The Corner

The Democrats’ Pressure Campaign Against the Supreme Court: Will it Work?

Yesterday’s rhetorical volleys against the Supreme Court were hardly subtle. There’s a pressure campaign now underway, an effort to verbally bully the Supreme Court into the “right” ruling in the Obamacare litigation. In fact, some on the left openly admit their tactics:

Nan Aron, president of the Alliance for Justice and a prominent advocate during Supreme Court confirmation battles, said Obama and Democrats have made it clear that they would fiercely criticize a ruling against the healthcare law.

“I do think the statements by some of the senators and the president are serving notice to the court that, frankly, if the court does overturn the law, in essence, the court will become a political football in the election,” Aron said.

“I wouldn’t have said that before of the president’s comments. By virtue of the fact that he spoke out, it does serve notice: Think twice before throwing out this baby. It will be viewed more as a political act,” she added. 

The language and arguments are clumsy (Calling the judges “unelected” is hardly insulting, and calling into question Social Security and Medicare, like Senator Schumer did, is pure legal nonsense), but the goal is clear: Make the justices feel like their legacy is at stake.

Will it work? Almost certainly not, but it’s not because justices aren’t human and aren’t concerned about their legacy. Anyone would be, and concern for a legacy is overall a good thing — leading justices to develop jurisprudential philosophies rather than merely skip from outcome to outcome, molding their reasoning, ad hoc, case by case. But justices are concerned not merely with personal professional reputation, but also with the reputation of the Court as an independent constitutional force — influenced by the law and legal arguments, not by the cries of protesters or the anger of politicians. One of the prime purposes of judicial review and an independent judiciary in a constitutional republic is to provide a check against even majority opinion when that opinion leads to unconstitutional legislation.  

In my experience, federal judges are more likely to be angered than intimidated by direct attacks from politicians and pressure groups. They are “unelected” by design of the Framers, and that lifetime appointment gives them exactly the level of independence the Framers desired. Moreover, this is hardly the first time that the justices have faced high-stakes litigation, and it won’t be the last.  

As I listen to President Obama, Senator Schumer, and others, I hear repeats of the legal arguments the Court already found wanting at oral argument. Will repeating simplified versions of those arguments before reporters or even angry crowds somehow make them more persuasive? Hardly. In fact, it merely reaffirms their weakness.

Most Popular

Media

‘Anonymous’ Falls Flat

On the menu today: The op-ed page of the New York Times made the deliberate decision to hoodwink America about the identity of “Anonymous”; the sense of guilt that pervades legacy media -- a very apt label; and wondering whether or not we will even see long lines on Election Day with early voting being so ... Read More
Media

‘Anonymous’ Falls Flat

On the menu today: The op-ed page of the New York Times made the deliberate decision to hoodwink America about the identity of “Anonymous”; the sense of guilt that pervades legacy media -- a very apt label; and wondering whether or not we will even see long lines on Election Day with early voting being so ... Read More

Another Pollster Sees a Trump Win

The Trafalgar Group’s Robert Cahaly is an outlier among pollsters in that he thinks President Trump will carry Michigan, Pennsylvania, or both, and hence be reelected with roughly 280 electoral votes. (I explained his thinking here.) Last week another pollster, Jim Lee of Susquehanna Polling and Research, ... Read More

Another Pollster Sees a Trump Win

The Trafalgar Group’s Robert Cahaly is an outlier among pollsters in that he thinks President Trump will carry Michigan, Pennsylvania, or both, and hence be reelected with roughly 280 electoral votes. (I explained his thinking here.) Last week another pollster, Jim Lee of Susquehanna Polling and Research, ... Read More
White House

Hell, Yes

Editor’s Note: If you would like to read more pros and cons on voting for President Trump, further essays on the subject, each from a different perspective, can be found here, here, here, here, and here. These articles, and the one below, reflect the views of the individual authors, not of the National ... Read More
White House

Hell, Yes

Editor’s Note: If you would like to read more pros and cons on voting for President Trump, further essays on the subject, each from a different perspective, can be found here, here, here, here, and here. These articles, and the one below, reflect the views of the individual authors, not of the National ... Read More
Economy & Business

Daylight Savings Forever

Before I became a parent, I didn't have especially strong feelings about the time shifting by an hour twice a year. Like most people I was aware of the downsides -- increased car accidents, schedule confusion, etc. -- and I figured it would be better to knock it off. But I didn't feel personally offended by ... Read More
Economy & Business

Daylight Savings Forever

Before I became a parent, I didn't have especially strong feelings about the time shifting by an hour twice a year. Like most people I was aware of the downsides -- increased car accidents, schedule confusion, etc. -- and I figured it would be better to knock it off. But I didn't feel personally offended by ... Read More