Michelle Obama became “voluntarily inactive” as a lawyer in 1993, one year after her marriage to Barack Obama

Are attorneys Barack and Michelle Obama currently licensed to practice law?

Was Barack Obama ever a professor of constitutional law at the University of Chicago?

In recent days, these questions have once again gone viral on the Internet.

WND has traced the current controversy to Doug Ross and a March 1 posting on his DirectorBlue.blogspot.com asserting the Obamas are no longer lawyers registered to practice law in Illinois and that claims President Obama was a professor of constitutional law at the University of Chicago are “a sham.”

This current round of the controversy harkens back to the 2008 presidential campaign when Democratic presidential contender Hillary Clinton made nearly the same charges in a March 25, 2008, “Hillary for President” press release entitled “Just Embellished Words: Senator Obama’s Record of Exaggerations & Misstatements.”

After stating Barack Obama was not a law professor at the University of Chicago, the Clinton press release insisted: “He (Barack Obama) is a senior lecturer (now on leave) at the school. In academia, there’s a vast difference between the two titles. Details matter. Professors have tenure while lecturers do not.”

Obamas registered to practice law in Illinois?

On March 1, Ross examined the record at the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission of the Supreme Court of Illinois, or ARDC, and found out that Barack Obama “voluntarily retired” and is not currently authorized to practice law.

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As WND reported last year records at the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission of the Supreme Court of Illinois show in 1993 Michelle Obama’s status became “voluntarily inactive and not authorized to practice law.”

Jim Grogan, spokesman at ARDC, confirmed to WND that neither Barack nor Michelle Obama is currently licensed to practice law.

He further said there was no information at ARDC that would confirm the accusation leveled by Ross that Barack Obama voluntarily withdrew from practicing law to avoid charges that he lied on his bar application by stating he had never used an alias, including the name Barry Soetoro.

Grogan further said there was no information at ARDC that would support insinuations Michelle Obama voluntary surrendered her license to practice law to avoid ethics charges involving government grants obtained through the influence of her husband, when he was a state senator and she was an administrator at the University of Chicago Hospitals.

“If there were serious ethics or criminal charges against either Barack or Michelle Obama, voluntary surrendering their licenses would not have been sufficient to escape legal consequences of the charges,” Grogan said.

Was Barack Obama ever a law professor?

Ross wrote on his blog that he “spent some time” with an unnamed professor who was “the highest tenured faculty member” at the University of Chicago who claimed Obama “applied for a position as an adjunct and wasn’t even considered.”

“A few weeks later the law school got a phone call from the Board of Trustees telling them to find [Barack Obama] an office, put him on the payroll, and give him a class to teach,” Ross continued. “The board told him he didn’t have to be a member of the faculty, but they needed to give him a temporary position. He was never a professor and was hardly an adjunct.”

Ross further claimed other professors “hated” Obama because “he was lazy, unqualified, never attended any of the faculty meetings, and it was clear that the position was nothing more than a political stepping stool.”

On March 28, 2008, during the 2008 presidential campaign, Lynn Sweet wrote in the Chicago Sun-Times that Barack Obama was a lecturer at the University of Chicago law school between 1992 and 1996 while he was an attorney at the law firm of Miner, Barnhill & Galland. In 1996, Sweet wrote, Obama was appointed senior lecturer, a position he maintained at the law school until 2004, when he resigned to run for the U.S. Senate.

Sweet further noted that during his first year of teaching, Barack Obama taught only one course and that in 1996, his teaching load increased to three courses a year, “less than the load of a professor.”

Sweet also quoted Marsha Ferzigner Nagorsky, an assistant dean for communications and a lecturer in the law school, who insisted there is “a major distinction” between lecturer and “senior lecturer,” though both are not full-time positions.

Nagorsky, Sweet wrote, “said the status of a senior lecturer is ‘similar’ to the status of a professor and Obama did teach core courses usually handled only by professors. While Obama was also part of the law school community, his appointment was not part of an academic search process, and he did not have any scholarly research obligations which professors often do.”

As the controversy over Obama’s faculty status developed during the 2008 presidential campaign, the University of Chicago published a statement on its website claiming that from 1992 until 2004, “Barack Obama served as a professor in the Law School.”

While “professor” was not capitalized in this statement as “Senior Lecturer” was, the University of Chicago further stated: “Several times during his 12 years as a professor in the Law School, Obama was invited to join the faculty in a full-time tenure-track position, but he declined.”

“The University of Chicago did Obama no favor by saying he was a law professor when he wasn’t,” Sweet wrote. “The parsing is not necessary. There is nothing degrading about being a senior lecturer and bringing to students the experience of a professional in the field.”

The distinction between the not capitalized “professor” and the capitalized terms “Lecturer” and “Senior Lecturer” in the University of Chicago statement was intentional, University of Chicago spokeswoman Sarah Galer told WND

“Barack Obama’s official titles were Lecturer and Senior Lecturer,” Galer said. “These are adjunct positions on the University of Chicago faculty, not full-time tenure-track positions.”

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