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Bench Memos

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Obama the Un-Lincoln



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In tomorrow’s Public Discourse essay, already posted, I consider whether President Obama should be considered to stand with his putative idol, Abraham Lincoln, as a defender of inter-branch equality in the interpretation of the Constitution, and a skeptic about judicial supremacy.  In “Obama, DOMA, and Constitutional Responsibility,” I answer: not exactly.  Here’s a sample:

Continued enforcement of a law the president considers unconstitutional—but which he invests no political capital in attempting to repeal in Congress. An administration spinning its wheels in the federal circuit courts until an “opening” appears in one of them to maneuver more freely in the absence of precedent. An obvious muddling of political with legal arguments when it finally seizes the opportunity. A refusal to go the whole distance that logic requires while the president muses aloud about how his view is “evolving.” The pattern is revealing: Obama is the “un-Lincoln,” a president who would rather hint, and wheedle, and pine for an eventual Supreme Court ruling in favor of same-sex marriage, than forthrightly assert the equal standing of each branch of government to act on its own understanding of the Constitution.

Read the whole thing here.



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