Unelected Judges

Ruth Marcus, hardly an ideological conservative, had much the same concerns as I expressed over the president’s remarks yesterday:

I would lament a ruling striking down the individual mandate, but I would not denounce it as conservative justices run amok. Listening to the arguments and reading the transcript, the justices struck me as a group wrestling with a legitimate, even difficult, constitutional question. For the president to imply that the only explanation for a constitutional conclusion contrary to his own would be out-of-control conservative justices does the court a disservice.

Worse, the president’s critique, and in particular the reference to “unelected” judges, buys into an unfortunate and largely unwarranted conservative critique of judicial power. We want our judges unelected. We want them to have the final constitutional say. The president should be arguing for a second term to prevent the court from tipping in an even more conservative direction, not channeling tired critiques from the right about activist judges legislating from the bench.

I also applaud Ms. Marcus’s reasonable reaction to the oral arguments before the Supreme Court. If we don’t agree about the process, our problems go much, much deeper than a strategy for ensuring that Americans have access to healthcare.

If we disagree about the policies, disagree about the process and hate each other, there is only one recourse: divorce. We’ve already tried that once. It didn’t work out well. We should be pressing for a reconciliation, not hardening our positions.

3 comments… add one
  • Drew Link

    I don’t believe for a second Pres Obama believes what he said. He can’t be that dense. (Of course, we do have the solar debacle now don’t we?) I think its just politics. And he knows he has media air cover so he can make the gambit.

    I agree with just about all Ms Marcus observes. But remember, Obama’s talent and experience is really community organizing read: propaganda; not real live legislation and principled leadership.

  • Jeff Medcalf Link

    I’m sure Obama was speaking with the intent of encouraging political opinion changes in his audience, rather that stating principles, facts, etc. This entire administration is the most utilitarian and political of my lifetime, and likely the most cynical since at least Nixon. That said, there is a real and deep divide between those who recognize no limits on government except on sexual (and abortion) matters, and those who still conform to a more originality and individualist view that favors smaller government with limited powers. The middle third has taken a largely utilitarian approach which has been the route to compromise in the past, but the individualists are being pushed to the wall by Obama. If that doesn’t get reversed, not merely moderated, at least somewhat, it will soon be impossible to paper over te differences.

  • Jeff Medcalf Link

    Or maybe we should take the president at face value, and ask him if he thinks Marbury v Madison was wrongly decided.

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