What would this do to RKBA?

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    Question What would this do to RKBA?

    Let's try to focus on the RKBA issues and keep this open for a while, if we can.

    washingtonpost.com

    Supreme Court Justice Barack Obama?

    By Jeffrey Rosen
    Sunday, February 21, 2010

    He's too detached and cerebral. Too deferential to Congress. Too willing to compromise. And he's too much of a law professor and not enough of a commander in chief, as Sarah Palin recently admonished.

    These are some of the qualities for which the president, rightly or wrongly, is criticized. They are also the qualities that make him well suited for another steady job on the federal payroll: Barack Obama, Supreme Court justice.

    Think about it. Though Obama has struggled to find his footing in the White House, his education, temperament and experience make him ideally suited to lead the liberal wing of the court, especially at a time when a narrow conservative majority seems increasingly intent on challenging progressive economic reforms for the first time since the New Deal. Obama is clearly eager to take on the four truly conservative justices -- Samuel Alito, John Roberts, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas -- as his State of the Union smackdown suggests. But as president, he's constrained by that pesky separation of powers. So what better way to engage the fight than to join the bench?

    It would be unusual, but not difficult, for Obama to get himself on the Supreme Court. He could nominate himself to replace John Paul Stevens, for example, or he could gamble and promise Hillary Rodham Clinton that he won't run for reelection in 2012 in exchange for a pledge of appointment to the next vacancy. And although, as president, Obama has seemed haunted by the example of his political hero, Abraham Lincoln, on the Supreme Court, he could take up the mantle of the greatest liberal justice of the 20th century, Louis Brandeis, another community organizer with a background in politics. In the end, Obama's legacy on the court might surpass his legacy in the White House.

    Obama's academic credentials for the court -- including serving as president of the Harvard Law Review and as a constitutional law professor at the University of Chicago -- are obvious. But it's his even temperament and low boiling point that seem tailor-made for the court at this polarized moment. Obama's patient courtship of the vain and wavering swing votes in the Senate (such as Joe Lieberman) during the health-care debate, for example, is ideal preparation for courting the vain and wavering swing vote on the court (Justice Anthony Kennedy). And Obama's detached and judicious disposition would equip him to challenge the conservative hothead, Scalia, without descending to his name-calling.

    In terms of judicial philosophy, too, Obama is well suited to take on the pro-corporate activism of the conservative justices -- on display in the recent Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision, which gutted campaign finance laws and which, according to recent polls, strong national majorities oppose.

    In his 2006 book, "The Audacity of Hope," Obama wrote that throughout American history, constitutional values have generally been defined by ground-up political activism rather than imposed from above by judges. From the late 19th century to the mid-20th century, it was liberals in the political arena, not conservatives, who defended judicial restraint in the face of activist conservative justices who tried to strike down progressive regulations, from the income tax to the minimum wage. But Obama questioned whether, more recently, liberals had become too ready to let courts fight their battles for them. "I wondered," he wrote, "if, in our reliance on the courts to vindicate not only our rights but also our values, progressives had lost too much faith in democracy."

    Obama's commitment to judicial restraint is at odds with the activism displayed by the Supreme Court in its Citizens United decision, which called into question not only the McCain-Feingold campaign finance act but also decades of other federal laws and Supreme Court precedents restricting the free speech of corporations. In defending the ruling, Chief Justice Roberts said: "We cannot embrace a narrow ground of decision simply because it is narrow; it must also be right." This overconfidence in knowledge of the right answer is something Obama didn't display as a professor. His students have attested to his mastery in neutrally presenting opposing points of view without revealing his own.

    When Roberts joined the court, he told me and other journalists that he hoped to emulate his greatest predecessor, Chief Justice John Marshall, encouraging his liberal and conservative colleagues to avoid polarizing constitutional disputes by converging around narrow, unanimous opinions decided on technical grounds. Now that Roberts appears to have abandoned that vision in Citizens United, Obama could take on the role of Supreme Court mediator, conciliator and master compromiser that Roberts promised to play but has not yet delivered.

    It's surprising but true that the least successful presidents are often the most judicious, while the most successful justices are the most pragmatic. Obama's willingness to compromise and listen to opposing points of view, in other words, may hamper him in overhauling health care -- public option, anyone? -- but would make him an unusually effective leader on the Supreme Court. As Obama recognized on the campaign trail when he cited former chief justice and three-time California governor Earl Warren as his judicial hero, the most effective judicial leaders have been former politicians.

