So, the Supreme Court came out with a big free-speech decision yesterday, and President Obama's response was that he needs "to develop a forceful response to this decision. The public interest requires nothing less." I've already used that quote as part of the discussion in the earlier post "On the day that the Supreme Court struck down a U.S. statute as a violation of free speech, Hillary Clinton was promoting free speech on the internet," but I want to break out a very particular question for discussion.
The President was a law professor — technically, a "senior lecturer" at the University of Chicago Law School — for 12 years. Why would a law professor oppose a Supreme Court decision on a matter of constitutional law and not respect the authority of the Court and honor our system of separation of powers?
Now, I've been a law professor and I've been with the professors for more than twice 12 years, and I have my answer to that question. I'll tell you that in a little while. I'll just watch this movie clip....
ADDED: A day has passed, and you've chewed over the question. Now, I'll give my answer. It is exactly what I, a law professor, would expect to hear from another law professor! The odd thing is that Obama, a politician, didn't stop himself from saying the kind of thing lawprofs say to each other.
Non-lawprof Americans tend to think that the Constitution really means something and that that the Supreme Court has a special role and expertise in saying what it means, that a 5-4 decision is something more than just a vote on what 9 power-wielders would like the law to be.
I would expect a politician to tend to the voters' feelings. Obama should have said that he would like to explore ways to write a new statute that will respect the rights the Court has articulated and still serve the good and proper goals that the defective statute was meant to serve. With some sugar about how rights are important.