Obama's Definition of 'Justice' Describes His Liberal Agenda

Susan Jones | July 15, 2015 | 8:00am EDT
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President Barack Obama speaks at the NAACP's 106th national convention at the Philadelphia Convention Center, on Tuesday, July 14, 2015, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

(CNSNews.com) - "Justice is not only the absence of oppression, it is the presence of opportunity," President Obama told an NAACP gathering in Philadelphia on Tuesday.

In a speech focusing on crime and punishment, the president spent a few paragraphs defining justice as the embodiment of his liberal agenda:

"What the marchers on Washington knew, what the marchers in Selma knew, what folks like Julian Bond knew, what the marchers in this room still know, is that justice is not only the absence of oppression, it is the presence of opportunity. Justice is giving every child a shot at a great education no matter what zip code they're born into. Justice is giving everyone willing to work hard the chance at a good job with good wages, no matter what their name is, what their skin color is, where they live.

"Fifty years after the Voting Rights Act, justice is protecting that right for every American. Justice is living up to the common creed that says, I am my brother's keeper and my sister's keeper. Justice is making sure every young person knows they are special and they are important and that their lives matter -- not because they heard it in a hashtag, but because of the love they feel every single day -- not just love from their parents, not just love from their neighborhood, but love from police, love from politicians. Love from somebody who lives on the other side of the country, but says, that young person is still important to me. That's what justice is.

"And in the American tradition and in the immigrant tradition of remaking ourselves, in the Christian tradition that says none of us is without sin and all of us need redemption, justice and redemption go hand in hand."

Taking his points one by one, Obama advocates universal preschool for every 3- and 4-year old in America, and he repeated that in his speech on Tuesday.

As for goods jobs with good wages," the president is leading the push for a higher minimum wage; and he said on Tuesday that "continuing...subtle, bigotry" may explain why the unemployment rate for blacks is much higher than that for whites.

Fifty years after passage of the Voting Rights Act, Obama and other Democrats insist that requiring people to show identification at polling places violates their "voting rights."

To help more young people feel the love, Obama in 2014 launched an initiative called "My Brother's Keeper," aimed at "helping more of our young people stay on track."

And in the wake of the race riots in Ferguson, President Obama's Task Force on 21st Century Policing recommended changes in the way police interact with the communities they patrol. Obama has endorsed the recommendation that police officers work with children, taking time to read to them in schools, for example.

In his speech on Tuesday, President Obama said the nation's criminal justice system "isn't as smart as it should be. It's not keeping us as safe as it should be. It is not as fair as it should be. Mass incarceration makes our country worse off, and we need to do something about it."

He wants to end mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenders, putting more of them back in the community: "We should pass a sentencing reform bill through Congress this year," he said.)

He wants to improve prison conditions for inmates, ending overcrowding, gang activity, rape, and the "overuse" of solitary confinement. He also wants to boost job-training programs for inmates: "Let's reward prisoners with reduced sentences if they complete programs that make them less likely to commit a repeat offense," Obama said.

He also wants voting rights restored to felons who have served their sentences, and he said employers should "ban the box" asking job candidates about their past convictions.

Obama will highlight his prison-reform agenda when he becomes the first sitting president to visit a federal prison on Thursday.

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