    During the presidential campaign, Obama was critical of Roberts's self-description as an "umpire" and his likening of the court's role to simply calling balls and strikes. "We need somebody who's got the heart, the empathy, to recognize what it's like to be a young teenage mom," Obama said. "The empathy to understand what it's like to be poor, or African American, or gay, or disabled, or old."

    But Warren's success as chief justice came not so much from his ability to empathize with the downtrodden as from his ability to empathize with his colleagues. Because of his political skills, Warren achieved the kind of success that has eluded Roberts: He persuaded a fractious court to reach a unanimous decision in Brown v. Board of Education, the landmark case striking down school segregation, by visiting the wavering justices one by one and persuading them to set aside their doubts. A majority of the justices on the court that decided Brown had a background in electoral politics; no justices on the Roberts court do. In a group of former law professors, prosecutors and trial judges, Obama would look like a political wizard.

    There's another distinctive perspective that he would bring to the bench: economic populism. After a long flirtation with the Tim Geithner, pro-Wall Street, "too big to fail" wing of the Democratic Party, Obama has at last thrown in his lot with the view, espoused first by Brandeis and now by former Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker, that huge corporations should be broken up before they threaten another crash. And this view badly needs a stalwart defender on a Supreme Court that seems on the verge of confronting an economically progressive Congress.

    On the Roberts court, the liberal and conservative justices share a pro-business orientation, or at least a suspicion of regulation by litigation: Business cases in recent years have made up 40 percent of the court's docket, and, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 79 percent of them are decided by a 7 to 2 majority or greater. None of the current liberal justices, moreover, had a strong record as an economic populist before joining the court. At a time when liberals need a passionate voice to oppose conservative economic judicial activism, Obama seems well prepared to transform the debate.

    Louis Brandeis, who served on the high court from 1916 to 1939, offers a good model for Obama. Known as "the people's lawyer," he was an economic populist, criticizing the "curse of bigness" that led oligarchs such as J.P. Morgan to threaten the entire financial system by taking reckless risks with "other people's money" and then to demand government bailouts after their bad bets. But Brandeis opposed bigness in government as well as in the private sector, and during the New Deal he preferred regulations that prevented companies from getting too large in the first place -- such as the Glass-Steagall Act separating commercial from investment banking -- rather than the creation of huge federal bureaucracies to regulate the economy.

    On the high court, Brandeis generally stood for judicial restraint, denouncing conservatives for striking down progressive state economic regulations. But he also believed fiercely in the First Amendment and freedom from unreasonable searches. Both a pragmatist and a civil libertarian, he provides a judicial ideal for Obama, whose record resembles his in many respects.

    So, could it actually happen? David Gergen, the CNN commentator who served as an adviser to Presidents Nixon, Ford, Reagan and Clinton, recently reflected on Obama's State of the Union speech in an appearance on Comedy Central's "Colbert Report." Although he praised Obama's intellectual abilities and presidential campaign, he lamented his "detached" and "professorial" attitude once in office. "There was some sense last night when watching Barack Obama and the Supreme Court sitting in front of him, [that] he'd be great on the Supreme Court," Gergen said.

    But could Obama get confirmed? As a senator, he voted against the confirmations of Roberts and Alito, and GOP lawmakers might hold that against him in his own confirmation hearing. Yet, although it would be hard for a Brandeis to be confirmed in today's polarized age, Obama might get some deference as a former president, at least from senators who would rather have him on the court than in the White House.

    Whether Obama would be bored by the Supreme Court is another question. Justices with presidential ambitions have often chafed at the isolation of the marble palace. For example, William O. Douglas -- who wanted the presidency, according to his friend Tommy Cochran, more than Don Quixote wanted Dulcinea -- never stopped complaining that the court was too removed from the political action. But having seen the frustrations of the White House, perhaps Obama would instead come around to the view of William Howard Taft, who became chief justice after serving as president and decided that leading the court was a far better job than leading the country. The summer vacations are longer, and nothing beats life tenure.

    Jeffrey Rosen, a law professor at George Washington University, is the legal affairs editor of the New Republic and the author of "The Supreme Court: The Personalities and Rivalries That Defined America." He will be online to chat with readers on Monday, Feb. 22, at 11 a.m. ET. Submit your questions and comments before or during today's discussion.
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    VIP Member Array rottkeeper's Avatar
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    We wouldn't be able to carry a rubber band launcher if he had any say. My god I shudder at the thought!
    For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the son of man be. Mathew 24:27

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    Don't think so; people keep claiming he is a "leading constitutional scholar" but I have never read any treatises written by him on constitutional law.

