Professor Obama on gender, gay issues, and health

Must reading for all law profs - the NY Times has published eight of the exams (scroll to bottom of link) given by Barack Obama while he was teaching at the University of Chicago Law School, together with two sample answers, one course syllabus, and commentary by Akhil Amar, Randy Barnett, John Eastman, and Pam Karlan (all at the same link).

http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/ 07/30/inside-professor-obamas-classroom/

Obama did not produce any legal scholarship - he was after all, simultaneously with adjunct teaching, also a practicing lawyer, state senator (for part of the time), and, perhaps even then, a presidential wannabe, and like his colleagues did not want any political hopes dashed from opponents who could possibly use this against him.  But the legal academy is clearly the loser, as the University of Chicago even admits openly that even right wing colleagues attempted to persuade him to leave his political career and return to academia.

His exams and especially his model answers reveal a cool, critical intelligence applied to the trickiest legal issues.

Naturally, since sexuality, gender and health are my primary fields, I looked for questions relating to these issues.

I was not disappointed.  

Almost every exam includes a question that involves sexual orientation or reproductive rights or a combination:

+ + Sexual Orientation: http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/ 07/30/inside-professor-obamas-classroom/

+ + Reproductive Rights:
http://graphics8.nytimes.com/packages/pd f/politics/2008OBAMA_LAW/conlaw3.obama.2 002.fall.pdf

+ + Both Sexual Orientation and Reproductive Rights:
http://graphics8.nytimes.com/packages/pd f/politics/2008OBAMA_LAW/conlaw3.obama.2 003.fall.pdf

His 2001 con law exam, a few months after September 11, contained a question involving bioterrorism:

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/packages/pd f/politics/2008OBAMA_LAW/conlaw3.obama.2 001.autumn.pdf

The model answers are elegant and supple, with no easy outcomes.  This is clearly a professor who would give an A for an analysis with which he personally disagrees.Indeed, his model answers are too smooth to give away what position he would himself endorse.

Most readers of these materials will probably nonetheless search them obsessively for clues to what Obama really believes. To me, the most important aspect of this window into his thinking lies not in his answers, but in which questions he found intriguing and rich enough to build an exam around. Consider the 1996 con law exam (Part I):

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/packages/pd f/politics/2008OBAMA_LAW/conlaw3.obama.1 996.fall.pdf

in which students had to analyze a "Preserving Family Values Act (PFVA)," that prohibited furnishing infertility services to homosexuals.  This was seven years prior to Lawrence v. Texas, although even today the Equal Protection Clause analysis would be centered on Romer v. Evans, then only a year old.

Read Professor Obama's analysis of that aspect of the hypothetical statute (pp 5-6):
http://graphics8.nytimes.com/packages/pd f/politics/2008OBAMA_LAW/conlaw3.obama.1 996.fall.memo.pdf

Not bad. He passes my test for presidential mental acuity and intelligence.

Required Reading for anyone who wants to know More about Obama as teacher of con law:

"What the University of Chicago right thinks of Obama"
http://www.tnr.com/politics/story.html?i d=86dd0277-c6ee-4e3c-83e9-0bb468c5c40d

"Obama Takes His Own Law Exams: How did he do?"
http://www.slate.com/id/2196337/

Meanwhile, even the McCain supporting AP and WSJ are starting to ask themselves "Is John McCain Stupid?":
http://online.wsj.com/public/article_pri nt/SB121745962594698731.html

And while democrats have to walk on eggshells on every issue, the Republicans win because they can pander to women, blacks, latinos, evangelicals, etc and somehow look honorable doing it, and say "no new taxes" as if that would at all solve the budget crisis (hint: it doesnt!).

Tags: Barack Obama, Con Law, gender, Health, University of Chicago (all tags)

Comments

14 Comments

Why would you be surprised?

