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NYT on Obama: "As a Professor, a Pragmatist About the Supreme Court"

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steven johnson Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-02-09 05:47 PM
Original message
NYT on Obama: "As a Professor, a Pragmatist About the Supreme Court"
Edited on Sat May-02-09 05:51 PM by steven johnson
Barack Obama's approach to constitutional law is remarkably little understood. Colleagues and students characteristize hin as "a careful pragmatist with a limited view of the role of courts. . .minimalist (skeptical of court-led efforts at social change) and a structuralist (interested in how the law metes out power in society). . . . unwillingness to deal in abstraction, a constant desire to know how court decisions affect people's lives.
. . .wasn't interested in high theory at all. . .results-oriented, he retained an overall skepticism for what courts can accomplish, . . ."

He's been unpredictable and may continue to baffle.


In interviews, former colleagues and students say they have a fairly strong sense of the kind of justice he will favor: not a larger-than-life liberal to counter the conservative pyrotechnics of Justice Antonin Scalia, but a careful pragmatist with a limited view of the role of courts.


Mr. Obama believes the court must never get too far ahead of or behind public sentiment, they say. He may have a mandate for change, and Senate confirmation odds in his favor. But he has almost always disappointed those who expected someone in his position - he was Harvard's first black law review president and one of the few minority members of the University of Chicago's law faculty - to side consistently with liberals.

Former students and colleagues describe Mr. Obama as a minimalist (skeptical of court-led efforts at social change) and a structuralist (interested in how the law metes out power in society). And more than anything else, he is a pragmatist who urged those around him to be more keenly attuned to the real-life impact of decisions. This may be his distinguishing quality as a legal thinker: an unwillingness to deal in abstraction, a constant desire to know how court decisions affect people's lives.

Mr. Obama often expressed concern that "democracy could be dangerous," Mr. Stone said, that the majority can be "unempathetic - that's a word that Barack has used - about the concerns of outsiders and minorities."

http://mobile.nytimes.com/article?a=360352&single=1&f=2...

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blueclown Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-02-09 05:49 PM
Response to Original message
1. Pragmatist - a DLC hack.
Let's hope that Obama nominates a solid liberal.
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stillcool Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-02-09 09:10 PM
Response to Reply #1
5. How do you equate 'pragmatist' as DLC
Or is "DLC" one of your favorite buzz words? I read an article wherein his students discussed his approach to enacting law, and especially the careful and deliberate analysis required to attempt to foresee unintended consequences of a given law as written. Is that an example of "DLC" to you?
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depakid Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-02-09 05:50 PM
Response to Original message
2. "the court must never get too far ahead of or behind public sentiment"
An odd view to hold if true, seeing as how his generation benefitted most of all from the Warren court's decisions....
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stillcool Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-02-09 10:13 PM
Response to Reply #2
8. I find it interesting that people...
credit individuals with decisions that have been in the making for decades. I mean..blacks got the right to vote in what 1868? I don't think popular opinion has any affect on the Court these days...just Corporate/Political opinion.
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depakid Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-02-09 10:33 PM
Response to Reply #8
9. The Warren Court's decisions were dramtic blows for civil liberties
Edited on Sat May-02-09 10:35 PM by depakid
and no, they hadn't been decades in the making. In fact the opposite s true- they overturned many decades policies that ought never to have been the satus quo.

In the case Brown and its progeny, federal troops actully took to the streets.

We agree however, about the court these days paying attention only the corporate and political. People who expect Obama to pick a progressive jurist likely to vary from the current corporate overall agenda are probably in for a disappointment.

That said, nothing would please me netter than to be surprised on that.
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ruggerson Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-02-09 05:52 PM
Response to Original message
3. Loving Vs Virginia was decided when 75% of the country opposed interracial marriage
the Courts are SUPPOSED to be ahead of public opinion when it comes to protecting minority rights.
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Celeborn Skywalker Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-02-09 09:48 PM
Response to Reply #3
6. True, but
it also states that he believes that the majority can be "unempathetic - that's a word that Barack has used - about the concerns of outsiders and minorities."

Perhaps this means he will nominate a judge who takes equal rights seriously.
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asphalt.jungle Donating Member (792 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-02-09 07:36 PM
Response to Original message
4. Barack Obamas [Chicago Public] Radio Days
http://apps.wbez.org/blog/?p=639

he expresses some legal opinion in these interviews.
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Phx_Dem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-02-09 09:52 PM
Response to Original message
7. I couldn't open that link so here's another one if anyone else needs it
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