The Vetting: Cassandra Butts – Bell Devotee, Obama Advisor, Judicial Scout

March 15, 2012 04:22

The story of Cassandra Butts is an important example of how Critical Race Theory and its adherents continue to shape President Barack Obama’s worldview and his administration. –


by Charles C. Johnson at


At Harvard Law School from 1988-1991, Butts was one of the student advocates of Professor Derrick Bell’s strike for “faculty diversity.” She was also a fast friend of Obama’s, whose career she has helped to promote from the halls of the Harvard Law Review to the White House.
Her role in the Obama White House is not a mystery. Rep. Harold Ford Jr. noted on MSNBC on January 22, 2009–shortly after Obama’s inauguration–that Butts is “a dear, dear friend of the president” who “will watch his policy back,” and “will be willing to sort of reach out into Washington and sort of delve deeper and try to find some serious public policy answers.”
Such a position is in keeping with Derrick Bell’s more pessimistic teachings on the permanence of racism, and raises doubts about whether racial reconcilation is possible.
Throughout, Obama remained very close to Butts, as he had been since law school.
She advised Obama’s campaign on policy and outreach–especially financially–to Harvard Law School alumni. When Obama was elected president, Butts served as general counsel to his transition team, then as his White House staff secretary, helping to pick who would serve in the White House with him. She later served as White House Deputy General Counsel.


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