Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Pete Morin Editorial Review 2012-5

Unprecedented, or untruthful?

President Obama is hitting the airwaves letting it be known that he will not be happy if the Supreme Court overturns his healthcare law. Just recently he made the following statement to the press: " Ultimately, I am 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."

You have to wonder who he's talking to and if he even understands what he's saying. This coming, mind you, from a former professor of Constitutional Law at the University of Chicago.

Let's dissect the statement, shall we?

First, is the word 'unprecedented.' As Prof. Obama should know there are several examples of precedent regarding the Court striking down legislation not in line with the Constitution. The most famous is the 1803 decision by the Court, articulated by the great Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, John Marshall, known as Marbury v Madison. This case set the standard which allowed the Court to implement judicial review. Any first year law student is familiar with this case and would site it as precedent for overturning the healthcare law.

A second case would be Schecther v US in 1935 which rendered FDR's National Industrial Recovery Act unconstitutional. This case would have been well known to Prof. Obama, especially since he likes to compare himself in importance to FDR with respect to effecting, or transforming America to a more enlightened State.

Next we look to the "strong majority" he feels existed when the law was passed. The word strong would indicate something more than just barely enough votes, or what a person would consider a 'slim majority.' The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 60-39 with NO Republican votes. Now this could be considered 'strong' by count alone, but the fact that there were no Republicans voting for the bill begs the question as to it's true strength. The House of Representatives passed the law by a vote of 219-212. Once again, NO Republicans voted for the bill and in any event this certainly cannot be considered a 'strong majority.'

The last point is his reference is to a democratically elected Congress. Exactly what does this have to do with the Court's ability to review legislation produced by Congress? As stated previously, the Court has struck down legislation passed by a 'democratically elected Congress' and will continue to do so if necessary. The entire statement appears to be grandstanding to those not familiar with judicial review. Some commentators have referred to it as an attempt to bully the Court in not overturning the law, but I believe it involves more.

It is unthinkable that President Obama would not be aware of Supreme Court precedent in determining a law's constitutionality. The only logical explanation is that he knew what he said was not accurate. Are we looking at an individual who purposefully misstated the facts? Is President Obama playing to his base constituency in the hope that political pressure can be applied to the Supreme Court? The Court doesn't operate in a vacuum and those Justices he nominated, and we're appointed, to the Court could be especially susceptible to outside pressure.

When all is said and done I can only respond to the President's statement this way: Liar, liar, pants on fire. Intentionally misstating facts is, most decidedly, un-presidential. Start acting like an adult, Mr. President, and be a leader. Not a pseudo Constitutional Law professor who sounds ridiculous.

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