Via the Examiner. In what way would it be an “unprecedented, extraordinary step,” as he claims here? They’ve struck down laws before for violating the Commerce Clause — not often, admittedly, but it’s happened in not one but two landmark cases over the last 20 years. If there’s anything novel about the ObamaCare case, it’s the idea of federal power to compel purchases, not the Court’s reaction to it. And what on earth does this mean?
“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,” Obama told reporters today while speaking with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Mexican President Felipe Calderon.
Obama reminded reporters that conservative commentators, have complained about “judicial activism or a lack of judicial restraint,” that “an unelected group of people would somehow overturn a duly constituted and passed law.”
The “strong majority” in Congress went 219-212 in the House, with 34 Democrats defecting. Not a single Republican in either chamber voted for it, and as Ace notes, the public itself has been steadfastly opposed to the law since day one. Against that backdrop, it’s an amazing show of balls by The One to dress this up as the Court somehow thwarting the people’s will. But even if O-Care really did have a “strong majority,” so what? The whole point of judicial review is to make sure that congressional majorities, strong or not, remain bound by their enumerated powers and the Bill of Rights. You know what law really did have a “strong majority” in both chambers? DOMA. Think there’ll be any tears shed on the left for majoritarianism if Anthony Kennedy cashiers that one on a 5-4 vote?
Don’t take this too seriously, though. This is just Obama laying the narrative groundwork for the benefit of all the non-lawyers watching at home who don’t know enough to fact check him. He wants to plant the idea that striking down the mandate would be the most unique, extraordinary, sensational, unbelievable, unprecedented decision in Supreme Court history evah so that, if it does happen, people will regard it as illegitimate and that’ll hopefully rally them to turn out in the fall. It’s a stump speech, in other words. Just a little more dishonest than usual.
Update: Such is O’s respect for strong congressional majorities that his own DOJ won’t even defend DOMA in court anymore. Thanks to Dan McLaughlin for reminding me of that.