Obama Questions the Supreme Court

I found this editorial in the New York Sun through Instapundit and found it interesting enough to comment on. It would seem that Obama expects that his health care legislation has a good chance of being overturned by the Supreme Court but is trying to convince himself that it won’t happen.

It’s been a long time since we’ve heard a presidential demarche as outrageous as President Obama’s warning to the Supreme Court not to overturn Obamacare. The president made the remarks at a press conference with the leaders of Mexico and Canada. It was an attack on the court’s standing and even its integrity in a backhanded way that is typically Obamanian. For starters the president expressed confidence that the Court would “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.”

Reuters’ account noted that conservative leaders say the law was an overreach by Obama and the Congress. It characterized the president as having “sought to turn that argument around, calling a potential rejection by the court an overreach of its own.” Quoth the president: “And I’d just remind conservative commentators that, for years, what we have 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.”

It is outrageous enough that the president’s protest was inaccurate. What in the world is he talking about when he asserts the law was passed by “a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress”? The Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act barely squeaked through the Congress. In the Senate it escaped a filibuster by but a hair. The vote was so tight in the house — 219 to 212 — that the leadership went through byzantine maneuvers to get the measure to the president’s desk. No Republicans voted for it when it came up in the House, and the drive to repeal the measure began the day after Mr. Obama signed the measure.

It is the aspersions the President cast on the Supreme Court, though, that take the cake. We speak of the libel about the court being an “unelected group of people” who might “somehow overturn a duly constituted and passed law.” This libel was dealt with more than two centuries ago in the newspaper column known as 78 Federalist and written by Alexander Hamilton. It is the essay in which Hamilton, a big proponent of federal power, famously described the Court as “the weakest of the three departments of power.” It argued that the people could never be endangered by the court — so long as the judiciary “remains truly distinct from both the legislature and the Executive.”

I think it more than laughable that he would consider Obamacare to be passed by a strong majority of Congress. As I recall, they had to use every trick they could to get that mess through. A majority of the people still oppose the health care reform and it is not likely Obama will be saying very much about it on his campaign stops.

Looking over his remarks, I am struck by how ignorant he seems to be of the basic concepts of American government. The whole point of the Constitution was not to allow any one faction or branch of government to become powerful enough to dictate policy. This is why the Constitution has the balancing act between the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial branches along with a federal system of shared power between the national government and the states. Since the framers of the Constitution feared tyranny by the majority as much as they feared tyranny by a king or dictator (and perhaps they knew from history how often tyrants come to power by appealing to mobs),  they wanted the system to be democratic but not too democratic. I am sure they must have covered all of this some time in his classes at Harvard Law School.

Of course, it is more likely that he knows more about constitutional law than I ever will and ending the balances is part of his plan to fundamentally change this country.

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