    And having a Harvard law degree doesn't mean you really know anything about the constitution, either. Performance as a Jurist does......
    "Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect everyone who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are inevitably ruined". - Patrick Henry

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    The right to keep and bear arms is an inherent, unalienable right. It can not be taken away. Not by any president, not by any majority of people, not by any majority in Congress, not by any majority on the Supreme Court.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sleepyhead View Post
    The right to keep and bear arms is an inherent, unalienable right. It can not be taken away. Not by any president, not by any majority of people, not by any majority in Congress, not by any majority on the Supreme Court.
    Thank you for that level headed comment. I swear some of these threads must be started just to get anti-president comments on a defensive carry board.

    I dont know if there ever will be a modern president who has the law background and "judicial chops" to ever become a supreme court justice. That job just has to grind on you while you are there and you probably want to just relax after you are done.

    Of course, Alan Page (the ex-Minnesota Viking player) become a judge on the Minnesota supreme court..... that is pretty wild when you think about it.

    And Jack Kemp came close to being the president, Arnold became governor of California, Jesse the body Ventura.... etc.

    I guess anything is possible!

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    Quote Originally Posted by sleepyhead View Post
    The right to keep and bear arms is an inherent, unalienable right. It can not be taken away. Not by any president, not by any majority of people, not by any majority in Congress, not by any majority on the Supreme Court.
    The ability to exercise a right can be prevented by any of the above. Our present government no longer needs our permission to do as it wishes. It is acting on the honor system when it choses to follow the Constitution. The Government used to be afraid not to follow the Constitution, they lost the fear of the people and the States a long time ago.

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    This article proves the adage, "if you repeat a lie often enough it becomes the truth". Obama was never a "constitutional law professor". He was a lecturer at the University.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mlr1m View Post
    The ability to exercise a right can be prevented by any of the above. Our present government no longer needs our permission to do as it wishes. It is acting on the honor system when it choses to follow the Constitution. The Government used to be afraid not to follow the Constitution, they lost the fear of the people and the States a long time ago.

    Michael
    They can pass an unjust law, executive order, or regulation that violates our rights. But an unjust law is no law at all.

    If enough of us wake up, have the courage to be worthy of our heritage, and disobey these non-laws, we can put the government back in its rightful place: our servant.

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    As long as he isn't a replacement for one of the conservative justices I don't think it matters.

    Obama believed the DC handgun ban was Constitutional. What more can you say about his fitness to be a Supreme Court justice with respect to one of our most important, fundamental rights.
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    I was sort of waiting to see others' reactions/thoughts.

    My guess was/is that he would be a greater danger to RKBA, over the long haul, on the court than in the White House.

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    I've heard lots of times that Obama is anti-gun and wants to take them away. I heard one specific instance of him supporting the serializing ammo, but other than that, I haven't seen his opinions, speaches or votes that express his anti-gun stance. I haven't looked a lot, but if someone who knows where to look could post some examples, we might have more to talk about as to how this would affect our RKBA.
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    Oh, and I forgot to add - We are now receiving a plethora of video interviews and other information proving that he has a problem with telling the truth; not being able to be truthful would be a fatal flaw in a jurist I would think; any Jurists who belong to DC please feel free to opine on this......
    "Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect everyone who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are inevitably ruined". - Patrick Henry

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    About as likely as me going on a hunting trip in OK for dolphins.
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    Quote Originally Posted by BigStick View Post
    I've heard lots of times that Obama is anti-gun and wants to take them away. I heard one specific instance of him supporting the serializing ammo, but other than that, I haven't seen his opinions, speaches or votes that express his anti-gun stance. I haven't looked a lot, but if someone who knows where to look could post some examples, we might have more to talk about as to how this would affect our RKBA.
    John Lott Jr. (statistician and author of "The Bias Against Guns" and "More Guns, Less Crime) and Obama worked at the U of Chicago at around the same time. The first time Lott introduced himself to Obama, he said “Oh, you are the gun guy.”

    Lott responded “Yes, I guess so.” Obama responded by saying: “I don’t believe that people should be able to own guns.”

    When Lott said it might be fun to talk about the question sometime and about his support of the city of Chicago’s lawsuit against the gun makers, he simply grimaced and turned away, ending the conversation.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BigStick View Post
    I've heard lots of times that Obama is anti-gun and wants to take them away. I heard one specific instance of him supporting the serializing ammo, but other than that, I haven't seen his opinions, speaches or votes that express his anti-gun stance. I haven't looked a lot, but if someone who knows where to look could post some examples, we might have more to talk about as to how this would affect our RKBA.


