Republicans have taken sharp issue with President Barack Obama’s warning to the Supreme Court on the Obamacare case, charging that the president is seeking to “intimidate” the high court.
Obama warned on Monday that a rejection of his healthcare reform law would be an act of “judicial activism” that Republicans claim to oppose.
Sen. Orrin Hatch, the top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, said it is a "fantasy" to think "every law you like is constitutional and every Supreme Court decision you don't is ‘activist.’”
"Judicial activism or restraint is not measured by which side wins but by whether the court correctly applied the law."
GOP presidential front-runner Mitt Romney, in an interview with Fox News, said an activist court is one that "departs" from the Constitution and legislates from the bench. In this case, he maintained, the judges simply are weighing whether a law is constitutional.
"That will not be an activist court — that will be a court following the Constitution," Romney said.
Obama said at a news conference with the leaders of Canada and Mexico on Monday: “I'm confident 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.
“And I'd just remind conservative commentators that for years what we've heard is the biggest problem on the bench was judicial activism or a lack of judicial restraint, that an unelected group of people would somehow overturn a duly constituted and passed law. Well, this is a good example. And I'm pretty confident that this court will recognize that and not take that step."
Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, responded by telling Fox News Radio: "Nothing could be more appropriate for the Supreme Court to decide than whether a bill is constitutional or not.
"It is not unprecedented at all for the Supreme Court to declare a law unconstitutional; they do that on a regular basis so it's not unprecedented at all. What is unprecedented is the president of the United States trying to intimidate the Supreme Court."
The court spent three days hearing arguments last week in four separate challenges to Obamacare.
A central challenge was over the individual mandate — the requirement that Americans buy health insurance. Republicans say the mandate is unconstitutional and the government cannot force people to buy insurance.
The court is expected to issue formal opinions in the case by late June.
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