Obama Revisiting University of Chicago to Give a Supreme Court Lecture

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By Michael D. Shear, nytimes.com

For a dozen years at the University of Chicago Law School, President Obama taught students the finer points of constitutional jurisprudence, preaching what he would later try to put into practice in the Oval Office.

On Thursday, he will return to the law school for the first time as president, using the backdrop of his academic life to underscore his demand that Republicans follow the letter of the law by agreeing to hold a hearing and a vote on his nominee to the Supreme Court, Merrick B. Garland, the chief judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

“We are going to continue to make the case to Republicans in the United States Senate that they should fulfill their constitutional responsibility,” said Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary. “The president will certainly make that case.”

White House aides are hoping that bringing Mr. Obama back to his roots as a constitutional scholar will help maintain pressure on Republicans. It is part of a strategy that involves repeatedly condemning the Republican Party’s refusal to even consider Judge Garland.

Aides said Mr. Obama was certain to talk about the dangers of injecting politics into the process of nominating justices to the court, a charge that administration officials have repeatedly leveled at Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader.

But the president will also discuss the overall importance of the Supreme Court and the long-term effect of operating the court with only eight justices.

The 90-minute session, to be held at the Harold J. Green Law Lounge, will start with a discussion between Mr. Obama and David Strauss, a law professor at the university and a former colleague from the time when the president taught there.

After that, Mr. Obama will field questions from an audience of about 250 law school students and faculty members. No tickets were distributed to the public, officials said.

The questions from the audience are likely to further probe the president about the Supreme Court nomination, aides said, but there are no limits on question topics.

Mr. Obama joined the faculty at the University of Chicago in 1991 and taught part time while he pursued a political career as a state senator. He became a senior lecturer, teaching due process and equal protection, a voting rights class and a seminar on racism and law.

Former students have said he was a popular and engaging professor, though one who was sometimes enigmatic when it came to revealing his views about the law.

After the session, Mr. Obama will tape an interview with Chris Wallace, the host of “Fox News Sunday,” to discuss the court fight and other topics, officials said. It will be the first time that Mr. Obama will have appeared on the network’s Sunday morning talk show since becoming president.

On Thursday night, Mr. Obama will head to the West Coast to help raise money for Democratic candidates. The president will attend several events in Los Angeles and San Francisco before returning to Washington on Saturday.

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