    Just do a little search:

    Obama Heller Reaction Completely Contradicts Previous Stands, Actions - Jim Geraghty

    Obama Heller Reaction Completely Contradicts Previous Stands, Actions

    Obama's statement:

    “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 from the violence that plagues our streets through common-sense, effective safety measures. The Supreme Court has now endorsed that view, and while it ruled that the D.C. gun ban went too far, Justice Scalia himself acknowledged that this right is not absolute and subject to reasonable regulations enacted by local communities to keep their streets safe. Today’s ruling, the first clear statement on this issue in 127 years, will provide much-needed guidance to local jurisdictions across the country.

    “As President, I will uphold the constitutional rights of law-abiding gun-owners, hunters, and sportsmen. I know that what works in Chicago may not work in Cheyenne. We can work together to enact common-sense laws, like closing the gun show loophole and improving our background check system, so that guns do not fall into the hands of terrorists or criminals. Today's decision reinforces that if we act responsibly, we can both protect the constitutional right to bear arms and keep our communities and our children safe.”

    I'm sorry, how can you claim "I have always believed that the Second Amendment protects the right of individuals to bear arms" when you steered $15 million to the self-described "most aggressive group in the gun control movement" that published a book entitled, Every Handgun is Aimed at You: The Case for Banning Handguns ?

    The RNC is calling attention to this comment from before the Potomac Primary, when moderator Leon Harris said, "you support the D.C. handgun ban, and you’ve said that it’s constitutional," and Obama didn't dispute the characterization that he believes the ban is constitutional. If he really disagreed, you figure "I don't think it is constitutional" would have appeared somewhere in his 204-word answer.

    Obama linked to gun control efforts - POLITICO.com Print View

    Obama linked to gun control efforts
    By: Kenneth P. Vogel
    April 19, 2008 04:57 PM EST

    Barack Obama’s presidential campaign has worked to assure uneasy gun owners that he believes the Constitution protects their rights and that he doesn’t want to take away their guns.

    But before he became a national political figure, he sat on the board of a Chicago-based foundation that doled out at least nine grants totaling nearly $2.7 million to groups that advocated the opposite positions.

    The foundation funded legal scholarship advancing the theory that the Second Amendment does not protect individual gun owners’ rights, as well as two groups that advocated handgun bans. And it paid to support a book called “Every Handgun Is Aimed at You: The Case for Banning Handguns.”

    Obama’s eight years on the board of the Joyce Foundation, which paid him more than $70,000 in directors fees, do not in any way conflict with his campaign-trail support for the rights of gun owners, Ben LaBolt, a spokesman for Obama’s presidential campaign, asserted in a statement issued to Politico this week.

    LaBolt stressed that the foundation, which has assets of about $935 million, doesn’t take “detailed policy positions,” but rather uses its grants to “fuel a dialogue about how to address public policy issues like reducing gun violence.”

    As with most foundations, Joyce did not record how individual board members voted on grants, but former Joyce officials told Politico that funding was typically approved unanimously.

    LaBolt said Obama, an Illinois senator, “does not remember each of the over 1,500 individual grant requests and his assessment of their merits, but he considered all requests in light of the foundation's goal of developing a robust public dialogue around reducing gun violence.”

    Obama joined the board in the summer of 1994 as a 32-year-old lawyer who had yet to run for public office, but he already had a reputation in Chicago as an up-and-comer, particularly on issues related to low-income communities — a key foundation focus.

    By the time he left the board in the winter of 2002, as he was gearing up for his 2004 U.S. Senate bid, Obama had served six years in the Illinois state Senate and had also considered leaving politics to become the group’s full-time president, by his own acknowledgment.

    Obama's service on the board of the Joyce Foundation and a few other Chicago-based nonprofits including the Woods Fund of Chicago remains one of the least scrutinized parts of his career. But it’s one that could hamper his efforts to woo populations of rural pro-gun voters in Pennsylvania, which votes April 22, and in a general election match-up with the presumptive Republican nominee, Arizona Sen. John McCain.

    In his appeal to gun owners, Obama has not emphasized his own legislative record, which includes supporting a ban on semiautomatic weapons and concealed weapons, and a limit on handgun purchases to one a month. He has blamed his staff for indicating on a questionnaire filled out during his 1996 state Senate bid under his name that he supports banning “the manufacture, sale and possession of handguns.”

    Obama, who taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago and served as president of the Harvard Law Review, has instead focused on his respect for what he contends are constitutionally guaranteed gun owners’ rights, the “passion” of hunters and the “tradition” of handgun ownership.

