The Legacy of Barack Hussein Obama, 44th President of the United States of America

As president Barack Obama’s second term comes to a close, we’ve experienced a historic presidency filled with monumental legislation that is sure to effect future generations for years to come. As the fifth youngest president to ever hold office and the first ever African American president, President Obama wasted no time in passing landmark legislation in the eight years since taking over as Commander-in-Chief. From signing the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 to his recent commuting of hundreds of prisoners that were serving long sentences for drug-related crimes, Barack Obama definitely left his mark on America. Here’s a recap of some of Obama’s most significant decisions as the former leader of the free world.

The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009

Just nine days after taking the highest office in the land, the new president signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act which extended the statute of limitations for equal-pay lawsuits. Lilly was the plaintiff in the American employment discrimination case Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.

Groundbreaking Supreme Court Appointments

President Barack Obama talks with Justice Sotomayor prior to her Investiture Ceremony at the Supreme Court September 8, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

On May 26, 2009, President Obama appointed the third female and the first ever Latin American Supreme Court justice, Sonia Sotomayor, as his Supreme Court justice nomination. She was sworn in on August 8, 2009, by Chief Justice John Roberts and replaced the honorable Judge David Souter as the 111th person to serve on the high court. Less than a year later, Barack Obama nominated Elena Kagan as the 112th justice of the Supreme Court and she too was sworn in by Chief Justice John Roberts on August 7, 2010. She replaced associate justice John Paul Stevens who retired earlier that year.

The Matthew Shepard Act

The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, also known as the Matthew Shepard Act, is an Act that expands the scope of the 1969 United States federal hate-crime law to include victims of any type of crime that might have been motivated based on a victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity. It was signed into law by President Obama on October 28, 2009, and is named after both Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. two victims of violent homicides.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), commonly called the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or Obamacare, is a United States federal statute enacted by President Barack Obama on March 23, 2010. Together with the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act amendment, it represents the most significant regulatory overhaul of the U.S. healthcare system since the passage of Medicare and Medicaid in 1965.

The Death of Osama bin Laden

On May 2, 2011, a team of Navy SEALS carried out a special operation that led to the death of Osama Bin Laden, the mastermind behind the September 11 attacks on the United States. The operation, code-named Operation Neptune Spear, was carried out in a CIA-led operation, with Joint Special Operations Command coordinating the Special Mission Units involved in the raid. The raid occurred in Osama bin Laden’s compound in Bilal Town, Abbottabad, Pakistan.

The United States–Cuban Thaw

The culmination of years of talks resulted in this handshake between the President and Cuban President Raúl Castro during the Summit of the Americas in Panama City, Panama. Photo by Pete Souza.

On March 20, 2016, President Obama became the first sitting U.S. president to visit Cuba in nearly a century. The warming of Cuba-United States relations also known as the U.S.–Cuban Thaw is one of the major breakthroughs of the Obama administration. The normalization and reopening of diplomatic relations between the two nations which began back in December 2014, marks an end to the 54-year stretch of hostility between the two countries dating back to the economic embargo former President Eisenhower placed on Cuba on October 19, 1960.