Is Obama Stupid Or Is He A Liar?
First, let’s review Obama’s statement: "Ultimately, I am 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."
There’s simply no support for the assertion that the law was passed by a "strong majority." It was passed along party lines in a sharply partisan climate, and the 60 votes in the Senate were the minimum needed to keep Republicans from bottling it up in a filibuster.
But the "unprecedented" idea is more nuanced. It’s without question that the Supreme Court overturning a law passed by Congress -- by any margin -- is a common and routine occurrence, and by no means without precedent. Volokh gave us a close analogy with the case of Boerne vs. Flores, a religious freedom law that glided through Congress but was held unconstitutional by a majority of the court, including two of its liberal justices.
However, Obama’s elaboration a day later at least gives us more to think about. He argued that invalidation of the health care law would represent a court action unseen since the Great Depression on an issue that affects every American. Ornstein echoed that interpretation, saying that a ruling by the court which overturns a major social policy and challenges prior court rulings would be unprecedented.
But we’re taking Obama literally, and that historical perspective was not reflected in his original statement, which is what we're ruling on. He simply said the law passed with a strong majority and overturning it would be unprecedented. Wrong and wrong. We rate the statement False.