Does Obama Understand the Constitution?

@Rollo1 (16689)
Boston, Massachusetts
April 4, 2012 7:44am CST
For a "Constitutional scholar", President Obama seems to lack a true understanding of one of the most important governmental structures created by the Constitution: the system of "checks and balances". The point of creating the three branches of government - Legislative, Exective and Judicial - was to ensure that no one branch of government could exert excessive power. Yet this week, Obama questioned the ability of the Supreme Court to rule on the constitutionality of Federal laws. Obama said "Ultimately, 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". Of course, this would not be unprecedented at all. That is the job of the Supreme Court - to review laws passed by Congress and make a decision regarding their constitutionality. They've been doing that job for 200 years. Many laws have been struck down. What is unprecedented is a president issuing such statements, trying to influence the court and displaying such a lack of understanding about the very function of the SCOTUS. After the backlash from these comments, Obama remarked that of course they COULD strike down the law, but since the Congress is "elected" and the court "unelected", they ought to exercise caution in making those decisions. Having appointed two Supreme Court justices himself, he ought to well understand that they are unelected. Their status as "appointed for life" is what is supposed to guarantee their impartiality. They don't have to worry about public opinion and standing for re-election - something that Obama does have to be concerned with. Obama also cautioned the court against "judicial activism", that is, ruling according to their political leanings. Yet when he taught Constitutional law, Obama disagreed with "judicial originalists" or those who believe that the original wording of the Constitution should be the standard by which to adjudicate. He believes judges should rule according to their experiences, a view shared by his appointee, Sonia Sotomayer who famously said "I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life", dismissing the notion of Justice O'Connor who said " a wise old man and wise old woman will reach the same conclusion in deciding cases". Obama's remarks or quiet threat or whatever it was to the SCOTUS is the unprecedented occurrence, not the possibility of the law being struck down. I think his remarks make him sound petulant, whiny and angry. Do you think he is just angry or does he really not understand the separation of powers? Does he understand the checks and balances and just wishes they didn't exist so he could wield more power through the executive branch? Will the SCOTUS pay any attention to his remarks?
4 people like this
9 responses
@debrakcarey (19924)
• United States
4 Apr 12
What is really scary is I think from some of his other actions and words, that he really feels that he really is the final say. I worry that perhaps he knows something we do not know. By that I mean, he is relly secure in his belief that he cannot be voted out? His recent remarks about 'I've got five more years', as if he knows how the election will go down already. Is he? What could or would he do to remain in the White House? Keep in mind, a congresswoman suggested that the election be put off, postponed indefinately, while we get 'these issues' sorted out. The issues she was refering to is the debt/deficit problems. I cannot believe those words from an elected offical, and it shows the mind set of the progressive liberal. Throw the Constitution out, we are here and we're going to stay. What else could she have meant? Was Obama attempting to sway the Court, threaten them somehow? Mark Levin thinks so, and he is a very intelligent Constitutional lawyer. Obama's words indicate he has NO REGARD for the customary behavior of one branch of government interacting with another. Not just custom, but it is illegal to try and sway a sitting judge at any level. He displays a narcissistic demeanor, acting as if it is understood he is king. He really doesn't get it, not legally or customary. Then there is the fact that several lower courts have ordered his appearance, or the revealation of his documents, surrounding his eligibility, and have been ignored by Obama. Last but not least, to have said that they are 'activist' if they do overturn the Healthcare Reform law; when the progressive liberal judges have overturned many voter approved laws such as the Prop. 8 in California. What that tells me, activist judges are ok, if they go along with the program. Activist judges aren't ok, if they go against Obama's wishes. THIS IS NOT THE AMERICA that I have lived in for 55 years. We did not elect a king. And the American people better read between the lines here and realize that we elected someone who thinks he IS KING.
3 people like this
@Rollo1 (16689)
• Boston, Massachusetts
4 Apr 12
He definitely believes in judicial activism, IF it goes his way. This is why he chose a justice (Sotomayor) who believes in judicial activism. Unfortunately, when there are those on the SCOTUS who will still use the Constitution as the measurement by which they rule on law, he will find that his excess use of power in his position will be overruled.
2 people like this
@debrakcarey (19924)
• United States
4 Apr 12
My point exactly, he'll do what he wants to do. He'll say what he thinks will make it go his way even if it is not true, he will use whatever means he can think of to get his agenda through. We are in for it. I hope it hasn't gone to far. But it appears from his remarks about another five years, and wait till after the election I'll have more flexibility, that he thinks its in the bag.
1 person likes this
@Taskr36 (13925)
• United States
4 Apr 12
I'll say what I've been saying all along. Obama reads the constitution the way atheists read the bible. He looks for ways to discredit and destroy it while attacking those that follow it. Why else would anyone need to be a "constitutional lawyer"? Seriously, divorce lawyers have mountains of divorce laws to learn. Real Estate lawyers have mountains of real estate laws to learn. A constitutional lawyer has a 6 page constitution, written at an eighth grade level to learn. He brought up this "unelected" crap to delegitimize the Supreme Court. It tells me that he may be planning to defy their decision and wants to get his minions in line behind him in case it comes to that. It's not like he cares about democracy. He already proved how little he actually values it when he chose to disenfranchise voters in Michigan and Florida in 2008.
