Tales from the Trail

Bush’s laws will be scrutinized if I become president, Obama says

May 28, 2008

rtx69fr.jpgDENVER – Maybe it’s his background teaching constitutional law.

If elected president, Democratic White House hopeful Barack Obama said one of the first things he wants to do is ensure the constitutionality of all the laws and executive orders passed while Republican President George W. Bush has been in office.

Those that don’t pass muster will be overturned, he said.

During a fund-raiser in Denver, Obama — a former constitutional law professor at the University of Chicago Law School — was asked what he hoped to accomplish during his first 100 days in office.

“I would call my attorney general in and review every single executive order issued by George Bush and overturn those laws or executive decisions that I feel violate the constitution,” said Obama

Other goals for his first 100 days: work out a plan to withdraw troops from Iraq; make progress on alternative energy plans and launch legislation to reform the health care system.

Click here for more Reuters 2008 campaign coverage

Photo credit: Reuters/Rick Wilking (Obama talks to students during a visit to a school in Thornton, CO) 

Comments
156 comments so far | RSS Comments RSS

President Obama is exactly what we need to undo the damage of the Bush administration.

While is opponent in the primary is staging photo ops in front of a wall of granite, Senator Obama is beginning the hard work of healing a deeply wounded country.

Posted by Eileen | Report as abusive
 

Jack from Kansas – you’re not keeping up. UC released a statement some time ago confirming BO was indeed a professor. If Bush cannot make laws, what are these ‘executive orders’ I keep hearing about?
Also, it was Reagan who got line the item veto, but it was struck down as unconstitutional. Lastly, (???) ‘marxist ways’? That’s a funny.

Posted by literateEngineer | Report as abusive
 

To Jack of Kansas:

Obama was officially given the title of ‘Senior Lecturer’ at University of Chicago Law School. According to the University itself, it states:

“Senior Lecturers are considered to be members of the Law School faculty and are regarded as professors, although not full-time or tenure-track. “

Posted by Dave | Report as abusive
 

There is no more important obligation for the President of the United States or any officer of the government than to protect and preserve the Constitution. Strong beleief in this tenet of our governmental structure is one of the key reasons that Ron Paul has garnered such grass roots support. It is not surprising that Obama’s postion on this has also struck a nerve with civic minded voters. Restoration of the damage done to the Constitution by Bush and his neo-con cronies should be the number one priority of the next administration.

Posted by Joe | Report as abusive
 

kdurham68,

There is a difference between laws as passed by congress and executive orders, which Obama promises to review. Executive orders are made by the President and do not require the approval of Congress. Obama would be within his constitutional rights to review and overturn executive orders, being head of the executive branch.

Jack,

Irregardless is not a proper word. It’s a double negative. Check your dictionary.

Posted by NT | Report as abusive
 

kdurham68:

Obama said “executive orders,” not “legislation.” If you’ve been following our story so far (aka, “reality”), you would know that Bush has made unprecedented use of executive orders and signing statements, in keeping with the neo-con notion of the “unitary executive.” Congress doesn’t vote on these acts.

Posted by Master of the Obvious | Report as abusive
 

This is why I have so much faith in this man and his ability to lead and restore our Country.

 

executive orders and the infamous “signing statements”

Posted by Elektrik | Report as abusive
 

To tell you how quality his knowledge of the Constitution is, he has stated that the Bill of Rights creates rights.

 

Ooh, this is embarrassing. We should have civics classes reintroduced to our educational system. Contrary to previous comments, a president can make law. It’s called an Executive Order. The Bush administration has been a persistent study in how to circumvent the system of checks and balances that were designed to ensure that the disasters of the last 8 years did not come to pass. Unfortunately, the aim of the Bush administration was to exclusively strengthen the powers of the Executive branch of government at the expense of the other two co-equal branches (legislative and judicial). Additionally, the Bush administration politicized the Justice Department in its attempt to render moot any legal challenges to its abuses of power and possible violations of the law.

I am sure Senator Obama voted against many of the laws that he intends to review. However, it should be recognized that President Bush was able to run roughshod over everyone as our country was afflicted with post 9/11 paralysis. “9/11″ was the mantra wielded like a billy club by anyone who dared question the Bush administration’s actions during the first few years following the disaster. Under these circumstances, is it any wonder that we may have veritable plethora of laws that were strong-armed upon us that violate our country’s constitutional principles as well as our civil liberties?