    In February, he told an Idaho audience “I have no intention of taking away folks' guns.” Days later, when Politico asked him about the comment, he said, “It’s important for us to recognize that we’ve got a tradition of handgun ownership and gun ownership generally.”

    Pressed to clarify his stance during a debate Wednesday evening in Philadelphia, Obama told ABC News anchor Charles Gibson, “I have never favored an all-out ban on handguns. What I think we can provide is common-sense approaches to the issue of illegal guns that are ending up on the streets.”


    A white paper on his website states: “As a former constitutional law professor, Barack Obama … greatly respects the constitutional rights of Americans to bear arms” as well as “the passion that hunters and anglers have for their sport.” It says: “He will protect the rights of hunters and other law-abiding Americans to purchase, own, transport and use guns for the purposes of hunting and target shooting.”

    And, in a memo to reporters this week defending Obama’s much-criticized assertion that down-on-their luck small-town voters “get bitter” and “cling to guns or religion” or isolationism, his campaign touted his position on guns and blasted New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s.

    Obama supported a 2002 amendment to bar the use of federal homeland security funds to seize firearms during states of emergency, while the memo pointed out she opposed it. The memo adds: “Sen. Obama has consistently stated that the Second Amendment contains an individual right and has been consistent in his support of common-sense gun laws that do not abridge that right because it is a matter of defending the Constitution.”

    But the Joyce Foundation in 1999 awarded $84,000 to the Chicago-Kent College of Law for a symposium on the theory that the Second Amendment does not protect an individual’s right to bear arms, but rather only a state’s right to arm its militia.

    “No effort was made to include the individual right point of view,” its organizer, Carl T. Bogus, a Roger Williams University School of Law professor, wrote in one of several law review articles stemming from the symposium. “Full and robust public debate is not always best served by having all viewpoints represented in every symposium. Sometimes one point of view requires greater illumination.”

    The Chicago-Kent Law Review edition that resulted from the symposium has been influential in Second Amendment jurisprudence. It was cited several times in a 2002 federal court decision upholding most of a tough California gun control law on the basis that the Constitution doesn’t protect individual gun owners’ rights. It was also cited in a 2001 federal court decision out of New Orleans that took the opposite view.

    The Supreme Court denied review of both cases, but it will address the issue in a forthcoming decision in a closely watched case challenging the D.C. handgun ban.

    Obama hasn’t taken a firm stand on the ban or on the case before the high court. “I confess I obviously haven't listened to the briefs and looked at all the evidence,” he told Gibson during Wednesday’s debate. “As a general principle, I believe that the Constitution confers an individual right to bear arms. But just because you have an individual right does not mean that the state or local government can't constrain the exercise of that right.”

    During Obama’s time on the Joyce board, though, the foundation gave seven grants totaling more than $2.5 million to a group that wants Congress to take much more proactive action: the Violence Policy Center.

    The D.C.-based nonprofit, which calls itself “the most aggressive group in the gun control movement,” for years has argued for a national handgun ban.


    In a 2000 study called “Unsafe in Any Hands: Why America Needs to Ban Handguns,” the group concluded that Congress could and should ban handguns nationwide “soon” and allocate $16.25 billion to buy back the 65 million handguns it estimated were then owned by civilians.

    The study dismissed as “pure myth” the theory that the Second Amendment bars such strict gun control laws.

    The study was funded partly by the Joyce Foundation, said Josh Sugarmann, the center’s executive director. “The Joyce Foundation gives us general support,” he said, though he added that the foundation’s continued funding of his group is primarily for efforts to study the public health effects of gun violence.

    That appears to be the purpose of a majority of the 83 gun-violence grants totaling nearly $24 million approved by Joyce’s board from 1997 (the first year for which the foundation has posted its annual report online) through 2002.

    But in 2000, the foundation also awarded a $20,000 grant to a publishing group to support Sugarmann’s book, “Every Handgun Is Aimed at You: The Case for Banning Handguns.”

    And in 2002, Joyce gave $10,000 to a nonprofit group called Handgun-Free America. The purpose of the grant was “to support a student grass-roots gun violence prevention campaign.” But the organization billed itself as “dedicated to ending the handgun epidemic in America through the sensible act of banning private handgun ownership.”

    Sugarmann’s group filed a brief with the Supreme Court supporting the D.C. handgun ban, while Bogus is the lawyer for a group of scholars who also filed an amicus brief taking D.C.’s side in the case. Still another amicus brief supporting the ban was signed by a half dozen anti-gun-violence groups to which Joyce gave 14 grants totaling $3.2 million while Obama was on the board. Joyce’s grants to the groups — Freedom States Alliance, Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence, Iowans for the Prevention of Gun Violence, the Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence and Wisconsin Anti-Violence Effort — were mostly for state-based activities.

