In an MSNBC interview yesterday, Barack Obama repeated his canard that differing judicial philosophies among Supreme Court justices don’t matter in “ninety-nine percent of cases [because] the Constitution is actually going to be clear. Ninety-nine percent of the cases, a statute or congressional intent is going to be clear. But there are going to be one percent, less than one percent, of real hard cases” where differences in judicial philosophy do matter.
What an idiotic statement. If Sarah Palin said something so stupid, she’d be pilloried from coast to coast. As I explained months ago (when Obama used a figure of 95% for the same general proposition):
As Obama ought to know, the unanimity rate on the Supreme Court is nowhere near 95%. According to the Harvard Law Review’s statistics for the past three terms, cases with dissents accounted for 64.4% (2006 term), 45.7% (2005 term), and 62.0% (2004 term) of all cases. Indeed, last term, cases dividing 5-4 accounted for over a third of all cases, and the three justices that Obama cited as justices he likes—Breyer, Ginsburg, and Souter—agreed in the disposition of non-unanimous cases only 61%, 60%, and 63% of the time, respectively.
Obama, far from being an idiot, is very intelligent. And, “as somebody who taught constitutional law for ten years” (as he tells us in the interview), he surely knows that what he is saying is false. In other words, the only plausible conclusion is that he’s lying—and he’s doing so in order to distract attention from the terrible impact that his appointment of hard-left judicial activists would have.
Update: For anyone who thinks I might be misreading Obama’s comments, see my follow-up post.
One other note: In the same interview, in discussing last term’s ruling on the D.C. handgun case, Obama repeats his position that the Second Amendment protects an individual right but obscures from viewers his belief that the D.C. handgun ban is nonetheless constitutionally permissible. All nine justices agreed that the Second Amendment protects an individual right; they disagreed as to the scope of that right. Obama’s position is indistinguishable from the position that Justice Breyer took in his dissent—namely, that D.C.’s law is constitutional because the burdens it imposes are not disproportionate in light of the law’s legitimate objectives. (That sure sounds like a meaningful test, doesn’t it?)