Obama's selective Supreme Court memory
“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.”
-- President Obama, discussing the pending U.S. Supreme Court decision over his health care law, April 2, 2012
...It’s clear that Obama’s “unprecedented” comment was dead wrong, because the Supreme Court’s very purpose is to review laws that are passed by the nation’s democratically elected Congress — regardless of how popular or well-intentioned those laws may be. This concept of judicial review was established in 1803 with Marbury v. Madison, a case that Obama should have been familiar with as a former law school lecturer and previous president of Harvard Law Review.
Still, we don’t know whether the president’s factual error was a mere slip-up or a purposeful attempt to mislead, and we generally don’t beat people over the head for off-the-cuff remarks. Let’s take a look at the president’s message in light of his clarifying remarks to see whether it holds up any better under scrutiny....
First, Congress didn’t pass the Affordable Care Act with a strong majority. The vote in the House of Representatives, for instance, was 219 to 212, with no Republicans supporting and 34 Democrats opposing the measure.
Second, Obama issued his first set of remarks during a news conference in which he wasn’t specifically asked for his thoughts on how the Supreme Court should rule. A reporter simply inquired about how the president would proceed if the health-care law is overturned. The question was: “How would you still guarantee health care to the uninsured and those Americans who’ve become insured as a result of the law?”
Instead of answering that hypothetical, Obama offered his version of legal history and explained why the statute should be upheld. Critics say he was essentially lecturing the justices.
That said, the Supreme Court hasn’t overturned a sweeping law in quite some time. By “sweeping,” we mean statutes that apply to virtually all citizens, as the Affordable Care Act does....
comments powered by Disqus
- Isis Palmyra demolition has begun with ancient God Lion statue destroyed
- Moving Photographs of Japanese American Internees, Then and Now
- A One-of-a-Kind Trove Reveals What 19th-Century American Boyhood Was Really Like
- St. Louis University moves controversial statue after protests
- UNC Renames Building That Honored Ku Klux Klan Leader
- NYT hosts debate including Eric Foner: How Americans should remember Reconstruction
- William Leuchtenburg says historians and the media have been too hard on Obama
- Hugh Ambrose, historian who helped develop WWII Museum, dead at 48
- Historian discounts claim that Churchill and other British PM's were gay
- Nick Bunker Wins $50,000 2015 George Washington Book Prize