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Nice Court You Have There, It Would Be A Shame If Something Happened To It

March 29th, 2012 - 8:40 pm

The Talking Points Memo headline reads: “Dems Warn Of ‘Grave Damage’ To SCOTUS If ‘Obamacare’ Is Struck Down.” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D), a former attorney general of Connecticut, pointed out that the U.S. Supreme Court  would damage itself if it did something so ridiculous as find Obamacare unconstitutional:

The court commands no armies, it has no money; it depends for its power on its credibility. The only reason people obey it is because it has that credibility. And the court risks grave damage if it strikes down a statute of this magnitude and importance, and stretches so dramatically and drastically to do it.

Blumenthal was clearly engaged in “begging the question”:

A type of logical fallacy in which a proposition is made that uses its own premise as proof of the proposition. In other words, it is a statement that refers to its own assertion to prove the assertion.

By saying Obamacare is so self-evidently wonderful and legitimate that only someone crazy would disagree with it, Blumenthal makes you wonder why this matter is even before the Court in the first place. For the answer to that question, see “begging the question.”

What is less clear is whether Blumenthal, in reminding the court that the executive branch had the monopoly on physical power, was not engaged in a kind of subtle menace. After all, the Court’s power is not based on “credibility.” It is based on power vested in it by the Constitution. What would the administration say if someone argued that the president’s authority was based on “credibility” rather than his legal power as chief executive?

So unworthy a sentiment as intimidation would not occur to Blumenthal any more than it would to Winston Churchill, who when speaking to Stalin in 1944, trying to persuade the Generalissimo to give Poland a break after the war, drew from him one of the bon mots of the 20th century.

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