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Contentions

Ignore That Man Behind the Curtain

Steven Calabresi, co-founder of the Federalist Society, explains Barack Obama’s view of the courts:

Speaking in July 2007 at a conference of Planned Parenthood, he said: “[W]e need somebody who’s got the heart, the empathy, to recognize what it’s like to be a young teenage mom. The empathy to understand what it’s like to be poor, or African-American, or gay, or disabled, or old. And that’s the criteria by which I’m going to be selecting my judges.”

On this view, plaintiffs should usually win against defendants in civil cases; criminals in cases against the police; consumers, employees and stockholders in suits brought against corporations; and citizens in suits brought against the government. Empathy, not justice, ought to be the mission of the federal courts, and the redistribution of wealth should be their mantra.

Calabresi reminds us what we might face in an Obama’s presidency:

A whole generation of Americans has come of age since the nation experienced the bad judicial appointments and foolish economic and regulatory policy of the Johnson and Carter administrations. If Mr. Obama wins we could possibly see any or all of the following: a federal constitutional right to welfare; a federal constitutional mandate of affirmative action wherever there are racial disparities, without regard to proof of discriminatory intent; a right for government-financed abortions through the third trimester of pregnancy; the abolition of capital punishment and the mass freeing of criminal defendants; ruinous shareholder suits against corporate officers and directors; and approval of huge punitive damage awards, like those imposed against tobacco companies, against many legitimate businesses such as those selling fattening food.

The use of the courts to achieve these aims is, of course, doubly problematic. First, it sets up courts as super-legislators, roaming the landscape unshackled by any requirement to adhere to the language and intent of the Constitution — or of statutes, for that matter. Second, the ends Obama favors are antithetical to those held by majorities of Americans: government-funded abortions, government-run healthcare, racial preferences in education and employment.

There is a mound of evidence–from Obama’s longtime associations to his voting record as a state legislator to his pre-presidential rhetoric to his primacy on “fairness” over revenue collection to his “spreading the wealth” remarks — that tells us about Obama’s vision of the country and his aspirations for the future. Voters can, if they wish, ignore years of unfiltered behavior and comments, and rely instead on carefully calibrated campaign rhetoric. They can hope that he’ll be overcome by a spasm of moderation once elected. They can even hope, as Ken Adelman has said, that he really isn’t intent on doing in office much of what he’s said in the campaign. But they can’t say they weren’t warned.



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