McConnell To Obama: ‘Back Off’ The Justices

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In a blistering speech Thursday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell will continue the GOP’s attack on President Obama for saying on Monday that the Supreme Court would be taking an extraordinary step by overturning his health care law.

“Respectfully, I would suggest the president back off,” McConnell will say. “Let the court do its work. Let our system work the way it was intended. The stability of our system and our laws and our very government depends on it. And the duties of the presidency demand it.”Speaking in the Rose Garden Monday, Obama said overturning his law, or its key components, would amount to judicial activism, and predicted, “that the Supreme Court will not take what would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress.”

Conservatives chomped. Of course the court overturns laws it deems unconstitutional — Obama must be calling into question the legitimacy of the entire judicial branch.

Obama clarified his remarks Tuesday, by noting that to overturn the health care law would mean a return to a pre-New Deal status quo ante. But Republican leaders — and, extraordinarily, a conservative appellate court panel — continue to focus on his initial comments.

“The president crossed a dangerous line this week,” read McConnell’s prepared remarks. “And anyone who cares about liberty needs to call him out on it. The independence of the court must be defended.”

There’s a revealing irony to all this. Republicans have turned attacking the judiciary into a political sport over the years — citing adverse rulings as evidence that activists judges are legislating from the bench. But McConnell says that won’t happen this time if the court upholds the law.

“If the court upholds the law, I’ll be disappointed. I’ll disagree with it. But I’ll respect its independence,” McConnell’s remarks read. “And then I’ll continue to do everything I can to have this law repealed through the legislative channels that remain available. But here’s something I won’t do: I won’t mount a political campaign to delegitimize the court in the way some in Congress have been urging this president to do, and in the way that he started to do earlier this week in the Rose Garden. I’ll respect the Supreme Court, even when I disagree with it.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at brian@talkingpointsmemo.com
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