From NBC's Mark Murray
In an interview with NBC's Brian Williams, which will air in part on Nightly News tonight at 6:30 pm ET, Obama says that the current economic crisis is going to make the next president's job much more difficult. Obama also talks about the Supreme Court and his judicial philosophy.
WILLIAMS: Has the job of president-elect, whether you or John McCain, changed right now this year because of what we're going through?
OBAMA: Yes. It's gonna be a lot tougher. I don't think there's any doubt about that. We -- we know that the next president is likely to inherit a significant recession. We don't know yet how long and how deep it is and what actions we take over the next six to nine months could help determine how deep and how long.
But what that also means is that there's gonna be less revenue coming in because businesses aren't making as much money. It means that unemployment is gonna be higher. There's gonna be greater demands on social services. It means that, you know, dealing with our short-term deficit and our long-term debt is gonna be more difficult.
So there's no doubt that we are gonna have to spend a lot of time, whoever the next president is, focused on making sure that the financial rescue plan actually works the way it's supposed to, that it shores up our housing market, the taxpayers are protected and getting their money back, that it's not being used to enrich corporate CEOs.
The Supreme Court
WILLIAMS: Senator, a question about the Supreme Court. Everyone running for President always says, especially on the narrow issue of abortion rights -- no litmus test. It's said on both sides of the issue. And if that's true, if you're not going to call a future Justice into the Oval Office, if you're successful in this endeavor and bring up the subject, how then do you also avoid surprises? I don't think George H.W. Bush, 41, ever dreamed that in Justice Souter he was appointed a dependable liberal vote.
BRIAN WILLIAMS: And as -- Eisenhower for years called Justice Brennan, his biggest mistake in office. Two surprises that just come to mind.
OBAMA: Right. Well, look, I think that you -- what you can ask a judge is about their judicial philosophy. And as somebody who taught constitutional law for ten years, who actually knows a lot of the potential candidates for Supreme Court on the right as well as on the left 'cause I've taught with them or interacted with them in some way -- I can tell you that how a Justice approaches their job, how they describe the path of interpreting the Constitution, I think can tell you a lot.
And so my criteria, for example, would be -- if a Justice tells me that they only believe the strict letter of the Constitution -- that means that they possibly don't mean -- believe in -- a right to privacy that may not be perfectly enumerated in the Constitution but, you know, that I think is there.
I mean, the right to marry who you please isn't in the Constitution. But I think all of us assume that if a state decided to pass a law saying, 'Brian, you can't marry the woman you love,' that you'd think that was unconstitutional. Well, where does that come from? I think it comes from a right to privacy. That may not be listed in the Constitution but is implied by the structure of the Constitution.
So I can have that conversation with a judge. Now if it was a conservative who was listening to me right then says, 'See? You know, he wants to allow the Court to legislate.' Ninety-nine percent of cases the Constitution is actually gonna be clear. Ninety-nine percent of the cases are statutes or congressional intent is gonna be clear. But there are gonna be one percent, less than one percent of real hard cases.
WILLIAMS: Second Amendment last term.
OBAMA: Second Amendment last term is a great example, where the language of the Second Amendment is not perfectly clear. I believe that the Second Amendment is actually an individual right. I think that's the better interpretation. You can make the other argument. And so I can have those kinds of discussions with a Justice without getting into the particulars of -- is Roe versus Wade, as currently outlined, exactly what you believe? Or do you believe that the DC gun law should have been overturned? And I think Sen. McCain, if ends up being the nominee [sic], could have those same conversations as well.