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Obama and the Attempt to Destroy the Second Amendment

David Hardy: Obama and the Attempt to Destroy the Second Amendment

Obama and the Attempt to Destroy the Second Amendment

/Talk about a smoking gun…/

October 6, 2008 – by David T. Hardy

As a presidential candidate, Barack Obama must demonstrate executive
experience, but he remains strangely silent about his eight years
(1994-2002) as a director of the Joyce Foundation
, a
billion dollar tax-exempt organization. He has one obvious reason:
during his time as director, Joyce Foundation spent millions creating
and supporting anti-gun organizations

There is another, less known, reason.

During Obama’s tenure, the Joyce Foundation board planned and
implemented a program targeting the Supreme Court. The work began five
years into Obama’s directorship, when the Foundation had experience in
turning its millions into anti-gun “grassroots” organizations, but none
at converting cash into legal scholarship.

The plan’s objective was bold: the judicial obliteration of the Second

Joyce’s directors found a vulnerable point. When judges cannot rely upon
past decisions, they sometimes turn to law review articles. Law reviews
are impartial, and famed for meticulous cite-checking. They are also
produced on a shoestring. Authors of articles receive no compensation;
editors are law students who work for a tiny stipend.

In 1999, midway through Obama’s tenure, the Joyce board voted
to grant the /Chicago-Kent
Law Review/ $84,000, a staggering sum by law review standards. The
Review promptly published an issue in which /all/ articles attacked the
individual right view of the Second Amendment.

In a breach of law review custom, Chicago-Kent let an “outsider” serve
as editor; he was Carl Bogus, a faculty member of a different law
school. Bogus had a unique distinction
: he had
been a director of Handgun Control Inc. (today’s Brady Campaign
), and was on the advisory board of the
Joyce-funded Violence Policy Center .

Bogus solicited only articles hostile to the individual right view of
the Second Amendment, offering authors $5,000 each. But word leaked out,
and Prof. Randy Barnett of Boston University volunteered to write in
defense of the individual right to arms. Bogus refused to allow him to
write for the review, later explaining
“sometimes a more balanced debate is best served by an unbalanced
symposium.” Prof. James Lindgren, a former Chicago-Kent faculty
member, remembers

that when Barnett sought an explanation he “was given conflicting
reasons, but the opposition of the Joyce Foundation was one that
surfaced at some time.” Joyce had bought a veto power over the review’s

Joyce Foundation apparently believed it held this power over the entire
university. Glenn Reynolds later recalled
when he and two other professors were scheduled to discuss the Second
Amendment on campus, Joyce’s staffers “objected strenuously” to their
being allowed to speak, protesting that Joyce Foundation was being
cheated by an “‘agenda of balance’ that was inconsistent with the
Symposium’s purpose.” Joyce next bought up an issue of Fordham Law

The plan worked smoothly. One court, in the course of ruling

that there was no individual right to arms, cited the Chicago-Kent
articles eight times. Then, in 2001, a federal Court of Appeals in Texas
the Second Amendment was an individual right.

The Joyce Foundation board (which still included Obama) responded by
expanding its attack on the Second Amendment. Its next move came when
Ohio State University announced it was establishing the “Second
Amendment Research Center” as a thinktank headed by
anti-individual-right historian Saul Cornell. Joyce put up no less than
$400,000 to bankroll its creation. The grant was awarded at the board’s
December 2002 meeting,
Obama’s last function as a
Joyce director
. In
reporting the grant, the OSU magazine /Making History/ made clear that
the purpose was to influence a future Supreme Court case:

“The effort is timely: a series of test cases – based on a new wave
of scholarship, a recent decision by a federal Court of Appeals in
Texas, and a revised Justice Department policy-are working their way
through the courts. The litigants challenge the courts’ traditional
reading of the Second Amendment as a protection of the states’ right
to organize militia, asserting that the Amendment confers a much
broader right for individuals to own guns. The United States Supreme
Court is likely to resolve the debate within the next three to five

(45:17-18; online link
; slow).

The Center proceeded to generate articles denying the individual right
to arms. The OSU connection also gave Joyce an academic money laundry.
When it decided to buy an issue of the /Stanford Law and Policy Review/,
it had a cover. Joyce handed OSU $125,000
for that purpose; all the
law review editors knew was that OSU’s Foundation granted them that
breathtaking sum, and a helpful Prof. Cornell volunteered to organize
the issue. (The review was later sufficiently embarrassed to publish
an open letter
on the

The Joyce directorate’s plan almost succeeded. The individual rights
view won out in the /Heller/ Supreme Court appeal, but only by 5-4. The
four dissenters were persuaded in part by Joyce-funded writings, down to
relying on an article which misled
them on critical historical

Having lost that fight, Obama now claims he always held the individual
rights view of the Second Amendment, and that he “respects the
constitutional rights of Americans to bear arms.”

But as a Joyce director, Obama was involved in a wealthy foundation’s
attempt to manipulate the Supreme Court, buy legal scholarship, and
obliterate the individual right to arms.

Voters who value the Constitution should ask whether someone who
was party to that plan should be nominating future Supreme Court justices.

/David T. Hardy has practiced law since 1975. He has five books and
thirteen law review articles in print, and blogs at Of Arms and the Law
. He’s also the producer of the documentary
In Search of the Second Amendment
. He was the principal
author of the 1982 Report of the Senate Subcommittee on the
Constitution, The Right to Keep and Bear Arms