Patterico's Pontifications


Robert Gibbs: Obama Never Taught Constitutional Law

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General,Obama — Patterico @ 7:14 am

From an April 14, 2009 White House press briefing (noted here):

Helen Thomas: Why is the president blocking habeas corpus from prisoners at Bagram? I thought he taught constitutional law. And these prisoners have been there . . .

Robert Gibbs: You’re incorrect that he taught on constitutional law.

He had a lot of people fooled besides Helen Thomas. Here is a random smattering from the L.A. Times:


That’s a stand that former constitutional law teacher Barack Obama disagreed with in the recent presidential campaign.


There are several passages in Obama’s memoir, “The Audacity of Hope,” that suggest a familiarity with the founders’ legacy. He recalls teaching constitutional law at the University of Chicago


Barack Obama likes to talk about his years teaching constitutional law . . .


Tour guides on a two-hour, $25 Gray Line (312-251-3100, South Shore Tour these days point out quite a few Obama sites as they drive through the Kenwood and Hyde Park neighborhoods: the block where Obama lives, the building at the University of Chicago where he taught constitutional law,


A president-elect who’s a former part-time constitutional law professor, even one without his BlackBerry, presumably is aware of this prohibition .. . .


And the former constitutional law professor did go on in his answers . . .

I could go on. You do know I could go on, right?

Y’all want to maybe huddle and get your stories straight and then we can come back?

OK, then.

UPDATE: The transcript was wrong. Gibbs said she was not incorrect that she taught constitutional law. I regret the error.

42 Responses to “Robert Gibbs: Obama Never Taught Constitutional Law”

  1. It’s one thing when Gollum (Thomas) gets it wrong, but quite another when 99% of the rest of the MSM is incorrect as well. Quel surprise.

    Dmac (1ddf7e)

  2. Wikipedia has it wrong, too. But well sourced.

    For twelve years, Obama served as a professor at the University of Chicago Law School teaching constitutional law. He was first classified as a Lecturer from 1992 to 1996 and then as a Senior Lecturer from 1996 to 2004.

    Kevin Murphy (0b2493)

  3. Easy on Gibbsy. He does have one of the most dificult jobs in the country. And he’s done the impossible by making Scott MClellan look almost competent.

    Chris (a24890)

  4. According to “PolitiFact” Obama typically taught 3 courses:

    Constitutional Law III: Equal Protection and Substantive Due Process
    Voting Rights and the Democratic Process
    Current Issues in Racism and the Law

    It would be wrong to say that he was a constitutional law professor, but it would not be wrong to say he taught constitutional law.

    Kevin Murphy (0b2493)

  5. BTW, have they finally released his grades?

    Dmac (1ddf7e)

  6. Gibbs is just flat out bad. He is not even remotely convincing when he lies to the press.

    JD (33d9a9)

  7. Note that U of Chicago officially classes senior lecturers like Obama as “professors.”

    Kevin Murphy (0b2493)

  8. I could do a better job than Gibbs, and I don’t know if I could refrain from giggling at the obvious lies…

    Scott Jacobs (90ff96)

  9. Bob Gibbs proudly displays a diploma on his wall.

    Gibbs’s diploma shows that he graduated summa cum goofball from the Baghdad Bob al Wretched Rashid School of Press Secretarial Spinning.

    Of course, aside from his obvious incompetence, Gibbs has a bona fide problem in that his President is constantly shapeshifting as to just what he is, or what his position is.

    Mike Myers (674050)

  10. i can’t wait to see this on the evening news…. it will be quite the bombshell story.

    /white smoke

    redc1c4 (842eaa)

  11. Y’all want to maybe huddle and get your stories straight and then we can come back?

    And while you’re at it, see if you can dig up that birth certificate.

    Official Internet Data Office (10852e)

  12. Like the Hollywood celebs who go to Washington to testify on an issue because of the subject matter of their most recent movie, Obama may not have been a constitutional attorney, but he played one on TV. To the left, that’s good enough not to question the story line, especially with someone you agree with 90 percent of the time (and who you can pressure to cave on the other 10 percent of the issues).

