Unethical Quote of the Week: President Obama (Sigh!)

“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.”

President Obama speaking in the White House Rose Garden about the Supreme Court’s deliberations on the constitutionality of Obamacare.

Obama made John Marshall roll over in his grave. We Marshalls just hate that,,,

This is the kind of presidential dishonesty that drives me bonkers, I must confess. It manages to deceive and misinform. It is dependent on the ignorance of  the public, so it is also condescending, disrespectful, and cynical, in addition to being an intentional  lie.

Not a lie, you say? Perhaps a mistake? Sorry, no dice: Obama was advertised as a former constitutional law expert and a Harvard Law School whiz. He can’t claim now that he’s really a babe in the woods when it comes to the Law of the Land and judicial history.

Unprecedented? The power of the Court to overturn unconstitutional acts of Congress was established by precedent, when Chief Justice John Marshall—love that name—led the court to invalidate the Judiciary Act of 1789. Is Obama playing games with “democratically-elected Congress,” since the Senate wasn’t elected directly until 1912, with the passage of the 17th Amendment. I suppose so…if challenged, he can say that he is still right, because all of Congress wasn’t elected “democratically” in 1789. Of course, few Americans know that, so the statement qualifies as deceit.

There were major laws struck down by the Court before 1912 (Hello, Missouri Compromise!) and after it, too: child labor laws, several New Deal programs, the post-Watergate campaign finance law, an over-reaching statutes to curb pornography on the Internet, the Brady Act, the legislative veto, Gramm-Rudman, campaign spending limits and the line-item veto. No, it doesn’t happen often, because Congress and the White House usually manage to steer clear of passing unconstitutional provisions. The Court should have nixed more than they have; for example, it decided that President Roosevelt’s Executive Order locking up Japanese-American citizens for the crime of their ancestry was a legitimate exercise of his War Powers., a decision that will live in infamy. This is what happens when a Supreme Court is a rubber stamp for the Executive.

Meanwhile, Obamacare passed the House by four votes. Now there’s a strong majority for you!

This is beneath the President; indeed, it’s beneath a sixth grade civics teacher.

And just think: the campaign hasn’t really started yet!

[Thanks to James Taranto for the pointer.]

_____________________________

UPDATE: Well after I posted this, David Kopel on the Volokh Conspiracy weighed in with a devastating and well-supported analysis of why President Obama’s statement is both dishonest and offensive…and hypocritical. I just read it..you should too. Here.

UPDATE 2: (4/5/12): Ethics Bob Stone’s favorite fact check site,PolitiFact, which typically slants to the left, essentially echoed my points here.

20 thoughts on “Unethical Quote of the Week: President Obama (Sigh!)

  1. I do not agree with what President Obama stated but this Supreme Court as construed now, with a conservative majority, votes with a knee-jerk reflex on most issues. Guarantee they will rule against “Obamacare,” not based on the merits but on personal beliefs.

    If Medicare or Social Security were to come up for appeal before this court today, the conservative block would rule them unconstitutional.
    So, yes, not great statement by Obama, but I understand his frustration

    • It’s good that you understand his frustration, but you don’t understand the law, the Constitution, judges or the Supreme Court…or the mandate. There is nothing “knee-jerk” about the justices on either side, and if you bothered to read the opinions, they are almost always persuasive and well-crafted. In the matter of the individual mandate, the Administration should have seen the constitutional problems but are in such an echo chamber that they deluded themselves. The position that the mandate is unconstitutional is hardly radical or activist—it is the easier position to defend. Obama’s position is simply “we need it, so it’s cool.” The Constitution says, if you need it, find a way to do it that doesn’t violate me. Pretty basic.

        • And, of course, frustration doesn’t excuse lying to the American people, now does it?

          Being a licensed health insurance agent, I know that purchasing out-of-state health insurance is illegal. There is no interstate market with health insurance, unlike airlines, canals, and the Internet. That is the problem with the mandate- the market it regulates is not interstate, and the Commerce clause only gave Congress the power to regulate interstate commerce.

  2. The Court should have nixed more than they have; for example, it decided that President Roosevelt’s Executive Order locking up Japanese-American citizens for the crime of their ancestry was a legitimate exercise of his War Powers., a decision that will live in infamy.

    What constitutional provision does that violate?

    • Equal Justice (even then, you couldn’t just lock someone up because of their race or ancestry). Due process (you can’t deprive anyone of liberty without due process of law.). Exercise of the War Powers can’t be unreasonable or excessive; they have limits.
      Justice Douglas, the champion of the Bill of Rights, voted for the measure and said he regretted it every day of his life.

  3. Sheesh! Next thing you know, critics of SCOTUS rulings by 5-4 votes are going to base their claims of unfairness and injustice on the fact that such an “overwhelming minority” voted against the ruling adopted. The push will be to require unanimous disfavor among the justices before any law is overturned – else, the argument will go, the court is “legislating.”

  4. There’s a strong Constitutional reason why the Supreme Court might have to be “activist” in this case: This particular “democratically elected Congress” that the President cites fully expects the court to do precisely that.

    So stop criticizing the SCotUS, Mr. President. The Court is strictly following legislative intent.

    –Dwayne

  5. 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.

    So he does not expect the Supreme Court to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act.

    • This statement by Obama is so rich in unethical awfulness that one could poke hoes in it from now to December 22, when the world ends. It’s factually absurd. lazy, dishonest, hypocritical (Obama’s unelected officials have been shooting down state legislation left and right) and opposes the independence of the judiciary. Does he really want judges elected?

      Peggy Noonan wrote that Obama is getting increasingly creepy and dislikeable as time goes on. I’d say that’s accurate.

      • This statement by Obama is so rich in unethical awfulness that one could poke hoes in it from now to December 22, when the world ends. It’s factually absurd. lazy, dishonest, hypocritical (Obama’s unelected officials have been shooting down state legislation left and right) and opposes the independence of the judiciary. Does he really want judges elected?

        Only if it gets him the results he likes.

        It is one thing to claim that the Supreme Court misinterpreted the law, or that a lower court defied binding precedent. It is another thing altogether to claim that a court must uphold the law merely because “it was enacted democratically”, regardless of the condition of the “men who framed” the Constitution, Ex Parte Bain, 121 U.S. 1 at 12 (1887), or (for lower courts), the applicability of binding precedent.

  6. “Strong majority?” The Senate voted 60-39 for the law, so yes, that is a clear majority – but a “strong” one? I dunno – it certainly was not a bipartisan vote – but, okay, enough for the President to call it strong. The House voted 219-212 for passage. I would not call that a strong majority, and I don’t see how any president could call it that.

    Michael Ejercito cites the irrelevance of the Commerce Clause to current health insurance purchases. It seems as if the Obama administration is arguing for power to regulate interstate commerce that does not exist yet – but will exist, once the public option is available for purchase. Again, I don’t know; all I can do is speculate and pontificate: The whole thing – about health care and “reform” and justice and fairness and affordability and access – seems to be just too much cleverness and power-grabbing, and very little realism, real economics and maximizing of benefits to society by way of effectively managing resources available to its members.

    • I did. It does a better job rebutting Koppel’s point than it does mine, regarding the “unprecedented” line, which is indefensible. It is a horribly mangled sentence in delivery.

      I also think, however, that Obama does NOT think the law will be upheld, and maybe even knows it will not, making his statement even worse. I think it is telling that he started to say “over…” and then started again. But that’s pure speculation on my part.

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