During his State of the Union address last night, President Obama did something extremely unusual. He criticized and insulted the Supreme Court while the justices were sitting directly in front of him. Then, after insulting them, he called on Congress to “fix” the Court’s “mistake”. Justice Alito, breaking the tradition of justices not responding to what the President says, made a face, shook his head and mouthed the words “not true”. This was a new “Joe Wilson” moment. Even though Justice Alito didn’t loudly accuse the President of lying as Wilson did, it was still shocking.
For those of you who are unaware of what Obama was referring to, it was the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down laws that, in a nut shell, made it illegal for businesses to run political ads during political campaigns. The Court explained that businesses have a right to free speech just as individuals do, and to bar them from making political statements was a violation of the 1st amendment. I wrote a post last week where I explained why Obama was going to take on the Supreme Court over this issue. He sure fired a big shot last night!
I don’t believe any President has ever criticized the Supreme Court during the State of the Union address. The Supreme Court is an important co-branch of government, and for Obama to attack them to their face in front of the entire Congress and nation shows arrogance and disrespect. He also seems to have a misunderstanding of how things are supposed to work. He called on Congress to right the supposed wrong done by the Supreme Court. However, if Congress passes another law barring businesses from having free speech, it will just be struck down again as unconstitutional because the Court has already ruled on it. The only way to get around it would be a Constitutional amendment. I think it’s interesting that Obama didn’t call for this. In my opinion, it means he doesn’t want an all out battle with the Court, he just wants to score some cheap shots. That seems childish, doesn’t it?
Jake Tapper from ABC is reporting that a Supreme Court historian (who was an enthusiastic Obama supporter) believes the justices may not show up to the next State of the Union address. From Tapper’s blog,
“It was really unusual in my mind to see the president going after the Supreme Court in such a forum,” said author and Law Professor Lucas Powe, the Anne Green Regents Chair in Law, and a Professor of Government at the University of Texas-Austin School of Law. “I’m willing to bet a lot of money there will be no Supreme Court justice at the next State of the Union speech.”
Added Professor Powe, who clerked for Supreme Court Justice William Douglas, “you don’t go to be insulted. I can’t see the Justices wanting to be there and be insulted by the president.”
Wow, not only has Obama turned off a majority of the American people, but he may have turned off the Supreme Court.
Here is a video of Obama criticizing the Court during the State of the Union.
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