Obama’s Stumbles While Stepping Back on Supreme Court Comments

Although the Supreme Court Justices are tight-lipped, most everyone else has condemned President Obama for the attack he launched at the judiciary on Monday. Even the Washington Post editorialized that “the comments strayed perilously close to a preemptive strike on the court’s legitimacy.”

On Monday, Obama – who often is described as a former professor of constitutional law – made comments that demonstrated little knowledge of the concept of judicial review, while demonstrating great contempt for proper separation of powers. Obama stated that to find his administration-defining health insurance legislation as unconstitutional would be an “unprecedented, extraordinary step” and a foray into judicial activism.

On Tuesday, the President attempted to revise his statement. His comments were actually an entirely new, and equally inaccurate, critique. Obama claimed that “we have not seen a court overturn a law that was passed by Congress on [an] economic issue, like health care” and that it dates back to the case of Lochner v. New York, decided in 1905, but, according to Obama, was a “’30s, pre-New Deal” case.

Obama’s Lochner reference was way off. And this isn’t the first time that he’s made that mistake. Constitutional history is not Obama’s strong suit, to say the least. As James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal explained, in Lochner, “the court invalidated a state labor regulation on the ground that it violated the ‘liberty of contract,’ which the court held was an aspect of liberty protected by the 14th Amendment’s Due Process Clause.” The case had nothing to do with federal “economic” laws.



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