Obama Sees the Constitution Through a Progressive Lens
The furor surrounding President Obama’s recent comments about the authority of the United States Supreme Court to overturn enacted legislation brought consternation from many a constitutional scholar as well as at least three federal appeals court judges from the Fifth Circuit, who demanded a clarification from Attorney General Eric Holder. To his credit, Mr. Holder responded to that demand with a two-and-one-half page letter stating that “the power of the courts to review the constitutionality of legislation is beyond dispute,” although he did throw in a dash of arrogant positioning in adding that the power to do so should only be exercised in “appropriate cases,” and that legislation passed by Congress should be “presumptively constitutional.” Arrogance aside – audacity aside – Mr. Obama and Mr. Holder are but two of the Progressive ideologues in the current administration who truly and honestly believe they are correct in their understanding of the US Constitution.
Mr. Obama allowed for his true beliefs about the pecking order under the US Constitution to come forth on Monday when he said:
I’m confident that the Supreme Court will not take what would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress...And I’d just remind Conservative commentators that for years what we’ve heard is the biggest problem on the bench was judicial activism or a lack of judicial restraint, that an unelected group of people would somehow overturn a duly constituted and passed law. Well, this is a good example. And I’m pretty confident that this court will recognize that and not take that step.
He added, the following day, that the court had traditionally shown “deference” to Congress and that “the burden is on those who would overturn a law like this.”
While many see Mr. Obama’s comments as arrogant, or even imperial, the truth is that he and those of his ideology – the Progressive ideology – truly believe in this line of thinking. Granted, Mr. Obama did deliver his comments in a most conceited manner, something I believe he does by second nature, as do all in his inner circle; but he believes in his words nevertheless. And the reason he believes he is correct is because he understands the US Constitution through Progressive eyes.
For the record – and this is indisputable – Mr. Obama was never officially a “professor” who taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago. He is identified by the university as a “senior lecturer.” And although he did take the lectern for a few classes each year – even as he was serving in the Illinois State Legislature – so, too, do graduate student teachers’ assistants. That said, he did take the lectern to teach about the US Constitution and the philosophy used to create the US Constitution...as he understood it.
As noted by DiscoverTheNetworks.org, David Horowitz’s impeccably thorough guide to the political Left:
According to R.J. Pestritto, author of American Progressivism, ‘America’s original Progressives were also its original, big-government liberals.’ They set the stage for the New Deal principles of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who cited the progressives – especially Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson – as the major influences on his ideas about government. The Progressives, Pestritto says, wanted ‘a thorough transformation in America’s principles of government, from a government permanently dedicated to securing individual liberty to one whose ends and scope would change to take on any and all social and economic ills.
In the Progressive worldview, the proper role of government was not to confine itself to regulating a limited range of human activities as the Founders had stipulated, but rather to inject itself into whatever realms the times seemed to demand. The Progressives reasoned that although America’s Founders had felt it necessary to limit the power of government because of their experience with King George III, government, as a result of historical evolution, was no longer the menace it once had been; rather, they believed government had become capable of solving an ever-greater array of societal problems – problems the Founders could never have envisioned. Consequently, the Progressives called for a more activist government whose regulation of people’s lives was properly determined not by the outdated words of an anachronistic Constitution, but by whatever the American people seemed to need at any given time.
This perspective dovetailed with the Progressives’ notion of an ‘evolving’ or ‘living’ government, which, like all living beings, could rightfully be expected to grow and to adapt to changing circumstances. Similarly, Progressives also coined the term ‘living Constitution,’ connoting the idea that the US Constitution is a malleable document with no permanent guiding principles – a document that must, of necessity, change with the times.
R.J. Pestritto writes that the Progressives ‘detested the Declaration of Independence, which enshrines the protection of individual natural rights (like property) as the unchangeable purpose of government; and they detested the Constitution, which places permanent limits on the scope of government and is structured in a way that makes the extension of national power beyond its original purpose very difficult.’ Given their contempt for those documents, the Progressives’ mission was to progress, or move beyond, the principles laid out by the founders.
This understood, it becomes clearer as to why Mr. Obama and Mr. Holder believe as they do about the issue of constitutionality and the authority of the US Supreme Court. It also becomes clearer as to why Mr. Obama didn’t see anything wrong with saying that, should the Justices rule the individual mandate included in the Patient Protection & Affordability Care Act unconstitutional, they would be doing so as an “activist court.” Mr. Obama – and Mr. Holder, as well as all of the Obama-ites – sees the court as being activist in that scenario because it would be ruling against a governmental intervention that took on what today’s Progressives see as a significant societal and economic ill.
In fact, if you examine each instance of what an overwhelming majority of Americans see as egregious encroachments into the private sector and our personal liberties by the federal government under the Obama Administration, you will find that in each instance one of the paramount catalysts, aside from the Chicago politician’s need to position himself for re-election by paying back his political benefactors, is the Progressive tenet of big government – centralized federal government – interceding to affect a government-based solution to a societal and/or economic ill. Whether you consider the many pieces of legislation passed and implemented (i.e., the stimulus bill, the mortgage relief bills, Obamacare, etc.), or the brazenly anti-business regulatory efforts by the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Labor Relations Board, or the unilateral (and unconstitutional) declaration of recess appointments by Mr. Obama, even as Congress was in session -- in each instance, Mr. Obama and his Progressive brethren believe that they are acting constitutionally -- believing so because of the way they were taught about the philosophies used to create the total of the Charters of Freedom.
Today, Progressives – individuals who believe the Constitution is malleable to their belief system and their immediate priorities – hold critical positions in our federal government, as well as in the many State Houses. It is for this singular reason – although there are many, many others – that we should all take great pains to insist that our children be constitutionally literate; that they learn the philosophies used by our Founders and Framers in their creation of our Founding Documents and not the radical philosophies of Alinsky, Marx, Guevara, Wilson and Obama.
Of course, to ensure this requires those who heed the call to engage the educational process in the activity of curricular oversight. It also requires the support – ideologically and financially – of the true grassroots educational organizations that cry out for action. Today, so far, Conservatives have failed in both of these critical areas. Today, Progressives are winning. In fact, we are just one presidential term away from the completion of the “fundamental transformation of the United States of America.”