President Barack Obama is gearing up for a potential fight with the Supreme Court in the event it overturns his signature legislative achievement. Speaking publicly for the first time since the hearings at the high court on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Obama exuded confidence that the law would be upheld as constitutional and set himself up for a battle with the court by labelling a potential overturn “judicial activism.”
“In accordance with precedent out there, it’s constitutional,” Obama said at a joint press conference in the White House’s Rose Garden with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Mexican President Felipe Calderon, according to The Huffington Post.
“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 who said this wasn’t even a close case.”
This was his main point — that overturning of the law would be an unprecedented step. It sets Obama up for a campaign against the high court should it overturn the law, portraying it as an activist and perhaps partisan bench.
Some strong words for the court:
“Ultimately I am 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 just remind conservative commentators that for years what we have heard is that 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 recognise that and not take that step.”
Groups that focused on promoting the law are already planning to shift focus should it be struck down. One group, Protect Your Car, told the Washington Post that it would paint the bench’s conservatives as partisan activists.
“Since Bush v. Gore, from the progressive side, it would be the most galvanizing Supreme Court ruling ever,” said Eddie Vale, a spokesman for the group. “You’d have a 5-4 court, in clearly a partisan political decision, striking down not just President Obama’s biggest legislative accomplishment but also the biggest progressive legislation since LBJ.”
Obama was quick to then point out the ramifications for the everyday U.S. citizen if the law is overturned — provisions of the law that have already taken effect. These include what he said were 2.5 million children allowed to stay on their parents’ plans, changes to Medicare prescription plans and various insurance industry regulatory reforms.
“There not only is an economic element to this, and a legal element to this, there is also a human element to this,” he said.
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