sitting on the edge of the sandbox, biting my tongue

April 4, 2012

Repeat After Me: “The Constitution Is Supreme Law of the Land”

Filed under: politics, society — Tags: , , , — edge of the sandbox @ 4:43 pm

Over at No One of Any Import, Linda was saying that surely Barack Obama knows that it’s Supreme Court’s job to interpret the law, and that when he opined that to declare Obamacare unconstitutional would be unprecedented, he simply appealed to the ignorant masses.  I’m not sure what he knows.

Steven Hayward (via Instie) makes a point that Barack Obama’s knowledge of the Constitution might very well be limited to applications of the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment.  If I know anything about graduate education in the United States, it’s that it’s so compartmentalized that the students too often forgive themselves lack of general knowledge.  Given his background, I kind of doubt that our President read the Constitution.  For all we know (and we know very little about his schooling) he was never required to read it, and it was simply not a cool book for him to pick up, not like Rules for Radicals or anything.

I do want to know more about our President’s schooling.  I want to know what classes he took in college, I want to read his senior thesis.  My mind keeps drifting back to his Austrian language gaffe.  Considering that much of his schooling took place abroad, what was he required to learn there?  It is possible that he went to a very excellent private Christian school, but it’s also possible that he was stuck in a third world hell-hole with no good teachers.  It seems to me that any American familiar with the history of WW2 would tell you that Hitler was from Austria, a country where German is the spoken language, which Nazis annexed in 1938.


1938 Cartoon depicting annexation of Austria. Obama didn't know?

The Constitution is doubtlessly popular with the Tea Party crowd, but all too often the Left looks beyond it — to international law, human rights, or whatever other doctrine they see more suitable for their goals.

Five years ago, when I worked in immigration, we had a citizenship client, a student at UC Berkeley who looked for help in connection with his criminal record (Oakland police stopped his car and seized a bag of marijuana).  One of our attorneys, a Hastings graduate in her mid-20s accompanied him to the naturalization interview.  At the interview he was asked “What is the Constitution”, to which he replied something along the lines “It’s our rights”.  The attorney defended his answer at the interview, and when she returned to the office, she was still adamant about it.  I had to point out that while the Bill of Rights is a part of Constitution, the answer is not exhaustive.

There were no surprises at that interview.  Immigration services provide the list of questions and answers ahead of time.  Our lawyers read them.

According to my former co-workers, immigration is the kind of glamorous field where all law school grads want to work these days, even though there aren’t a lot of jobs, or at least not yet.  So my former employer got the best and the brightest.

Anywho, I can easily picture Obamster not knowing about Marbury v. Madison.



  1. Reblogged this on Intolerant Fox and commented:
    I think if we were given transcripts (that are not forgeries) we would find that Obama was a mediocre if not bad student with sympathetic professors who advanced him on the color of his skin and not the content of his brain. Also note, huge judicial smack-down today by the 5th circuit court ordering the DOJ to present a 3 page, single-spaced paper on Eric Holder’s understanding of judicial review. Ouch. Watching this is almost painful (and by painful I mean filling one with so much joyful giddiness one’s sides hurt from the mirth.) Thank you edgeofthesandbox again for the free content. Always appreciated 😉

    Comment by intolerantfox — April 4, 2012 @ 6:02 pm

  2. Ooh, you’ve really got me thinking about this. I do tend to overestimate other people’s intelligence.

    But I just can’t seem to picture it. He finished law school, so he attended and passed Con Law I and II, which probably took up the first year (along with the rest of the core classes). In Con Law, one does read the case law interpreting the Constitution a ton more than one reads the Constitution itself, but heck. This constant case law asbsorption only reenforces the idea that the Constitution means what The Court says it means and not a tittle more.

    Then he passed the bar in Illinois, committing massive amounts of basic legal principles to memory again.

    He has to know. I mean, not everyone gets to be a student of The Best Con Law Prefessor ever, but he went to Harvard. LOL.

    PS. I’m assuming that lawyer in your story adamantly defended her client’s answer because she was being his zealous advocate, not because she really thought that his definition was thorough.

    If she got the questions ahead of time, but didn’t ensure he was prepared to answer, perhaps she needed to persuade folks it was good enough in order to cover her own butt? Or do you think she really defended it out of ignorance?

    In my experience, lawyers will make some pretty outlandish arguments without wavering, without so much as an eye twitch, and not because they believe it themselves. They simply calculate which argument is the one most likely to get the best outcome possible for the client (and themselves in the process). This is what I think Obama is doing.

    Thanks for the thought provoking post, Missy.

    Comment by nooneofanyimport — April 4, 2012 @ 7:47 pm

    • Obviously you know more about how law schools work.
      The lawyer in question had a practice interview with the client to go over the questions. Of course, she had to defend him before his naturalization officer. But she came back and talked about what a jerk the officer was. Mmm… no. The client didn’t have the correct answer.

      Comment by edge of the sandbox — April 4, 2012 @ 9:22 pm

    • I have to add that the lawyer in question was not a vindictive person. She deeply believed that she’s doing something virtuous and identified with her clients. That’s why she wanted to be a public interest lawyer. Sure, she was disappointed with her client blowing this particular answer, but if anything else, there was a kind of grade inflation in her defense… and I think she did in her heart of hearts believe that he gave a sufficient answer.
      Anyhow, between Berkeley and Hastings, that what they came up with.

      Comment by edge of the sandbox — April 4, 2012 @ 10:29 pm

      • I really do have a tendency to overestimate other people’s intelligence. “Educated” but ignorant people shock me, b/c I can’t understand how you can be introduced to so much info, both school and just plain thru experience, and remain so clueless. It does not compute.

        Regardless of why he said it, it sure seems like a good thing that he did. He’s jumping the judicial shark at this point, and I hope that other judges start standing up for their branch of gov’t like Smith did.


        Comment by nooneofanyimport — April 5, 2012 @ 6:53 am

  3. “Repeat After Me: “The Constitution Is Supreme Law of the Land””

    I0m not so sure that’s true any more. The constitution list the qualifications for someone to be president; one of which is being a “natural born citizen”, which is defined as being born on American soil to parents who are American citizens. This part of the constitution was overlooked for Obama and will probably be overlooked again if Marco Rubio should become our next Vice President.

    Comment by Conservatives on Fire — April 5, 2012 @ 11:47 am

    • Conservatives on Fire,
      I do believe he is eligible, just has no respect for the Constitution.

      Comment by edge of the sandbox — April 5, 2012 @ 2:12 pm

  4. Two things: Austrians were generally pretty happy with Hitler’s takeover and Liberals understand the Constitution very well – they spend a lot of time trying to figure out ways to subvert it.

    Comment by Harrison — April 5, 2012 @ 8:13 pm

  5. […] Recently, Missy and I debated whether Obama spoke out of ignorance or calculation when he said that overturning his healthcare law would be “unprecedented.” […]

    Pingback by My Mental War « Disrupt the Narrative — April 15, 2012 @ 6:11 pm

  6. […] Recently, Missy and I debated whether Obama spoke out of ignorance or calculation when he said that overturning his healthcare law would be “unprecedented.” […]

    Pingback by My Mental War « NoOneOfAnyImport — April 15, 2012 @ 6:12 pm

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