Obama The Justifier
2008 Selwyn Duke
reportage is reaching a fever pitch, and one of the hottest stories concerns a
recently revealed interview
Barack Obama gave to Chicago Public Radio in 2001.
In it, then Illinois state senator Obama talked about whether his desire
to spread the wealth around might be better accomplished legislatively or
through the courts and lamented that the latter hadn’t done enough to further
this socialist goal.
many have heard the interview, very few have identified its most troubling
aspect. It’s not that Obama’s
answers were peppered with various forms of the term “redistribute,” as all
politically-sentient beings already know this is what he aims to do with other
people’s money. It wasn’t that
he said the Warren court wasn’t really all that “radical.”
It’s not even that he strongly implied the Constitution was flawed, as
no legal document is perfect, and many thinking people would like to see the
Constitution altered in some way. No,
there is something far, far more chilling, although, to many, it may seem
somewhat innocuous. It was when
Obama spoke of how legal “justifications” could be found allowing the courts
to order redistributive policies. This
single, solitary statement transcends one policy and reveals The One’s
I said “So-and-so has his justifications”
or “He just wants to justify his
actions,” we all know that the italicized words don’t have a positive
connotation. Justifications are not
usually synonymous with reasons – they tend to be more akin to
to this, the land of the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 has a constitution
that guarantees its people many of the same rights ours does to us.
You wouldn’t know it, though, because the Chinese government, well, has
its justifications. The commissars
justify the people right out of their rights.
treads on the human face.
very few want to roll over their fellow Americans with a tank (however, it was
recently discovered that Obama ally Bill Ayers once said that it may be
necessary to kill
25 million “capitalists” who won’t go along with the communist program),
sadly, many of our countrymen are content to do same to the Constitution.
problem here is that most citizens don’t understand what a constitution really
is and what it accomplishes. So
let’s discuss The Constitution 101.
could be said that the Constitution is the contract Americans have with one
another. What do I mean?
Well, if business partners embark upon a commercial endeavor, they will
draw up a contract; its purpose is to ensure that all the partners’ rights
will be respected, that those with more clout won’t be able to trample upon
under such an arrangement, would you want all concerned to abide by the
contract’s terms or instead find justifications for violating them?
course, if such a breach were attempted, we would have recourse to the courts.
But what if the justifiers managed to install fellow justifiers in the
courts, judges who would rubber-stamp their “interpretation” of the
contract? You could end up on a soup
is precisely what happens when individuals who believe the Constitution is a
“living document” – meaning, it can be interpreted to suit the “times”
(which is a euphemism for “agenda”) – are elected, thus giving them the
power to both legislate their justifications and appoint or confirm judges who
will rule them constitutional.
those who consider supporting Obama must ask themselves a question: Do I want my
contract viewed as a “living” document whose protections can be justified
away? If you’re not sure, well,
then, would you like to play me in poker and have living rules that I can
interpret to suit the hand? I could
make a lot of money that way, as Duke would become the rulebook.
you don’t like this idea, why would you want a president who would appoint
justices who would become the rulebook? Remember,
having living rules is tantamount to having no rules at all, just rulers.
It is to replace the rule of law with the rule of lawyers.
Obama’s audacity with respect to subordinating rules to justifications is
staggering. Consider that in the
2001 interview he also lamented that,
. . the Supreme Court never ventured into the issues of the redistribution of
wealth and more basic issues of political and economic justice . . . .”
it didn’t, senator, and for good reason.
Constitution speaks about wealth “redistribution” and “economic justice”
no more than it does of prohibiting immigration or limiting taxation to 10
percent of a person’s income. Thus,
while I may argue for the last two policies, I cannot do so based on a
constitutional argument without descending into deceit.
then went further, saying that the Warren court’s failure to pursue this
justification meant it wasn’t that radical.
Now, since the senator would pursue it, may we conclude that he is
that radical? I must, given that he
proceeded to say,
. . it [the Warren court] didn’t break free from the essential constraints
that were placed by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution.”
this is staggering. If you were in
front of a judge seeking justice because your business partners were violating
your contract, would you want the court to enforce its terms or “break free”
from them? Freedom isn’t good when
it’s the freedom of the powerful to violate your rights.
