by Art Kelly
President Obama's recent bizarre attack on the U.S. Supreme Court reflects the liberal mindset that there are no constitutional restrictions on the powers of the federal government.
Fox News reported the President said that, if the Supreme Court, who he called "an unelected group of people," declared Obamacare to be unconstitutional, that it "would be an unprecedented extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress."
Peter Wehner, who was a speechwriter for Secretary William Bennett at the U.S. Department of Education in the Reagan Administration, responded with sarcasm in an article in Commentary:
"Obama, a former community organizer who is perhaps unaware of the finer points of the law, might want to acquaint himself with an obscure 19th century case, Marbury v. Madison, which established the doctrine of judicial review and grants federal courts the power to void acts of Congress that are in conflict with the Constitution. What Obama describes as 'unprecedented' has, in fact, been done countless times since 1803."
To understand Obama's highly erroneous comments on the federal judiciary, it is necessary to look at the very poor oral arguments of Solicitor General Donald Verrilli before the Court and at Nancy Pelosi's response when a conservative reporter asked about the constitutional authority for Obamacare.
On October 22, 2009, a reporter from CNSNews.com asked then-Speaker Pelosi about the proposed mandate to require every person to purchase health insurance. A videotape recorded exactly what happened:
CNSNews.com: "Madam Speaker, where specifically does the Constitution grant Congress the authority to enact an individual health insurance mandate?"
Pelosi: "Are you serious? Are you serious?"
CNSNews.com: "Yes, yes I am."
Pelosi then shook her head before taking a question from another reporter. Her press spokesman, Nadeam Elshami, then told CNSNews.com that asking the Speaker of the House where the Constitution authorized Congress to mandate that individual Americans buy health insurance was not a "serious question."
"You can put this on the record," said Elshami. "That is not a serious question. That is not a serious question."
Pelosi and her staff had total disdain for anyone who would question the authority of the federal government, which they consider to be unlimited.
Fast forward to the recent oral arguments before the Supreme Court. As recounted in last week's issue of this newsletter, Verrilli did an awful job of defending the law, according to legal observers.
One posting on Twitter asked, apparently seriously, if Verrilli knew he was supposed to present oral arguments before the Supreme Court.
It could be that Verrilli was so unprepared because, like Pelosi, he did not believe a challenge to Obamacare was serious. He may very well have failed to do his homework since he thought the constitutionality of Obamacare was obvious. The concept that the federal government may act in any manner it sees fit is deeply ingrained in liberals.
Even though ABC News reported that the White House defended Verrilli, Obama may have belatedly realized how badly things went before the Supreme Court.
Jeffrey Toobin, CNN's legal analyst, reported the oral arguments were a "very damaging three days" for the Obama Administration. He said it appeared certain the individual mandate would be declared unconstitutional and perhaps the whole bill with it.
And it is even possible Obama may have surreptitiously learned how the Court will rule.
Before her nomination and confirmation, Justice Elena Kagan was the Solicitor General in the Justice Department--the same job now held by Verrilli. It seems certain someone in the Obama Administration would have contacted her to try to find out how the Court had preliminarily voted on Obamacare. Without exactly telling them, she could have said something like, "You heard the oral arguments. It's not too hard to guess."
If that information were relayed to Obama, that would explain his lashing out at the Supreme Court.
What effect Obama's attack on the Court might have cannot be determined. It might intimidate one or more of the justices to change their vote. But it is even more likely to "ruffle the feathers" of the justices who correctly understand the separate constitutional role of the judiciary and rightly resent the President's heavy-handed attempt to influence its decisions.
It is believed the ruling on Obamacare will be handed down the last week in June--a little more than four months before the November elections.
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