Week In Review
Earlier this week, President Obama waded into the Obamacare case--after the Justices had already taken their first secret vote--with some comments at the White House.:
Ultimately, I’m 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. And I’d just remind conservative commentators 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.
Fifth circuit court of appeals judge Jerry Smith took it personally. He interrupted a DOJ lawyer's presentation and demanded an explanation. Not just a quick statement in court, but a letter, three pages minimum, within 48 hours, from the Department Of Justice explaining the position of the Attorney General on judicial review.
Eric Holder responded, explaining the DOJ believes in Marbury v. Madison, and nothing the President said goes against that.
Some conservatives applauded the judge for calling the White House on its bluster, but I don't get it. I think Obama's original comments were ill-considered, coming across as a cheap shot and making him look kind of dumb, even after he walked them back the next day. But that should have been the end of it. Judge Smith's demands makes him look much sillier. No one could possibly have taken Obama's statement as meaning the White House opposes judicial review.
In fact, the judge's cranky outburst comes across as an abuse of his power. Eric Holder played it right, but I almost wish he'd just ignored the request and said come and get me.