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October 20, 2014

Obama Says No SCOTUS In His Future

I actually wrote about this recently and why Obama would not be likely to become the next William Howard Taft. Now the issue has been addressed by Obama himself.

As Marine One thundered overhead, about to land on the White House lawn and take Obama to a series of political fund-raisers, I asked him if, like William Howard Taft, he entertained thoughts of serving as a judge later in his career. “When I got out of law school, I chose not to clerk,” he said. “Partly because I was an older student, but partly because I don’t think I have the temperament to sit in a chamber and write opinions.” But he sounded tempted by the idea.

“I love the law, intellectually,” Obama went on. “I love nutting out these problems, wrestling with these arguments. I love teaching. I miss the classroom and engaging with students. But I think being a Justice is a little bit too monastic for me. Particularly after having spent six years and what will be eight years in this bubble, I think I need to get outside a little bit more.”

While I find Obama’s demurral to be fascinating, I still think the reasons I gave in my earlier post are a better explanation of why we won’t see Justice – or Chief Justice – Barack Hussein Obama.

First, Obama is a polarizing figure who will be unable to make it through the confirmation process unless there is a Democrat in the White House and Democrat-controlled Senate. Heck, I don’t know that even a Democrat-controlled Senate will be sufficient to get a confirmation done without invoking a harsh level of party discipline not seen since the days of Senate Majority Leader Lyndon Johnson and a willingness to invoke the nuclear option to clear away the filibuster.

Second, Obama’s record of public service is much more sparse than that of William Howard Taft. Taft had been a successful Cabinet member and territorial governor prior to his time in the White House as well as a respected federal judge. Obama, on the other hand, has a much less substantial resume and lacks the legal credentials – both in terms of teaching, academic scholarship and legal practice – that have come to be expected of a Supreme Court justice today. I don’t know that (absent his years in the Oval Office) he would be recognized as qualified for a seat on a Circuit Court or even a District Court.

Third, there is the small matter that Obama is no longer even licensed to practice law in any jurisdiction in the United States. Obama does not currently have an active law license, having changed his registration to inactive when he began his presidential run in 2007 and to retired after his election as president. While he might go back and pay a decade’s worth of registration fees after his time in office expires, I find that unlikely – and I doubt sincerely that an individual not eligible to practice law is going to be deemed qualified for the highest court in the land.

I think that is a much more realistic assessment than Obama’s own answer that he would not want to limit himself to the role of a mere Supreme Court Justice.





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