Posted by Walt from Indianapolis | Report as abusive
 

Jack, you should make sure you understand the issues before you go calling names (marxist). “Pass muster” is a term of art in constitutional law indicating that the law meets specific legal standards. The president does have executive powers to issue signing statements and executive orders. I have no doubt that Obama’s review would result in several instances of Bush exceeding the executive powers granted by our constitution.

Posted by v | Report as abusive
 

It strikes me as being very interesting that some commnents question Sen. Obamas capability of correcting past constitutional violations made by the current administration. Would you prefer to keep our country in the disastrous mode that we are now in? Losing homes, ridiculous gasoline prices, fighting an illegal war in Iraq,loosing over 4,000 young men in women, being ignored by our representatives, being hated around the world, having a president with a 30% approval rate, no health insurance for the poor, no educational benefits, horrible schools that produce crininals and losers….need I say more? We need to be beating the election doors down to vote for this man. If he just obeys the constitution, we will all be better off. How much more do you want to be tortured. Sen. Obama is for ALL AMERICANS, not just the wealthy. Give him the opportunity to show how much America can be.

Posted by Lynn | Report as abusive
 

Just a point of clarification for those who are still propagating the erroneous notion that Obama was not a professor, but rather a “lecturer.” Obama was a SENIOR lecturer at the Univ. of Chicago Law School for 11 years. The Dean of the law school made a public statement months ago (when Sen. Clinton was attempting to propagate this notion) that senior lecturer is essentially the equivalent of professor but without tenure. So, for all practical purposes, he was a professor. Further, I find it amusing how literal — to the point of absurdity — people will go to split hairs over this issue only to realize that they’re misinformed. It’s not the title that counts, it what he did while he was at the institution. Let it go — the man was the functional equivalent of a professor and I only wish I could have sat in on his lectures instead of suffering the twit who taught my Constitutional Law class.

 

Virginia Cotts: I was planning to reply to Jack from Kansan, but you already did that beautifully; anything I would add would be redundant. As far as I can tell, you missed just one thing which I will address.

Jack from Kansas: “pass muster” – loosely translated, means – passes the moral, ethical, legal standards.

Posted by Jamchinadian | Report as abusive
 

When we talk about experience and judgment… how do you top this man’s vision? The Washywood politicians of old scorn and point fingers at him saying, ‘nah, nah, … he isn’t ready to play with us big boys, because he won’t follow our game’ and they then try to convince everyone that their king is wearing clothes and tell us to join their team to give them the vote.. only to treat us like crap.
Obama has shown evidence of experience, wisdom, leadership and inspiration.

Posted by origood | Report as abusive
 

Great planning by Senator Obama and how fortunate we are to have a candidate who can hopefully start cleaning up some the the damage done over the last 7 and a half years. Thank you to all the knowledgeable posters here for the great info, I either never knew or have forgotten so much of all this important information.

Posted by Karen in San Antonio | Report as abusive
 

To MKS, nice try at sliding in the right wing ‘big government’ slight against the Dems. You better believe I will support a larger govt if it means routing out the criminals who brought us to this extreme state of moral decrepitude. It won’t cost nearly as much as a continued military presence in Iraq, and will likely begin a healing process that will pay for itself 1000 times over.

Posted by 3Gs | Report as abusive
 

I’m thrilled we will have a President who will review the treachery of the Bush Administration! God Save America!

Posted by Richard | Report as abusive
 

…Marxism is much more complicated than than a cursory smear and linking Marxist thought to Obama as a way to automatically question his credentials… is a thoughtless and uninformed cheap shot.
- Posted by Megan

Excellent point. Karl Marx was an influential Eastern European social philosopher of the late 1800′s whose thoughts regarding the creation of a Utopian society were based on circumstances that existed during his time; Czarist Russia, for instance.

After his death many diverse political movements and historical characters have invoked his arcane writings as a way to justify their own often despotic natures.

I have found that people who are ignorant of complicated historical, political, and social issues are often quick to fling “Marxist” as a pejorative for want of intellectual reasoning: as if that somehow settles things in their favor.

