The wasted 1-day summit
In case you missed it, yesterday a summit took place between the three largest economies of North America: Canada, Mexico, and the USA. You would think this would be news as of itself, since it involves membership on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free-trade zone.
Instead, Obama diverted the press conference into the issue of Obamacare and the SCOTUS, by cautioning the justices, to whom he referred to as “an unelected group of people,”
“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,”
It is outrageous enough that the president’s protest was inaccurate. What in the world is he talking about when he asserts the law was passed by “a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress”? The Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act barely squeaked through the Congress. In the Senate it escaped a filibuster by but a hair. The vote was so tight in the house — 219 to 212 — that the leadership went through byzantine maneuvers to get the measure to the president’s desk. No Republicans voted for it when it came up in the House, and the drive to repeal the measure began the day after Mr. Obama signed the measure.
It is the aspersions the President cast on the Supreme Court, though, that take the cake. We speak of the libel about the court being an “unelected group of people” who might “somehow overturn a duly constituted and passed law.” This libel was dealt with more than two centuries ago in the newspaper column known as 78 Federalist and written by Alexander Hamilton. It is the essay in which Hamilton, a big proponent of federal power, famously described the Court as “the weakest of the three departments of power.” It argued that the people could never be endangered by the court — so long as the judiciary “remains truly distinct from both the legislature and the Executive.”
It was precisely the separation of the courts from the other two branches, Hamilton argued, that gives the court its legitimacy.
With his statement, President Obama Goes on Record Opposing Marbury v. Madison.
it isn’t the job of the Supreme Court to do the job of Congress. Instead, its job is to determine whether or not what Congress has done is compliant with the limits the Constitution places on it. That’s it. There is nothing which requires the Supreme Court to “fix” laws that Congress has passed.
Obama’s assault on “an unelected group of people” stopped me cold. Because, as the former constitutional law professor certainly understands, it is the essence of our governmental system to vest in the court the ultimate power to decide the meaning of the constitution. Even if, as the president said, it means overturning “a duly constituted and passed law.”
So the joint press conference with Felipe Calderón and Stephen Harper accomplished…what?
1. Obama’s going after the Supreme Court as his bête noire, knowing they cannot respond.
2. It showed that the President needs a remedial course in judicial review.
3. It demonstrated to Mexico and Canada that they are mere side ornaments when it comes to Obama’s priorities: Critical issues that involve the three countries count for nothing.
Canadian officials have said that they have been willing to put everything up for negotiation—including, some officials say, dairy products and other issues such as a U.S. push for Canada to increase intellectual-property protections.
TPP joins a list of recent points of tension in the world’s largest trade relationship. Canadians were angered by “Buy America” provisions in last year’s U.S. stimulus plan, new surcharges imposed on Canadians traveling to the U.S. and regulatory delays in approval for the Keystone pipeline, a massive project to move crude from the oil sands of Alberta to U.S. refineries.
As a side note,
When you read the full transcript, note the condescending tone towards Calderón (“Felipe, Stephen and I are proud to welcome you here today”).
Don’t miss Judidical activism for me, but not for thee