House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said on Thursday Republicans have adopted a newfound enthusiasm for the U.S. Supreme Court now that there is a distinct possibility that the justices will overturn President Obama's health care law.
It is interesting now to see Republicans' newfound support of judicial review after the passage of health reform under a Democratic president, Pelosi said.
In a Chicago Tribune op-ed, the former Democratic speaker of the House of Representatives detailed examples of how, according to her, Republicans had attempted to strip the judiciary of its power.
In the Republican presidential primary, candidates used the judiciary as a punching bag. Newt Gingrich, who called the federal courts grotesquely dictatorial, proposed eliminating entire court districts and dragging judges before Congress to testify on controversial decisions; Rep. Ron Paul of Texas has proposed a law to stop the federal bench from hearing constitutional cases challenging state laws concerning religion, privacy and marriage; Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota said America's founders intentionally made the judiciary the weakest branch of government.
Indeed, for all of their professed adherence to the Constitution, it is striking that House Republicans have led repeated efforts to prohibit federal courts -- including the Supreme Court -- from conducting reviews, including reviewing the constitutionality of a law, Pelosi said.
The health care challenge pending before the Supreme Court has made for strange bedfellows when it comes to judicial politics. Conservative dogma largely held the Supreme Court as a group of unelected activist lawmakers, especially during the Warren Court of 1953 to 1969, when a majority of liberal justices greatly expanded Americans' rights with rulings on desegregation, due process for criminal defendants, mandatory public school prayer and privacy.
Since the health care law arguments in March, conservatives leapt to defend the role of the Supreme Court when President Barack Obama, a former constitutional law professor, urged the justices against taking an unprecedented, extraordinary step in overturning the Affordable Care Act.
Despite the public finger-wagging at the Supreme Court, Pelosi is confident the Affordable Care Act will survive constitutional scrutiny.
In writing the health reform bill, she said, we honored the Constitution and believe the law will be upheld.