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Obama's Constitutional Legacy

16 Pages Posted: 2 Nov 2017 Last revised: 18 Dec 2017

Ilya Somin

George Mason University - Antonin Scalia Law School, Faculty

Date Written: November 1, 2017


President Obama leaves behind a mixed legacy on constitutional issues — one that is likely to remain controversial for a long time to come. Its most dangerous element may be the precedents he set for unilateral presidential initiation of war. More positively, the President played an important role in the establishment of a constitutional right to same-sex marriage, and his Administration’s policies unintentionally led to litigation that resulted in stronger judicial protection for federalism, property rights, and religious liberties. Obama’s judicial appointments are notable for their impressive professional qualifications and strong support for liberal judicial ideology. The long-term constitutional impact of the Obama presidency remains to be seen.

Keywords: Obama, war powers, same-sex marriage, property rights, federalism, religious liberty, NFIB v. Sebelius, Obamacare, Affordable Care Act, takings, judicial appointments

JEL Classification: K10, K11, K49, N42

Suggested Citation

Somin, Ilya, Obama's Constitutional Legacy (November 1, 2017). Drake Law Review, Vol. 65, No. 4, pp. 1039-1053, 2017 (Symposium on "President Obama's Constitutional Law Legacy"); George Mason Legal Studies Research Paper No. 17-43. Available at SSRN: or

Ilya Somin (Contact Author)

George Mason University - Antonin Scalia Law School, Faculty ( email )

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