GOP senator accuses Obama of threatening the Supreme Court

Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) on Tuesday accused President Obama of "threatening" the Supreme Court as it prepares a ruling on the constitutionality of the healthcare reform law.

Speaking a day after Obama warned against "unelected" judges overturning the law, Johanns said Obama crossed the line with his remarks.

"What President Obama is doing here isn't right," Johanns said Tuesday in an interview with local Nebraska radio station KLIN. "It is threatening, it is intimidating."

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On Monday, Obama said that he was "confident the Supreme Court would uphold the law." He added that it would be "unprecedented" for the high court to rule the individual mandate unconstitutional and said that the court should not act without "judicial restraint" and overturn "a duly constituted and passed law." 


Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) chastised Obama for the remarks on Tuesday.

"Only someone who would browbeat the Court during the State of the Union, and whose administration stifled speech during the health care debate, would try to intimidate the Court while it's deliberating one of the most consequential cases of our time," McConnell said in a statement. 

"This president's attempt to intimidate the Supreme Court falls well beyond distasteful politics; it demonstrates a fundamental lack of respect for our system of checks and balances."

The Supreme Court dedicated three days in March to oral arguments over the constitutionality of the law. A number of the justices, including swing-vote Justice Anthony Kennedy, asked questions that legal observers said could indicate strong skepticism of the legality of the law. Legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin said that the law was in "grave" trouble after the first day of oral arguments. 

Since then, the Obama administration and Democrats have expressed confidence that the law would be upheld while waging a public pressure campaign aimed at court. A ruling is expected in June.


Johanns said Obama is wielding an unprecedented level of power through the healthcare law.

"What is the president saying is that he's saying, 'Look, I get to decide what's right and wrong for every individual in this country through the individual mandate and there is no judicial review. The courts can't interfere with my power.' Well wait a second here, that turns upside-down over 200 years of precedent."

— This story was updated at 1:07 p.m.

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