More GOP Hypocrisy on Obama’s Judicial Nonsense

More GOP Hypocrisy on Obama’s Judicial Nonsense April 11, 2012

As much as I’ve slammed Obama for his absurd initial comments about the Supreme Court and the health care reform case — and slammed those who didn’t think he should be slammed for them — I’m finding it absolutely hilarious watching Republicans — Republicans, for crying out loud — suddenly getting a case at the vapors at the idea that anyone would dare question that sacred court. TPM has a rundown of just a handful of Republican attacks on the court over the last few years:

— Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) now says Obama is trying to “bully” the Supreme Court. But in 2004 he sponsored legislation that would have drastically altered the nation’s system of checks and balances — it would have allowed Congress to overturn a high court decision with a two-thirds majority in each chamber.

— In 2005, furious at the courts over the Terri Schiavo case, Majority Leader Tom DeLay vowed that the Republican-controlled House would “look at an arrogant and out-of-control judiciary that thumbs its nose at Congress and the president.” He said the “time will come for the men responsible for this to answer for their behavior.” …

— In Iowa one year ago, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) said that the federal government can “limit the subject matter that justices can rule on. We have it within our authority to decide what judges can rule on and what they can’t.”

— At a GOP primary debate last October, Rick Santorum said same-sex marriage was authorized in Iowa because “seven justices forced gay marriage on the people” and in response, he went to Iowa “and made sure that those three justices were defeated.”

— Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), a member of the GOP leadership, warned against “judicial activism in July 2009 on the Senate floor. He said overreach by the courts “has the necessary consequence of taking power away from the elected representatives and thus the people themselves, and conferring those in life-tenured, unelected judges.” Years earlier he said a spate of attacks on courthouses might be linked to overzealous judging. “I don’t know if there is a cause-and-effect connection, but we have seen some recent episodes of courthouse violence in this country. … And I wonder whether there may be some connection between the perception in some quarters, on some occasions, where judges are making political decisions yet are unaccountable to the public, that it builds up and builds up and builds up to the point where some people engage in, engage in violence. Certainly without any justification, but a concern that I have.”

It’s all quite amusing watching the Repubicans say, in their best Foghorn Leghorn voice, “How dare you, sir!” The right has run against the Supreme Court for decades, going all the way back to the New Deal. What Obama said was idiotic, but it was idiotic precisely because he was repeating the absurd rhetoric that the right has used routinely for more than 80 years now.

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  • I not sure what to make of this whole reversal. One part of me says it’s the Republicans making a show of being not-Obama, and it’ll be forgotten in a month. Another part of me wonders if they’re rebranding themselves or something.

  • slc1

    Here’s a perfect example of hypocrisy from war mongering columnist Charles Krauthammer who, I suspect, never commented on the quotes cited in the TPM article.

  • NoVaRunner

    I not sure what to make of this whole reversal.

    That both parties are populated by people who are far more concerned with what the other party says than with anything remotely resembling principle?

  • Gregory in Seattle

    It has always been “patriotic outrage at an out of control system of activist judges” when the courts oppose the Republican theocratic agenda.

    It has always been “righteous condemnation of treasonous assaults on the sacred work of an impartial judiciary” when Democrats speak out against the court upholding the Republican theocratic agenda.

    Hypocricy, yes, but there is no reversal here.

  • Both parties have been equally guilty of making those statements of statements in relation towards our judicial branch. That is why, while I agree with you completely that Obama’s statement was silly, it did not bother as much as it did others. Unfortunately, that type of hypocrisy and stupidity is the sad reality of our politics.

  • d cwilson

    @Bronze Dog:

    It’s entirely about disagreeing with anything Obama says. Remember, these are the same republicans who were so outraged over Obama declining to defend DOMA in the courts that they allocated funds for a special Congressional lawyer to do it. Republicans have no concern that what they say today contradicts what they said yesterday.

  • Yeah, there’s no way that this represents some genuine change of views. This is pure political hypocrisy. The moment the Supreme Court hands down a ruling they don’t like — especially if they uphold the mandate — the Republicans will be saying far worse than what Obama said, including talking about stripping the court of jurisdiction.

  • juice

    The right has run against the Supreme Court for decades, going all the way back to the New Deal.

    It wasn’t the right running against the Supreme Court during the New Deal, unless FDR is on the right.

  • Chiroptera

    Yeah, it’s the conservatives’ game of political rock/scissors/paper.

    If the Court rules in a way they don’t like, scream about “insufficient deference to the peoples’ elected representives.”

    If the legislatures vote on bills in a way they don’t like, then scream about “thwarting the will of the people.”

    When the voting electorate decides issues in a way they don’t like, suddenly demand that “the courts uphold the Constitution.”

  • F

    Don’t forget Newt’s “I’ll call the justices onto the floor of the House and make them explain themselves if I don’t like how they rule”.

  • jesse

    Some of this stems from a misunderstanding of what the courts, constitution and legislatures do.

    Not that politicians don’t say things for gain, or that attacks on the court don’t come from both sides. However… I had a conversation with a conservative once who kept saying “you have to follow the Constitution” and that judges are supposed to follow the law, not interpret it(!). I pointed out that interpretation is precisely the courts’ job, every single day, at every level. Of course they have to follow the law, but to do that you have to interpret what it means, and maybe, in a few cases, decide that the old meaning doesn’t serve well anymore.

    At the SCOTUS level especially, this is true, that’s why segregation was legal as per the Plessy decision in 1896 but illegal under brown in 1954, even though the text of the Constitution did not change (at least with respect to the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments). He didn’t seem to get that the Constitution is a framework, and has a few “thou shalt nots” for the government. But it doesn’t take the place of actual legislation. There is no Constitutional prohibition on murder or fraud, after all.

    That kind of misunderstanding gets into the legislature, since legislators are drawn form the same population as the rest of us.

    It’s also worth noting that while Obama has said some things that are silly (every politician has) the attacks on the Supreme Court in the 30s were a bit different– Roosevelt knew exactly what the court was supposed to do, which is why he wanted to change the number of justices. (It was a non-starter, even then).