    Though both Sugarmann and Bogus disagree with Obama’s interpretation of the Second Amendment, they also contend that Obama should not be held to account for grants made by Joyce.

    “To think that every board member of a foundation is somehow responsible for not just every grant made but the end product displays a lack of understanding of the ways foundations operate and is unrealistic,” Sugarmann said.

    It’s “absurd,” Bogus said. “Even in our hyperventilating world, it seems to me that there is nothing wrong with a board member of a particular charity voting to dispense funds to organizations that hold a different view than he happens to hold, at least in part.”

    The Joyce Foundation’s board is comprised of a dozen people. Though it has included individuals active in both political parties, the foundation is strictly nonpartisan. At meetings, directors are expected to be prepared to discuss the contents of binders that sometimes contain hundreds of single-spaced, double-sided pages describing more than 100 grant proposals.

    “Not every [grant] got discussed,” said Carin Clauss, a professor at the University of Wisconsin Law School who served on the board with Obama. “Some were just: ‘Yeah, we don’t have any problem with that.’ The primary function of the board was to identify the public policy issues that were going to be the subject of grants.”


    There was “typically consensus” on funding blocks of grants, recalled Deborah Leff, who was president of the foundation during most of Obama’s tenure. But she said “there were certainly times when grants were rejected. This was not rubber-stamped. This was a fairly thoughtful process.”

    Clauss and Leff remember Obama being very well-prepared and engaged on all issues. But both recall Obama being most active on issues related to welfare reform and expanding employment and educational opportunities for low-income populations.

    Neither Clauss nor Leff recollect Obama objecting to, or otherwise discussing, grants related to Second Amendment scholarship or to groups interested in banning handguns nationwide.

    “Chances are that I would recall it,” said Leff, adding that she also did program work on gun violence for the foundation. “So I think that would have stuck with me.”

    Clauss, who contributed $250 to Obama’s 2004 Senate campaign and $500 to his presidential bid, recalled that Obama indicated an interest in becoming president of the foundation after he lost his 2000 congressional primary challenge to incumbent Rep. Bobby L. Rush (D-Ill.).

    In an interview last year with The Boston Globe, Obama played down the seriousness of his discussions with the Joyce Foundation about becoming its president.

    The foundation presidency is a full-time job, which paid Leff’s successor $232,000 in 2000. But Clauss said many board members “would have advised Obama not to [take it], since it would have taken him out of the activist political role.”

    Politico attempted to contact seven other current and former foundation board members who served with Obama, seeking their recollections about his stances on gun control and the Second Amendment. Four did not return calls or e-mails, one said he had no recollection of Obama’s stances, and two deferred to Ellen Alberding, the current board president.

    She acknowledged that the board decided collectively not to comment on Obama’s tenure.

    “They’re letting me handle it,” Alberding said. “We figured that it’d probably be better to have one voice.”

    Alberding said Sugarmann’s group is “the only organization that we fund that explicitly has that goal” of a national handgun ban. The foundation’s cash can’t be used to lobby, she pointed out. And she stressed that when Obama was on the board, the focus of the foundation’s gun violence program was almost exclusively on studying the issue from a public health perspective.

    With all the group’s grants, though, Alberding said, “We’re not promoting a particular solution. We’re promoting really smart people to think about problems and come up with ideas on how to solve them.”

    For instance, she pointed out that the foundation also has funded the Ohio State University’s Second Amendment Research Center. Its website says it strives to address gun violence, while also recognizing “equally the widespread private ownership of firearms in the United States, the many legitimate uses of firearms in American society, and the high levels of firearm violence in our country.”

    But the center’s director, Saul Cornell, joined Bogus’ Supreme Court brief supporting D.C.’s gun ban.

    The center got $525,000 from Joyce during Obama’s time on the board.

    Alberding pointed out that gun violence is not among the biggest of the six broad areas in which the foundation issues grants to shape public policy. Its three primary interests are protecting the environment and increasing poor people's access to education and jobs.

    The other areas in which the foundation issues grants include reducing the influence of money in politics and boosting high culture in Chicago.

