When I took issue HERE with President Obama the other day for disapprovingly discussing the chance that an “unelected group of people” on the Supreme Court might overturn a law that was passed by “a democratically elected Congress,” I did so from what lawyers might call a position of legitimate standing.
I have always taken issue with reckless rhetoric about “unelected” judges resorting to “judicial activism.” In other words, I have a greater right to criticize Obama in this matter than do Republicans who have made even worse statements about the high court.
My argument with Obama is not hypocritical. Most right wing Republicans can’t say the same.
To illustrate my point, allow me to cite the record.
The 1996 Republican Party platform said this:
The federal judiciary, including the U.S. Supreme Court, has overstepped its authority under the Constitution. It has usurped the right of citizen legislators and popularly elected executives to make law by declaring duly enacted laws to be “unconstitutional” through the misapplication of the principle of judicial review. Any other role for the judiciary, especially when personal preferences masquerade as interpreting the law, is fundamentally at odds with our system of government in which the people and their representatives decide issues great and small.
The 2000 Republican Party platform said this:
The sound principle of judicial review has turned into an intolerable presumption of judicial supremacy. A Republican Congress, working with a Republican president, will restore the separation of powers and reestablish a government of law. There are different ways to achieve that goal—setting terms for federal judges, for example, or using Article III of the Constitution to limit their appellate jurisdiction—but the most important factor is the appointing power of the presidency. We applaud Governor Bush’s pledge to name only judges who have demonstrated that they share his conservative beliefs and respect the Constitution.
In 2008, Republican presidential nominee John McCain said this:
With a presumption that would have amazed the framers of our Constitution, and legal reasoning that would have mystified them, federal judges today issue rulings and opinions on policy questions that should be decided democratically. Assured of lifetime tenures, these judges show little regard for the authority of the president, the Congress, and the states.
What Obama said the other day was no more inflammatory — indeed, was far less so, in some respects — than what Republicans have been saying for years.