Judicial Pushback to Obama Begins
Hattip to Allahpundit at Hot Air. Well, that didn’t take long. In response to Obama’s attempt yesterday to bully the Supreme Court in the ObamaCare case, here is what happened in a Fifth Circuit hearing today:
The panel is hearing a separate challenge to the health care law by physician-owned hospitals. The issue arose when a lawyer for the Justice Department began arguing before the judges. Appeals Court Judge Jerry Smith immediately interrupted, asking if DOJ agreed that the judiciary could strike down an unconstitutional law.
The DOJ lawyer, Dana Lydia Kaersvang, answered yes — and mentioned Marbury v. Madison, the landmark case that firmly established the principle of judicial review more than 200 years ago, according to the lawyer in the courtroom.
Smith then became “very stern,” the source said, telling the lawyers arguing the case it was not clear to “many of us” whether the president believes such a right exists. The other two judges on the panel, Emilio Garza and Leslie Southwick–both Republican appointees–remained silent, the source said.
Smith, a Reagan appointee, went on to say that comments from the president and others in the Executive Branch indicate they believe judges don’t have the power to review laws and strike those that are unconstitutional, specifically referencing Mr. Obama’s comments yesterday about judges being an “unelected group of people.”
The three judges ordered the government attorneys to submit a three page letter setting forth the government’s position on judicial review by Thursday.
SMITH, J.: Let me ask you something a little bit more basic. Does the DOJ recognize that federal courts have the authority in appropriate circumstances to strike federal statutes because of one or more constitutional infirmities.
A: Yes your honor, of course, there will have to be a severability analysis.
Q: I am referring to the statements by the President from the past few days, to the effect .. . I’m sure you’ve heard about it, that it’s somehow inappropriate for what he termed “unelected judges” to strike acts of Congress that have enjoyed . . . what he termed broad consensus and majorities in both houses of Congress. That has troubled a number of people who have read it as somehow a challenge to the federal courts or to their authority, or to the appropriateness of the concept of judicial review. And that’s not a small matter. I want to make sure that you are telling us, and that the DOJ do recognize the authority of the federal courts through unelected judges to strike acts of congress or portions thereof in appropriate cases.
A: Marbury v. Madison is the law . . .
Q: Okay, well I would like to have from you by noon on Thursday, about 48 hours from now, a letter stating what is the position of the AG and the DOJ in regard to the recent statement by the President, stating specifically and in detail, in references to those statements, what the authority is of the federal courts in this regard in terms of judicial review. That letter needs to be at least three pages, single spaced, no less, and it needs to be specific. It needs to make specific reference to the President’s statement and the position of the AG and the DOJ.
[very long pause]
A: Okay, and that’s our position regarding judicial review?
Q: Judicial review as it relates to the specific statements of the president in regard to Obamacare and the authority of the courts to review that legislation.
A: Yes, your honor.
This is non-surprising to me. I have spent my adult life around courts and judges. Judges normally do not have small egos and they take the role of courts in society very seriously. Expect more of this.