The Candidates and the Constitution

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In an interesting column over at Findlaw, law professor Vikram David Amar argues that John McCain is the big loser from this year's Supreme Court term. "Two of the biggest half dozen 5-4 rulings this year," Amar writes, "forcefully rejected his work as a Senator and, more importantly, his understanding of constitutional basics." He's referring here to Boumediene v. Bush, which recognized habeas corpus rights for prisoners held at Guanantamo Bay, something that legislation drafted by Congress and the White House did not do, and Davis v. Federal Election Commission, which struck down the "Millionaire's Amendment" to the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law, a provision that gave special privileges to candidates running against wealthy, self-funded opponents.

Given McCain's publicly expressed preference for "clean government" over "quote First Amendment rights," not to mention his contempt for "so-called, quote, Habeas Corpus suits," I'd say that Amar has got his number. What about McCain's Democratic opponent? Amar doesn't give equal time to the candidates, but Barack Obama's record is also worth considering. Despite his Harvard and U. of Chicago credentials, the Illinois Senator hasn't exactly been a beacon of constitutional light. As Jacob Sullum has noted, Obama's position on Washington, D.C.'s handgun ban has undergone a pretty dramatic metamorphosis, from his staff informing the Chicago Tribune last December that "Obama believes the D.C. handgun law is constitutional," to Obama's lame attempt last month to spin D.C. v. Heller in his favor, claiming, "I have always believed that the Second Amendment protects the right of individuals to bear arms, but I also identify with the need for crime-ravaged communities to save their children… The Supreme Court has now endorsed that view." And as I've previously argued, Obama's position on the Commerce Clause puts him squarely in favor of Gonzales v. Raich, a terrible ruling which struck down California's medical marijuana law in favor of federal anti-drug laws with extremely dubious connection to interstate commerce.

Whole Amar column here. reason coverage of John McCain here, Barack Obama here.

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  1. Totally OT —

    McCain just all but said to Brian Williams that the missile launches by Iran is “the event that will finally gel the situation and allow us to act with our allies to prevent a second Holocaust.”

    What. the. Fuck.

  2. Not to mention that Obama also supported the FISA bill that passed. (yes i know — he paid lip service to being unhappy with the immunity provisions). This was a rather startling about face from when he fully supported Dodd and Feingold during the primaries during the first round of the FISA fight in the Senate.

    The immunity wasn’t even the main issue. The amount of surveillance authority given to the president in this bill was absurd. And Obama’s attitude about that was “When I am president I will make sure to keep an eye on the surveillance that is going on” — Gee thanks — another “just trust me” candidate … douche.

  3. Fourth Amendment? Who cares about that anymore?

  4. Obama’s UofC connection? Let’s get more to the point — he taught, among other classes, constitutional law at one of the country’s most prestigious law schools. I have no hope for McCain because he’s a moron. But Obama has more than passing knowledge. One would think we could expect more from him. One would also probably be disappointed.

  5. I think there’s another candidate running. Libertarian nominee Bob Barr.

  6. Obama , “I have always believed that the Second Amendment protects the right of individuals to bear arms, but I also identify with the need for crime-ravaged communities to save their children… The Supreme Court has now endorsed that view.”

    Rubbish!

    For eight years, ’94- ’01, prior to becoming an Illinois State Senator,Barack Obama was a member of the Board of Directors of the Joyce Foundation, the leading source of funds for anti-gun organizations and “researchers.” He voted millions in grants for anti gun rights groups.

    In political office, he voted to allow lawsuits designed to bankrupt the firearms industry;to re-impose the Clinton “assualt weapon” ban; to ban almost all rifle ammunition commonly used for hunting and sport shooting;he has endorsed a complete ban on handgun ownership:he supports local gun bans in Chicago, D,C. and other cities.He voted to uphold local Illinois gun bans and to criminally prosecute people who use firearms in self-defense. Obama also proposed to ban gun stores within 5 miles of a school or park, that would eliminate almost every gun store in America.

    The US Constitution, Second Amendment reads: A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.
    Barack Obama has a long record of infringing.

  7. @ Jack

    Rubbish is a proper analysis of your own interpretation of the 2nd Amendment. It’s obviously tainted with the pronouncements of the N.R.A., which has become nothing more than a tool of the RNC, and is only partially right 1 out of 10.

    First, your referencing a rifle’s utility as a instrument to hunt with has absolutely nothing to do with the security of a free state.

    Second, and most importantly; you are attempting to conflate the term “guns” with “arms”. These are not synonymous by any stretch of the imagination that is not also a leap out over the chasm of fantasy. Guns are only a very small subset of arms. Why do you cheapen and weaken the 2nd Amendment with your assertions.

