Monday, October 27, 2008

Obama and the constitution--why it matters

So in a 2001 interview, we now know that Barack Obama said this:

" radical as I think people try 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."

And that's what was important about that interview--that Obama criticized a Court for failing to "break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution." (I'm not convinced the other comments on "redistribution" are as important as others make them.) It's an amazing statement. It's also a radical statement. Why? It's simple: yes, indeed, there are "constraints" placed in our Constitution by the Founders--on the state, largely. The Constitution says the state can't abridge the right to free speech, that it must allow the people to possess their own firearms, etc.

Now here's the thing: do you want future Courts to decide, based on the whim of their new "interpretations" of the Constitution as a "living" document, that those old "constraints" no longer exist? Bam, they're gone? In a sense, a Court has already done that, inventing a "right" to abortion that the Founding Fathers had no intention of providing. Our society has been divided by that ever since. How has that worked out for us? Not well. Yet Barack Obama apparently thinks it'd be cool for future Courts to break free of the Founders (as long as the changes they'd make would be "progressive").

See, that's how an activist judiciary works--important changes in law and public policy enacted without democratic debate, without legislative debate, without a chance even to vote in or out the persons who made the changes. Barack Obama in this interview signals he's okay with it. has he changed since then? Heh. He was 40 years old, not 8, when he made the comments...

(hint to the McCain campaign, too: if you make the above case, believe me, the average Joe will understand exactly what you're getting at and will, I think, recoil from the Obama position. But time is short...)