So Politico finally managed to find Obama's law review case comment, and the Obama campaign has confirmed his authorship. It's a six-page summary of Stallman v. Youngquist, an Illinois Supreme Court case holding that a fetus does not have the right to sue its mother for unintentional infliction of prenatal injuries. Overall, the article is quite good. It provides a nice summary of the Court's opinion, and the discussion is even-handed for a case comment. Obama concludes that the Court was right to refuse to recognize a fetus' right to sue its mother for unintentional infliction of prenatal injuries. However, Obama's editorial commentary is narrow—he declines to say whether a fetus should have the right to sue its mother for intentional or reckless prenatal injuries, issues the Court didn't address. I'm impressed that Obama actually limited his discussion to the issues addressed by the Court; they're called "case comments" for a reason, which is something that eludes most student editors. The Politico article says that "unlike many student authors[, Obama] dived eagerly into the policy implications of the court decision." Surely you jest. Anonymous case comments by student editors in the Harvard Law Review are notoriously sanctimonious and eager to dive into policy implications. For example, this is from a 2007 case comment:
The history of the Fourteenth Amendment is one of hierarchy and capitalism. ... One small child dies of starvation every five seconds. ... We must understand and confront the powerful psychological forces that allow us to put the face of [a starving] child out of our minds when we interpret constitutional language that purports to bind us to thinking seriously about life and liberty. Yet we live with this world, and we live with this Amendment. And we violate it every five seconds.Case comments in the HLR have long been the subject of frequent mockery, because they're often just 25-year-old 2Ls (who've been repeatedly told that they're the Smartest People on Earth) trying to teach their Mere Readers an important lesson. Obama's case comment was admirably restrained, which shows a great deal of maturity.