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Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Imperial President: Obama Wages War on SCOTUS, Congress

President Obama’s favorite word, as we’ve learned repeatedly, is “I.” He uses it on a constant basis. He uses it to claim credit and to assign blame. He uses it to cajole and to threaten. He uses it to plead and to prod.

But he doesn’t use the word “I” purely out of ego. He does it because for President Obama, “I” represents the executive branch. And the executive branch, in Obama’s view, is the ruling branch of American government.

President Obama’s latest attack on the Supreme Court is just the latest evidence of his deep-rooted disdain not just for the Constitution, but for the system of checks and balances it represents. Prior to his election, Obama told Americans that we were just days away from “fundamentally transforming the United States of America.” He didn’t mean that simply in terms of policy, although he certainly wanted redistributionist policy to take center stage. He meant it in terms of governmental structure.

President Obama has made it his mission to wield the club against the other two branches of government in a manner unprecedented in American history. Yesterday, Obama, rejecting the heart of judicial review for purposes of his own power, stated, “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.” That, of course, is precisely what the Supreme Court does on a daily basis: it reviews acts of a democratically-elected Congress. The reason the justices are unelected is that they are supposed to be free of outside influences in defending and protecting the Constitution.

But for Obama, the Supreme Court is an obstacle to his own power. And so he goes to war with the Supreme Court. As I noted yesterday, this is nothing new for President Obama – in his 2010 State of the Union Address, he lied about the Supreme Court and attacked them as judicial activists for striking down campaign finance laws that violated the First Amendment. That prompted Justice Alito to mouth the words, “Not true.” But undercutting the authority of the Supreme Court in a setting where the justices had to sit and take it was just the beginning, apparently.

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