Tuesday, April 3, 2012

President Takes Political Risk...Challenges Supreme Court

The President went off the rails Monday and issued a direct challenge to the Supreme Court to uphold his health care reform act.  When asked about the Court’s deliberations at a Rose Garden press conference the President took the opportunity to remind the Court that they are an “unelected group of people” who should refrain from overturning a law passed by a “democratically elected Congress.”
“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.” 
While challenging the Court, the President sought to pull his opponents into the fray by using the current case to remind conservatives about their long standing concerns about activist judges and judicial over reach.
“For years what we’ve heard (from conservatives) is that the biggest problem on the bench was judicial activism or lack of judicial restraint…that an unelected group of people would somehow overturn a duly constituted and passed law.”
This is not the first time that this President has chosen to publically confront the Roberts' Court.  You may recall that during his 2010 State of the Union address the President blatantly criticized the Court’s decision on Citizens United; a ruling that allowed corporations to donate unlimited sums of money into political campaigns.  The President warned of the magnitude of this decision on our election process.  His words have proven to be prophetic.
As a general rule Presidents do not publically challenge the Supreme Court.  If they do, they do so at their peril.  The division of powers is sacrosanct. Thomas Jefferson challenged the Court…as did Jackson…and FDR.  All lost. 
The American people like to believe that the Court rises above partisan politics.  They do not like their politicians to infer otherwise.  The fact that this President would challenge the Court so publically on this issue shows how important he believes it is to the country…and his legacy.  Make no mistake; “legacy” plays an important role in every major Presidential decision.
Was the President’s directness an attempt to influence the Court?  Was he making a case for the division of powers?  Or was it pure politics…paving the way to dismiss a negative ruling as just another example of partisan judicial over reach?  Regardless, he has opened himself up for scrutiny and placed a large political bet in the middle of a divisive election season.
The President went out on a limb with this one.  From our view the limb is cracking.                   

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