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.
Got an Obamateurism of the Day? If you see a foul-up by Barack Obama, e-mail it to me at email@example.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.
Illustrations by Chris Muir of Day by Day. Be sure to read the adventures of Sam, Zed, Damon, and Jan every day!