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. 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.
Has a sitting US president ever referred to the Supreme Court as a "group of unelected people" in a public manner like this?
Yup, but it's been a long, long time...
It made it even worse that
Of course he took the opp:
But I would take advantage of this moment to say that after increasing the budget line for the folk insurance six-fold, and after having built more than 1,000 new clinics in the country, we're getting close to reaching universal coverage of health care -- full, free health care coverage for all people up to 18 years of age, including cancer coverage
The last time I checked, Mexico is a... well, it's not such a nice place. I've been there. It's a rotting sh$thole (and that puts it nicely). Like Cuba, I am quite sure that most Mexican citizens don't consider their "free" health care enviable.
If you want to scroll through the presser WH transcript, note that both Calderon and Obama high-fived each other several times over their hard work and success in reducing the flow of illegal guns across the border. Change the language. Lie. Change the discussion.
Back to Obama. Note that he stresses "democratically elected majority" law the Supremes are considering striking down. We know that it took every bribe, kickback, backdoor scheme and everything in between to pass it; I guess Dear Leader thinks we can't look things up on the internet.
WC Varones brilliantly smashes O's "strong majority" non sequitur:
Strong majority? It passed 219-212 after months of backroom deals, bribery, arm-twisting, and lies. That's a strong majority?
Unprecedented? How about the Flag Protection Act of 1989? It passed the House 380-38 and the Senate 91-9. Now that's a strong majority. And then the Supreme Court went ahead and precedented all over it.
Want another precedent? How about McCain-Feingold? That passed 240-189 and then got struck down by a Supreme Court that could read the First Amendment.
Does Dear Leader Obama think that we all live in North Korea, and that we can't hop on the internet to find -- within 10 seconds or less -- that his vapid, specious claims are completely void of reality?
Sadly for many, that is exactly the case.
Updated: Brilliant analysis from David Kopel over at The Volokh Conspiracy:
President Obama today fired his opening salvo in an unprecedented attack on the Constitution of the United States. Regarding the impending Supreme Court ruling on the health control law, the President said, “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.”
His factual claims are false. His principle is a direct assault on the Constitution’s creation of an independent judicial branch as a check on constitutional violations by the other two branches.
It is certainly not “unprecedented” for the Court to overturn a law passed by “a democratically elected Congress.” The Court has done so 165 times, as of 2010. (See p. 201 of this Congressional Research Service report.)
President Obama can call legislation enacted by a vote of 219 to 212 a “strong” majority if he wishes. But there is nothing in the Constitution suggesting that a bill which garners the votes of 50.3% of the House of Representatives has such a “strong” majority that it therefore becomes exempt from judicial review. To the contrary, almost all of the 165 federal statutes which the Court has ruled unconstitutional had much larger majorities, most of them attracted votes from both Democrats and Republicans, and some of them were enacted nearly unanimously.
That the Supreme Court would declare as unconstitutional congressional “laws” which illegally violated the Constitution was one of the benefits of the Constitution, which the Constitution’s advocates used to help convince the People to ratify the Constitution. In Federalist 78, Alexander
Hamilton explained why unconstitutional actions of Congress are not real laws, and why the judiciary has a duty to say so:
There is no position which depends on clearer principles, than that every act of a delegated authority, contrary to the tenor of the commission under which it is exercised, is void. No legislative act, therefore, contrary to the Constitution, can be valid. To deny this, would be to affirm, that the deputy is greater than his principal; that the servant is above his master; that the representatives of the people are superior to the people themselves; that men acting by virtue of powers, may do not only what their powers do not authorize, but what they forbid. . . .Because Hamilton was the foremost “big government” advocate of his time, it is especially notable that he was a leading advocate for judicial review of whether any part of the federal government had exceeded its delegated powers.
Nor does this conclusion by any means suppose a superiority of the judicial to the legislative power. It only supposes that the power of the people is superior to both; and that where the will of the legislature, declared in its statutes, stands in opposition to that of the people, declared in the Constitution, the judges ought to be governed by the latter rather than the former. They ought to regulate their decisions by the fundamental laws, rather than by those which are not fundamental.
As a politician complaining that a Supreme Court which should strike down laws he doesn’t like, while simultaneously asserting that a judicial decision against a law he does like is improperly “activist,” President Obama is no more hypocritical than many other Presidents. But in asserting that the actions of a “strong” majority of Congress are unreviewable, President Obama’s word are truly unprecedented.
Certainly no President in the last 150 years has claimed asserted that a “strong” majority of Congress can exempt a statute from judicial review. President Lincoln’s First Inaugural criticized the Dred Scott majority for using a case between two private litigants for its over-reaching into a major national question, but Lincoln affirmed that the Court can, and should, provide a binding resolution to disputes between the parties before the Court. And in 2012, the government of the United States is one of the parties before the Court. (And the government is before the Court in part because the government filed a petition for a writ of certiorari to ask the Court to use its discretion to decide the case.)
Updated x2: Via WaPo, an honest liberal critique of Dear Leader's SCOTUS attack:
To be clear, I believe the individual mandate is both good policy and sound law, well within Congress’ powers under the Commerce Clause. I think overturning the mandate would be bad not only for the country but for the court itself. Especially in the wake of Bush v. Gore and Citizens United, it would look like a political act to have the five Republican-appointed justices voting to strike down the law and the four Democratic appointees voting to uphold it.
That unfortunate outcome would risk dragging the court down to the partisan level of a Congress that passed the law without a single Republican vote. As much as the public dislikes the individual mandate, a party-line split would not be a healthy outcome for public confidence in the court’s integrity.
And yet, 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.”