Nor is this the first time the president has stepped out of line. During a joint session of Congress in January 2010, Obama lectured the Supreme Court justices sitting in front of him that they got it wrong in the Citizens United case, which swept away key campaign-finance restrictions on First Amendment grounds. “Last week the Supreme Court reversed a century of law that I believe will open the floodgates for special interests — including foreign corporations — to spend without limit in our elections. Well I don’t think American elections should be bankrolled by America’s most powerful interests, and worse, by foreign entities. They should be decided by the American people, and that’s why I’m urging Democrats and Republicans to pass a bill that helps to right this wrong.” Obama’s statement that the Court’s ruling allowed political contributions by foreigners was plainly incorrect, earning a “Mostly False” rating from the PolitiFact website. No wonder that Justice Samuel Alito was observed by lipreaders mouthing the words “Not true” after Obama’s groundless attack.
No one believes the Supreme Court will rule on the constitutionality of Obamacare based on bush-league attacks on its integrity. But Obama’s misstep is only the latest in a series of blunders that further undermine his position. The presentation by Solicitor General Donald Verrelli last week before the Supreme Court was widely panned by legal scholars as weak and evasive. Verrelli caused even some liberal lawyers in the audience to wince when he preposterously claimed that Congress has passed Obamacare to deal with a serious problem “after long study and careful deliberation.” Whatever you want to call the chaotic, late-night brow beating of reluctant members to pass something — anything — to reform health care two years ago, it wasn’t pretty and it was far from careful. Recall that Senate Democrats forgot to include a standard severability clause in their drafting of the bill, which would allow the entire law to stand even if one provision is deemed unconstitutional.
And when it got to the legal substance, the Obama Justice Department didn’t do much better. “The court began where it should have begun with limiting principles (to the federal government’s power),” noted Jonathan Turley, a well-known liberal law professor at George Washington University. “And what was remarkable is that the administration seemed almost unprepared or unwilling to answer those questions with any clarity.”
The incoherence with which the Obama administration has addressed the entire issue of its signature domestic achievement continued yesterday when the president began a spat with the judiciary that was factually wrong, fatuous, and one he can’t possibly win. Several of the liberals I spoke with at Berkeley last night could only shake their head at how the man they voted for on the basis of ”hope and change” in 2008 looks like he’s in over his political head.
— John Fund, a writer based in New York, is the author of Stealing Elections: How Voter Fraud Threatens Our Democracy.