The US President, the Supreme Court, and the BBC

On Monday, the President made a pre-emptive attack on the Supreme Court because He’s afraid they’re going to vote to overturn ObamaCare on the grounds that part or all of it violates the Constitution. Needless to say, there’s been a huge outcry, and a lot of fuss in the press about it. I commented about it here yesterday to give everyone a heads up before the BBC came in with their spin.

Right on cue, realizing there’s a growing controversy, the BBC whipped up a quick article online laying out the White House talking points. Naturally, it contained the same bit of dishonesty – or, if I’m feeling generous, lack of understanding – as their previous reporting on the law:

The act’s requirement that all those eligible should have medical cover has been condemned as an assault on civil liberties by conservatives

Of course, in actual fact, the law requires people to purchase health care from companies.  That’s what the “Individual Mandate” is, which is the key turning point of the entire fiasco. The BBC’s wording here is grossly misleading as to what exactly people are complaining about. No surprise there. BBC correspondent Steve Kingstone said that the President’s attack is “a sign of just how high the stakes are”, but it’s really sign that He doesn’t have confidence in a law He never even read before it was passed.

As for the President’s claim that ObamaCare was passed by a “strong majority” in Congress, that’s also BS. The vote in the House was 219-212, and that’s back when the Democrats controlled it. 34 Democrats voted against it, as did all Republicans. 50.8% isn’t a strong majority. The Senate Democrats had a super majority, and Sen. Harry Reid still had to twist arms and make backroom deals to get the 60 votes to pass their version of it. The President later had to sign an amended bill without what’s been called the “Cornhusker Kickback.”  But no BBC journalists have seen fit to mention any of this, either.

It’s no surprise that there has been lots of noise in the media over the last couple of days. Mostly people are calling out the President for getting His history and law completely wrong, although there has been a good amount of defense from the usual suspects in the supportive news outlets.

One interesting example of how badly the President – a former lecturer on Constitutional Law at the University of Chicago – has failed here comes from one of His former students:

Imagine if you picked up your morning paper to read that one of your astronomy professors had publicly questioned whether the earth, in fact, revolves around the sun.  Or suppose that one of your economics professors was quoted as saying that consumers would purchase more gasoline if the price would simply rise.  Or maybe your high school math teacher was publicly insisting that 2 + 2 = 5.  You’d be a little embarrassed, right?  You’d worry that your colleagues and friends might begin to question your astronomical, economic, or mathematical literacy.

Now you know how I felt this morning when I read in the Wall Street Journal that my own constitutional law professor had stated that it would be “an unprecedented, extraordinary step” for the Supreme Court to “overturn[] a law [i.e., the Affordable Care Act] that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress.”  Putting aside the “strong majority” nonsense (the deeply unpopular Affordable Care Act got through the Senate with the minimum number of votes needed to survive a filibuster and passed 219-212 in the House), saying that it would be “unprecedented” and “extraordinary” for the Supreme Court to strike down a law that violates the Constitution is like saying that Kansas City is the capital of Kansas.  Thus, a Wall Street Journal editorial queried this about the President who “famously taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago”:  “[D]id he somehow not teach the historic case of Marbury v. Madison?”

If that’s not bad enough, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit has now directly questioned the Administration if they believe the courts – one of the three branches of the federal government meant to check and balance each other – have the power to strike down a law passed by Congress.

Quite frankly, its a joke. Of course the courts have that power, and as I said yesterday, have been doing it for more than 200 years. And the President knows it. The Attorney General, Jay Holder, has now come out and admitted it.

Attorney General Eric Holder acknowledged Wednesday that the “courts have final say,” and said his department would respond formally to an appeals court order to explain whether the Obama administration believes judges in fact have the power to overturn federal laws.

The attorney general, at a brief press conference in Chicago, made clear the administration thinks they do.

“We respect the decisions made by the courts since Marbury v. Madison,” Holder said Wednesday, referring to the landmark 1803 case that established the precedent of judicial review. “Courts have final say.”

I guess getting the Constitution and US history wrong is just another nuance of his finely-tuned brain.

This is a huge, huge deal. Except for that one news brief outlining the White House point of view, the BBC has been silent. It’s more important than anything else the BBC is reporting right now, yet they can’t be bothered. Nothing from Paul Adams or Steve Kingstone, nothing from US President editor Mark Mardell, nothing from any of the young people hired in the last year to do all those lightweight magazine-style pieces. The Today programme looked at a court issue from the US today, but it was about a group of  journalists wanting Boston College to turn over some recordings of IRA thugs students had made for a history project. Apparently that’s more interesting than a former Constitutional Law lecturer getting the law and history wrong and trying to intimidate the Supreme Court.