    John (692c5c)

  13. From recent actions and words I doubt that O’Dumbo has ever read the constitution must less taught it, unless he taught the ‘Ayers’ version of the constitution.

    Scrapiron (4e0dda)

  14. Y’all want to maybe huddle and get your stories straight and then we can come back

    Many have waited for years for Helen to even attempt to get her stories straight, why would any sane person think she’ll be able to accomplish that task now that she’s a completely doddering old fool?

    AD (c6623a)

  15. With Geitner’s statements on the toxic assets program now being contradicted, there isn’t any spokesman in this administration who can make a plain, factual statement.

    SPQR (72771e)

  16. FINALLY.

    You would have thought that someone in the press would have tried to make this point prior to the election.

    Obama never taught a course in Constitutional Law.

    He taught a seminar course that had as its subject matter one particular aspect of Constitutional Law.


    WLS Shipwrecked (53653f)

  17. Uh oh. When Obama loses the crazy lady in the attic, who will follow?

    M. Scott Eiland (5ccff0)

  18. We bought the sizzle, WLS. Nonetheless, there may be some steak there, I fear.

    nk (3e53ec)

  19. WLS–
    You’re right, of course. He lectured on a course talking about one [misused] part of the 14th Amendment.

    Kevin Murphy (805c5b)

  20. The way the MSM were gushing about Obama during the election, I thought he had written the constitution.

    Perfect Sense (0922fa)

  21. […] Gibbs says Obama never taught constitutional law Posted on April 22, 2009 by The Red Pill (H/T: Patterico). […]

    Gibbs says Obama never taught constitutional law « Cadillac Tight (5381c6)

  22. #20: I fear that if he has his way, he will have rewritten the constitution by the end of his first term, a la Chavez.

    Dr. K (eca563)

  23. “…there may be some steak stake there, I fear.”

    Yes, and he’s going to drive it right through the heart of the Republic!

    AD (c6623a)

  24. It is pretty clear that Obama taught Constitutional Law and that Gibbs is flat wrong. Photocopies of his final exam papers appear on the NY Times website at and the exam papers clearly state the course name is “Constitutional Law III”.

    George (263552)

  25. What is the word for when you call a fat man “Slim” or a bald man “Curly”? Neither “euphemism” nor “dysphemism” sound right.

    nk (3e53ec)

  26. Comment by nk — 4/22/2009 @ 4:31 pm

    Well, at one time it would be described as a “dig”.

    AD (c6623a)

  27. What is the word for when you call a fat man “Slim” or a bald man “Curly”? Neither “euphemism” nor “dysphemism” sound right.
    Comment by nk — 4/22/2009 @ 4:31 pm

    DNC Party Platform? 😉

    Stashiu3 (460dc1)

  28. My homie taught reel well at Universitty of Chiaego. I take Constituion 33by Profesorr Obamama and will work fer Arne Duncanne in the cabinets of edumacation.

    mike191 (5baa45)

  29. I am no fan of Robert Gibbs — believe me on that — but let’s face it, any press secretary was going to have an awfully difficult time when the image the media had of Obama from the campaign met straight on with the reality of who he actually is as President. No one was going to be able to square that circle. I doubt if Gibbs makes it past the mid-term elections, but I also doubt that he would want to stay any longer than that anyway.

    JVW (bff0a4)

  30. “Easy on Gibbsy. He does have one of the most dificult jobs in the country.”

    Trying to keep five or six million Democrat lies consistent has to be a challenge all right.

    Dave Surls (37e584)

  31. Robert Gibbs: You’re incorrect that he taught on constitutional law.

    When it comes to a matter that is easy to verify — or should be common knowledge (certainly in regards to an employee dealing with a rather well-known boss) — Gibbs is 0 for 2.

    Quite fitting, quite appropriate, that Robert Gibbs is the official spokesman for the current White House.

    DAN LOTHIAN, CNN: When the President met with King Abdullah, there was something that took place which I believe the White House explained was just the president being taller than the king. We took a look at the video, and it does appear that the president actually bowed to King Abdullah. Did he bow or didn’t he?

