Obama fires warning shot towards Supreme Court as it weighs health care law
WASHINGTON, April 2, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - President Obama on Monday took a shot at the Supreme Court as it considers whether to strike down the president’s health law, saying that he was confident that the “unelected” body would not move against the 2,700-page health care overhaul. The health law has been strenuously opposed by pro-life advocates for its inclusion of abortion funding, and, more recently, the contentious mandate that religious employers pay for abortifacient birth control and other birth control drugs.
“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,” said Obama, who also took a sly swipe at “conservative commentators” who oppose judicial activism, but who support the end of the law.
“And I’d just remind conservative commentators that, for years, what we have 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,” Obama said. “Well, this is a good example, and I’m pretty confident that this court will recognize that and not take that step.”
The Supreme Court heard three days of oral arguments on the health care bill last week, during which all five of the bench’s conservative justices expressed marked skepticism about the bill’s attempt to mandate every U.S. citizen purchase health insurance, something opponents have said is unconstitutional.
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Justice Anthony Kennedy, one of three swing votes proponents hope to win over, said during the arguments that the mandate “threatens to change the relationship between the government and the individual in a profound way.”
Justice John Roberts also expressed skepticism that the broad power assumed by the government had any clear terminus, and compared the insurance mandate to a rule forcing Americans to buy cell phones in order to respond to emergency situations.
“You don’t know when you’re going to need [emergency services]; you’re not sure that you will. But the same is true for health care,” said Roberts. “So there is a market there. To—in some extent, we all participate in it. So can the government require you to buy a cell phone because that would facilitate responding when you need emergency services?”
Justice Antonin Scalia also appeared critical of the administration’s arguments, shooting down Solicitor General Donald Verrilli’s argument that the mandate was equivalent to previous laws regulating commerce that were unprecedented at the time.
“Oh no, it’s not,” Scalia interjected. “They all involved commerce. There was no doubt that was what regulated was commerce. And here you’re regulating somebody who isn’t covered.”
Georgetown University law professor Louis Michael Seidman told Reuters that it’s “not that common for presidents to get into direct verbal confrontations with the Supreme Court,” but conceded that the court normally doesn’t weigh the future of one of the president’s top legislative prizes.
This isn’t the first time Obama has stepped over conventional boundaries to challenge the third branch of government: In January 2010, Obama turned heads during a State of the Union Address by issuing a direct criticism of the high court’s revision of campaign finance law.
“The Supreme Court reversed a century of law to open the floodgates for special interests — including foreign corporations — to spend without limit in our elections ... and that’s why I’m urging Democrats and Republicans to pass a bill that helps to right this wrong,” said the president, eliciting visible discontent from the justices sitting in the front row.