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Lew Rockwell & Gary North: Stop the Smear on Obamas' Law Licenses


Douglas Caddy
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LEW ROCKWELL & GARY NORTH: STOP THE SMEAR ON OBAMAS’ LAW LICENSES

By Douglas Caddy

Attorney in Houston, Texas

I find it appalling that two of the most respected leaders of the Libertarian and Austrian School of Economics movement continue unabated in their internet smear of Barack and Michelle Obama by erroneously claiming that they lost their licenses to practice law in Illinois. It is ludicrous to assert that the President of the United States lost his license to practice law “to avoid disciplinary action and the threat of disbarment.” This is equally true when the charge is made against the First Lady.

Both Lew Rockwell and Gary North are extremely intelligent men and their writings and websites consistently contain valuable and sometimes vital information on important topics. How they have gotten themselves involved in spreading this vicious false charge about the Obamas is something I cannot fathom.

In the original North article published by Rockwell titled “Left-wing Lawyer Who Founded the Modern Buckley-Based Conservative Movement Defends Obama” on September 6, 2012, North claimed that “the Obamas did what we never hear of any lawyer doing, except when threatened with disbarment: they surrendered their lawyer guild licenses.” (The so-called “left-wing” lawyer cited is me although I dispute the description.)

In the latest North article published by Rockwell titled “Lost Law Licenses: Presidents Obama, Clinton, and Nixon” on September 8, 2012, North now claims, “My points in all this are simple with respect to the Obamas’ licenses to practice law: (1) Michelle Obama went inactive in 1994, despite a Harvard Law Degree, which is very strange, unless she was doing so to avoid a hearing on something: (2) her husband “retired” in January 2008. I am not saying that they were ever formally charged with misconduct. I am saying that the most plausible reason for their having abandoned their licenses was to avoid disciplinary action and the threat of disbarment.”

Links to these two articles by North published by Rockwell can be found at the end of this writing.

North first leveled his attack on the Obamas and their allegedly lost licenses in an article on September 4, 2012, on his subscription website, www.garynorth.com. At that time he stated, “The key to understanding Obama is not Marxism. The key is that he and his wife both lost their licenses to practice law in Illinois.”

That same day I sent him an email disputing his assertion. I followed up the next day by sending him another email that contained the following links that proved his assertion was false and amounted to a smear:

http://factcheck.org/2012/06/the-obamas-law-licenses/

http://www.snopes.com/politics/obama/lawlicenses.asp

North emailed me back the following day, September 6:

“The summations are over.

“The jury is now out.

“No more new evidence.

“That’s how it works in the court of public opinion, too.”

But once again North has erred. The issue of the Obamas’ law licenses will not be decided in the court of public opinion because the Supreme Court of Illinois has already declared that neither Barack nor Michelle lost their law license. As disclosed in a report that can be found at the above link for factcheck.org, a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center:

“Q: Did Barack and Michelle Obama “surrender” their law licenses to avoid ethics charges?

“A: No. A court official confirms that no public disciplinary proceeding has ever been brought against either of them, contrary to a false Internet rumor. By voluntarily inactivating their licenses, they avoid a requirement to take continuing education classes and pay hundreds of dollars in annual fees. Both could practice law again if they chose to do so.”

The factcheck report went on to state:

“We briefly addressed rumors about the status of the Obamas’ law licenses back in January 2010 in an AskFactCheck titled “clueless ‘Columbo.’” But a steady stream of questions about them has continued to flow to our inbox ever since.

“It is true that neither the President nor the first lady holds an active license to practice law. A search on the website of the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission of the Supreme Court of Illinois shows that Barack Obama is listed as “voluntarily retired and not authorized to practice law,” and Michelle Obama is listed as “voluntarily inactive and not authorized to practice law.”

“But it is not true that President Obama “surrendered his license back in 2008 to escape charges that he lied on his bar application,” or that Michelle Obama “ ‘voluntarily surrendered’ her law license in 1993 after a Federal Judge gave her the choice between surrendering her license or standing trial for Insurance fraud,’ as the chain email claims.

“Lawyers who voluntarily change their registration status to inactive or retired “may not practice law based upon their Illinois license or hold themselves out as being so authorized,” according to the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission of the Supreme Court of Illinois. But James Grogan, deputy administrator and chief counsel of the ARDC, said that the Obamas were “never subject to any public disciplinary proceedings.” [End of quote from factcheck.org. Click on the above factcheck.org link to read its complete and detailed report with citations.]

So North erred a second time when he wrote in his September 8 article that “I am saying that the most plausible reason for their having abandoned their licenses was to avoid disciplinary action or the threat of public disbarment.”

One wonders why in his September 8 article North cited the report from snopes.com but failed to cite the report from factcheck.org, which contained the statement made by the spokesman of the Illinois Supreme Court. Was it omitted because the Supreme Court’s record clearly shows his charge against the Obamas is false?

North’s attitude on this issue is best summed up by himself when he wrote in his latest article that “Obama’s supporters –several of them lawyers – have sent me emails crying “foul.’ I don’t much care. This is not a court of law. This is a court of public opinion.” Thus, he is saying that the American people should disregard what the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission of the Supreme Court of Illinois has declared on the question of the Obamas’ law licenses and should instead believe the false rumor put out by him. This approach represents a total divorce from reality and is an irresponsible act of fantasy. It is akin to saying “don’t confuse me with the truth or the facts. I shall believe what I choose to believe and you should not question what I say the truth is.”

Persons who hold professional licenses, such as attorneys and real estate brokers, will immediately recognize that what the Obamas did with their law licenses was normal and proper procedure. North fails to understand how the real world works today for persons who hold professional licenses and who act in good faith.

The law teaches that no one can know with certainty what another person is thinking. Thus, we cannot know why Rockwell and North, intellectual giants in their own ways and universally recognized as among the most articulate and ardent defenders of individual liberty, decided to promote this smear of the Obamas. By doing so they belittle their statures. They owe their readers and the rank-and-file members of the Libertarian and Austrian School of Economics who respect their well-deserved reputations for integrity and seekers of truth to set the record straight and to do so promptly.

Links to additional information:

http://lewrockwell.com/north/north1195.html

http://lewrockwell.com/north/north1197.html

http://educationforum.ipbhost.com/index.php?showtopic=19477

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