Obama goes too far for even Supreme Court liberals

Reuters

President Barack Obama greets greets US Supreme Court Justices Anthony Kennedy (C) and Ruth Bader Ginsburg (R) prior to the president's State of the Union address.

Article Highlights

  • Much has been made of the Supreme Court slapping down the Barack Obama administration unanimously yesterday -- twice.

    Tweet This

  • These cases are actually just the latest in a series of unanimous rebukes by the court of the administration's legal positions.

    Tweet This

  • Some of the complaints reflect the normal back-and-forth of party politics.

    Tweet This

Much has been made of the Supreme Court slapping down the Barack Obama administration unanimously yesterday -- twice. It ruled that the administration acted unconstitutionally by making recess appointments when Congress had not said it was in recess. And it unanimously ruled that a Massachusetts law regulating anti-abortion protesters was unconstitutional. The administration had urged that it be upheld.

Yet these cases are actually just the latest in a series of unanimous rebukes by the court of the administration's legal positions. In Hosanna-Tabor vs. EEOC of 2012, for example, the court unanimously held, again contrary to the administration’s position, that religious freedom includes a church’s right to make personnel decisions.

These cases should affect the way we think about congressional Republicans’ determination to sue the administration over its casual approach to the rule of law, as Speaker of the House John Boehner has threatened. Republicans have grown angry over many moves by the administration that seem to ignore clear statutory text or otherwise advance novel theories of executive power. Obama at one point denied that he had the power to implement the Dream Act, an amnesty for illegal immigrants who came to this country as minors. In 2012, when it seemed like imposing this policy would be helpful to his re-election, he did it anyway.

Some of the complaints reflect the normal back-and-forth of party politics. Democrats charged that the George W. Bush administration seized too much power as well. Almost all of those complaints, however, centered on longstanding differences of opinion over the scope of a president’s Article II powers as commander-in-chief. The Obama administration has advanced broad readings of its power over a wider range of issues, without much in the way of Article II arguments.

The fact that even liberal Supreme Court justices appointed by Democratic presidents -- two appointed by Obama himself -- have repeatedly ruled that the administration's positions ran afoul of the Constitution suggests that more than just party politics is at work. It may or may not be wise for congressional Republicans to go to court against the administration, which raises thorny legal questions about their standing to sue. But the Republicans are right to think this administration has made a dangerous habit of pushing the limits of its constitutional authority.

Also Visit
AEIdeas Blog The American Magazine
About the Author

 

Ramesh
Ponnuru

What's new on AEI

AEI Election Watch 2014: What will happen and why it matters
image A nation divided by marriage
image Teaching reform
image Socialist party pushing $20 minimum wage defends $13-an-hour job listing
AEI on Facebook
Events Calendar
  • 20
    MON
  • 21
    TUE
  • 22
    WED
  • 23
    THU
  • 24
    FRI
Monday, October 20, 2014 | 2:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Warfare beneath the waves: The undersea domain in Asia

We welcome you to join us for a panel discussion of the undersea military competition occurring in Asia and what it means for the United States and its allies.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014 | 8:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.
AEI Election Watch 2014: What will happen and why it matters

AEI’s Election Watch is back! Please join us for two sessions of the longest-running election program in Washington, DC. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014 | 1:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
What now for the Common Core?

We welcome you to join us at AEI for a discussion of what’s next for the Common Core.

Event Registration is Closed
Thursday, October 23, 2014 | 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
Brazil’s presidential election: Real challenges, real choices

Please join AEI for a discussion examining each candidate’s platform and prospects for victory and the impact that a possible shift toward free-market policies in Brazil might have on South America as a whole.

Event Registration is Closed
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.