?

One would think a Con Law prof would know the difference, especially as President.  Apparently not.

Update: Jim Hoft, Modern Conservative, and Free Republic also noticed this.

Got an Obamateurism of the Day? If you see a foul-up by Barack Obama, e-mail it to me at obamaisms@edmorrissey.com with the quote and the link to the Obamateurism. I’ll post the best Obamateurisms on a daily basis, depending on how many I receive. Include a link to your blog, and I’ll give some link love as well. And unlike Slate, I promise to end the feature when Barack Obama leaves office.

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Comment pages: 1 2

thomasaur on January 29, 2010 at 10:12 AM

He puts out plenty of bull, too.

kingsjester on January 29, 2010 at 10:19 AM

0bama was NOT a professor: he was a “lecturer.”

noblejones on January 29, 2010 at 10:20 AM

I would really like to see some of the work done by Professor Obama. This is his area of expertise, and he can’t even get the particulars right? I feel sorry for his former students. Just imagine getting that question on the test, answering it right, then Obama marking it wrong because you don’t understand the Constitution.

txaggie on January 29, 2010 at 10:23 AM

Did anyone, anywhere actually SEE Pinnochio in a classroom either as a student or Lecturer?

Anyone have any pictures or is this just made out of whole cloth like his birth Certificate?

Is Pinnochio actually William Ayers with a tan?

dhunter on January 29, 2010 at 10:32 AM

Smarter than a fifth-grader?? This is why Obama refuses to release his college transcripts.

*giggle*

TN Mom on January 29, 2010 at 10:36 AM

Forget the birth certificate. I think we should look into that “Professor” thing. Hell, everything else about the Obamassiah is made up.

GarandFan on January 29, 2010 at 10:50 AM

He’s a Con running from the Law. Can’t uphold it if you don’t know it.

Kissmygrits on January 29, 2010 at 10:53 AM

0bama was NOT a professor: he was a “lecturer.”

noblejones on January 29, 2010 at 10:20 AM

As Sarah Palin pointed out, he still IS a lecturer and only a lecturer.

Christian Conservative on January 29, 2010 at 10:59 AM

To be granted professor status at most law schools, one has to write (and publish) some scholarly articles on legal issues. Obama never published any. Apparently Bill Ayers was too busy with other things. ;)

AZCoyote on January 29, 2010 at 11:13 AM

that if you adhere to our common values you should be treated no different than anyone else.

This sentence I find most disturbing, because if you go into Obama’s head, and past comments he’s made….this is a message. If you think like us liberals, and agree with everything we want to do, we’ll be decent to you. If not, then……

He once said, and while this isn’t verbatim, he made assertions that the Constitution was the only thing holding him back from what he truly wants to do. He knows the things he wants are unconstitutional, so of course he’s going to shred the Constitution to get what he wants.

capejasmine on January 29, 2010 at 11:35 AM

When he’s done with his present gig, maybe he could be appointed to the bench… Shucks, maybe he could appoint himself to the bench!

SnowSun on January 29, 2010 at 11:40 AM

Now I understand why Obama chose Constitutional Law : KNOW THY ENEMY

Goody2Shoes on January 29, 2010 at 11:45 AM

I would really like to see some of the work done by Professor Obama. This is his area of expertise, and he can’t even get the particulars right? I feel sorry for his former students. Just imagine getting that question on the test, answering it right, then Obama marking it wrong because you don’t understand the Constitution.

txaggie on January 29, 2010 at 10:23 AM

Work? You mean he was supposed to work?

I forgot where I saw this, but some blogger found an exam given by “Professor” Obama to his students. There were three essay questions, asking students to discuss the social and legal issues in “case studies”, one involving discrimination against homosexuals, another involving an African American getting paid less than a white employee, another involving abortion rights.

All the questions were very tendentious, leading the students into adopting a liberal opinion. The blog entry only posted the exam questions without any student answers, but it begs the question of whether any student who wrote an essay based on a conservative interpretation of the law would have received a failing grade.

Was Obama a professor of “constitutional law” or his own opinion?

Steve Z on January 29, 2010 at 1:00 PM

One would think a Con Law prof would know the difference, especially as President. Apparently not.

Assuming he’s not a dummy in a nice suit.

