The Lorain Morning Journal runs an editorial today -- not a wingnut-penned op-ed, mind, but an editiorial -- rehashing the charge that Obama wants to turn the Constitution into Das Kapital. Here's the nut:
- With less than a week remaining before Election Day, it seems to us that the real October surprise of 2008 is how little serious attention is being paid to the genuine and profoundly disturbing statements by Barack Obama himself. Specifically, Obama's "spread the wealth" admission to Joe the Plumber and most especially to an interview Obama did on Chicago public radio several years ago in which he basically dismisses the U.S. Constitution as a flawed document because it only talks about protecting citizens from the government and does not specify what the government "must" do for citizens. His words create the distinct impression that under an Obama presidency, federal judges and Supreme Court justices appointed by Obama would be encouraged to reinterpret the Constiution and to go beyond its words in ways that would result in a whole new concept of what the United States of America is about. Although Obama's delivery of these concepts was as cool and dispassionate as ever, the real-life social impact of such reinventing of the Constitution would surely be so red-hot as to make the word "radical" totally inadequate.
- I mean if you look at the victories and failures of the civil rights movement and its litigation strategy and the court I think where it succeeded was to vest formal rights in previously dispossessed peoples so that I would not have the right to vote would now be able to sit at lunch counter and as lpong as I could pay for it would be ok but the supreme court never ventured into the issues of redistribution of wealth and sort of basic issues of political and economic justice.
So here's the rest of that graf:
- in this society and to that extent as radical as 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 has been interpreted and the warren court interpreted it generally in the same way that the constitution is a document of negative liberties says what the states cant do to you says what the federal govt cant do to you but it doesn't say what the federal govt or state govt must do on your behalf and that hasn't shifted and i think one of the tragedies of the civil rights movement was that the civil rights movement became so court focused i think there was a tendency to lose track of the political and organizing activities on the ground that are able to bring about the coalitions of power through which you bring about redistributive change and in some ways we still suffer from that.
Not enough? Try this from later in the interview:
- You know maybe I am showing my bias here as a legislator as well as a law professor but you know I am not optimistic about bringing about major redistributive change through the courts you know the institution just isn't structured that way just look at very rare examples where during he desegregation era the court was willing to for example order you know changes that cost money to local school district and the court was very uncomfortable with it it was hard to manage it was hard to figure out you start getting into all sorts of separation of powers issues you know in terms of the court monitoring or engaging in a process that is essentially is administrative and take a lot of time the court is not very good at it and politically it is hard to legitimize opinions from the court in that regard so I think that although you can craft theoretical justifications for it legally you know I think any three of us sitting here could come up with a rationale for bringing about economic change through the courts I think that as a practical matte that our institutions are just poorly equipped to do it.
- Do not brush off this admonition as an empty scare tactic from a newspaper that has endorsed John McCain.
UPDATE: I'm off my game. I forgot to h/t my tweep Olevia for the tip.
UPDATE 2: Olevia points out that I forgot to link to the piece. And I forgot the link for the transcript. Really really off my game. Links are updated above. Also if you want to know more about the negative/positive rights issue alluded to above, Prof. Will Huhn has a good explanation on Akron Law Cafe.