Perhaps sensing the writing on the wall the White House in the last week since the Supreme Court heard oral arguments on Healthcare Reform has settled on a fallback strategy if the law, or at least the Individual Mandate, falls. Blame the Supreme Court. This week President Obama made comments that in truth can only be interpreted as trying to bully the court into voting Healthcare Reform in its entirety constitutional. In a nutshell the president argued it would not only be “unprecedented for the Court to overturn a legitimate law passed by strong majorities in Congress” he also implied they could not.
Leaving aside the misstatements that the law was passed by strong majorities in Congress (60D 40R in the Senate and 219 D for passage and 212 Republicans and Democrats against in the House) and that the Court can legitimately overturn Congressional acts, which it is in place to do, the president set off a firestorm. Since then the WH has been playing defense. The 5th Circuit this week also took an unprecedented action when they demanded the Attorney General submit in writing what exactly the president meant by his inference about the Supreme Court’s actions. In short, does the president believe the SCOTUS has the power to overturn Congressional acts?
Of course the AG wrote back saying the president believes so. And yes of course the 5th Circuit Court’s actions were purely political. But it is Obama’s rhetoric that stands out. One does not have to go far back in time to the 2010 SOTU speech to remember the president’s thinly veiled criticism of the SCOTUS’s decision on repealing Campaign Finance in Citizens United vs. Hilary Clinton. Even before the Healthcare Reform law had made it to the SCOTUS the president was busy calling the judges and courts who ruled against it activist. Yet the president only had praise for the courts that said it was Constiutional.
The fallback strategy of blaming the SCOTUS fits neatly into the Obama campaign’s general strategy. Blaming is what it seems the president’s entire campaign will be based on. Blame the partisan Republicans for holding up key initiatives that would/will help the economy, blame Wal Street and the banks for crashing the economy, blame oil companies and speculators for high gas prices and of course blame the rich for “not paying their fair share.” Seems wherever one looks the president is blaming somebody or some group for a problem.
It is sad the president has to resort to blame games to get reelected. It is even sadder to see our democratically elected president berating our Republic’s Supreme Court on partisan points. Some things should be left alone and the SCOTUS is one of them. It is after all a separate branch and all. Hopefully the president as a former Constitutional Law Professor realizes this.