Posted by TripleDeuce | Report as abusive
 

Well you will have much to overturn Mr. Obama. First though I hope that you will denounce your affiliation with the Council On Foreign Relations which has called for among other things an end to our constitution as well as the need for “another 9/11″ to further the agenda of the PNAC documents. Please read into them if you do not know of them yet.
As far as unconstitutional laws and executive orders; the very idea of an executive order is unconstitutional. Mr. Clinton has so many signing statements and executive orders it is hard to keep them all straight. Something most people need to understand is it is not a left/right issue, they are both tainted.
Please google all these
NSPD51/HSPD20
Military Commissions Act
John Warner Defense Act
USA Patriot Act I & II
Executive Order: Blocking Property of Certain Persons Who Threaten Stabilization Efforts in Iraq
–these are just a few of the efforts to dismantle our constitution and institute a dictatorship. It is your duty as an American to not only be educated about the truth but to demand our rights remain secure.
Peace, Love and Respect,
Jen
“When a well-packaged web of lies has been sold gradually to the masses over generations, the truth will seem utterly preposterous and it’s speaker a raving lunatic.” -Dresden James

Kucinich is the true peace candidate and I suggest everyone become familiar with him and his politics. He is what we truly need to bring us out of this nightmare and back into the light.

Posted by JENNIFERSTRUTH | Report as abusive
 

Obama did count as a professor of law according to the University of Chicago School of Law:

he Law School has received many media requests about Barack Obama, especially about his status as “Senior Lecturer.”

From 1992 until his election to the U.S. Senate in 2004, Barack Obama served as a professor in the Law School. He was a Lecturer from 1992 to 1996. He was a Senior Lecturer from 1996 to 2004, during which time he taught three courses per year. Senior Lecturers are considered to be members of the Law School faculty and are regarded as professors, although not full-time or tenure-track. The title of Senior Lecturer is distinct from the title of Lecturer, which signifies adjunct status. Like Obama, each of the Law School’s Senior Lecturers has high-demand careers in politics or public service, which prevent full-time teaching. Several times during his 12 years as a professor in the Law School, Obama was invited to join the faculty in a full-time tenure-track position, but he declined. http://www.law.uchicago.edu/media/index. html

 

First, one must understand the nature of executive orders. Those that are an affront should and will be overturned in a heartbeat.

Concerning legislation, he has every right through his attorney general to mount suit in the courts concerning the constitutionality of any offending legislation–or anything else for that matter as any one of us do; separation of powers notwithstanding.

As for dereliction of duty as a senator, then please cite what laws where passed, and voted in the affirmative by Senator Obama, that need to be judiciously challenged. I’m afraid your questions lack merit, and your implications, if not understanding, of constitutional law are left wanting.

Posted by David Chapman | Report as abusive
 

Ummmmm…hey, Obama…any chance you could keep those wiretap and surveillance laws around for a while?

Just let it be known and ensure that you are using them exclusively to monitor the corporations?

I think they have forgotten that it doesn’t go “Of the Corporations, by the Corporations, for the Corporations”.

Posted by ibsteve2u | Report as abusive
 

After reading what kdurham68 had to say I was pretty incensed… his ignorance and self-righteousness is overwhelming. I was glad to see the good people here responding to him, explaining the difference between an “executive order” and “legislation” that passes through Congress.

He tries to take Obama to task but doesn’t seem to know what he is talking about, but we see this over and over again with the lunatic fringe.

Thanks to the good folks in this thread, your quick and intelligent response gives me hope.

Posted by John | Report as abusive
 

Never had a doubt that he would get us back to a government for the people, by the people. Bless this man of honor and integrity. Obama, a real American Hero.

Posted by Veleta Clay | Report as abusive
 

So does that mean all of the unconstitutional gun laws Obama supports will go away? How about all the unconstitutional foreign aid that Obama wants to give foreign countries? Oh…and can someone show me where in the constitution is the section that allows the federal government to tax me for the purposes of establishing universal healthcare? Just more lies from more politicians.

Posted by Mike | Report as abusive
 

This may take more than 100 days. The place to start is, of course, the repeal of the “Patriot Act.” Probably be a good to also name Russ Feingold as your running mate. Since he decided that no Executive Branch of the U.S. Govt should have this kind of power over our civil liberties. Also, Senator Feingold was bright enough to know instinctively that the Bush Administration (most of all) was not to be trusted after the bait and switch (and stolen) election of 2000.

Posted by Eric Barth | Report as abusive
 

No one has heard of “signing statements”? Bush signed hundreds of them. He made himself above the law, “in time of war”.

Posted by mlk | Report as abusive
 

And Hillary, fired from the Watergate investigation years ago for unethical behavior.
Your choice.

Posted by mlk | Report as abusive
 

What’s there to scrutinize, just about everything is illegal, he knows it, you know it, and everyone should know it. Overturn everything.

Posted by mtrav | Report as abusive
 

This is truly welcome news. This headline alone speaks to a huge reason for voting OBAMA in November. But, of course, I am terribly biased . . . I believe in the Constitution.