2 people like this
@debrakcarey (19924)
• United States
4 Apr 12
That just sent chills down the back of my neck. To think it has come to this.
2 people like this
@dragon54u (31617)
• United States
4 Apr 12
I have heard it theorized that there has been a leak for the very first time and Obama knows the decision, thus his remarks about the court that he made yesterday. I do believe he will challenge it in some way if they vote against it if he can't coerce them into approving it before the official announcement of their decision. His job is to destroy the republic, not abide by its rules.
@Rollo1 (16689)
• Boston, Massachusetts
4 Apr 12
I wondered too if there might have been a leak. After all, Kagan was previously his Solicitor General. She has very strong ties to the White House. And perhaps this is his last ditch attempt to try to get someone to change his mind - Justice Kennedy, perhaps? Remember, he has called out the SCOTUS before, at the SOTU address. He does believe that he is more important than they are and that no one should stand in his way, not even the Constitution.
@suspenseful (40316)
• Canada
4 Apr 12
Oh he understands it. He just thinks that it can be changed according to his world view. So instead of thinking everything should be measured according to the Constitution, he believes everything should be measured to his view. In other words, he holds his beliefs more important .
@debrakcarey (19924)
• United States
4 Apr 12
http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/narcissistic-personality-disorder/DS00652 http://www.americanthinker.com/2009/09/is_obama_a_narcissist.html We really need to vote this guy OUT of the White House.
2 people like this
@Rollo1 (16689)
• Boston, Massachusetts
4 Apr 12
He does hold his beliefs higher. He has stated that the Constitution is a document of "negative liberties" which basically constrains the government while he would like the government to be much more powerful.
2 people like this
@suspenseful (40316)
• Canada
7 Apr 12
Have to get rid of him. He is sounding more and more like a dictator and remember the Germans voted Hitler in and both men seem to have the same sort of magnetic personality where they can tell lies and people think they are telling the truth. I hope you get rid of him because I would like to visit the States sometime. I also hope you can get rid of the TSA as well. The Constitution was put for all your protection and I do not want to see a tinpot wanttobe dictator get rid of it.
• United States
5 Apr 12
That's kind of a redundant question.. OF COURSE HE UNDERSTANDS THE CONSTITUTION or he wouldn't be President of the United States. It's funny how no one EVER questioned whether George Bush Jr. understood the constitution or not with all of the idiotic moves that were made when he was in office...
@Rollo1 (16689)
• Boston, Massachusetts
5 Apr 12
Well, there had to be one person who deflected the question by bringing up George Bush. I guess the big difference is that George Bush never questioned the authority of the Supreme Court to review the constitutionality of laws as per its job description in the Constitution itself. Neither did he threaten them or try to coerce them.
1 person likes this
• United States
5 Apr 12
Wow you're right... huge difference... =/
@debrakcarey (19924)
• United States
5 Apr 12
I just asked debater if he paid this guy to mention Bush
1 person likes this
@dragon54u (31617)
• United States
4 Apr 12
I think he understands the constitution but it is not ingrained in his makeup like it is ours. We were taught it from elementary school on and have always lived with it while he was raised abroad in countries that were not democratic republics. He was raised among people who did what their government said, or else. Even when he went to his grandparents' in Hawaii it wasn't quite like living in the States. He assumes, because of his early education and upbringing, that he can legislate around the constitution and he is firmly convinced that he has every right to do so. He understands the constitution but sees it as an obstacle to his ultimate goal, not the basis of law and guarantor of rights.
1 person likes this
@Rollo1 (16689)
• Boston, Massachusetts
4 Apr 12
I agree that he sees the Constitution as an obstacle to his agenda and his ultimate goals. As it is, he is busy issuing executive orders constantly, trying to legislate from the White House. He simply doesn't like checks and balances because they interfere with implementing radical changes. Sometimes we feel like the wheels of government turn very slowly, maybe we should recognize that the slow movement of government is the only reason that anything about our nation is still recognizable. I think you're right that his experiences are not the same as the average American and his exposure to other governments makes him think he can do more than he can leaves him puzzled as to the resistance of the public to his heavy-handed approach and quest to expand the powers of the executive branch.
2 people like this
@debrakcarey (19924)
• United States
4 Apr 12
Or maybe he was 'chosen' just because of this? It has recently been reported that his Harvard Law school admission was recommended by Kalid Monsour, the lawyer for the Saudi family in Saudi Arabia. Since we never really got a good answer on how he paid for law school, there is speculation Monsour and the Saudis paid for it. http://www.newsmax.com/KenTimmerman/obama-harvard-/2009/12/14/id/342454 The fact he was a junior senator with very little experience, not to mention a lackluster voting record. His time at the Harvard Law Review has even been offered as part of his experience, yet we see even there he was a lack luster president. http://www.vdare.com/posts/how-good-was-obama-at-running-the-harvard-law-review
2 people like this
@dragon54u (31617)
• United States
4 Apr 12
Debra, you have a good, if chilling, point. How many others have we seen rise so far so fast with no questions asked? With even the competing party accepting all his credentials and refusing to ask the hard questions? I think Mr. Obama is a first in that regard and I would not doubt that he was placed here and brought out (perhaps before he was ready) to take advantage of our financial, military and social situation. It sounds crazy, I know, but I think when he came to the States someone saw a golden opportunity in the future and decided to take a chance. I hope it doesn't pay off for them but it all depends on the People.