    Of the $219 million in grants approved from 1997 through 2002 — the years of Obama’s tenure for which the foundation has posted its annual reports online — the environment received $57 million, followed by education ($56 million), employment ($41 million), gun violence ($21 million), money and politics ($17 million) and culture ($6.5 million).
    WHEN OBAMA WRESTLES WITH HELLER

    Although Obama claims to support the Second Amendment, his record shows virtually unrelenting hostility toward gun ownership, especially for lawful defense. Consider these facts:

    As a candidate for the U.S. Senate, Obama said there should be a national ban on concealed carry licenses, because licensees commit so many crimes. He claimed that Texas’ licensing of Right-to-Carry endangers people in Illinois. In truth, a Texas license does not authorize carry in Illinois, and Illinois is one of only two states that have the Obama-favored policy of not even allowing people to apply for carry permits.

    California law, while generally hostile to concealed carry, allows carry by some domestic violence victims who have received a court order against a stalker or a similar personal threat. Obama successfully fought against enactment of a comparable bill in Illinois.

    Campaigning for the U.S. House in 1999, and exploiting the Columbine murders, Obama demanded a federal law banning all gun stores from within five miles of a school or park. Of course, in practice this would eliminate almost every gun store in the United States, perhaps leaving a few federal firearms licensees (FFLs) who live on isolated farms.

    Running for the Illinois Senate in 1996, Obama endorsed a ban on all handguns. These days, Obama claims that an aide filled out the questionnaire erroneously, yet the cover of the questionnaire has Obama’s own handwriting on it.

    In 1998, he answered a questionnaire from the Illinois State Legislative National Political Awareness test, checking a box that said one of his “principles” was “Ban the sale or transfer of all forms of semi-automatic weapons.” As a state senator, Obama fought to defend handgun bans in Chicago and five of its suburbs. After gun-banning Wilmette, Ill., prosecuted resident Hale DeMar for using a handgun to protect his family from a repeat violent home invader, the 2004 Illinois legislature overwhelmingly voted to prohibit gun ban prosecution of people who actually used a gun for lawful self-defense on their own property. However, Obama voted “no,” and complained that the self-defense law would erode the local handgun bans.

    In the Pennsylvania Democratic primary debate, Obama refused to answer a question about his opinion on the Heller case; he claimed he had not read all the briefs, and that he does not comment on pending cases. But in fact, Obama had filed an amicus brief in a different Supreme Court case that very same term.

    Notably, Obama refused to join his 55 Senate colleagues, from both parties, who filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court, urging the justices to respect the Second Amendment and overturn the D.C. ban.

    In November 2007, after the Supreme Court agreed to hear the Heller case, the Obama campaign told the Chicago Tribune that “Obama believes the D.C. handgun law is constitutional” and that “local communities” should have the ability “to enact common sense laws.”

    On the day the U.S. Supreme Court announced its decision in District of Columbia v. Heller, Obama announced that he agreed with its decision. His campaign claimed that the November2007 statement about supporting the D.C. ban was “inartful.” Not that the 2007 statement was incorrect in expressing Obama’s views—just “inartful.” Apparently the campaign spokesperson had not done a good enough job of obfuscating Obama’s position.

    So, Obama was for the D.C. handgun ban before he was “against” it. Even post-Heller, he stood by the Chicago handgun ban, declaring, “What works in Chicago may not work in Cheyenne.”

    Obama’s campaign website says that he believes in the Second Amendment “for the purposes of hunting and target shooting.” The right to defend your family from violent intruders, or to use guns for any other form of self-defense, is conspicuously absent.

    All these examples of Obama’s antigun activism raise a very important question: What kind of Supreme Court justices would Obama appoint? We know that he voted against confirmation of the eminently qualified John Roberts and Samuel Alito.

    In the July 26 National Journal, Stuart Taylor, perhaps the best Supreme Court reporter in the U.S., listed some of the top names being mentioned as Obama Supreme Court nominees:

    Cass Sunstein is a professor at the University of Chicago Law School and a former faculty colleague of Obama’s. Sunstein’s book, Radicals in Robes: Why Extreme Right-Wing Courts Are Wrong for America, criticizes judicial “fundamentalists” such as Justices Scalia and Thomas, who believe that the Second Amendment protects an individual right. Sunstein argues that the original intent of the Second Amendment was to affirm a militia duty, not to protect a broad personal right.

    He acknowledges that many people today believe they have a personal right to arms, and says that courts should make some concession to the popular view—but should interpret the right narrowly. That’s perfectly in line with Obama’s Second Amendment: Claim that you respect the individual right, but interpret so that it permits bans on owning guns, carrying guns and selling guns.

    Merrick Garland is a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. He could be counted on not only to oppose Second Amendment rights in general, but even to nullify explicit congressional statutes that protect those rights.

