Has President Obama’s disrespectful attitude toward the United States Supreme Court caused a trickledown effect among the Democratic leadership in Congress, or was Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy’s recent invective against Chief Justice John Roberts self-generated?
You will recall that in April, President Obama launched a salvo against the court about a pending case — concerning Obamacare — seeking to either intimidate the justices into upholding the law or lay a foundation for political criticism should they strike it.
At a news conference, Obama said, “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.”
Never mind that Obamacare did not represent the democratic will of the American people. What was unprecedented and extraordinary — besides a piece of legislation’s taking over more than one-seventh of the American economy and unconstitutionally mandating people to buy a product — was for a sitting president to attempt to bully the Supreme Court to affect the outcome of a pending case.
Obama had already chastised the court for ruling against his political will in the Citizens United case, but at least that was after the decision had been rendered. His brazen community-organizing comments concerning a not-yet-decided case was something else again.
Then, this week, on the Senate floor, Leahy issued what many called “a warning shot” to the court. “Acting out based on their personal views on this matter,” said Leahy, “would be the height of conservative judicial activism” and would reflect poorly on Roberts’ legacy.
The Democratic ruling class has become so arrogant about its ability to make Orwellian comments without fear of contradiction from the mainstream media that it doesn’t even do a credible job of faking common-sense arguments.
Notice, for example, how con law professor Obama warned the court, an institution that is honor-bound not to bend to the popular will, that it must bend to the popular will.
Though Obama and Leahy doubtlessly understand this — notwithstanding their best imitation of ignorance on the matter — judicial activism is not striking a law that was passed with overwhelming popular support, which Obamacare, incidentally, most certainly wasn’t. It is judges rewriting the Constitution to achieve a political outcome, as opposed to deciding according to the Constitution.
If the court overturns this hideously unconstitutional (and enormously unpopular) law, it will not, Sen. Leahy, be “acting out based on” its “personal views” or be the “height of conservative judicial activism” but will be a proper judicial corrective of an egregious legislative and executive abuse of power.
Just because it has been settled law since 1803 in Marbury v. Madison that “it is emphatically the province and duty of the judicial department to say what the law is” doesn’t mean that Congress and the president are exempted from their duty to enact laws that pass constitutional muster.
But you wouldn’t know that by observing this crop of Democratic lawmakers, who revealed their contempt for the Constitution a few years ago on video, as they — Nancy Pelosi and countless others — mocked the idea that they are under any duty to ensure their enactments conform to constitutional precepts.
These rule of law-defying politicians would do well to heed the words of Sir William Blackstone, the venerable English jurist whose treatise “Commentaries on the Laws of England” long stood as the leading work on English law and was instrumental in the development of American common law and our entire legal system.
Blackstone, who wrote in the 18th century, was no stranger to legislative arrogance and strongly affirmed the duty of legislators to take their role seriously. He wrote that those “who are ambitious of representing their country in parliament … who are ambitious of receiving so high a trust, would also do well to remember its nature and importance.” Their duty, he said, is not to “vote with or vote against a popular or unpopular administration; but upon considerations far more interesting and important. They are the guardians of the English Constitution; the makers, repealers, and interpreters of the English laws; delegated to watch, to check, and to avert every dangerous innovation.”
And consider this Blackstone statement in light of the 2,700-page behemoth that is Obamacare: “What kind of interpretation can (the legislator) be enabled to give, who is a stranger to the text upon which he comments.”
Quoting “Tully,” Blackstone continued, “It is necessary for a senator to be thoroughly acquainted with the constitution; and this (he declares) is a knowledge of the most extensive nature; a matter of science, of diligence, of reflection; without which no senator can possibly be fit for his office.”
Indeed. The same goes for a president.