I find it fascinating that the Constitution is in the news again, because I remember back in 2010 when the Tea Party-energized Republican majority decided to read the Constitution out loud in the House of Representatives. At the time, the BBC was fretting about the nasty Republicans suddenly causing “acrimony”. Which is funny, because they never had a problem with the Democrat super-majority in both houses of Congress ramming through whatever they wished. Mark Mardell even called it a “golden age”. But are they now suggesting that the President is causing acrimony with His attempt to intimidate an entire branch of the government? Nope. To them, it’s just a sign of how important the issue is.

So where is the BBC coverage of this major story? One news brief isn’t sufficient, especially when it doesn’t even address the real issues. Whatever they do next, you can’t bet that you can’t trust the BBC on US issues, especially when it comes to the President.

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20 Responses to The US President, the Supreme Court, and the BBC

  1. Louis Robinson says:

    What is sad about the reporting of all this on the BBC is that (in the interests of brown-nosing Obama) a GREAT STORY is being ignored. The British viewer is missing what is a unique struggle between the Left and Right over nothing less than the legitimacy of one of the three branches of US government. It’s an amazing tale – and not being told.

    A titanic battle is about to be fought. The first shot was fired by Fifth Circuit Court Judge Jerry Smith in a courtroom in Houston yesterday. As you read the transcript you can tell he’s obviously really pissed off with Obama’s antics.

    SMITH: Does the Department of Justice recognize that federal courts have the authority, in appropriate circumstances, to strike federal statutes because of win or more constitutional infirmities?

    Governmint lawyer KAERSVANG: Yyyyes, Your Honor, I… Of course there would need to be a severability analysis, but yes.

    SMITH: I’m referring to statements by the President in the past few days to the effect, and I’m sure you’ve heard about them, that it is somehow inappropriate for what he termed “unelected judges” to strike acts of Congress that have enjoyed — and he’s referring of course to Obamacare — to what he termed a “broad consensus and majorities in both houses in Congress.” That has troubled a number of people who have read it as somehow a challenge to the federal courts or to their authority or to the appropriateness of concept of judicial review. And that’s not a small matter.I would like to have from you by noon on Thursday — that’s about 48 hours from now — a letter stating what is the position of the Attorney General in the Department of Justice in regard to the recent statements by the president, stating specifically and in detail in reference to those statements what the authority is of the federal courts in this regard in terms of judicial review. That letter needs to be at least three pages single-spaced, no less, and it needs to be specific.”

    Isn’t that great? The Judge says ”That letter needs to be at least three pages single-spaced, no less, and it needs to be specific” Like a teacher talking to a pupil.

    Smith had better be ready for the Obama smear machine to start looking into the good Judge’s private life. He is about to be destroyed. Stay tuned.

    But tell me this – if you were a real reporter, wouldn’t you choose to relate this real life blood and guts drama over repeating White house talking points?


    • Adi says:

      It is not an Left&Right fight, even The Wohn appointees and His (former) supporters were irked by it.

      As The Wohn sees righting on the wall about the Neverending Story of His righteous lecturing and Queen’s vacations coming to an end, He’s becoming creepy (see Peggy Noonan) and starts loosing it.

      The Wohn never had contacts with Reality anyways (yay, He’s a “progressive”) but he was dealt a new blow just hours ago: the Senate *must* have a budget.

      So expect the Al-Beeb spin go towards Israel-oil prices, Zimmerman-racist and Romney-car elevator.

      They have nothing else.


  2. Dave s says:

    Very interesting to say the least.
    I suspect the BBC reporters are too dim to understand the issues and assume we are as well.
    Very few in this country seem to understand the principles of the US system and the importance of the Constitution.There is a bit of snobbery here as we are still wedded to our belief in our own unwritten constitution as the model for a democratic state. Which of course it is not.


    • David Preiser (USA) says:

      Unfortunately that snobbery and lack of understanding informs BBC reporting on the issue, particularly from Mardell.


  3. TPO says:

    I found it fascinating to watch this being debated on Fox News here in North America this afternoon. I hadn’t realised the implications at first. Needless to say that unlike the BBC, Fox had opposing opinions on.
    Aside from this, I think there’s one word to sum up Obama and that is petulant when things don’t go his way.
    A couple of days ago Obama met with Stephen Harper and Felipe Calderón. When they came out onto the White House lawn Obama made a point of putting his arm around Calderón and excluding Harper. Doubtless because Harper told Obama in no uncertain terms that Canada is not going to hang around for the Keystone XL pipeline, but regardless, will build the Northern Gateway pipeline to the Pacific for the Asian markets.


    • Louis Robinson says:

      “I hadn’t realised the implications at first.” – TPO, you’ve put your finger on the BBC’s reporting of the situation. It’s not about evil Republicans stopping a US National Health Service. It’s about the Federal Government dictating its will over the population. More than that: it’s about President Obama riding roughshod over the US constitution and government. If a new system is what the American people want, put the case, take a vote, move on. This is the Imperial presidency by stealth. If if Mardell and co don’t agree with the aims, as a reporter/commentator he should voice the opposition case. Keep reading this blog and Preiser. Stay informed.


