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David T. Hardy

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October 6, 2008 - 12:28 am
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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 Amendment.

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 that “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 content.

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