The Big Question: Will the White House vs. SCOTUS tiff escalate?

Some of the nation's top political commentators, legislators and intellectuals offer their insight into the biggest news story burning up the blogosphere today.




Today's question:

Chief Justice John Roberts fired back at the White House this week. Will the battle between the high court and the White House continue to escalate in 2010?


Meredith McGehee, policy director at the Campaign Legal Center, said:

Let's hope so.  The Citizens United decision was so radical -- and so potentially damaging to our democracy -- that it is worth the battle.  Simply shrugging one's shoulders and moving on should not be an option.  The Court ignored precedent and turned back the clock to the era of the robber barons and the “Senator from Standard Oil”.  The real world experience of Justice O’Connor -- who understood the disproportionate sway corporations had in the process before the Citizens United decision -- is sorely missed on the court.
 
If the Chief Justice wishes to continue publicly complaining about perceived mistreatment in the wake of Citizens United I would welcome it.  Reminding the public of the radical turn the Court has taken to empower corporations shortly after a controversial series of massive bailouts of Wall Street firms and other corporations is a good thing.
 
Continued focus on the decision will only help to maintain the impetus for Congress to pass the legislation needed to help mitigate the damage caused by a decision which instantly created a new world order.  It changed 180 degrees the trajectory of 100 years of campaign finance law. 
 
Let's hope this subject does not go quietly into the night....



Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, said:

Only if Chief Justice Roberts doesn't grow up.


Hal Lewis, professor of Physics at UC Santa Barbara, said

Absolutely. There is no way to achieve the Obama crowd's only-half-concealed ambitions without getting the Supreme Court out of the way. President Roosevelt had the same problem, and his solution---which in the end didn't work---was to increase the size of the Court and pack it with friends. If Obama gets two terms he will be able to achieve the latter without a need for the former. He also needs to tame the Senate, but that's another story. The stakes are very high.



Glenn Reynolds
of Instapundit said:

By starting — and, foolishly, continuing — a feud with the Supreme Court, Obama has managed to preemptively upstage himself for the next State of the Union address, where press coverage will inevitably lead with whether Justice Roberts, Justice Alito, and others show up or not. In this, as in many things, he has demonstrated the immaturity and oversensitivity to criticism that has marked his administration.



Rob Richie, FairVote executive director, said:

I hope so. Contrary to conventional wisdom, I think it's healthy to acknowledge that it's political fiction that the Supreme Court is above politics, and that bitterly divided 5-4 rulings are not tied to the politics of the presidents who nominated members of the court. More broadly, Congress and the White House often give the Supreme Court the power to sort out inherently political policy decisions that the other branches choose to ignore due to their timidity, division or failure to try to enact constitutional change. Let's bring all that out in the open as we think about how best to uphold freedom and make our democracy work.



John F. McManus, president of The John Birch Society, said:
 
Any brakes the Supreme Court can put on the Obama agenda will be most welcome. But I fear the justices will merely be dabbling at the edges of the enormous growth of executive power — most of it not attributable to Obama but to his numerous predecessors.
 
There should be no war without a congressional declaration. There should be no involvement of the federal government in education, energy, housing, affirmative action, transportation and a host of other areas where no constitutional authorization exists. The Supreme Court could do the nation a big favor by reasserting the Constitution's clear intent regarding these and many other topics. 
 
Earmarks? Stop this incredibly expensive process. Federal Reserve? Get rid of it. National debt? Require paying it down, certainly not adding to it. Social Security? Make it voluntary and the young will exit the program while it is phased out in a generation.
 
As usual, the Supreme Court will be dealing with numerous fringe matters while the country heads to bankruptcy, totalitarianism and disaster. The headlines about the contentions between the White House and the Supreme Court dealt only with a passing remark given by the president in his State of the Union speech and the reaction to it given by a single justice. Not much of substance there. 




Peter Navarro, professor of economics and public policy at U.C. Irvine, said:

The court has moved sharply to the right in recent decisions and has the power to enact policies that are contrary to the majority view. Roberts should understand that there is going to be an inevitable backlash against the court and it will come from more than just the White House. Expect increasing divisiveness and more unraveling of the American political fabric.



Justin Raimondo, editorial director of Antiwar.com, said:

The conflict between the Obama administration and the Supreme Court — or a faction of it — is rooted in the tension between "progressivism" and the constitutional order envisioned by the Founders. You'll recall — or, perhaps, you don't — the battle between Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the Supreme Court over the New Deal legislation FDR rammed through Congress, and which was declared unconstitutional by the court majority. Back then, FDR accused the court of trying to drag us back to the "horse and buggy" era: The Constitution? That's just an archaic, yellowing old document that has no possible relevance to the "modern" requirements of the Welfare-Warfare State. That, at least, was the New Dealers' war cry.

This is the same argument made by today's "liberals," who say the Founders couldn't have foreseen the emergence of large corporations and their influence over our elections and the legislative process. Apparently, these people have never heard of the British East India Company, which, as Wikipedia explains, was on the verge of bankruptcy when the British Crown and Parliament gave it a helping hand:

"The desperate directors of the company attempted to avert bankruptcy by appealing to Parliament for financial help. This led to the passing of the Tea Act in 1773, which gave the Company greater autonomy in running its trade in America, and allowed it an exemption from the tea tax — which its colonial competitors were required to pay. When the American colonists, who included tea merchants, were told of the act, they tried to boycott it, claiming that, although the price had gone down on the tea when enforcing the act, it was a tax all the same, and the king should not have the right to just have a tax for no apparent reason. The arrival of tax-exempt Company tea, undercutting the local merchants, triggered the Boston Tea Party in the Province of Massachusetts Bay, one of the major events leading up to the American Revolution."

Yes, the tea partiers of yesteryear were rising up against the same sort of crony "capitalism" that inspires the Obama administration — bank bailouts, insurance company cartels, and all.



Frank Askin, professor of Law at Rutgers University, said:

It depends what is meant by "battle." Obama and the Democrats will continue to attack the decision and seek legislative fixes. The court majority's  response will probably come in decisions striking down some of those fixes.