On Fox News this morning, Florida Attorney General and Affordable Care Act nemesis Pam Bondi (R) got into the game, attacking the president for daring to criticize the Supreme Court and then offering a surprising promise of her own:
I mean, they’re our highest Court in the land. And I’m going to respect their decision. I’m never going to criticize the United States Supreme Court, no matter what happens. And, um, we argued our case, and if you heard any of the arguments — I’m sure you did — um, you know, the justices asked some very compelling questions.
Of course, there’s a small problem with Bondi’s pledge that she would never, ever lower herself to speak ill of the nine justices:
So Bondi’s hypocrisy is pretty glaring here, but her statement is also disturbing on a much more important front. There’s something deeply authoritarian about her suggestion that no one should ever criticize nine of the most powerful politicians in the country. The justices of the Supreme Court are not oracles and they are not gods. They are just as fallible as any other human being entrusted with power, and their decisions deserve to be discussed and evaluated just like any other government action should be subject to criticism in a free society.
Indeed, if anything, our present justices are far more fallible than most Americans. Their decision in Citizens United gave billionaires and wealty corporations a license to buy and sell democracy, and there are also more Americans who believe in “spells or witchcraft” than agree with Citizens United‘s reasoning. The Court’s forced arbitration decisions leave countless American workers and consumers powerless against corporations who break the law. And their disregard for workers such as Lilly Ledbetter is a direct blow to America’s promise of equal pay for equal work. Americans deserve the opportunity to criticize these erroneous decisions and to advocate for better judges and justices who will overrule them if given the chance.
Likewise, while Bondi is wrong about what the Constitution has to say about health reform, she has every right to criticize the nearly two centuries of Supreme Court precedent establishing that the Affordable Care Act is constitutional. Health reform’s opponents love to rail about their abiding love for freedom, but one of the first freedoms the framers added into our Constitution is the freedom to criticize our government.