I must address a common complaint. Some
may ask, “OK, but why should we forever and always be constrained by a
200-year-old document? Contracts
sometimes need to be rewritten.” This is true, but the answer is that, again,
it’s much as with a business contract.
you and your business partners find that your contract doesn’t suit the times,
you can get together and, in accordance with the terms of the contract, alter
it. We can do the same with the
Constitution through the “amendment process,” the legal way to change the
document. It’s a thorough,
multi-step process that gives the nation time to mull the proposal over,
ensuring that it isn’t merely the result of a collective fit of emotionalism
and that the vast majority agree before it takes effect.
It helps to guarantee that it really is change the people believe in.
“people” is the operative word. Our
leaders are supposed to derive their right to rule from the consent of the
governed, which is why we elect representatives.
Yet, the practice of finding constitutional justifications – by
politicians or judges – does violence to this principle.
Remember that our national contract reflects the will of the people, as
it was created and amended by our ancestors’ duly elected representatives and
is allowed to stand today by ours. Thus,
what are those constitutional “constraints” Obama seemed so dismissive of
are nothing less than the voice of the people – the democratic determinations
of the generations, of the living and the dead – saying “No!
The law reflects our voice, and it constrains you just as it does us.”
if judges don’t rule based upon our national contract, this great expression
of the people’s will, on what basis do they decide?
Are they receiving divine inspiration?
Are they channeling Aristotle, Cicero, Thomas Aquinas and Confucius?
Do they have something akin to the Oracle of Delphi?
No, they may provide pseudo-intellectual justifications, but the truth is
that they are simply ruling based on their own preferences.
They then are subordinating the will of countless millions of Americans
to their own, transforming us into a quasi-oligarchy of nine lawyers in black
robes. They then are not just the
only Americans not constrained by law; again, they become the law.
no mistake, this is nothing less than a breach of the most important legal
contract that has ever existed, and many of our “judges” (they don’t
deserve the title) are thus guilty. And
Obama has made it clear that he casts his lot with them, as he recently said:
“We need somebody who’s got the heart, the empathy, to recognize what it’s like to be a young teenage mom. The empathy to understand what it’s like to be poor, or African-American, or gay, or disabled, or old. And that’s the criteria by which I’m going to be selecting my judges.”
This may sound nice and compassionate to many, but it only proves that Obama is at best ignorant of a judge’s legitimate role and at worst hostile to it. I’ll illustrate my point. What if it was my job to choose figure-skating judges and I said just what Obama did above? Would such a standard be more likely to yield fair, qualified candidates – those who would render judgments based only on the rules of the sport – or those who would be prejudiced in favor of competitors who were teenage moms, “poor, or African-American, or gay, or disabled, or old”? Obviously, appointing agenda-obsessed individuals only increases the chances that following the law will not be their number one priority. If, however, your goal is inequality under the law, this is exactly what you should do.
This is why an appeal for judicial candidates who view the Constitution as a “living document” is not an argument, but a justification. It is why the terms we use to describe justices with different “legal philosophies” only serve to muddy the waters. Could you imagine speaking of “constructionist” and “pragmatic” figure-skating judges? Is there any way you could argue for the latter – someone who viewed the rules of the sport as living – without being laughed out of the business?
In reality, there are only two kinds of justices: Good justices and bad justices. And this is why, while candidates will fervently assert that there should be no litmus test for Supreme Court nominees, they are wrong. There should be a very simple one: The candidate must be willing to abide by the intent of the Constitution’s framers. That is the job of a good justice. It is also where an Obama choice will be found wanting.
But before we can have good Supreme Court justices, we must choose good leaders. So I have a challenge for my undecided but open-minded countrymen. Many on the left (and some on the right) excoriate President Bush for violating the Constitution. And there is no doubt that most of our politicians are woefully inadequate to the task of upholding it. Yet, if this criticism of the president is sincere, how can we then cast a ballot for a man who has served notice, time and again, that he has no intention of even attempting such a task? I suppose some just have their justifications.
Duke is a writer, columnist and public speaker whose work has been
published widely online and in print, on both the local and national
levels. He has been featured on the Rush Limbaugh Show and has been a
regular guest on the award-winning Michael Savage Show. His work
has appeared in Pat Buchanan's magazine The American Conservative and he
writes regularly for The New American and Christian Music Perspective.