ABA President Criticizes Obama For Judicial Activism Comments

ABA President Wm. T. (Bill) Robinson III has issued a statement criticizing President Obama’s statement that voting against the health care law would be “judicial activism” In a letter to the Wall Street Journal, Robinson called the remarks “troubling.”

Robinson wrote:

“President Barack Obama’s remarks on Monday speculating about the Supreme Court’s potential decision in the health care legislation appeal are troubling. Particularly worrisome was his suggestion that the court’s decision in this case could serve as a ‘good example’ of what some commentators have cited as ‘judicial activism or a lack of judicial restraint’ by an ‘unelected group of people.’ We’re gratified that the president recast his remarks Tuesday. He clarified appropriately that ‘the Supreme Court is the final say on our Constitution and our laws, and all of us have to respect it.’ It is incumbent on all of our elected officials—including those aspiring to hold office—to continually demonstrate that the courtroom is not a political arena. It is a measure of a free society that individuals are able to openly disagree with court decisions, but we should expect our leaders to refrain from partisan statements aimed at judges fulfilling their constitutional role and responsibilities.”

I previously made the same objections, though I also felt that the Fifth Circuit overstepped its bounds by demanding a letter from the Justice Department explaining those comments (despite the comments of the lead government lawyer that the government did not question the ability of the court to overturn the law). Yesterday, I went on MSNBC to discuss the controversy with Martin Bashir. I still believe that the President crossed the line on the judicial activism suggestion (though that was not shown on program). [By the way, I read the transcript and saw that I said I “watched” the three days of argument. In fact, I listened to the argument rather than watch the arguments in the courtroom itself]. I found the later statement of the President to be entirely appropriate — citing what the President viewed as the strength of the precedent.

I have met Robinson at the ceremony for the top 100 Irish lawyers at the Irish Ambassador’s home and found him to be a thoughtful man. Robinson is under fire for his criticism of the President but his statement is measured and in my view correct. He is showing the detachment that was lacking from the Attorney General when he called the President’s statement “appropriate.” As the chief legal officer, I believe Holder should have taken the approach of Robinson and acknowledged that people (and jurists) of good-faith can disagree on the issue of federalism in the health care litigation.

Here is the full statement by Robinson:

April 7, 2012
Statement Issued by ABA President, Wm. T. (Bill) Robinson III, on President Obama’s Remarks on U.S. Supreme Court and National Health Care

STATEMENT OF WM. T. (BILL) ROBINSON III, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN BAR ASSOCIATION
Re: President Obama’s remarks on upcoming U.S. Supreme Court ruling on national health care

President Barack Obama’s remarks on Monday speculating about the Supreme Court’s potential decision in the health care legislation appeal are troubling. Particularly worrisome was his suggestion that the court’s decision in this case could serve as a “good example” of what some commentators have cited as “judicial activism or a lack of judicial restraint” by an “unelected group of people.”

We’re gratified that the president recast his remarks Tuesday. He clarified appropriately that “the Supreme Court is the final say on our Constitution and our laws, and all of us have to respect it.”

Federal judges are, by design, not elected officials. Article II of our Constitution reserves for the president the authority to appoint Supreme Court justices and all other officers of the United States with the advice and consent of the Senate. In fact, President Obama himself has offered more than 123 nominations for Article III judgeships, including two lifetime appointments to our nation’s highest court.

The legitimacy of judicial review was settled more than 200 years ago in the landmark case Marbury v. Madison, which established such review as a key safeguard of the separation of powers doctrine. The Framers of our Constitution clearly understood that an independent judiciary is critical to the maintenance of our democracy and freedom.

It is incumbent on all of our elected officials—including those aspiring to hold office—to continually demonstrate that the courtroom is not a political arena. It is a measure of a free society that individuals are able to openly disagree with court decisions, but we should expect our leaders to refrain from partisan statements aimed at judges fulfilling their constitutional role and responsibilities.

Source: ABA Journal

43 thoughts on “ABA President Criticizes Obama For Judicial Activism Comments”

  1. Darren Smith,

    He clearly doesn’t respect either the Rule of Law (no prosecution of previous administration’s criminal elements), the Bill of Rights or the Separation of Powers (appointing himself hitman in chief without due process), so the difference between what President Obama should do and is doing is quite stark. Of course his statement was a political threat. That being said, the Gang of Five is doing a fine job of making a mockery of SCOTUS and enabling those who would dismember the Constitution from within.

  2. Personally, I do not like the notion of accepting the Clarification despite the original insult. In my view its just CYA. That is where is the deterrance for people voicing insults or threats when, if they are caught or called into question, they can simply have a spin doctor come along and say it was a mistake and all is forgiven. (yet the subject of the threat/insult gets the message as intended) There is a distinction between saying the wrong name or place and someone then corrects later. Threats are not acceptable.

    Pointing out that the Supreme Cout Justices are an un-elected lot making such decisions is using political rhetoric to cast them in a perjorative sense. First, they have never been elected by the public, and in fact until somewhat recently in our history senators were appointed also. Secondly that is what our constitution provides for. The presedent should respect both of the other triads of our government and the comments he said were deplorable and tantamount to a political threat.

