Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Just who is threatening the Supreme Court?

The right wing is in one of its typical freak-outs over this statement by President Obama:

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 this court will recognize that and not take that step.

Here's just a taste of what they're saying:

"What President Obama is doing here isn't right," Johanns said Tuesday in an interview with local Nebraska radio station KLIN. "It is threatening, it is intimidating."...

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) chastised Obama for the remarks on Tuesday.

"Only someone who would browbeat the Court during the State of the Union, and whose administration stifled speech during the health care debate, would try to intimidate the Court while it's deliberating one of the most consequential cases of our time," McConnell said in a statement.

"This president's attempt to intimidate the Supreme Court falls well beyond distasteful politics; it demonstrates a fundamental lack of respect for our system of checks and balances."

Seriously? This from a party where one of their presidential candidates just recently said this at a debate?

...if you keep attacking the core base of the American Exceptionalism you will find an uprising against you which will re-balance the judiciary. We have a balance of three branches, not a judicial dictatorship in this country.

Or how about when he followed up the next day by saying that Congress should have the authority to ignore federal judges because he believes they have become "dictatorial and arrogant."

Don't you have to wonder where all these pearl-clutchers were when Gingrich was - you know - actually threatening the Supreme Court?

The reason they were so silent was that President Obama is right when he reminds us that conservative commentators for years have been saying that the "biggest problem on the bench was judicial activism or a lack of judicial restraint." All it took was a simple google search this morning to find this article in the pre-eminent conservative magazine The American Spectator in support of what Gingrich said.

Gingrich recalls the actual checks and balances on the judiciary established by our Founding Fathers, who recognized the dangers of judicial supremacy...

The view of Jefferson, the Founding Fathers, and Gingrich is that interpretation of the Constitution is not the role of the judicial branch alone. Because we have three, equal, co-branches of our government, reflecting the separation of powers that enables checks and balances, Congress representing the legislative branch and the President representing the executive branch, have equal authority to interpret the Constitution as well.

Under our Constitution, Congress and the President consequently serve as checks and balances on a runaway judiciary of activist judges reading their own elitist liberal/left values into the Constitution, contrary to the will of the people. Because Congress and the President are subject to regular elections, they are subject to the ultimate check by the people holding them responsible for their conduct in office, including their interpretations of the Constitution.

Here's what President Obama said yesterday in response to the criticisms:

And the point I was making is that the Supreme Court is the final say on our Constitution and our laws, and all of us have to respect it, but it’s precisely because of that extraordinary power that the Court has traditionally exercised significant restraint and deference to our duly elected legislature, our Congress. And so the burden is on those who would overturn a law like this.

Based on the statements by Gingrich and conservatives up above, if the shoe were on the other foot, I suppose they'd be recommending that Congress simply ignore the Supreme Court and call for an uprising against them.

Now, you tell me who's threatening.


  1. These hypocrites had absolutely NOTHING to say when GWB said the following in 2007: " "When the Founders drafted the Constitution, they had a clear understanding of tyranny. They also had a clear idea about how to prevent it from ever taking root in America. Their solution was to separate the government's powers into three co-equal branches: the executive, the legislature, and the judiciary. Each of these branches plays a vital role in our free society. Each serves as a check on the others. And to preserve our liberty, each must meet its responsibilities -- and resist the temptation to encroach on the powers the Constitution accords to others. For the judiciary, resisting this temptation is particularly important, because it's the only branch that is unelected and whose officers serve for life. Unfortunately, some judges give in to temptation and make law instead of interpreting. Such judicial lawlessness is a threat to our democracy -- and it needs to stop."

    The RW is at the point of grasping at any straw to turn as many Americans as possible against the president. This tells me that they know they have F'ed up. They are looking for anything that might take our minds off their ineptitude and their constant, relentless attacks on women.

  2. Regardless of the low-hanging fruit of right-wing hypocracy (always blatant and available), I do wonder what the Pres. meant about an "unprecedented, extraordinary step". Hasn't the SCOTUS overturned a lot of laws over the years? Though in this case, it's possible they'll overturn an enormous Act when their constitutional objection is only to one small provision of it.

    (At the moment I'm more bothered by the SCOTUS ruling that police can, without a warrant, strip search anybody they arrest.)

    1. Steve Benen at The Maddow Blog had a post on this today. Very rarely has the Supreme Court overturned a law passed by Congress that was related to the commerce clause is what the president meant. It also happens to be true.