Posted by Paul Olson | Report as abusive
 

its funny how we’ve had almost 8 years of fascism and obama says this and all these people are crying “marxist!” fools.

Posted by cole holiday | Report as abusive
 

What’s there to scrutinize, just about everything is illegal, he knows it, you know it, and everyone else should know it. Overturn everything.

Posted by mtrav | Report as abusive
 

Great news from Obama. I hope one of the first things he does is totally dismantle the Department of Homeland Security.

Posted by Luke Casalita | Report as abusive
 

In answer to kdurham68′s question regarding where the executive derives his constitutional power. The executive office has the power to overturn or uphold any executive orders from previous administrations. As far as bills passed I would imagine they will likely be challenged in the court system.

Posted by cnorris | Report as abusive
 

Apparently Kdurham68 can’t read (which is not surprising). He said he’d overturn EXECUTIVE ORDERS. Congress doesn’t vote on executive orders. That’s the point of them & that’s why Bush has been getting away with so much. And even if they weren’t EO’s, the Republicans had a majority until 2006. He could have voted against something and it still would have passed.

Posted by Eddie | Report as abusive
 

There are specific rules (laws) layed down by Congress that specify how both executive orders, signing statements and Administrative Rules are issued. Bush ignored these laws in an attempt to legislate rather than execute the law.

For instance, in passing an Administrative Rule one of the Congressional mandates is that Administrative Rules are required to be open to public comment before they become law. On nearly every Administrative Rule that Bush passed, he illegally bypassed public comment because he knew that the rules he proposed wouldn’t pass muster with the public.

Repubs and conservatives railed against Clinton for passing the “Roadless Rule” at the end of his presidency. But anyone familiar with the process would have known that Clinton proposed the Roadless Rule 6 years prior to its implementation. It took 6 years of public comment before it was legally implemented. It garnered over 1 million signatures from citizens in its favor. But with the stroke of a pen and no public comment, Bush illegally did away with it. As mentioned earlier, it was reinstituted by court decree after years of litigation and millions of dollars that proved the illegality of Bush’s attempt to circumvent the process. When you consider having to do this with the thousands of illegal orders/rules/statements, the task would be daunting. Thus the necessity of the next president doing it as proposed by Obama.

If nothing, Cheney/Rumsfeld are bureaucratic geniuses because, after having served under 3 prior presidents, they learned how to circumvent the Constitution. They knew full well that they could use Administrative Rules, executive orders and signing statements illegally by the thousands and that it would take decades of litigation to overturn their mischief. All they’re concerned with is that their twisting of the rules would work for them in the short term until they were out of office.

As Sy Hersh has documented, they and 9 of their neo-con cohorts took over the apparatus of gov. by placing their people in key spots of the bureaucracy. That’s how they controlled the intelligence that justified an unjustifiable war.

Posted by Craig | Report as abusive
 

Most Americans do not know that laws can passed and be enforced but not constitutional until someone challenges them before the Supreme Court we really never know unless they are blantant disregards for the Constitution it’s self. Which I believe some og Bush’s were. Remember he said it the Constitution is just paper.

Posted by James Wilson | Report as abusive
 

Most Americans do not know that laws can passed and be enforced but not constitutional until someone challenges them before the Supreme Court we really never know unless they are blantant disregards for the Constitution it’s self. Which I believe some og Bush\’s were. Remember he said it the Constitution is just paper.

Posted by James Wilson | Report as abusive
 

Hip hip hurrah! OUr constitution has been consistently raped by Bush and Gang and I can’t think of a better way to start to regain our foothold on our forefather’s plan for our democratic republic. Go for it, Obama. A feminist and veteran for Sen.Obama for President

Posted by J. Teresa | Report as abusive
 

kdurham68:

The presidents oath of office requires him to faithfully uphold the constitution. If a law, even if passed by congress, is unconstitutional, it is illegal. And it is the DUTY of the president to overturn it. If the Supreme Court agrees with Congress that the law IS constitutional they can overrule the president.

There are three EQUAL branches of government. But they ALL are charged with upholding the constitution.

Posted by Lew | Report as abusive
 

It’s gonna come down to the old fogies in Florida. He doesnt have a shot at them

Posted by marknyc | Report as abusive
 

Some of you need to do your research and stop listening to Limbaugh and crew before you get on here slandering Senator Obama. He was IN FACT a law professor at the University of Chicago Law School.

Due to numerous press inquiries on the matter, the school released a carefully worded statement saying that for his 12 years there he was considered to be “a professor.”

