There were warning signs about President Obama’s fealty to the Constitution even before he took the oath of office.
As a senator he had voted against the nomination of John Roberts to be chief justice of the Supreme Court, arguing that Roberts was deficient in the “empathy” required for the position. In a speech during his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, he said any justice he selected would have “to understand what it’s like to be poor or African American or gay or disabled or old.” In other words, he wanted a judicial thumb on the scales for liberalism: Notice that he didn’t mention any empathy for small-business owners or kids in failing schools.
During the general-election campaign, Obama answered an interviewer’s question about whether abortion would be a “litmus test” for his judicial appointees by saying that a person who did not believe in the right to privacy, “as well as the implications for gender equality,” would not have the right judicial philosophy. In other words, a refusal to reconsider judicial decisions that even many liberals admit are hard to square with the text, original understanding, history, or structure of the Constitution is a prerequisite for a judicial nomination from Obama. (He never said anything about empathy for unborn children, either.)
Since taking office, Obama has compiled a record consistent with these early hints. Again and again, liberal policy preferences have trumped fidelity to the Constitution.