Skip to comments.President Obama versus the Constitution (Obama wants Obamacare to be reviewable by no-one)
Posted on 04/03/2012 8:10:54 AM PDT by Qbert
President Obama today fired his opening salvo in an unprecedented attack on the Constitution of the United States. Regarding the impending Supreme Court ruling on the health control law, the President said, Ultimately, Im 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.
His factual claims are false. His principle is a direct assault on the Constitutions creation of an independent judicial branch as a check on constitutional violations by the other two branches.
It is certainly not unprecedented for the Court to overturn a law passed by a democratically elected Congress. The Court has done so 165 times, as of 2010. (See p. 201 of this Congressional Research Service report.)
President Obama can call legislation enacted by a vote of 219 to 212 a strong majority if he wishes. But there is nothing in the Constitution suggesting that a bill which garners the votes of 50.3% of the House of Representatives has such a strong majority that it therefore becomes exempt from judicial review. To the contrary, almost all of the 165 federal statutes which the Court has ruled unconstitutional had much larger majorities, most of them attracted votes from both Democrats and Republicans, and some of them were enacted nearly unanimously.
That the Supreme Court would declare as unconstitutional congressional laws which illegally violated the Constitution was one of the benefits of the Constitution, which the Constitutions advocates used to help convince the People to ratify the Constitution. In Federalist 78, Alexander Hamilton explained why unconstitutional actions of Congress are not real laws, and why the judiciary has a duty to say so:
There is no position which depends on clearer principles, than that every act of a delegated authority, contrary to the tenor of the commission under which it is exercised, is void. No legislative act, therefore, contrary to the Constitution, can be valid. To deny this, would be to affirm, that the deputy is greater than his principal; that the servant is above his master; that the representatives of the people are superior to the people themselves; that men acting by virtue of powers, may do not only what their powers do not authorize, but what they forbid. . . .
Nor does this conclusion by any means suppose a superiority of the judicial to the legislative power. It only supposes that the power of the people is superior to both; and that where the will of the legislature, declared in its statutes, stands in opposition to that of the people, declared in the Constitution, the judges ought to be governed by the latter rather than the former. They ought to regulate their decisions by the fundamental laws, rather than by those which are not fundamental.
Because Hamilton was the foremost big government advocate of his time, it is especially notable that he was a leading advocate for judicial review of whether any part of the federal government had exceeded its delegated powers.
Well before Marbury v. Madison, the Supreme Court recognized that the People had given the Court the inescapable duty of reviewing the constitutionality of statutes which came before the Court. The Court fulfilled this duty in cases such as Hylton v. U.S. (1796) (Is congressional tax on carriages a direct tax, and therefore illegal because it is not apportioned according to state population?); and Calder v. Bull (1798) (Is Connecticut change in inheritance laws an ex post facto law?). The Court found that the particular statutes in question did not violate the Constitution. (The ex post facto clause applies only to criminal laws; the carriage tax was an indirect tax, not a direct tax.) However, the Courts authority to judge the statutes constitutionality was not disputed.
It would not be unfair to charge President Obama with hypocrisy given his strong complaints when the Court did not strike down the federal ban on partial birth abortions, and given his approval of the Supreme Court decision (Boumediene v. Bush) striking down a congressional statute restricting habeas corpus rights of Guantanamo detainees. (For the record, I think that the federal abortion ban should have been declared void as because it was not within Congresss interstate commerce power, and that Boumediene was probably decided correctly, although I have not studied the issue sufficiently to have a solid opinion.) The federal ban on abortion, and the federal restriction on habeas corpus were each passed with more than a strong 50.3% majority of a democratically elected Congress.
As a politician complaining that a Supreme Court which should strike down laws he doesnt like, while simultaneously asserting that a judicial decision against a law he does like is improperly activist, President Obama is no more hypocritical than many other Presidents. But in asserting that the actions of a strong majority of Congress are unreviewable, President Obamas word are truly unprecedented. Certainly no President in the last 150 years has claimed asserted that a strong majority of Congress can exempt a statute from judicial review. President Lincolns First Inaugural criticized the Dred Scott majority for using a case between two private litigants for its over-reaching into a major national question, but Lincoln affirmed that the Court can, and should, provide a binding resolution to disputes between the parties before the Court. And in 2012, the government of the United States is one of the parties before the Court. (And the government is before the Court in part because the government filed a petition for a writ of certiorari to ask the Court to use its discretion to decide the case.)