    If you believe that your Bushmaster acts to secure the security of a free state, then you are woefully uninformed. Death now stalks upon predacious wings, silent airborne dragons that belch hellfire accurately, and are controlled by former Nintendo jocks from secreted bunkers far beneath the Nevada desert floor. Pray tell us how your pitiful rifle defends against this?

  8. If you believe that your Bushmaster acts to secure the security of a free state, then you are woefully uninformed. Death now stalks upon predacious wings, silent airborne dragons that belch hellfire accurately, and are controlled by former Nintendo jocks from secreted bunkers far beneath the Nevada desert floor. Pray tell us how your pitiful rifle defends against this?

    And I thought I could be verbose and pretentious sometimes…

  9. And I thought I could be verbose and pretentious sometimes…

    That was pretty funny, actually.

    Pray tell us how your pitiful rifle defends against this?

    It would seem statistically equal to, say, winning the lotto twice in a row to say that one shot from a Bushmaster 223 would bring down a predator drone. It would seem stastically equal to zero to, say, make that shot with a firearm that you don’t have because you were so caught up in “anti Bush” that you voted for Obama.

    While I agree that equating “arms” with “firearms” is taking a subset as a whole, it’s not an invalid point to illustrate how Obama takes whatever form is politically expedient to get elected, but when elected works hard to put the royal fucks on whomever happens to disagree with him.

    As I posted yesterday, the man’s doing a masterful job of saying nothing and letting people project their own version of “change” on him, combined with letting people’s racism work to his advantage. He’s gotta be laughing his ass off at how stupid we are collectively for believing him.

  10. And I thought I could be verbose and pretentious sometimes…

    Dont worry, you are.

  11. Second, and most importantly; you are attempting to conflate the term “guns” with “arms”. These are not synonymous by any stretch of the imagination that is not also a leap out over the chasm of fantasy. Guns are only a very small subset of arms. Why do you cheapen and weaken the 2nd Amendment with your assertions.

    So saying the 2A includes guns is somehow weakening the 2A? Is that what you are trying to say, a knight? That the 2A would be strengthened if we all just recognized that it does not protect ownership of firearms?

  12. robc | July 10, 2008, 9:46am | #

    Elemenope | July 10, 2008, 7:14am | #
    And I thought I could be verbose and pretentious sometimes…

    Dont worry, you are.

    Just ’cause of yer fancy fifty cent words “pretentious” and “verbose.” Say it in English next time, Poindexter.

  13. Hum – not sure about this. But maybe we can get some guidelines on another question? Who would Jesus vote for? We had to ask the question, right? Everyone claims to know. Just not sure about this one. I mean really. Can they Guy even vote? He’s not American. And I doubt whether he would be allowed into the US in any case. Think about it. Long beard, wears a dress and a Middle Eastern passport. But what if He could vote? Who would He vote for? Does He even care who you vote for? Let’s speculate. It’s all we can do. We have no direct line and He doesn’t have a Facebook Group Page or radio show. Sorry Hagee, Pat and gang – neither do you have him on your “5 friends” list on your phone. I gave it a shot – but not sure I got an answer. http://angryafrican.net/2008/07/09/who-would-jesus-vote-for/

  14. If you believe that your Bushmaster acts to secure the security of a free state, then you are woefully uninformed. Death now stalks upon predacious wings, silent airborne dragons that belch hellfire accurately, and are controlled by former Nintendo jocks from secreted bunkers far beneath the Nevada desert floor. Pray tell us how your pitiful rifle defends against this?

    Strawman alert. Sure, one guy with a rifle can’t do shit. But millions can. Just look at what tens of thousands have managed to do to the most advanced military in the world in Iraq. And they don’t have access to the civilian infrastructure and vulnerable non-front-line bases supporting said military.

  15. Can there be a greater oxymoron than to having a law professor tell us that a candidate who opposes the decesions of the annointed ones on the Supreme Court is going to harm his candidacy?

    A court that couldn’t find the spine to allow the people to execute child rapists?

    A court that allows murderers to get out of the death penalty because they lack fail an IQ test? (There is hope for them as members of the Supreme Court though.)

    A court that tells us that politicl speech can be banned in spite of the Constitution.

    A Court that tells us that sodomy is legal and even an approved bahavior, one assumes this was something that Madison and Jefferson must have insisted on even if they didn’t quite make it into the bill of rights and no one seems to have reached this conclusion for two hundred pluas years.

    A Court that says politicians can seize the private property of citizens to reward their kin folk, cronies, and allies.

    This one doesn’t pass the laugh test. But any time one cites a law professor, its sort of like using a lawyer as a character witness.

    Simply clueless.

  16. Strawman alert.

    Is the strawman armed?

  17. Is the strawman armed?

    No, he’s an Obama supporter.

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