We've been arguing in this space for several years now that the president just isn't nearly as bright as his worshipers give him credit for being. (There's a nice summary of the evidence here.) This week he proved once and for all what an intellectual lightweight he is when he attacked the Supreme Court.
Last week the Court heard arguments about the constitutionality of the health care law known as "Obamacare." While it's difficult to predict what the Court will do on any issue, most legal observers feel there is a strong likelihood that the core of Obamacare - a regulation known as the "individual mandate," which would require every American to purchase health insurance - will be struck down as unconstitutional.
This would be a disaster for the Obama administration, now facing an increasingly uphill re-election fight. They consider Obamacare their crowning achievement, and if the law is thrown out, what can they base their re-election campaign on? Higher gas prices? Bankrupt "green energy" companies? Unemployment? Home foreclosures?Record budget deficits? Trillions in additional federal debt?
They really, really need Obamacare to survive the court challenge, or they have nothing to show for three-plus years in office, so on Monday the President decided to take a shot at influencing the Supreme Court by saying:
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.
This is stupidity on stilts. First, there is nothing "unprecedented" about the Supreme Court overturning a law passed by Congress. The Court's right to do that was established in 1803, in the famous Marbury v. Madison decision, a decision that pretty much every 7th-grade history student learns about. Since that time, the Court has overturned any number of laws on constitutional grounds.
Second, Obamacare was NOT passed by a "strong majority" in Congress (it passed by just seven votes in the House, 219-212) and it wouldn't matter if it had passed unanimously. If a law is unconstitutional, it's unconstitutional no matter how many people voted for it. One of the left's favorite Court decisions, Roe v. Wade, stuck down a law that was "passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected" legislature.
These are points that should be obvious to anyone with the slightest knowledge of the Constitution, yet they seemed to escape a man who taught Constitutional Law at the University of Chicago! Apparently at the U of C, just as in his current position, he was an unqualified diversity hire.
Tuesday the President seemed to realize how stupid he had sounded on Monday, and tried to back away from his comment by saying, "We have not seen a Court overturn a law that was passed by Congress on a economic issue, like health care, that I think most people would clearly consider commerce — a law like that has not been overturned at least since Lochner. Right? So we’re going back to the ’30s, pre-New Deal."
Strike two, Mr. Constitutional scholar. What he referred to as "Lochner" was a case known as Lochner v. New York, and it was not decided in the '30, it was decided in 1905. And since then, the court has decided countless cases that dealt with economic issues. Just one recent example came in 2010, when the court overturned portions of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act dealing with financial regulation.
I'm certainly no constitutional scholar, I never attended law school and there are any number of people that will be happy to tell you I'm not the brightest bulb on the tree. But the fact that - armed only with some fuzzy memories from high school history class - I understand the function of the Supreme Court better than the President of the United States does should give you a pretty good hint that he's really, really in over his head in his current job.
UPDATE: The great fellows Powerline have done an even better takedown, complete with a headline I wish I'd thought of: Barack Obama, Constitutional Ignoramus. You can read it here.