Though President Obama says he is confident the Supreme Court will rule in favor of his healthcare law the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, that hasn't stopped him from hurling criticisms at even the threat that the court would strike down some or all of the controversial legislation. Monday, from the Rose Garden, Obama said,
I would just remind conservative commentators that for years what we have heard is the biggest problem on the bench was judicial activism or a lack of judicial restraint. That an unelected group of people would somehow overturn a duly constituted and passed law. Well, this is a good example and I am pretty confident that this court will recognize that and not take that step.
He continued Tuesday in slightly more nuanced language, saying, "We have not seen a court overturn a law that was passed by Congress on a economic issue, like healthcare, that I think most people would clearly consider commerce—a law like that has not been overturned at least since Lochner." (According to the Huffington Post, invoking Lochner v. New York is the "legalese equivalent of brandishing a cross before a vampire.") Obama also acknowledged that the "Supreme Court is the final say on our Constitution and our laws and all of us have to respect it,"
Obama's rhetoric about the Supreme Court's involvement in the case has drawn heat—not just from conservative pundits, but from some judges as well. Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Jerry Smith of Texas asked the Justice Department to submit a three-page, single-spaced formal letter asserting the federal court's authority to rule on the case. In a Wednesday news conference, Attorney General Eric Holder said, "Under our system of government ... courts have the final say on the constitutionality of statutes," while insisting the president's remarks were "appropriate," and that Obama "indicated that we obviously respect the decisions that courts make." Both he and White House Spokesperson Jay Carney confirmed that the Justice Department would be producing the formal letter requested by Judge Smith.
Nevertheless, some political analysts see Obama's language about the Supreme Court as part of a larger set of comments signifying that the Obama camp has gone into panic mode about his re-election prospects. Explains Ron Bonjean, "The emergency alarm was sounded in Chicago. A clear decision has been made to go on the offense, attack the threats, and play the blame game." Bonjean cited a number of other heated remarks made by Obama recently in addition to when he "personally went after the Supreme Court for seriously questioning the constitutional validity of 'Obamacare.'"
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Previously: Can the GOP Regain Women Voters?