By all accounts, President Obama’s lawyers did a poor job of defending the constitutionality of his signature health-care-reform law in the Supreme Court last week. So he’s rearguing the case himself. On Monday, he declared that it would be an “unprecedented, extraordinary step” for the court to overturn a law “passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress.”
This statement is puzzling, to say the least. It is by no means “unprecedented” or “extraordinary” for the court to strike down the act of a democratically elected legislature.
Has the president not heard of Roe v. Wade (1973), where the court invalidated the democratically enacted laws of all 50 states? And even Marbury v. Madison (1803), which struck down a section of the First Judiciary Act?
How about INS v. Chadha (1983), where the court invalidated over 200 statutory provisions, many enacted by overwhelming bipartisan majorities?
Is the president unaware that the court in recent years has declared unconstitutional the Line Item Veto Act (struck down in 1998), major portions of the Sentencing Reform Act (2005), the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (1997) and two different attempts at campaign-finance law (in 1976 and 2010) — just to name some of the most prominent?