Obama’s Press Secretary: Bill?
Me: The other day the President told reporters that the courts of the 1960’s had perhaps been overly activist. Now we’re getting reports that the administration is exploring possible qualifications of the Miranda rule, in cases of people suspected of terrorism. Would it be fair to conclude that the Miranda rule is a good example of an area where the President feels the 1960’s courts were overly activist?
OPS: Well, the President has been very clear on —
Me: I mean it’s OK with me if he does think that. I JUST REALLY WANT TO KNOW WHAT HE THINKS!
OPS: That’s enough, Bill. Yes, Brian?
Yesterday I wrote about my perplexity over Obama’s comments on the history of federal judicial decisions. This morning’s New York Times — though not exactly playing the story up — unpacks some of the issues involved. Writing fast, I mentioned only hot-button items like abortion rights and affirmative action as products of those liberal courts; the Times zeroes in on matters at least as critical, from indigent suspects’ right to free lawyers, to Miranda, to fairer election districting, etc.
Talking to reporters on Air Force One yesterday, President Obama pointed out, no doubt rightly, that conservative federal judges have been engaging in their own brand of activism. I heard the soundbite on “Morning Edition,” and here it is in print, from CBS:
In the ’60s and ’70s, the feeling was, is that liberals were guilty of that kind of approach [i.e., imposing judicial solutions to problems more properly addressed by legislatures]. What you’re now seeing, I think, is a conservative jurisprudence that oftentimes makes the same error.
Once again I’m clueless about what the President may really think about a historical subject that he has made a point of bringing up. Continue reading