    ROBERT GIBBS: No, I think he bent over with both, to shake — with both hands to shake his hand, so I don’t–

    LOTHIAN: — one hand —

    GIBBS: Well I… (laughter)

    LOTHIAN: Did he bow or didn’t he?

    GIBBS: No. But I think this meeting was like a week ago, right?

    LOTHIAN: That’s right but this is something a lot of people are talking about today.

    GIBBS: I can only imagine it is of great cause and concern for many people struggling with the economy.

    Mark (411533)

  32. Obama was a constitutional lawyer in the same farcial way that he was a “community organizer”, a “civil rights attorney”, and “investment analysts”. If we the normal people tried to fudge our resume as much as this bogus clown, Human Resources would fire us for the very first offense.

    And on top of that Obama was a failure at them all? He quit “community organizing” after 2 years, twenty years ago, he was an attorney for little over 2.5 years over 15 years ago and his “investment analysis” nothing more than transcribing market reports from the actual analysts. Yet his media painted him as some brilliant all-man who had been toiling away for years protecting communities and civil rights? LIARS!

    Why are liberals so impressed by failure? And why was this non-entity promoted as the savior of a nation? Liberals truly are the stupidest people alive.

    LogicalSC (3dfff0)

  33. P: Thanks for raising this issue. I was confused, too. Thomas was right and Gibbs was wrong, raising the question of whether he does not actually know his boss’ resume or was being deliberately misleading, to what end I cannot fathom.

    The New York Times did a story on this in July:

    But I also contacted the media relations department at the University of Chicago Law School. I was forwarded a spread sheet of Obama’s courses. From the fall of 1996 to the fall of 2003 he taught a course called, “Constitutional Law III: Equal Protection and Substantive Due Process.”

    I support the president, but still think it should not be left to conservative media to raise questions about obvious distortions or mistakes. As has been pointed out, Obama used his background as a constitutional law professor on the campaign, of which Gibbs was a part.

    It took 15 minutes of very simple digging to get this information. Far as I know, Gibbs has not walked back his error/lie and MSM — as you would call them — have not questioned him on the error.

    Myron (98529a)

  34. Surely there must be students of his somewhere? You think if you said, “President Obama was my con-law teacher” that would be a nice pickup line / ice breaker.

    AlexC (66943c)

  35. […] Obama teach constitutional law or did he not? Helen Thomas: Why is the president blocking habeas corpus from prisoners at Bagram? I thought he […]

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  36. Barack Obama’s resume is at

    (Who would believe that it would not have come out before the election if he had not taught constitutional law? There are still people who even believe he is secretly a Muslim!)

    Ruth Walker (b33727)

  37. Apparently the original WH transcript was in error. (Wouldn’t all the reporters have had questions about it if Gibbs had really said Obama had not taught constitutional law?) Here it says that Gibbs said she was not incorrect:


    Q Why is the president blocking habeas corpus for prisoners at Bagram? I thought he taught constitutional law.

    MR. GIBBS: You’re not incorrect that he taught constitutional law.

    Q And these prisoners have been there for many years, with no due process.

    MR. GIBBS: Well, there are several issues relating to that that have to do differently than in some places than others, particularly because you have detainees in an active theater of war. There’s a review that’s pending of court cases and decisions, and we want to ensure — we want to ensure protection and security of the American people, as well as rights that might be afforded.

    Q Are you saying these people in prison are a threat to us?

    MR. GIBBS: Well, I — I think that part of that is the determination, based on our detainee policy, that the president announced on the 21st of January, that that’s part of that review, yes.

    Ruth Walker (b33727)

  38. The video of the press conference has been up since April 14. If you’d bothered to double check it before posting, you’d know Gibbs actually said “You’re not incorrect …”

    April 14 Press Conference
    (starting ~15 min.)

    Transcripts are not especially reliable, including WH transcripts…which in fact used to be edited to cover up GWB’s blunders.

    Scrumptious (f9c289)

  39. […] Robert Gibbs told reporters that Obama did not teach constitutional law. Tell that to the editors of the L.A. Times, who had claimed otherwise numerous times. […]

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  40. […] a ‘Constitutional Lawyer‘ he knew exactly what was occurring and Pelosi, negligently or purposefully perpetrated fraud […]

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