web analytics
March 5, 2015 / 14 Adar , 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


The President And The Supreme Court: Philosophy And Politics

Much attention has properly been paid to President Obama’s unprecedented remarks about the Supreme Court, which, he worries, may find his signature health care law unconstitutional. It will be recalled that the president spoke after the oral argument in the case in which the justices asked many highly critical questions about the constitutionality of the law and comments from many legal observers that the law is in trouble. There were also intriguing suggestions that a preliminary vote by the justices had a majority in favor of striking down the law or parts of it and that this news was leaked to the president’s aides, prompting his warning to the court. But as extraordinary and significant as it was for a president to threaten the Supreme Court while it was in the process of fulfilling its constitutional duty, there is more to the story.

The statement of the president of the American Bar Association is instructive:

President Barack Obama’s remarks…speculating about the Supreme Court’s potential decision in the health care legislation appeal are troubling. Particularly worrisome was his suggestion that the court’s decision in this case could serve as a “good example” of what some commentators have cited as “judicial activism or a lack of judicial restraint” by an “unelected group of people.”

It is incumbent on all our elected officials – including those aspiring to hold office – to continually demonstrate that the courtroom is not a political arena. It is a measure of a free society that individuals are able to openly disagree with court decisions, but we should expect our leaders to refrain from partisan statements aimed at judges fulfilling their constitutional role and responsibilities.

The statement alludes to the fact that while presidents and other political leaders in the past have been critical of certain decisions of the Supreme Court, this was the first time in memory that the criticism was leveled in the form of a veiled threat that a particular decision would be used as an issue in an upcoming election campaign – before the case is even decided. The ineluctable message from the president was “Decide my way or I will drag you through the mud of a nasty political fight.”

Frankly, this smacks of a decidedly improper effort to influence a court into making a particular decision. Mr. Obama is a lawyer, an officer of the court, so there are some serious ethical questions about his comments.

Two more points. Many have argued that the president’s statements were not only designed to intimidate the justices to vote his way but also to lay the groundwork for campaigning against a “conservative majority” on the court should his healthcare plan be rejected. Thus, they say, Mr. Obama’s outburst was likely meant to get one of the five conservative justices to vote his way, and failing that he would he would at least have his anti-conservative ploy in place for his reelection campaign.

A savvy attorney suggested to The Jewish Press, however, that more than likely the leak about the preliminary vote was not that there was a 5-4 conservative-liberal divide to strike down the law. Rather, the vote was 6-3, with one of the votes to strike down the law coming from a defecting liberal justice. President Obama’s tirade was designed to at least get the liberal justice back on the reservation so as to preserve his campaign argument even if his health care law went down.

Finally, it should be appreciated that the president’s attack on the court was in sync with much of his background. His early career as a “community organizer” was nothing if not dedicated to arguing that the law oppressed the needy and the politically impotent and needed to be overcome or changed. As we noted last week, years ago Mr. Obama criticized interpretations of the Constitution that defined it as what the government could not do to a citizen rather than what it had to do for a citizen. Of course, the former is what the very words of the Constitution proclaim.

The president evidently views the Supreme Court as a real threat to his view of the proper role of government and he’d like the justices to get out of the way. But that’s not how this democracy works.

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “The President And The Supreme Court: Philosophy And Politics”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Iran's Ayatollah Ali Khamenei: With a smile like that, he couldn't possibly want to annihilate Israel, right?
Call It A Purim Miracle: Reports Say Ayatollah Khamenei In Critical Condition
Latest Indepth Stories
Ballots for elections "made in Samaria."

Any Jew who ties his fate to Israel should be able to vote in Israel’s elections-even before aliyah

A young Moshe Meir Weiss introduces his mother, Mrs. Agnes Weiss Goldman, to Rav Moshe in 1979.

There were no airs about him. Rav Moshe was affectionately known as the Gaon of Normalcy.

Keeping-Jerusalem

Israel’s full sovereignty over a united Jerusalem is the only path for true peace in the region.

Mordechai on the King's horse, being led by Haman

Just like Moses and Aaron, Mordechai decides to ruin the party…

The president has made clear – I can’t state this more firmly – the policy is Iran will not get a nuclear weapon.

Obama has an apparent inability to understand Islam in particular and Mid-East culture in general

Pesach is a Torah-based holiday whose fundamental observances are rooted in Torah law; Purim is a rabbinic holiday whose laws and customs are grounded in the rabbinic tradition.

In honor of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s successful speech before Congress.

Mr. Spock conveys a message with painfully stark relevance to our world today, especially in the context of PM Netanyahu’s speech to Congress.

Obama created the “partisan politics” by asking Dem. party members to avoid Bibi and his address

Enough is enough. The Jewish community has a big tent, but the NIF should have no place in it.

I vote for the right and get left-wing policy. Every. Frigging. Time.

The Holocaust was the latest attempt of Amalek to destroy the special bond that we enjoy with God.

UN inspectors were flabbergasted when Iran allowed them full unfettered access to All nuclear sites

More Articles from Editorial Board

The real issue is that in many respects the president has sought to recalibrate American values and our system of government.

Former Connecticut senator Joe Lieberman, writing in the Washington Post on Sunday, provided one of the clearest and most compelling analyses we’ve seen of the importance of the prime minister’s speech.

Gone are the days when an anchorman sitting in a New York studio could, after sharing 22 minutes of carefully selected and edited news items, trumpet in stentorian tones, “And that’s the way it is.” No it wasn’t. It never was.

President Obama has frequently cautioned that Americans should take great care to avoid fomenting anti-Muslim passions in our reaction to the murderous activities regularly being perpetrated by terrorists in the name of Islam. One wonders why, though, he seems to have no concern with the potential for anti-Semitic fallout from his full-court press against Israeli […]

Typical of the administration’s milquetoast approach is the lack of any call for a substantial increase in military resources in order to crush ISIL, only a tepid mention of the need to “ultimately defeat” it.

He spent the first leg of his daylong visit to the French capital at Hyper Cacher.

In this particular case, the issue was whether the Arkansas prison system could prohibit, for security reasons, a devout Muslim’s maintaining a beard of a certain length as a matter of religious practice.

According to Natan Sharansky, director of the Jewish Agency for Israel, France was the largest source of Jewish emigration to Israel last year and he believes as many as 15,000 French Jews may make aliyah in 2015.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/editorial/the-president-and-the-supreme-court-philosophy-and-politics/2012/04/12/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: