Last week, President Obama reminded the many conservatives urging the Supreme Court’s five Republicans to strike down the Affordable Care Act that, for years, they believed that “the biggest problem is judicial activism or a lack of judicial restraint. That an unelected group of people would somehow overturn a duly constituted and passed law.” Obama’s statement, which closely mirrors rhetoric President George W. Bush used throughout his presidency, sent those very same conservatives into apoplexy. One Republican judge even ordered the Department of Justice to produce a three page, single-spaced homework assignment responding to President Obama.
Unfortunately, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), the Ranking Member on the Senate Judiciary Committee, appears to be suffering from the same condition as this Republican judge:
Grassley’s objection to President Obama would have far more credibility if Grassley himself did not have a long history of using this very same rhetoric. Indeed, as recently as 2011, Grassley harshly criticized people who “turn to the courts” after they “can’t get their policy views enacted through the legislative process.” In Grassley’s words, “the Constitution vests legislative power in the Congress, not the courts. Judges are simply not policymakers.” Watch it:
Nor, for that matter, does Grassley have any business attacking President Obama because the president may not have chosen the most precise words when he chose to speak out against judicial activism. Grassley embarrassed himself during both Justice Sotomayor and Justice Kagan’s confirmation hearings by repeatedly insisting that a 1972 Supreme Court case definitively decided that marriage equality is not an issue for the federal courts — when, in fact, that decision simply said that the Court was not going to hear the case at all. Likewise, shortly before he became the top minority member of the Judiciary Committee, Grassley called for a return to the “real original Constitution,” a position that, if taken seriously, would require a return to slavery.
There’s no reason, of course, to believe that Grassley actually wants to return to slavery. Nevertheless, given his own penchant for loose rhetoric, Grassley may want to think twice before he lays into President Obama for doing nothing more than echoing the past views of lawmakers such as Chuck Grassley.