Althouse: And you, President Obama, a law professor!

Ann Althouse
January 22, 2010

So, the Supreme Court came out with a big free-speech decision yesterday, and President Obama’s response was that he needs “to develop a forceful response to this decision. The public interest requires nothing less.” I’ve already used that quote as part of the discussion in the earlier post “On the day that the Supreme Court struck down a U.S. statute as a violation of free speech, Hillary Clinton was promoting free speech on the internet,” but I want to break out a very particular question for discussion.

The President was a law professor — technically, a “senior lecturer” at the University of Chicago Law School — for 12 years. Why would a law professor oppose a Supreme Court decision on a matter of constitutional law and not respect the authority of the Court and honor our system of separation of powers?

Now, I’ve been a law professor and I’ve been with the professors for more than twice 12 years, and I have my answer to that question. I’ll tell you that in a little while…

At Althouse.blogspot.com: And you, President Obama, a law professor!

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And also at Althouse today:

“The Supreme Court has handed lobbyists a new weapon,” says the New York Times.

The “weapon” is the First Amendment right to free speech, in a case about corporations and interest groups that aim political speech at the general public before an election. But “weapon” isn’t the word I want to concentrate on here. I want to talk about “lobbyist.”

Should we really be calling public speech “lobbying”?

The dictionary meaning of the verb “to lobby” is “To try to influence the thinking of legislators or other public officials for or against a specific cause.”

Black’s Law Dictionary — I’m looking at the 6th edition — defines “lobbying” as:

All attempts including personal solicitation to influence legislators to vote in a certain way or to introduce legislation.

But the political speech that the Supreme Court was talking about — advertising and a full-length movie about a candidate — isn’t aimed at legislators and trying to influence their votes. It’s trying to persuade voters. Why are we calling that lobbying?

This speech is out in the open for all to hear and accept or reject. It’s not behind-the-scenes. There’s no special access involved. Think of the origin of the term. It actually involves a lobby — in the sense of a foyer or antechamber

This essay continues at Althouse.blogspot.com

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