Jewish World Review April 10, 2012/ 18 Nissan, 5772
The Obama Manifesto
By Paul Greenberg
That essential insight keeps getting in the way of willful presidents.
Our current president was only following a time-dishonored tradition this past week when he went to wagging his finger, not for the first time, at the justices of the
As he phrased it at his press conference when the subject of his health-care plan and its constitutional chances came up: "For years what we've heard is the biggest problem on the bench was judicial activism or the lack of judicial restraint, that an unelected group of people would somehow overturn a duly constituted and passed law." His health-care law, he said, was just that. So this court better not mess with it: "And I'm pretty confident that this court will recognize that, and not take that step."
To sum it up, as a headline on the front page of the
Unprecedented? Extraordinary? Our president, who is said to have taught constitutional law at one point, has got to know better. For the
Even before there was a Constitution, while it was still being debated, a feisty commentator named
"A constitution is, in fact, and must be regarded by the judges, as a fundamental law. It therefore belongs to them to ascertain its meaning, as well as the meaning of any particular act proceeding from the legislative body. If there should happen to be an irreconcilable variance between the two, that which has the superior obligation and validity ought, of course, to be preferred; or, in other words, the Constitution ought to be preferred to the statute, the intention of the people to the intention of their agents."
Colonel Hamilton's little feuilleton would become Federalist Paper 78. (Newspaper columnists wrote so much better and clearer in his time; the trade has declined considerably since.)
That doozy of a law proposed to do to the whole national economy what this administration would like to do to all Americans' health care. In response to the court's overturning their plan, the New Dealers set out to pack the court with their own pet judges. They didn't succeed. Americans have this fondness for the rule of law.
If the court's doubting a law's constitutionality is quite precedented, so is a president's threatening it. What gives
Our president's scholarly pretensions only add a further filip to his ill-concealed threat to the court. If this president weren't so deaf to irony, he himself might be amused by the spectacle of it.
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