Barack the Constitutional Law prof

This diary is just to flag an exceptionally interesting article about Obama's teaching career. Sorry for the lack of analysis- I'm due at a meeting.

It directly addresses some of the more common libels.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/30/us/pol itics/30law.html?em

I suggest you read the whole thing


At the school, Mr. Obama taught three courses, ascending to senior lecturer, a title otherwise carried only by a few federal judges. His most traditional course was in the due process and equal protection areas of constitutional law. His voting rights class traced the evolution of election law, from the disenfranchisement of blacks to contemporary debates over districting and campaign finance. Mr. Obama was so interested in the subject that he helped Richard Pildes, a professor at New York University, develop a leading casebook in the field.

His most original course, a historical and political seminar as much as a legal one, was on racism and law. Mr. Obama improvised his own textbook, including classic cases like Brown v. Board of Education, and essays by Frederick Douglass, W. E. B. Dubois, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X, as well as conservative thinkers like Robert H. Bork.

Mr. Obama was especially eager for his charges to understand the horrors of the past, students say. He assigned a 1919 catalog of lynching victims, including some who were first raped or stripped of their ears and fingers, others who were pregnant or lynched with their children, and some whose charred bodies were sold off, bone fragment by bone fragment, to gawkers.

A favorite theme, said Salil Mehra, now a law professor at Temple University, were the values and cultural touchstones that Americans share. Mr. Obama's case in point: his wife, Michelle, a black woman, loved "The Brady Bunch" so much that she could identify every episode by its opening shots.

As his reputation for frank, exciting discussion spread, enrollment in his classes swelled. Most scores on his teaching evaluations were positive to superlative.

Mr. Obama never mentioned his humiliating, hopeless campaign against Mr. Rush in class (he lost by a two-to-one margin), though colleagues noticed that he seemed exhausted and was smoking more than usual. Soon after, the faculty saw an opening and made him its best offer yet: Tenure upon hiring. A handsome salary, more than the $60,000 he was making in the State Senate or the $60,000 he earned teaching part time. A job for Michelle Obama directing the legal clinic. Your political career is dead, Daniel Fischel, then the dean, said he told Mr. Obama, gently. Mr. Obama turned the offer down. Two years later, he decided to run for the Senate. He canceled his course load and has not taught since. Now, watching the news, it is dawning on Mr. Obama’s former students that he was mining material for his political future even as he taught them. Byron Rodriguez, a real estate lawyer in San Francisco, recalls his professor’s admiration for the soaring but plainspoken speeches of Frederick Douglass. “No one speaks this way anymore,” Mr. Obama told his class, wondering aloud what had happened to the art of political oratory. In particular, Mr. Obama admired Douglass’s use of a collective voice that embraced black and white concerns, one that Mr. Obama has now adopted himself."I remember thinking, `You're offending my liberal instincts,' " Mary Ellen Callahan, now a privacy lawyer in Washington, recalled.

In his voting rights course, Mr. Obama taught Lani Guinier's proposals for structuring elections differently to increase minority representation. Opponents attacked those suggestions when Ms. Guinier was nominated as assistant attorney general for civil rights in 1993, costing her the post.

"I think he thought they were good and worth trying," said David Franklin, who now teaches law at DePaul University in Chicago.

Mr. Obama never mentioned his humiliating, hopeless campaign against Mr. Rush in class (he lost by a two-to-one margin), though colleagues noticed that he seemed exhausted and was smoking more than usual.

Soon after, the faculty saw an opening and made him its best offer yet: Tenure upon hiring. A handsome salary, more than the $60,000 he was making in the State Senate or the $60,000 he earned teaching part time. A job for Michelle Obama directing the legal clinic.

Your political career is dead, Daniel Fischel, then the dean, said he told Mr. Obama, gently. Mr. Obama turned the offer down. Two years later, he decided to run for the Senate. He canceled his course load and has not taught since.

Now, watching the news, it is dawning on Mr. Obama's former students that he was mining material for his political future even as he taught them.

Byron Rodriguez, a real estate lawyer in San Francisco, recalls his professor's admiration for the soaring but plainspoken speeches of Frederick Douglass.

"No one speaks this way anymore," Mr. Obama told his class, wondering aloud what had happened to the art of political oratory. In particular, Mr. Obama admired Douglass's use of a collective voice that embraced black and white concerns, one that Mr. Obama has now adopted himself.

Tags: law, obama (all tags)

Comments

7 Comments

Would you please change the word "Con"?

in your header...Although I understand you're abbreviating Constitutional but it gives out a wrong meaning and is jarring..some of the folks might intentionally twist the meaning to abuse Senator Obama...

by louisprandtl 2008-08-01 10:18AM | 0 recs
thanks for the change..much appreciated..

by louisprandtl 2008-08-01 10:22AM | 0 recs
Re: thanks for the change..much appreciated..

no problem.

Going back into it caused me to find a truncated quote.  Maybe it makes more sense now.

by wrb 2008-08-01 10:28AM | 0 recs
I hope people read this in detail..

it does show his capability with deep knowledge about our Constitution and a good teacher...

by louisprandtl 2008-08-01 10:26AM | 0 recs
Re: Barack the Constitutional Law prof

Thanks for finding that article.  It was an excellent read, and I hope that more people spend time in these type of diaries, than joining the spitting contest of the day.

Thank you again for posting this.

by Purple with Green Stipes and Pink Polka Dots Dem 2008-08-01 10:32AM | 0 recs
Re: Barack the Constitutional Law prof

Yeah, I saw this a couple of days ago.  I like all the quotes from the conservative profs, who seem genuinely miffed that they couldn't bring him over to the dark side.

by freedom78 2008-08-01 10:42AM | 0 recs
Lawyers and law students

May find this Slate article about Obama's law school exams and model answers interesting:

http://www.slate.com/id/2196337/

by JJE 2008-08-01 10:43AM | 0 recs

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