Obama steps in it again by mentioning Lochner v. New York

I’m not a constitutional scholar and I never went to law school. Heck, I’m pretty certain I would have had to struggle to get in. But President Obama – supposedly – has an academic foundation in constitutional law and within minutes he’s found to be full of crap after referring to Lochner during the AP luncheon yesterday.

From his remarks

MR. SINGLETON:  Mr. President, you said yesterday that it would be unprecedented for a Supreme Court to overturn laws passed by an elected Congress.  But that is exactly what the Court has done during its entire existence.  If the Court were to overturn individual mandate, what would you do, or propose to do, for the 30 million people who wouldn’t have health care after that ruling?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, first of all, let me be very specific. We have not seen a Court overturn a law that was passed by Congress on a economic issue, like health care, that I think most people would clearly consider commerce — a law like that has not been overturned at least since Lochner.  Right?  So we’re going back to the ’30s, pre New Deal.

Uhh, wrong.

The Wall Street Journal’s James Taranto writes.

In fact, Lochner–about which more in a moment–was decided in 1905. Thirty years later, after the New Deal had begun, the high court unanimously struck down one of its main components, the National Industrial Recovery Act, as exceeding Congress’s authority under the Interstate Commerce Clause. The case was A.L.A. Schechter Poultry Corp. v. U.S. (1935).

But Obama’s even more than just 30 years off. Note the name of the case … Lochner v. New York. It was a state law, not a law passed by Congress.

The full name of the case, Lochner v. New York, should be a sufficient tip-off. In Lochner the court invalidated a state labor regulation on the ground that it violated the “liberty of contract,” which the court held was an aspect of liberty protected by the 14th Amendment’s Due Process Clause. (The legal doctrine at issue, “substantive due process,” refers to the meaning of “life, liberty and property” under the Due Process Clause.)

Lochner, which was effectively reversed in a series of post-New Deal decisions, did not involve a federal law–contrary to the president’s claim–and thus had nothing to do with the Commerce Clause, which concerns only the powers of Congress.

It’s appalling that any president would have the effrontery to lecture the Supreme Court about a pending case. It’s astounding that this president, who was once a professor of constitutional law at an elite university, would do so in such an ignorant fashion.

I’m not sure why Taranto is surprised our astounded. It’s exactly what I expect from this guy. He just speaks without knowing what the heck he’s talking about. He’s living in some sort of parallel universe where – in his own mind – he’s always right and nobody will question him.

But people are starting to question him.

Yesterday’s question was one that was asked to clarify a statement he made the other day, strongly suggesting the Supreme Court best not mess with his health care legislation. Today’s question – if someone has the guts to ask it – should be centered on Lochner, explaining why he thinks it has anything to do with a federal law.

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16 Responses to "Obama steps in it again by mentioning Lochner v. New York"

  1. Tim-in-Alabama says:

    Obama needs to stop posing as a constitutional scholar and stick to what he knows best … solar power.

  2. Dimsdale says:

    I don’t think it is a case of stepping in it so much as it is him soiling himself.
    And people wonder why nobody stands up and says “I was in his class!!”  I don’t see how being an “instructor” makes you a Constitutional scholar any more than watching House makes you a brain surgeon….

  3. When the President mentioned Lochner, he reminded me of a first year law student who had just learned a case and threw out its name to impress his buddies.

  4. WagTheDog says:

    Was he off of POTUS again?  Or was he being prompted by Biden?  More and more I dislike this person.  Not for anything other than the only thing he can be counted on is feeding you a line of bull.  He reminds me of a door-to-door used car salesman.

  5. Lynn says:

    If the media could stop pandering to this administration, maybe they could ask the President why he thinks Lochner has anything to do with federal law. No guts no glory.

    • stinkfoot says:

      That’s a little like asking a cheerleader to dig up some dirt on the quarterback that she’s “doing”.

  6. If its Mitt I sit says:

    Maybe its time someone actually vetted this guy.

  7. JBS says:

    Is the Teleprompter broken?
    The more he responds to questions extemporaneously, the more he sounds like Homer Simpson. Keep it up, Ø. It would be funny except that he is such a tragedy.
    D’oh! Sorry Homer!

  8. Luke says:

    Obama is so arrogant and the MSM has inflated his ego to such an extent that we are not even supposed to realize when he steps in it like this.  We were just supposed to except his 2,700 page monstrosity without reading it.  How dare SCOTUS find fault with it. Who cares about the Constitution. That’s how this man thinks.

  9. Eric says:

    Obama is not the brain trust that his handler’s have been touting for too long now.  He was a token student to begin with, and his grades have been sealed, for obvious reason.  I’m really not surprised when he puts his foot in his mouth the way he seems to often enough.  He should stay on the scripted stuff that his teleprompter tells him to say.  That teleprompter is the one with the brains!

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