Alone among the Presidents, Thomas Jefferson appears as a strong opponent of judicial review per se. Notably, he did not propose that Congress be the final judge of its own powers, especially when Congress intruded on matters which the Constitution had reserved to the States. Rather, Jefferson argued that in such a dispute the matter should be resolved by a Convention of the States, and the States would be make the final decision. Given that 28 States have already appeared as parties in court arguing that the individual mandate is unconstitutional, we can make a good guess about what a Convention would decide about the constitutionality of the health control law.
President Obama, however, wants Obamacare to be reviewable by no-one: not by the Supreme Court, not by the States. You can find professors and partisans who have argued for such lawlessness, but for a President to do so is unprecedented.
The People gave Congress the enumerated power To regulate Commerce . . . among the several States. According to the Obama administration, this delegation of power also includes the power to compel commerce. Opponents contend that the power to regulate commerce does not include the far greater power to compel commerce, and that the individual mandate is therefore an ultra vires act by a deputy (Congress) in violation of the grant of power from the principal (the People). Seventy-two percent of the public, including a majority of Democrats, agrees that the mandate is unconstitutional. Few acts of Congress have ever had such sustained opposition of a supermajority of the American public.
President Obama today has considerably raised the stakes in Sebelius v. Florida. At issue now is not just the issue of whether Congress can commandeer the People and compel them to purchase the products of a particular oligopoly. At issue is whether the Court will bow to a President who denies they very legitimacy of judicial review of congressional statutesor at least those that statutes which garnered the strong majority of 219 out of 435 Representatives.
Someone send Obama the memo on the 26 states that want it “killed”.
In the book Left Behind, a snake-oil salesman named Carpathian brings the World to ruin.
Dictator Baby-Doc Barack is our Carpathian as he tries to bring America to ruin.
If Obamacare is overturned, will Obama lecture the Supreme Court as part of the next State of the Union speech?
Hold on a minute, if all goes well, Obama will not be the one who gives the next State of the Union speech!!
Gotta love the Democrat spin on this. Some Democrats are out there saying that if the court overturns the individual mandate, that is actually good for Obama. Go figure.
Obama really has a tyrannical streak in him. Btw, any of his constitutional law students should demand a refund.
Listening to snippets of his calling out the Supreme Court yesterday and it was all lies. The lies are getting more and more absurd, but they keep getting away with it.
But, you see, 26 states are not a majority of the 58 states in Obamaka.
What exactly does this clown think the responsibilities of the Court are? To rubber-stamp every piece of legislation that gets passed in Congress? To fill the extra seats during a SOTU address?
He HOPES to make CHANGES, but that danged Constitution keeps gettin’ in the way!
I say this will be ruled as unconstitutional and our first foreign born born Islamic mulatto POTUS will be voted out by a landslide come November and history will remember him as the single greatest disaster in the history of the US Presidency.............And Democrats will blame it all on Republicans.
The way this guy treats the Constitution makes me say it’s complete and absolute BS that he’s a Professor of Constitutional law. Show me the degree pal. Show me the College transcripts. It’s like someone claiming they’re a brain surgeon and they use sticks and rocks to operate. This idiot has not the first clue whatsoever about what the US Constitution even is.
You, apparently, weren't paying attention...there's only 57 states!
I smell the putrid stench of tyrany! Time to rid ourselves of it.
All will definitely NOT go well as long as there is continued mindless hatred for Mitt Romney on the Right, for he will surely be the Republican nominee.
Well, actually, that “reviewing” stuff was OK for all Presidents prior to this one. But once ‘I Won’ took over those pesky justices were supposed to know their place and question nothing that ‘I Won’ does. His definition of strong majority must closely resemble Bill Clinton’s definition of “is” and “sex”, huh?
Obama is such a whining queer biotch. It angers me to hear the punk lie. Just hearing his voice is enough to ruin my mood and make me switch the channel/station he is on so I do not have to listen to the damned homo.
Has everyone forgotten the Republicans that voted it in before they even read it? Just about all of them did.
Remember: “you have to vote for it before you can know what’s in it?”
AND THEY DID!
The GOP: The go along to get along party.
“O” ... Same planet, different world!