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Apr 03 2012

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Obama’s Contempt for the Supreme Court

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Saying Nothing Speaks Volumes Too...

Well, that didn’t take long.

Exactly a week after the the Supreme Court heard oral arguments on the constitutionality of Obamacare, the President himself came out yesterday to answer questions on the SCOTUS case.

What he said was astonishing, blatantly inappropriate and chilling.

What’s more, the President’s remarks beg a very basic question about whether this former constitutional law professor  – and lets not forget, editor of the Harvard Law Review – actually knows what he’s talking about on issues of core constitutionality.

First, precedent and tradition should have notionally compelled the President to extend the respect entitled to a co-equal branch of government, engaged in its constitutional duties, and reserve comment until after the Supreme’s had rendered an opinion.

Not this President.

Throwing discretion to the wind, the President inappropriately launched into a full-throated defense of Obamacare, complete with his own opinions on the law’s constitutionality, which – intentional or not – appeared to pressure and even threaten SCOTUS.

” With respect to health care, I’m actually — continue to be confident that the Supreme Court will uphold the law…Ultimately, I’m confident that the Supreme Court will not take what would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress.”

The only thing extraordinary and unprecedented here are Obama’s comments.

As Ruth Marcus, the liberal columnist for the Washington Post, said, “…the president went too far in asserting that it would be ‘an unprecedented and extraordinary step,’ That’s what courts have done since Marbury v. Madison.”

But having laid out his goal posts and context of a SCOTUS decision on Obamacare, the President defended the law not on its legality, but on its policy goals:

“And I think it’s important, and I think the American people understand, and the I think the justices should understand, that in the absence of an individual mandate, you cannot have a mechanism to ensure that people with preexisting conditions can actually get health care.”

Of course, Obama completely misses the point.

The Supreme’s are not deciding if the individual mandate is the best way – or as the President says, the only way – to enable national health care coverage. They are assessing whether the mandate fits within Congress’ enumerated powers laid out in the Constitution.

The idea that SCOTUS’ role is to stretch the Constitution to justify current policy circumstances is a century old liberal conceit directly at odds with the limitation of government power that was central to the foundation of the US Constitution.

And while the Constitution provides for change through the amendments process, it has been nearly a century since progressives have utilized the method after SCOTUS overturned liberal legislation – in this case, the national income tax.

Indeed, the amendments process is long, requiring large majorities in Congress and across the national legislatures to approve a constitutional change. This provides an irritatingly robust forum for citizen debate and objection that would render the progressive agenda wholly inert.

Indeed, if Congress had tried to pass an individual mandate amendment to the Constitution when the Democrats overwhelming controlled both houses of Congress in 2009-10, it would not have passed by the required thresholds, let alone in the majority of state legislatures.

This is the true nexus where the founders concept of a limited government of enumerated powers and popular sovereignty run head-long into  modern progressive governance; an agenda which can only be achieved through top down implementation, with as little public involvement as possible.

 POTUS rounded out his comments with a stick in the eye to conservatives and more threats to the Court.

“And I’d just remind conservative commentators that for years what we’ve heard is, the biggest problem on the bench was judicial activism or a lack of judicial restraint — that an unelected group of people would somehow overturn a duly constituted and passed law.  Well, this is a good example.  And I’m pretty confident that this Court will recognize that and not take that step.”

Even reporters for the New York Times know that conservative criticism of judicial activism is based on jurists who create policy from whole cloth with little regard to the law as written.

Obamacare is an entirely different matter, with its massive overreach which tests fundamental constitutional boundaries.

Nice try POTUS, but this argument doesn’t fly.

But potentially more important, is the President’s new, challenging descriptor for SCOTUS – “an unelected group of people.”

Whoa!

That not only shows a deep disrespect for the Court, but a fundamental misunderstanding of the role that the Court plays in our society.

As Ruth Marcus said, “…it is the essence of our governmental system to vest in the court the ultimate power to decide the meaning of the Constitution – even if it means overturning a duly constituted and passed law.

I would lament a ruling striking down the individual mandate, but I would not denounce it as conservative justices run amok.”

Marcus speaks for a broad cross-section of her fellow citizens when she takes the president to task for his current course:

“For the president to imply that the only explanation for a constitutional conclusion contrary to his own would be out-of-control conservative justices does the court a disservice” (emphasis added).

President Obama, taken to task by his most devoted supporters on a matter of fundamental law?

How far does that place the POTUS from mainstream throught on these pivotal constitutional issues?

That is chilling.

 

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