Monday, October 27, 2008

Does Obama Think the Supreme Court Should Redistribute Wealth?

An interview Barack Obama did with Chicago Public Radio in 2001 while an Illinois State Senator and Professor of Constitutional Law discussing the U.S. Supreme Court under Earl Warren during the Civil Rights Era. Obama states:

But the Supreme Court never ventured into the issues of redistribution of wealth and sort of more basic issues of political and economic justice in this society. And to that extent as radical as people tried to characterize the Warren court, it wasn't that radical. It didn't break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the founding fathers in the Constitution, at least as it's been interpreted, and the Warren court interpreted it in the same way that generally the Constitution is a charter of negative liberties. It says what the states can't do to you, it says what the federal government can't do to you, but it doesn't say what the federal government or the state government must do on your behalf. And that hasn't shifted. (

This begs several questions.

Would Obama strive to change the character of the Constitution from "a charter of negative liberties" to one of positive rights?

If so, does he want a "radical court"? That, of course, would not be limited to the Supreme Court but the Federal Court of Appeals and the district courts.

Is it the job of the Supreme Court and the federal judiciary to redistribute wealth?

As my late maternal grandfather would tell me, "The world doesn't owe you a living."

But under Obama that very well might happen. My grandfather, who started working in a coal mine at the age of 15, would have been aghast.

One would like to think this would give voters second thoughts about Obama. It might. But the world is a different place than it was during the Great Depression when my grandfather was fortunate to have been employed. I bet there are a lot of people out there, some of whom are hurting very badly, who find the idea of getting free money from the federal government very, very appealing and will pull the lever for Obama in eight days time and don't care what he does to give what they think is owed to them.

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