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Obama Comments on Supreme Court Review of Obamacare

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

At a meeting on Monday with President Calderón of Mexico and Prime Minister Harper of Canada, President Barack H. Obama slammed the U.S. Supreme Court calling them “an unelected group of people” and seemed to take offense that the Court “would somehow overturn a duly constituted and passed law.”

Pres. Obama said, “With respect to health care, I’m actually — continue to be confident that the Supreme Court will uphold the law.  And the reason is because, in accordance with precedent out there, it’s constitutional.  That’s not just my opinion, by the way; that’s the opinion of legal experts across the ideological spectrum, including two very conservative appellate court justices that said this wasn’t even a close case.”

Pres. Obama said, “I think it’s important — because I watched some of the commentary last week — to remind people that this is not an abstract argument.  People’s lives are affected by the lack of availability of health care, the inaffordability of health care, their inability to get health care because of preexisting conditions.”

President Obama said that the law has “given 2.5 million young people health care that wouldn’t otherwise have it.  There are tens of thousands of adults with preexisting conditions who have health care right now because of this law.  Parents don’t have to worry about their children not being able to get health care because they can’t be prevented from getting health care as a consequence of a preexisting condition.  That’s part of this law.”  “That doesn’t even speak to the 30 million people who stand to gain coverage once it’s fully implemented in 2014.”

President Obama did admit that the Patient Affordability and Protection Act (Obamacare) could not stand without the individual mandate: “And I think it’s important, and I think the American people understand, and the I think the justices should understand, that in the absence of an individual mandate, you cannot have a mechanism to ensure that people with preexisting conditions can actually get health care.  So there’s not only a economic element to this, and a legal element to this, but there’s a human element to this.  And I hope that’s not forgotten in this political debate.”

Obama still expressed confidence that the nation’s highest court will still find in his favor. “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.  Well, this is a good example.  And I’m pretty confident that this Court will recognize that and not take that step.”  “We are confident that this will be over — that this will be upheld.  I’m confident that this will be upheld because it should be upheld.  And, again, that’s not just my opinion; that’s the opinion of a whole lot of constitutional law professors and academics and judges and lawyers who have examined this law, even if they’re not particularly sympathetic to this particular piece of legislation or my presidency.”

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Apparently in response to President Obama broadside attack on judicial review a Federal Appeals Court Judge in Texas fired back at the administration.

U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Jerry Smith said, “I’m referring to statements by the president in the past few days to the effect, I’m sure you’ve heard about them, that it is somehow inappropriate for what he termed unelected judges to strike acts of Congress that have enjoyed, he was referring of course to Obamacare, to what he termed a broad consensus and majorities in both houses of Congress,” Smith told Dana Kaersvang, an attorney with the Justice Department in Washington, D.C.”

Judge Smith said, “I want to be sure that you are telling us that the Attorney General and the Department of Justice do recognize the authority of the federal courts through unelected judges to strike acts of Congress or portions thereof in appropriate cases.”  Judge Smith then demanded that the Justice Department deliver a written letter stating the position of U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and the Justice Department on the concept of judicial review.  Smith demanded that the letter be at least three pages in length and needs to refer to the President’s Monday comments.

Judge Smith and the U.S. 5th Circuit court of Appeals is currently hearing a case where an East Texas hospital is challenging the Constitutionality of a provision in the Patient Affordability and Protection Act that bans doctors from building or expanding hospitals.

Critics have been aghast at the President’s Monday comments since he appears to be rejecting the Constitutional concepts of an independent judiciary and judicial review.  Some conservative commentators have gone so far as to suggest that President Obama is threatening the Court.  The President taught Constitutional Law.  Political pundits have suggested that the President’s harsh tone indicates that he is planning to campaign against the Court if it rules against him.

Alabama and 26 other states as well at the National Federation of Independent Businesses and four individuals have sued the Federal Government arguing that Obamacare as a whole and the individual mandate specifically are un-Constitutional.

To read the President’s remarks in their entirety:

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Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

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