“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.
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.