FDR Redux: Obama Challenges SCOTUS
Who is this president who darkens counsel with ignorant words concerning the balance of power established by the Constitution of the United States?
Monday, by declaring that the "unelected" Supreme Court had better rule in favor of the 2,700-page health care act of 2010, the president of our country revealed not only his hypocrisy, but the extent he will go to in order to preserve the key accomplishment of his administration. He seems fully to intend to intimidate the Court into rubber-stamping the Affordable Care Act of 2010 as constitutional.
First, the hypocrisy.
Who is this man making noise about "unelected" bodies of government?
Isn't this the guy whose unelected 45 czars, innumerable agencies, and other bureaucratic entities have already made Congress a joke and an increasingly paralyzed symbolic rump of its former self? Isn't this the guy whose continual attacks on states like Arizona are making true federalism and state sovereignty a thing of the past? Isn't this the guy who has openly declared he will bypass an elected Congress by means of executive order and unelected entities such as the EPA? Isn't this the man who has just ridiculed the opposition's budget plan as "Social Darwinism," thus once again refusing even to attempt to reach across the aisle to duly elected representatives who happen to be Republicans? Even more importantly, isn't this the president who, by utilization of supra-constitutional entities, has effectively created a substitute government in thrall to the executive branch? Last, isn't this the guy who has shown distaste for the slowness of elected representatives, expressing admiration for and imitating the centrally planned command economy of China?
Yes. That's the same guy.
Now he has the unmitigated gall to target the Supreme Court as an "unelected" body, the members of which were forewarned about any intransigence they might display against the executive branch during his State of the Union speech of 2010. It was at that time President Obama publicly dressed down the sitting judges in front of the entire legislative body, and indeed, the nation, for a ruling he disagreed with. He said:
With all due deference to separation of powers, last week the supreme court reversed a century of law that I believe will open the floodgates for special interests -- including foreign corporations -- to spend without limit in our elections[.] ... I don't think American elections should be bankrolled by America's most powerful interests, or worse, by foreign entities. They should be decided by the American people. And I'd urge Democrats and Republicans to pass a bill that helps to correct some of these problems.
This is not the first time a president of the United States has declared war against the Supreme Court of the United States. Obama is an admirer and imitator of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, whose own tangles with SCOTUS were legendary. FDR attacked the high Court in his fiery "fireside chats," rebuking the Court for not being in tandem with the executive and legislative branches, explaining to the American public why the court was essentially an excrescence on the body politic because it dared to declare unconstitutional key elements of the Roosevelt agenda in 1935 and 1936. Roosevelt even tried to pack the Supreme Court with justices favorable to his makeover of American society. Impervious to the president's threats, the court still struck down eight pillars of Roosevelt's New Deal.
But that is precisely what the high Court is supposed to do -- namely, strike down unconstitutional legislation. That is one chief reason why the court is an "unelected" body. It was created to stand as an institution that subscribes to the rule of law and to the U.S. Constitution. The members have lifelong tenure in order that the august Court remain the one branch of government which leavens, withstands, and/or tempers the vicissitudes and overreaches of the legislative and executive branches of government. The high court acts as a salutary brake on the nostrums of any one particular administration by subjecting legislation and lower court decisions to tempered and, yes, judicious review of the Constitution.
At this time, the Supreme Court is one of the only effective forces remaining as a deterrent to the unbridled overreach of an overweening executive branch. It is also one of the most respected institutions in the United States. Its rulings still mean something.
President Obama knows the respect in which the court is held, and he has learned from FDR's example. That is why, like FDR, he is seeking to belittle its status by essentially declaring it merely a body of nine unelected officials who are unresponsive to the American people. The prestige of the Court is one reason why the president has gone on the attack from day one and now appears ready to defy the Court's ruling because it is "unelected" and doesn't reflect the will of the people. The battle is now fully enjoined, and a pre-emptive strike has been made.
Now, for perhaps the first time in Obama's administration, the president is looking at potential serious resistance from SCOTUS. The Court might strike down part or all of the president's key legislative victory. In response to that possible eventuality, the president has taken the extraordinary measure of publicly chastising and warning the high Court before it issues its ruling in June of this year. He doubtless is so doing because the justices' questions indicate the unease with which certain members of the court regard the individual mandate as well as other questionable aspects of the law.
For conservatives, the handwriting is on the wall. If the justices cave under the intimidating rebuke of the president and uphold the Affordable Care Act in full or in part, the end of a viable conservative resistance may follow, as the prospect of some 159 controlling, regulation-producing agencies, commissions, and boards governing the most private aspects of our lives essentially would end meaningful representative government and would vitiate the balance of powers as established by our venerable Constitution.
Should Obama be successful in his attempts to intimidate the Supreme Court or attempt to defy a negative ruling on ObamaCare, conservatives face the possibility of being reduced to mere tinkerers on the fringes of a socialist Leviathan that would encompass every aspect of American life.
As I predicted a year ago:
The ultimate battle will be enjoined should the Supreme Court declare Obama Care unconstitutional. When and if the administration chooses to defy the ruling of our most august judicial body, FDR's attempt to pack the court will seem a picayune maneuver compared to what will be an all out assault on the Republic, an assault which could conceivably send it to the graveyard of history.
Conservatives of all stripes, Democrats, Republicans, and independents alike, would do well to heed the warnings emanating from the White House, strongly confront the president, and pray fervently that the Court strikes down at least the individual mandate that is the underpinning of the grotesquerie known as ObamaCare.
Fay Voshell, a frequent contributor to American Thinker, may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.