Schadenfreude on January 29, 2010 at 1:06 PM

http://sweetness-light.com/archive/obamas-courses-at-u-of-c-law-school

Regarding the courses taught by Professor Obama, here’s a curriculum from 2002: (H/T Sweetness&Light)

CURRENT ISSUES IN RACISM & THE LAW. 54302.

This seminar examines current problems in American race relations and the role the law has played in structuring the race debate. How have past and present legal approaches to racism fared? Has the continued emphasis on statutory solutions to racism impeded the development of potentially richer political, economic, and cultural approaches, and if so, can minorities afford to shift their emphasis given the continued prevalence of racism in society? Can, and should, the existing concepts of American jurisprudence provide racial minorities more than formal equality through the courts? Students prepare papers that evaluate how the legal system has dealt with particular incidents of racism and that discuss the comparative merits of litigation, legislation and market solutions to problems of institutional racism in American society. This seminar may be taken for fulfillment of the Substantial Writing Requirement. The student’s grade is based on a 15 page paper, group presentation and class participation. Autumn (3) Mr. Obama.

CONSTITUTIONAL LAW III: EQUAL PROTECTION AND SUBSTANTIVE DUE PROCESS. 40301.

This course considers the history, theory, and contemporary law of the post-Civil War Amendments to the Constitution, particularly the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment. The central subjects are: the constitutional law governing discrimination on the basis of race, gender, and other characteristics; the recognition of individual rights not explicitly enumerated in the Constitution; and the constitutional distinction between state and private action. Throughout, students consider certain foundational questions, including the role of courts in a democracy, and the question of how the Constitution should be interpreted. The student’s grade in Mr. Obama’s section is based on a take home examination. The student’s grade in Mr. Strauss’ section is based on a proctored final examination. Autumn (3) Mr. Obama, Winter (3) Mr. Strauss.

VOTING RIGHTS & THE DEMOCRATIC PROCESS. 42001.

This course examines the history of voting rights law in the United States, as well as the broader issues surrounding various systems of representative democracy: How should the courts balance the demands of majority rule with the desire to protect minority voices? Does the Voting Rights Act, as amended, promote minority voices, or simply segregate them from the larger political discourse? Are there alternative models, such as cumulative voting, that would better serve majority and minority alike? Do systems of more “direct democracy”—such as ballot initiatives and referenda—empower voters or undermine a more thoughtful deliberative process? And does voting even matter in a complex, modern society where campaigns are dominated by money and issues are framed by lobbyists? The student’s grade is based on a substantial paper. This seminar may be taken for fulfillment of the Substantial Writing Requirement. Winter (3) Mr. Obama.

Notice that all the courses have to do with minority rights, racism, and discrimination. Did Obama really study anything about the rest of the Constitution, such as the different roles of Congress, the Executive, and the Supreme Court in government? Was he a professor or a community organizer?

Steve Z on January 29, 2010 at 1:12 PM

Is life imitating art?

jdkchem on January 29, 2010 at 2:28 PM

Was BHO really a Contitutional Law Professor? I understood that he was an associate lecturer on Constitutional Law. You may be giving him too much credit for a position he wasn’t qualified for in the first place, much less now,as he has adequately demonstrated as President!!!

tomshup on January 29, 2010 at 3:26 PM

I am getting really tired of folks calling Obama a Constitutional Law Professor. Obama was never a professor anywhere, much less at Univ. of Chicago, for the simple reason that he has never published anything in the academic literature.

Obama was a lecturer in Constitutional law, which is a few grades down the ladder from professor: graduate students are often lecturers.

Henry Bowman on January 29, 2010 at 4:36 PM

Did anyone, anywhere actually SEE Pinnochio in a classroom either as a student or Lecturer?

Anyone have any pictures or is this just made out of whole cloth like his birth Certificate?

Is Pinnochio actually William Ayers with a tan?

dhunter on January 29, 2010 at 10:32 AM

Ding, ding, ding, we have a winner. Tell ‘em what they’ve won Johnnie!

Blacksmith8 on January 29, 2010 at 6:38 PM

One would think a Con Law prof would know the difference, especially as President. Apparently not.

No Ed, he knew exactly what he was saying….sadly….
He’s trying to change the perception of what the Constitution enumerates…pure and simple…
I’m sure if we pursue it, we’d find others with many more to come.

jerrytbg on January 29, 2010 at 8:50 PM

Comment pages: 1 2