Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens is stirring the pot in the ongoing ideological battle between President Barack Obama and the Supreme Court after remarks he made Wednesday night.
Stevens, 92, told an audience in Arkansas the Obama was correct in his evaluation of the controversial Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision, which allows corporations to spend unlimited amounts on national political campaigns.
Stevens was one of the dissenting justices in the 5-4 Supreme Court decision in 2010 that has changed the nature of this year’s presidential campaign. He has vocally opposed the decision since it was handed down.
Stevens was nominated to the Supreme Court by a Republican, President Gerald Ford.
Obama stirred the pot himself in a State of the Union speech in 2010 when he publicly rebuked the Supreme Court for the Citizens United decision–as the nine justices sat in front of him.
Justice Samuel Alito mouthed the response “not true” when Obama said the court would allow foreign corporations to fund U.S. elections.
Also on Wednesday, Politico said the brothers David and Charles Koch are leading a campaign to raise $400 million to oppose Obama in the general election.
Politico said the money would be spent on a county-by-county basis.
In response, the Obama campaign is reaching out to more supporters for more money.
The bitter feelings between President Obama and the Supreme Court surfaced again in April after the president questioned the court’s motives after its hearing of the health-care reform case in late March.
President Obama said it would be an “unprecedented, extraordinary” step for the Supreme Court to overturn his health-care law. Administration officials were then told by a U.S. circuit court to explain the president’s remarks.
With the Supreme Court set to rule on the Affordable Care Act in late June, a third skirmish between the president and the Court seems possible, if any parts of the law are struck down.
The debate is still out on how the justices will rule on how the Affordable Care Act interacts with Commerce Clause, and if the ACA unconstitutionally forces consumers to buy a product (in this case, health insurance).
The key justice is Anthony Kennedy, who has questioned the ability of Congress to force consumers to buy a product .
An analysis in Time magazine showcases Kennedy’s extended remarks, along with those of Chief Justice John Roberts, making the case that the Court’s decision on health care is too close to call.
But a partial or total rejection of the Affordable Care Act remains a distinct possibility, and it would provide a third public showdown between the president and the Supreme Court, this time in the middle of a contested presidential election.
On June 6, Jack Balkin of Yale University and Randy Barnett of Georgetown University, moderated by John Hockenberry, will be live at the National Constitution Center to explore the commerce clause and the upcoming Supreme Court decision on health care. Click here for event details.
Scott Bomboy is the editor-in-chief of Constitution Daily.
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