Prof. Thom Lambert of the University of Missouri Law School has responded with alarm to President Barack Obama’s attack on the Supreme Court and the power of judicial review by recalling his own days as Obama’s student at the University of Chicago.
Lambert, who writes for the “Truth on the Market” blog, not only studied under Obama, but also clerked for the federal judge who issued an order yesterday demanding that the Department of Justice clarify whether the government believed courts had the power to overturn constitutional laws.
Thus, a Wall Street Journal editorial queried this about the President who “famously taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago”: “[D]id he somehow not teach the historic case of Marbury v. Madison?”
I actually know the answer to that question. It’s no (well, technically yes…he didn’t). President Obama taught “Con Law III” at Chicago. Judicial review, federalism, the separation of powers — the old “structural Constitution” stuff — is covered in “Con Law I” (or at least it was when I was a student). Con Law III covers the Fourteenth Amendment. (Oddly enough, Prof. Obama didn’t seem too concerned about “an unelected group of people” overturning a “duly constituted and passed law” when we were discussing all those famous Fourteenth Amendment cases – Roe v. Wade, Griswold v. Connecticut, Romer v. Evans, etc.) Of course, even a Con Law professor focusing on the Bill of Rights should know that the principle of judicial review has been alive and well since 1803, so I still feel like my educational credentials have been tarnished a bit by the President’s “unprecedented, extraordinary” remarks.
Lambert added: “Fortunately…[t]his morning, the judge for whom I clerked, Judge Jerry E. Smith of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, called the President’s bluff….I must say, I’m pretty dang proud of Judge Smith right now. And I’m really looking forward to reading that three-page, single-spaced letter.”