The PJ Tatler

Obama's Attack on the Supreme Court Bothers Very Liberal Obama Ally

Hot Air rounds up some of the Republican reaction to President Obama’s harsh broadside against the Supreme Court Monday. The gist of that reaction is that the president is attempting to intimidate SCOTUS to influence its decision regarding ObamaCare.

Perhaps of more significance in determining the ultimate impact of the president’s attack, though, liberal WaPo columnist Ruth Marcus also finds herself disturbed by what she saw and heard:

Obama’s assault on “an unelected group of people” stopped me cold. Because, as the former constitutional law professor certainly understands, 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, as the president said, it means overturning “a duly constituted and passed law.”

Of course, acts of Congress are entitled to judicial deference and a presumption of constitutionality.  The decision to declare a statute unconstitutional, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote in 1927, is “the gravest and most delicate duty that this court is called on to perform.”

But the president went too far in asserting that it “would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step” for the court to overturn “a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress.”  That’s what courts have done since Marbury v. Madison.  The size of the congressional majority is of no constitutional significance. We give the ultimate authority to decide constitutional questions to “a group of unelected people” precisely to insulate them from public opinion.

Marcus is an Obama ally who supports ObamaCare and thinks the individual mandate is dandy. Yet even she found Obama’s behavior a bit creepy. She also called out his dishonesty on a couple of points. The president cited ObamaCare’s “strong majority” when it passed, but Marcus highlights the fact that that is constitutionally meaningless. She notes that the courts have overturned laws passed by congressional majorities since Marbury vs Madison, so what the president called “unprecedented” is very precedented, since shortly after the republic’s founding. She didn’t note that even the “strong majority” itself didn’t exist: ObamaCare barely passed at all, by just a few votes, on pure partisan lines. Barack Obama evidently believes that he is entitled to reject reality and substitute his own.

Marcus would do well to note this. The president’s attack is part of a concerted Democrat campaign to browbeat the court to do their party’s bidding.

Democrats have waged a not-so-subtle pressure campaign on the Supreme Court in recent days by warning a ruling against the healthcare reform law would smash precedent and threaten popular social programs.

Senior Democratic lawmakers have warned the court would upend the legal precedent that gives Congress the power to provide for the nation’s general welfare if it rules that the Constitution’s Commerce Clause does not allow for the mandate to have insurance.

“If they were to throw out the healthcare law, things like Medicare, Social Security, food-safety laws could be in jeopardy on the very same grounds,” Sen. Charles Schumer (N.Y.), the third-ranking Senate Democratic leader, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday. “It would be a dramatic, 180-degree turn of the tradition of the Commerce Clause.”

Via Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, it can be argued that the president has already effectively subsumed the Senate. It does nothing without his say-so. Via his czar appointments, he has circumvented the Senate’s advise and consent role on a scale no previous president has done. By short-circuiting the federal budgeting process, he has taken away one of the prime powers invested in the US House. He has used the power of the federal bureaucracy to assert sweeping policy not passed or signed into law, powers that put the federal government more and more in control of the private sector. ObamaCare is a similar partisan assertion of raw power, and he seems to be daring the court to throw ObamaCare out. The president is leading the band that seeks to delegitimize the US Supreme Court. His is the behavior of a dictator on the march.