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Barack and the Supremes

by Greg Krehbiel on 4 April 2012

So what do you think of Obama’s attempt to bully the Supreme Court?

Aside from being plain stupid and not something a guy who taught constitutional law should ever be caught saying, I thought it was ham-handed and poorly done.

-- 2012-04-04  »  Greg Krehbiel

Talkback x 10

  1. Derek
    4 April 2012 @ 8:11 pm

    This has become typical of Obama. He’s made comments about avoiding Congress. He is a wannabe dictator and it seems would love totalatarianism – as long as he’s in charge of course.

    Given the amateurish comment, I’m beginning to wonder about his “constitutional law” credentials.

  2. Dave Krehbiel Dave Krehbiel
    5 April 2012 @ 7:49 am

    Derek: to me, it would not be so bad if he only made comments about avoiding Congress. The fact is: he has bypassed Congress a number of times. For example, he did not go to Congress within the requisite time for authorization of attacks on Libya. He also bypassed Congress (effectively) by appointing “czars” who are not subject to Senatorial oversight.

    In their argument, the executive branch claims that Congress is in favor of the healthcare Law. Are we talking about a point in time, or are we talking about an institution? Naturally, President Obama wants it both ways. If in fact, Congress (the institution) wanted to pass this law, then the Supreme Court should declare it unconstitutional and Congress should fix it, possibly by calling it a tax and adding a severability clause.

    But Congress (the institution) could never pass this law today.

    Personally, I would like to see a much higher level of honesty in today’s political discussion. And, I believe the political campaign this year will require a certain amount of education about our fundamental principles. I was very happy to see a recent speech by Romney, in which he pointed out President Obama’s frequent use of straw man arguments.

    This election has the potential to be one of the most pivotal of our lifetimes. We are asked to support or ignore basic American values such as honesty and freedom of religion. Are we worried about someone who swears to preserve and protect the Constitution of the United States, and then subverts it? Are we willing to put an administration which has supported partial-birth abortion and the “born alive.” Provisions in charge of our health care?

    Single-payer would be a disaster. Do you really want political appointees, to make decisions about your health care? I am personally in that situation… and it is a horrible horrible thing. For example, I am currently dependent upon Democratic state officials to maintain my health care. This has a chilling effect on free speech… do I feel comfortable putting a Republican yard sign up?

    Politically controlled healthcare is a knife at your throat and a noose around your neck. If I were personally writing advertisements for the Republicans, I would use a scene from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang with the Child catcher: promising everything for free, but stealing liberty.

  3. Dave Krehbiel Dave Krehbiel
    5 April 2012 @ 8:32 am

    for those of you haven’t seen Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, here is the Child catcher:

  4. Greg Krehbiel Greg Krehbiel
    5 April 2012 @ 12:02 pm

    Dave, I agree that single payer is scary in a lot of ways. Unfortunately, the current system is scary in a lot of ways too. For example, employers get to choose what will and won’t be covered on your health insurance policy. And in some cases employers get access to your health information.

    I’m not at all a fan of a single payer system, but I also think it might raise fewer constitutional problems than Obamacare.

  5. Dave Krehbiel Dave Krehbiel
    5 April 2012 @ 12:41 pm

    fortunately, there are more than just two options.

    For example, the federal government could develop standards for health insurance, similar to the way that they develop standards for batteries (e.g. what is a “D cell”) without mandating that everyone purchase certain types of batteries, and without mandating that flashlight manufacturers. Only use certain types of batteries.

    Clearly, there have been abuses. My “favorite” story is about an insurance company, who denied a claim because the person did not disclose on their application, that they suffered from acne. This is horrible. Corporations are in fact, people (according to the Supreme Court) , and that particular corporation, in my view, deserves a death sentence.

    In my opinion, we have no choice but to be under the domination of something or someone, and my personal preference is to be under the domination of the United States Constitution, as it was written.

  6. John Krehbiel John Krehbiel
    9 April 2012 @ 3:51 pm

    This is worth reading:

    As always, it seems to depend on whose ox is being gored. Conservatives can apparently “dish it out,” but they are aghast when expected to “take it.”

    They have long experience with attacking the evils of the left and the abuses of activist judges. They love to assail “tax-and-spend liberals” without ever discussing who should be taxed or what government money is actually spent on. They expect their progressive opponents to be wimpy and apologetic.


    when Obama went after the right’s willingness to use the power of the Supreme Court for ideological purposes, conservatives were aghast — and never mind that conservatives have been castigating activist judges since at least the 1968 presidential campaign….

    Perhaps conservative pundits couldn’t stand the fact that Obama called them out explicitly. “I’d just remind conservative commentators,” he said, “that for years what we’ve 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.” Yes, it is….

    What’s lost in our discussions of judicial activism is that in the period from the Gilded Age after the Civil War to the middle of the New Deal, it was conservative Supreme Court majorities that nullified progressive laws aimed at regulating the economy and expanding the rights of workers and consumers. The threat now is a return to pre-New Deal conservative judicial activism.

    And Dave, Today’s Congress may not be a very good yardstick. I doubt that Congress could successfully cross the street today.

  7. Greg Krehbiel Greg Krehbiel
    9 April 2012 @ 4:02 pm

    Funny, I had just read that article about an hour before you posted that.

    I found it very unpersuassive because it didn’t do anything to disprove — or even cast doubt on — the conservative perspective on this, which is that the court should defer when something is within the delegated powers of government and overturn otherwise.

    Dionne wants to lump together completely different types of judicial activity and call them both “activism.”

    Consider these two cases.

    1. when judges reverse legislation and voter referenda to define marriage as between a man and a woman.

    2. when judges reverse a law that gives new powers to the government.

    They are clearly distinguishable.

  8. John Krehbiel John Krehbiel
    9 April 2012 @ 6:05 pm

    Setting up a system where people pay more in taxes if they do not do something the government wants them to do is not a “new power.” The tax disadvantage of not buying a home is much greater than the disadvantage of not having insurance, and no one accuses the government of “mandating” home ownership.

  9. Greg Krehbiel Greg Krehbiel
    9 April 2012 @ 7:47 pm

    Did you listen to any of the oral arguments in the case? Congress played it both ways about whether it was a “tax.”

    The law is a shoddy piece of work, as you would expect of something cobbled together to get votes so it can be passed by a slim majority.

  10. John Krehbiel John Krehbiel
    10 April 2012 @ 4:12 pm

    Whether it is called a “tax” or not matters a great deal to the court, but makes no actual difference to taxpayers (although they probably don’t think that way).

    A tax deduction for paying home mortgage interest is equivalent to a tax on not paying home mortgage interest.