SHIPPENSBURG, Pennsylvania (CNN) – As the McCain campaign continues to press Barack Obama over a 2001 radio interview in which he uttered the phrase “redistributive change,” Sarah Palin on Tuesday accused the Democrat of wanting to re-write the Constitution to give the judiciary the power to redistribute wealth by confiscating the property and income of ordinary Americans.
Palin brought up the interview almost immediately after beginning her evening speech at Shippensburg University in central Pennsylvania.
“Sen. Obama said that he regretted, he regretted that the Supreme Court hadn't been more radical and he described the Court's refusal to take up the issues of redistribution of wealth as a tragedy,” Palin said. “And he said that he also regretted that the Supreme Court didn't break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the Founding Fathers there in the Constitution, that's a quote.”
Palin was suggesting Obama had expressed support for a broad redistribution of wealth in American society that would be carried out by the Supreme Court, but as fact-checkers noted on Tuesday, Obama was discussing the courts in the context of the civil rights movement, and was not referring to taxes.
Additionally, Obama said in the interview it was a mistake for civil rights leaders to rely too heavily on the courts to affect social change, and that issues of income redistribution were better left to legislators and community organizers.
Nevertheless, Palin claimed that Obama - a former constitutional law professor - favors allowing the judiciary to seize property and personal income in order to “spread the wealth around.”
“So you have to ask: Is this a suggestion that he'd want to re-write the founding document of our great nation to accomplish his goals, and what does that say about his ideas on future Supreme Court justices?” Palin asked.
Under an Obama administration, Palin said, judges would “confiscate your property and your hard, all of your hard-earned money and then re-distribute that. He may call that a tragedy, but I call it fairness and adherence to our U.S. Constitution.
UPDATE: Tommy Vietor, a spokesman for Barack Obama, calls Palin's charges "a fake news controversy" that has been "debunked by major news outlets as completely false."
"In this seven year old interview, Sen. Obama did not say that the courts should get into the business of redistributing wealth at all," he said in a statement. "Americans know that the real choice in this election is between four more years of Bush-McCain policies that redistribute billions to billionaires and big corporations and Barack Obama’s plan to help the middle class by giving tax relief to 95 percent of workers and companies that create new jobs here in America."