• United States
4 Apr 12
I think that the point he is trying to make is that it would be IGNORING precedence which is VERY rare when it comes to the Supreme Court. What I don't think many people understand is how much this decision would change our international trading, foreign aide, and most importantly our nation economy. The decision that is in question is Wickard V. Filburn, this decision stated that the government could dictate commerce, forcing farmers to ONLY produce so much or pay fines. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wickard_v._Filburn If the Supreme Court decides that the government can not forc3 people to do something or face fines than the government wouldn't be able to inflate prices of crops internationally like they do today. What many people don't understand is how strong the agriculture end of our economy is today, and how much this could hurt their pricing. Farmers have done VERY well the last few years, and part of that has had to do with government regulations (ethanol), and market manipulation (send grains to other countries in stead of foreign aide and charging them more than market prices, which keeps prices high). I am not saying that he is correct in attacking the court, but he should do a better job of highlighting cases like this that will effect the country.
@debrakcarey (19924)
• United States
5 Apr 12
Hey debater, did you pay that guy below to mention Bush so you wouldn't have too? When you say farmers, you really mean big Agra don't you? One of the biggest lobbyist in the land, right after BigPharma? Oh well, its ok, you don't have to respond, it is off topic and I'm just in a mood cause there is SO MUCH WRONG in our country. I need to go watch a good movie and stop reading all this before I blow a gasket.
2 people like this
@Rollo1 (16689)
• Boston, Massachusetts
5 Apr 12
I have to disregard the bucolic deflection into agriculture as this case has nothing to do with farming in any way. Whether farmers, who are already in the market by being in the business of farming, can be regulated under the commerce clause has no bearing whatsoever on whether the government can create a market in order to regulate it. Basically, the mandate and its penalties would mean that by not entering the market, by choosing not to purchase something, the government can force you into that market and then regulate your participation in it. The government can regulate commerce (why do you prefer the word dictate? could that be telling?) where commerce already exists. It cannot create commerce in order to then regulate it. The President has nothing in his job description (you'll find that in the Constitution) that requires him to direct the Supreme Court on how they ought to decide a case. He can speak all he likes on what his opinions are on a particular matter, but he cannot question the authority of the court to rule on the constitutionality of law, nor is he correct to imply that this is not their duty. He's just worried that it didn't go his way.
2 people like this
• United States
5 Apr 12
Deb, I guess you could say big Agra, but they are the highest subsidized group in the United States (when you combine government crop insurance, ethanol subsidizes, and farm subsidies). If you don't think they are big just look up Rush Limbaugh ethanol, and listen to his callers attack him when he goes after ethanol.
@MntlWard (880)
• United States
7 Apr 12
It's funny how conservatives are all about the judicial activism these days.
@debrakcarey (19924)
• United States
8 Apr 12
No, we are not. Obama would like to call it judicial activism, but it is what Justices of the Supreme Court are supposed to do, interpret law according to the limits of the Constitution. Activism is making law from the bench because you can't get it in the Senate or House.
@Fatcat44 (1142)
• United States
5 Apr 12
Rush tried to explain this yesterday, but Rush missed it by a ways also, but he was close. It is called confusion. That is one of Saul Alinski's teaching. Confusion and get the people to fight the war far you. It is generally the "ignorant" and/or "young" ones that fall into this trap most of the time. Attack it top-down, bottom-up, and inside-out. This is big enough, and enough damage can be caused by this, that we have to be careful over the next 6 months on what will be going on. If Obama start losing the election, I would not be surprised to that we could see some major rioting, occupying and other stuff. And if Romney smart, which I think we will, Romney will hit him hard on these things. But it may not do much good, because of a lot people will want to believe what they want to believe, and ignore the facts and common sense.
@debrakcarey (19924)
• United States
5 Apr 12
I see it that way too. An excuse for martial law? They've bandied about the subject of 'postponed elections' already. (who was that congresswoman that said that?) I've also thought that the whole occupy movement was to sow dissent and mayhem. Its sorta fizzled out, but then we have 'annonymous' in the back ground with their own brand of mayhem. I agree, the Rule Book is being followed. He (Obama) may not know the Constitution very well, but he's got that book down very well.
@debrakcarey (19924)
• United States
8 Apr 12
He thinks it's 'fundementally flawed'. And he is on record as disagreeing with interpretaton by original intent. I think his remarks make him dangerous. Someone who would disgregard the Constitutional limits on HIS power if it struck his fancy.