He graduated Magna Cum Laude and beat 18 other candidates for Law Review.

by Al Rodgers 2008-08-01 09:42PM | 0 recs
Re: Why would you be surprised?

oh, sorry, didnt know that. i just found out he was a law prof.

by iamold 2008-08-01 09:59PM | 0 recs
Are you a practitioner or an academic?

by Al Rodgers 2008-08-01 10:05PM | 0 recs
Re: Professor Obama on gender, gay issues, and hea

You must be confused with that other Barack Obama guy.

The one who is running for POTUS is just an empty suit celebrity. ; )

by spacemanspiff 2008-08-01 09:56PM | 0 recs
Exactly - McSame is the smart one

He graduated 894 out of a class of 899.  

How gawd awful.

Atleast Bush got "gentleman C's"

by Al Rodgers 2008-08-01 10:02PM | 0 recs
Re: Professor Obama on gender, gay issues, and hea

you mean the lazy affirmative action candidate that has never held a full time job in his life?

This is a great diary about the Barack Obama running for president.

It interesting that out of all this wonderful information catfish2 looks to his teachings about race and reparations.

http://alegrescorner.soapblox.net/showDi ary.do?diaryId=425

Wouldn't you know, the right wing racist smears are freakin her out.

by linfarted 2008-08-01 10:06PM | 0 recs
Re: Professor Obama on gender, gay issues, and hea

That Fall 2001 exam question was pretty amazing.  You sure couldn't have made that your final exam at Columbia or NYU!

by Steve M 2008-08-01 10:14PM | 0 recs
What borough do you live in?

Have you ever attended one of the DKos meetups they have in NYC?

by Al Rodgers 2008-08-01 10:23PM | 0 recs
Re: What borough do you live in?

I always wanted to, never found the time.  I live over in Jersey now.

by Steve M 2008-08-01 10:29PM | 0 recs
Awesome reads

thank you.

It's quite telling when one law professor can say he was "dazzled" by the elegance of another's work.

Obamer am smurt.

by Neef 2008-08-01 10:15PM | 0 recs
Re: Professor Obama on gender, gay issues, and hea

Hi,

I dont want to beat a dead horse here but this is not correct "Professor Obama".  This represents that BO was a Full Professor at the University of Chicago and we all know this is not correct.

He was an instructor and part time teacher in the law school and never held a full time, tenure track position.  And please dont say he was referred to as a Professor nonsense. The title Professor means something and requires over a decade or more cof significant academic accomplishments and it not given out for teaching part time.  

The correct way to state this is "during BO time teaching Law School as a Senior Lecturer at the University of Chicago".

david

by giusd 2008-08-02 05:14AM | 0 recs
Re: Professor Obama on gender, gay issues, and hea

And please dont say he was referred to as a Professor nonsense.

Actually, it's not nonsense. When I taught at a US university with only a Master's degree, my students constantly referred to me as 'professor' - I continually asked them not to, but it was (and still is) the tradition. My undergraduate thesis adviser only has an MFA (I was an undergrad many years ago), and I always called him professor. Other students still do.

Assistant professors, associate professors, lecturers and so on are all called "Professor" as a professional courtesy. It's not the same thing as being an actual Full Professor, but everybody knows this and the title is used nevertheless. To pretend otherwise shows a lack of knowledge of academia and how it functions.

by vadasz 2008-08-02 08:42AM | 0 recs
Re: Professor Obam

Dude,

I have a kind of long record in academics and part time teachers are not referred to by academic professions as professor.

Congradulations on your masters.  

But thanks for the criticism.  When you get an MD and a PhD then i will give you criticism more weight.  

best  david

by giusd 2008-08-02 11:26AM | 0 recs
Re: Professor Obam

I'm not talking about the 'academic professions' (?); I'm talking about the common parlance; the parlance which is well-known to anybody who has 'a long record in academics'; understood and used by many students; and used in comments about professor Barack Obama. Why even bother pretending it isn't so when you so obviously know the truth?

by vadasz 2008-08-02 03:13PM | 0 recs

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