Skip to comments.Dems wage pressure campaign on Supreme Court over health ruling
Posted on 04/03/2012 2:14:46 AM PDT by Libloather
Dems wage pressure campaign on Supreme Court over health ruling
By Alexander Bolton - 04/02/12 06:02 PM ET
Democrats have waged a not-so-subtle pressure campaign on the Supreme Court in recent days by warning a ruling against the healthcare reform law would smash precedent and threaten popular social programs.
President Obama was the latest to weigh in when he declared Monday that a wide array of legal experts would be astonished if the court struck down part or all of his signature domestic initiative.
Im confident the Supreme Court will uphold the law, Obama said Monday during a Rose Garden press conference. Thats not just my opinion but also the opinion of legal experts across the political spectrum.
He said it would be unprecedented for the court to strike down the individual mandate, which requires the uninsured to buy health coverage or pay a penalty.
Nan Aron, president of the Alliance for Justice and a prominent advocate during Supreme Court confirmation battles, said Obama and Democrats have made it clear that they would fiercely criticize a ruling against the healthcare law.
I do think the statements by some of the senators and the president are serving notice to the court that, frankly, if the court does overturn the law, in essence, the court will become a political football in the election, Aron said.
I wouldnt have said that before of the presidents comments. By virtue of the fact that he spoke out, it does serve notice: Think twice before throwing out this baby. It will be viewed more as a political act, she added.
Justices have shown in the recent past that they are not impervious to the presidents words and how they might influence public perception of the high court.
Justice Samuel Alito shook his head and mouthed the words not true when Obama criticized the courts decision in the Citizens United case during his 2010 State of the Union address, and Aron noted that Chief Justice John Roberts has a reputation for being mindful of his legacy.
We do know this is a justice who reads the press about himself. There have been reports about that, Aron said.
Senior Democratic lawmakers have warned the court would upend the legal precedent that gives Congress the power to provide for the nations general welfare if it rules that the Constitutions Commerce Clause does not allow the mandate to have insurance.
If they were to throw out the healthcare law, things like Medicare, Social Security, food safety laws could be in jeopardy on the very same grounds, Sen. Charles Schumer (N.Y.), the third-ranking Senate Democratic leader, said on NBCs Meet the Press Sunday. It would be a dramatic, 180-degree turn of the tradition of the Commerce Clause.
Democrats have cited the words of conservative legal scholars and past Republican support for the individual mandate to bolster their argument.
Schumer and Senate Health Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) have both quoted J. Harvie Wilkinson III, who was appointed by former president Ronald Reagan to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. Wilkinson said the idea that Congress is constitutionally disabled from regulating the healthcare market is a heavy judicial lift.
Schumer called Wilkinson the dean of conservative judges on the courts of appeal and has frequently reminded reporters that the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, first proposed the idea of a health insurance mandate in 1993.
Harkin said, the opponents of healthcare reform, the Affordable Care Act, are basing their arguments on politics rather than precedents.
This court can go no other way but to uphold the individual mandate the Congress has put into the individual mandate, he said at a press conference Democrats held after the second day of oral arguments.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) warned the court last week that a ruling against the healthcare reform law would have far-reaching consequences.
I think its a clear-cut case. I think you have to stretch to say this is unconstitutional but Social Security, for example, or Medicare is constitutional, Leahy said. If you say this is unconstitutional, then you have to say Social Security and Medicare are also unconstitutional. Im not sure the court is prepared to do that.
Senate Republicans have taken a different tack. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has declined to predict how the court will rule.
Despite filing an amicus brief in the case, he has been relatively reticent about the legal merits of the case.
He said last week that if the court upheld the mandate, its interpretation of the Commerce Clause would be so broad as to make meaningless its constraint on federal power.
What that leads to ultimately, we dont know but we know the suspense will be over in June, he said.
McConnell says regardless of how the court rules, he is committed to making repeal of the law a high priority if Republicans capture control of the Senate.
Some legal experts, however, doubt the Democratic public relations campaign will have much influence on Justice Anthony Kennedy, who is widely seen as the swing vote on the closely divided court.
I dont think theyll have any impact. Its possible they would have an adverse impact, said Lanny Davis, who served as special counsel to former President Bill Clinton and is the principal at the law firm Lanny J. Davis & Associates.
The history of Justice Kennedy is quite independent and thoughtful and hell make the decision on the merits and not on political influences. I wont say that about every justice, some of whom came out of political world.
Davis, a columnist for The Hill, said it is perfectly legitimate for justices to consider the political ramifications of their decisions.
He noted that then Chief Justice Earl Warren strove to unify his fellow justices behind a unanimous decision in Brown v. Board of Education of the City of Topeka, Kansas, knowing the decision would have broad political impact and receive criticism. That decision struck down the separate but equal doctrine for racial segregation.
Last weeks hearing on the 2010 healthcare reform law was the most time the Supreme Court set aside for oral arguments since Brown v. Board of Education, according to Senate sources who reviewed the record.
Obama is just trying to figure out how to play this....and to remind “the new girls on the block” as to how they got there.
I wish we had a president who appreciated our system of government instead of being the lead bully trying to undo it.
I thought it was illegal to try to pressure judges . . . well, maybe not anymore; after all, contract killings seem to be acceptable now . . .
The assertion that welfare and social security would be threatened is ridiculous. It’s one thing to take my taxes and dole it out, it’s another to force me to PURCHASE A PRODUCT FROM ANOTHER ENTITY.
I wonder if Obama is aware that not all laws passed by the congress are necessarily constitutional? Our country has checks and balances in order to ensure that the law is constitutional. There are many, many examples of past controversial rulings in which cases an unconstitutional law was not upheld for obvious reasons.
Many, if not most Americans know this.
Sounds like we have a Bunch of Radicals and some Prima Donnas on the Court,God Help us all
Kagan has already given them the bad news, based on Obama’s reaction here.
I am surprised he didn't add a law degree to his resume.
It's certainly looking that way...
shaddap...You sound like you’re from Brooklyn, my home town!
So thank you, Justice Kagan for giving us a sneak peak at the SCOTUS decision.
We are seeing the left resort to intimidation, personal attacks, and throwing fits on a daily basis now. It’s becoming a moment to moment way of life for them and it is starting to seem normal behavior to many people who seem to just excuse it out of hand.
America is truly lost if we can demand no better from elected officials.
You knew she'd look like this.
It is my hope that as things began to unravel, that more and more people will see the administration for what it is. Threatening the highest court? Maybe the SCOTUS has smoked out the imposter and also found the mole.
“fiercely” as in holding their breath AND stamping their little feet.
One thing that falls under the same premise as the “individual mandate” is government offices and institutions playing the part of “enforcer” for AFSCME and other public employee unions, ie, deducting union dues from your wages so the employee is stripped of any choice in the matter. That practice, much like the individual mandate, forces workers - who pay taxes to support the government - to pay unions dues regardless of whether these people WANT to belong to the union or not. (Of course they are offered the “alternative” of donating that money to a charity of the UNION’S choice.) This is NOT the government’s first foray into forcing people to pay for a product they neither want or need and acting as enforcer. From the viewpoint of many of us, the court is our last and possibly only defense against a government run amok.
I agree. The little troll called her buddy on Thursday to tell him and it took all weekend to get the other 'Rats (Blumenthal, Leahy & Schumer) on board with the talking points.
There's no a doubt in my mind that her nomination was contingent on her not recusing herself from the case and that she would keep them informed early on the decision.