UC Law School statement: The Law School has received many media requests about Barack Obama, especially about his status as “Senior Lecturer.” From 1992 until his election to the U.S. Senate in 2004, Barack Obama served as a professor in the Law School. He was a Lecturer from 1992 to 1996. He was a Senior Lecturer from 1996 to 2004, during which time he taught three courses per year. Senior Lecturers are considered to be members of the Law School faculty and are regarded as professors, although not full-time or tenure-track. The title of Senior Lecturer is distinct from the title of Lecturer, which signifies adjunct status. Like Obama, each of the Law School’s Senior Lecturers have high-demand careers in politics or public service, which prevent full-time teaching. Several times during his 12 years as a professor in the Law School, Obama was invited to join the faculty in a full-time tenure-track position, but he declined.

 

- Posted by kdurham68 (I have an answer for you. It sounds like you are new to policymaking process)

Mr. Obama, I must ask you two questions:

1) As you are and have been a member of the United States Senate for the last four years, I would have expected you would have evaluated any legislation during that time period to insure you were helping to pass only laws which are constitutional. Do you, therefore, only intend to review laws from before you were a member of the Senate for Constitutionality or are those laws enacted since you took office also planned for review? If the former, please explain why you failed to take the time while you were in the Senate to review what your predecessors had done. If the latter, please explain why you were lax in carrying out your duties as a US Senator?

ANSWER: The laws that are passed by the US Senate are laws that can be over ridden by the house and senate. The President however has executive privilege to make laws that if not contested by the majority in the House and Senate can stay in the books until the majority of the House and Senate (2/3) reject it or until the next President get into Office. If you feel there are laws that were passed and are unconstitutional, I suggest you frame it clearly so I can look at it and address them.

2) Since you have indicated it is your intention, if elected, to meet with your Attorney General to review existing legislation and overturn that which you consider unconstitutional, I must ask you to please identify precisely what power granted by the Constitution to the office of the Presidency allows such a unilateral action on your behalf? Do you believe that you are not personally subject to the US Constitution? The Separation of Powers given by that historic and monumental document does not allow the President to subsume the functions of the courts and the judiciary.

ANSWER: I am personally subjected to the US Constitution as were our founding fathers: Adam, Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, etc… and will not make myself above the law. I will try to address overturn however if only the majority of the House and Senate are in Favor. I will not impose my views on anyone but will fight to persuade for what is common sense right with no strings attached lawmakers to work in a bipartisan fashion to at least address it on the floor and win the majority. My motto in the run to the Presidency is “engaging in a different kind of politics” that is for you and the many Americans alike.

Posted by Daniel | Report as abusive
 

Can we put impeachment back on the table?

Supplemental question: is it still “impeachment” to prosecute an ex-president after he has left office for crimes committed while he was in office?

Posted by Nicholas Hunter | Report as abusive
 

Kdurham68 sounds like a pundit on fox news who knows how to word things intelligently but relies on the ignorance of those watching to believe they are valid questions and/or statements. Obviously, executive orders can be reversed, and any other Bush legislation that has been passed can be overturned by Obama suggesting new policy directions that a freshly democratic congress would be glad to follow through with new legislation to stamp out the old policies. Remember Bush giving all those speeches at the beginning of his first term that influenced the country to accept borderline marshall law in order to “protect us”? Imagine President Obama doing that in the opposite direction. Easy, considering we’re all starting to feel the nasty side-effects of allowing all that unconstitutional crap to happen. As senator, Obama did not have the same influence on passing legislation that the president had. Senators have one vote. The president can veto. As president, I trust Obama can reverse this horrible trend of eroding our constitutional democracy via Bush Doctrine. The only roadblock would be our hyper-conservative judiciary branch (once again thanks to Bush), which would probably be overriden by a 2/3 congressional majority vote. Say goodbye to the Bush years, cause it’s time for the REAL 21st century to begin.

Posted by Johan | Report as abusive
 

For the first time in 8 years I have hope.

Posted by kerry | Report as abusive
 

It is clear from looking over the comments that many people are not aware of the laws or executive decisions issued by George Bush without the benefit of congressional approval. Barak Obama will review and overturn those that violate the constitution.

Posted by Mary | Report as abusive
 

You people need to learn a little about the law. Obama said he is going to review EXECUTIVE ORDERS, not legislation. Executive orders come from the President and do not go through Congress.

Posted by Bob | Report as abusive
 

Geeez guys/gals!!! He is just saying that he will question and/or change G W Bush’s many “signing statements”.

Posted by Torbin | Report as abusive
 

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