    In 2007, a three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit ruled against the D.C. handgun ban in the case of Parker v. District of Columbia (which was the name of the case that eventually became District of Columbia v. Heller when it went before the Supreme Court). The D.C. government asked for a rehearing of the case, before all 10 judges of the D.C. Circuit.

    Six judges voted not to rehear the case, while four judges voted for a rehearing, presumably because they disagreed with the three-judge panel that had ruled against the handgun ban. Garland was one of the four judges who wanted a chance to validate the handgun ban.

    In 2000, Garland was on a three-judge panel that heard the case of NRA v. Reno. In that case, the Janet Reno Department of Justice had flouted the congressional statutes that prohibit the federal government from compiling a registration list of gun owners, and which required the destruction of national instant check (NICS) records of lawful, approved gun purchases.

    Judge Garland voted to let Reno get away with it. He said that registering all the people who were approved by NICS was permissible because Reno was not registering every gun owner in the country. And he said it was fine for Reno to keep gun buyer records for six months because although Congress had said the records must be destroyed, it did not say “immediately.”

    Sonia Sotomayor is a judge on the federal Second Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers New York state, Connecticut and Vermont. According to Sotomayor, “the right to possess a gun is clearly not a fundamental right.” (U.S. v. Sanchez-Villar, 2004).

    Eric Holder Jr. is a co-chair of the Obama campaign. Under Janet Reno, he served as deputy attorney general.

    In D.C. v. Heller, Holder joined the Reno-led amicus brief, which urged the Supreme Court to uphold the handgun ban and claimed that the Department of Justice from Franklin Roosevelt through Bill Clinton had always believed that the Second Amendment does not protect any rights of individuals to own guns for personal use.

    After the D.C. Circuit ruled against the handgun ban, Holder complained that the decision “opens the door to more people having more access to guns and putting guns on the streets.”

    Another name on the Obama Supreme Court list is Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton. Of course, her record on the Second Amendment speaks for itself.

    Things get even worse when you consider some of the names being floated for President Obama’s cabinet.

    From a Second Amendment viewpoint, the most important cabinet position is that of attorney general. He or she sets the legal policy for the entire Department of Justice, and supervises the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

    One attorney general possibility is Obama’s good friend Deval Patrick, the governor of Massachusetts. Before being elected governor, Patrick served as assistant attorney general for the civil rights division under the Clinton/Reno regime.

    After law school, Patrick worked as a law clerk for Judge Stephen Reinhardt of the federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The vehemently anti-gun Reinhardt wrote the opinion in Silveira v. Lockyer declaring that the Second Amendment protects a collective right, not an individual one.

    Patrick later served as an attorney for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund—an organization that filed an amicus brief in Heller urging that the Supreme Court uphold the handgun ban.

    In his 2006 run for governor of Massachusetts, Patrick received a “D” rating from the NRA Political Victory Fund (NRA-PVF). As governor, he is showing that he certainly deserved the rating, working to push through a huge increase in the state’s already high fees on gun ownership. In Massachusetts, possession of a single cartridge, or a firearm, without a state permit means a mandatory year in state prison. So, any resident of any adjacent state who might occasionally want to go target shooting with Massachusetts friends—or to stay out of prison should a single forgotten round be found in his car while he is driving through the state—needs a Massachusetts permit. The current $100 fee for a one-year permit is bad enough, but Patrick wants to raise it to $250.

    The secretary of the interior has authority over vast amounts of land used for hunting and target shooting. Over the last two decades, many gun ranges have been closed down by expanding urbanization. Accordingly, the national lands constitute one of the few remaining areas for many Americans to practice gun safety. An anti-gun secretary of the interior could decimate recreational shooting and hunting on public lands.

    Tom Daschle could be such a secretary. Elected U.S. senator from South Dakota in 1984 with an “A” rating from NRA-PVF, Daschle quickly began breaking promises after he got settled in Washington. By the time of his 2004 re-election race, his NRA-PVF rating was “F+,” and he lost a close race—largely because of a massive effort by NRA activists.

    All of these Obama scenarios might remind readers of the Bill Clinton administration. Note, however, there would be one major difference—and it’s an important one.

    In an Obama administration, while judicial appointees, cabinet officers and the president work to destroy your gun rights, they will make sure to tell you how much they respect the Second Amendment.
    Μολὼν λαβέ

    I'm just one root in a grassroots organization. No one should assume that I speak for the VCDL.

    I am neither an attorney-at-law nor I do play one on television or on the internet. No one should assumes my opinion is legal advice.

    Veni, Vidi, Velcro

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