Obama Versus the Men in Black

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
April 4 2012 3:35 PM

Obama Versus the Men in Black

Jon Meacham writes about President Obama's decision to attack the Supreme Court's anti-Obamacare majority before it even gets a chance to officially become the anti-Obamacare majority.

On a human level, Presidents who have to fight and claw their way to shape public opinion, pass legislation and then try to implement their policies must be mightily tempted to make a hostile Supreme Court a target to energize the base. But history shows that Obama should resist the temptation.
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And snoooooooooore.* Meacham brings no actual evidence to argue the actual question: In 2012, is the president making a mistake by attacking the court? We really don't know. Obamacare's not popular, and as Dahlia Lithwick's been pointing out, that simple fact might make it easier for five judges to toss it out. They would be doing so, though, after a Citizens United ruling that the vast majority of Americans opposed, and a Kelo decision that still horrifies libertarians. They'd be doing it 12 years after the Bush v. Gore decision, which three in 10 Americans say soured them on the court.

You have to view this in the same context as Judge Jerry Smith's huffy diss of the same Obama speech. Smith is a duly appointed and confirmed appeals court judge, sure. He was also an activist in Yale's Party of the Right in the 1970s. The judges who agreed with his statement were, themselves, Republican appointees. Is this an argument between a hackish president and some above-it-all judges? Or is an argument between a hack and some fellow hacks?

*Remini's Andrew Jackson biographics, in toto, are better than Meacham's. This is not argument, but fact.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.