  3. A discussion of whether Obama should have said this or the Justices should have said that –with regards to each other — is a little like comparing two Mafia families based on their adherence to Amy Vanderbilt’s Complete Book of Etiquette for young ladies. They are each going to tear the very fabric of the country apart as suits their want. Niceties such as the constitution are little noticed, less acted upon, but much strutted over.

  4. Have fun. I am, whatever you say or do.
    Notning like having shit dumped on you. One must breathe,, and I do. Thanks for the experience.
    You’re much kinder tnan the idiots on other blogs.

  5. Funny thing about sockpuppets. You can always suspect who’s who, but you’re never sure. This should be a little more regulated like the kos, but until it is there will be a plethora of Others assuming Ones identy or alter ego, ergo!

    I am not who you suspect but I could be the one you know that posts lots of links, or not.

  6. To combine metaphors: Professor Turley keeps beating a dead horse after it has left the barn.

    The world knows who sits on the bench of the United States Supreme Court, and the world knows what the narrow, self-styled “conservative” majority on that Court has done, and why. Trying, at this late date, to retrieve this Court’s discredited “authority” — by loudly demanding verbal acknowledgment of it — will accomplish only a deepening cynicism regarding the two-tiered “Liberty and Justice for Some,” that Glenn Greenwald writes about in his latest book by that name. As well:

    “The crucial event exposing how deeply political deterioration had penetrated the [American] system was the Florida recocunt in the presidential electinon of 2000. … In Florida … power without legitimcacy was first envisioned. That was when power brokers found that, if sufficiently determined, they could overcome the inhibitions of democratic constitutionalism.” — Sheldon S. Wolin, Democracy Inc., Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism.

    No Supreme Court in the history of the United States had ever before
    acted in such a nakedly partisan political manner, nor one so outside its proper Constitutional role; and thus the self-styled “conservative” majority of the Renquist Court defined the true meaning of “judicial activism” for all the world to see. “Power without legitimacy” describes not just the George W. Bush administration but the Supreme Court that brazenly effected the judicial equivalent of a coup d’etat. No amount of blustering and aggressive offence-taking will ever alter that historical verdict; and while those justices who perpetrated this travesty remain on the Court, any decision of that Court will bear the indelible taint of illegitimacy.

    President Obama, for his part, made only the merest allusion to this truth when he noted, accurately, how self-styled “conservatives” have made practically a global industry of flinging the “judicial activism” canard at court decisions they did not like while refusing to acknowledge their own resort to such activism when it pleased them. The true meaning of “judicial activism” describes this Court only slightly less well than it did the preceding Renquist Court. The shoe fits, but the pseudo-conservative justices find the shoe uncomfortable to wear. Too bad for them. They should have thought of that before aggressively subverting the Constitutionally prescribed procedures for resolving presidential elections. What do they expect? That people will just forget all about what they have done and revert to blindly trusting these partisan ideologues? As Shakespeare had Angus say of the dishonored and truculent Macbeth:

    … Now does he feel
    His secret murders sticking on his hands;
    Now minutely revolts upbraid his faith breach;
    Those he commands move only in command,
    Nothing in love: now does he feel his title
    Hang loose about him, like a giant’s robe
    Upon a dwarvish thief
    .

    The dwarvish, pseudo-conservative thieves need to resign in acknowledgement of the harm they have done to America. Their robes deserve larger jurists to wear them.

  7. Swarthmore mom1, April 10, 2012 at 6:28 pm +
    ———————
    ThAnk you, great links…..and why do they deny everything? Even the scientific FACTS regarding the state of the planet…they are like swarming insects and $$$$ is thier siren call….it is sick.

  8. Note to Prez. Bill of the ABA:

    He who would claim to decide apolitically must then decide apolitically.

    Calling attention to the hypocrisy of the Court by the elected representative of the People isn’t “troubling”; it’s required.

  9. The same people deny the overt racism expresssed toward Obama that deny the GOP war on women. Tea Party members at their recent rally against Obamacare were carrying anti-Obama and anti-Fluke signs. The racism and misogony were more than obvious.There was a racist cartoon in a Georgia newspaper recently that portrayed Obama as Sandra Fluke’s pimp. That kind of racism and misogyny is way too coommonplace to deny.

  10. toxic . . .

    I heard about this tragedy two years ago from a grower and bee keeper in Prince Edward Island — he was involved in a group that was trying to raise awareness of the cause of bee die off. Being fought, naturally, by the big chemical companies.

  11. Woosty,
    Yes it has. And for us too. As all the warning notices originating from the Silent Spring until now.
    I have posted twice on the myriad dangers from GMO and glycosofat use against weeds. No reaction here or elsewhere.
    It was from the Ag dept own scientists who are encharged with this, based on Ag’s own stats. Talk about being in denial.
    The collapse of nature, and our immune and other systems, may come suddenly. But there exist enough signs now to awaken suspicion.
    The decline in immunal functions, the rise of allergies, asthma, decline in fertility, diabetes rise (not only due to obesity), etc. Make your own list.

    And our politicians say: Piss on the scientists. They don’t pay for my campaign costs.

  12. Woosty’s still a Cat 1, April 10, 2012 at 1:36 pm

    this Country has become toxic….

    ============================
    Thanks for the link. I read it thoroughly.

    There is a similar source for the disappearance of government and sanity.

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