Thursday, April 5, 2012

POTUS vs. SCOTUS

Last week, we watched the Supreme Court debate over Obama's Affordable Care Act. Both sides came away with different views, but the general consensus is pretty grim for the ACA.

Shortly after the Supreme Court adjourned, Obama made comments that some have taken to be a slap in the face of the judicial branch of government. The President has gone back to say that he respects the Judicial branch and was not trying to criticize the high court directly, but simply wanted to voice his belief that the ACA should remain lawful.

Well, as you can imagine, these comments have been taken to fuel the partisan fires on the right. Criticism came swiftly, with some conservatives complaining that Obama is trying to psych out the Supreme Court. In further statements, Obama seems to target Chief Justice Roberts, who was a likely supporter of ACA going into the hearing but seemed much more suspicious of it during the proceedings.

One of the more interesting consequences of this, however, comes from the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. The three-panel court, which is looking at a different piece of the ACA, demanded on Tuesday that the Justice Department submit an explanation of the administrations position on the jurisdiction of the courts. They demand that the administration say whether or not Obama defers to judicial authority or not. It's a funny situation, since Obama gave no indication that he was against the courts in general, merely that he supported his own bill. Furthermore, these demand of a 3-page explanation of the position of the administration on judicial authority is a huge political stunt, one that is made all the more outrageous because it comes from a court of law, a place where politics and personal opinion are supposed to carry no weight.

While I'm not surprised that a politically charged topic like health care is being debated in the media, I was hoping for a little judicial objectivity. Of course, the Supreme Court is just as bad. Going into any case, no one should know how a judge will vote, but we were made aware of the positions of nearly every justice on the SC before they ever heard the case. Political positions of various judges are supposed to stay outside the courtroom. In a perfect world, the decision on health reform would be up in the air. I hope that the political leanings hold less sway in the SCOTUS than they seem to in other courts. I'm not holding my breath.

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