      • TPO says:

        “Keep reading this blog and Preiser”

        Oh Louise! Until we moved from the UK to Canada in 2007 I used to bore people into a stupor with the proliferation of my comments here, but since moving and although I follow this blog avidly, I rarely, if ever watch anything from the BBC (6 Nations rugby via a proxy IP and Top Gear, and that’s about it).
        But I’ll take your advice. Been a great fan of David Preiser since he first appeared here.


  4. John Anderson says:

    Stuff the BBC would never dream of bringing us :

    1 His Chicago buddies the unrepentant US urban terrorists, total but very dangerous Trust-fund rich nutters, chatting to the Occupy crowd :

    2 Hilarious clips of the One repeating last year’s hackneyed speech stuff –

    Cover all the time for a hopeless idealogue, ignorant of real economics and even of the US Constitution’s deliberate checks and balances and enumerated powers,, totally out of his depth in the White House, just a non-stop lying campaigner – that’s the BBC style.

    Impartiality is in their genes. Mummy Jeans ?


  5. BG says:

    The story about attempts to obtain Boston College oral history project’s IRA recordings is a little more interesting than you make it sound.

    The tapes of former IRA member Dolours Price allegedly implicate Gerry Adams in the 1972 murder of Jean McConville

    Its worth reading a bit more about Jean McConville as well. Ask David Vance.


  6. BG says:

    Oh, and it’s an issue in a US Court, but the story has a few facets, mostly for a Northern Ireland/UK audience.

    It’s not journalists that want to obtain the tapes, but police investigating Jean McConville’s death. The project involved ‘academics, historians and journalists conducting interviews’, but I suppose you could maybe get away with describing them as ‘students’.


  7. DP111 says:

    Latest book on constitutional law by noted law lecturer Barak Hussein Obama

    “The audacity of Ignorance”


  8. deegee says:

    I suspect Obama is much less worried on being called on a basic schoolboy error than the possibility that this bill will be struck down as unconstitutional. If it is he will go into the elections labelled as incompetent and with no legislative achievements for his first term.

    Ironically, if it passes the court he will have limited benefit. Milt Romney basically supports the bill that he essentially wrote as Massachusetts Governor and is unlikely to attack it strongly.


    • David Preiser (USA) says:

      I don’t think any of the President’s supporters will suddenly see Him as incompetent if the law is struck down. Everyone knows He didn’t write the bill, basically had nothing to do with whatsoever. Any problems with the law itself are due to the hacks who wrote all 2700 pages, which none of the Congressmen who voted for it have read, nor have any of the law’s supporters.

      However, His supporters are now questioning His competence over that misguided and un-Constitutional attack on the Supreme Court. Even the Washington Post, a paper which admitted to being in the tank for Him last time, is openly acknowledging this. Which means Mardell and the other US Beeboids know about it.

      It’s an especially notable failure because one of the pillars of belief in Him is that He was a Constitutional Law lecturer. By default, He’s supposed to know more about it than the rest of us, yet that turns out not to be true.

      If ObamaCare is somehow overturned (which I still doubt), it will be a campaign boost for Him, something to energize the otherwise-disillusioned worshipers. We’re not, though, going to see the same fanatical effort that existed in 2008. Even though not a single Washington Post employee or any BBC employee in the US who happens to be a citizen will vote for anyone else, some people might stay home in November, or vote for a Ron Paul or Green third party. A number of the contemporary equivalent of Reagan Democrats and the Bush-fatigued independents might just vote for Romney this time, but it won’t be because of ObamaCare; there are plenty of other reasons for those people to realize He’s a failure.

      The mainstream media, of course, will still support Him to the bitter end, as will Obamessiah worshipers like Mardell and Anita Anand or Richard Bacon, orJude Machin, or Beeboids from the BBC CoJ. They’ve got too much emotionally invested in Him, and it will be a crushing blow to their psyche if an evil Republican takes the White House, even if it’s Romney. All their dreams of a transformed, Progressive US will be crushed. For that reason, their US media fellow travelers will make every effort to stop it. If ObamaCare is overturned, that won’t change, and will in fact give them something to fight for.


  9. Jim Dandy says:

    genuine point of information, what is the difference between the requirement to insure in Obamacare and what I assume in the US is a requirement to insure your car? Is it purely a constitutional issue, so the latter is a matter for states, albeit they all require it?


    • David Preiser (USA) says:

      The difference, Jim, is that car insurance is required only if one is already taking part in the commerce of buying a car. As Justice Kennedy pointed out, ObamaCare creates commerce just to regulate it. Nobody is required to buy a car.

      There’s also the fact that car insurance is really about covering liability for damage you’ve done to somebody else, not yourself.

      Also, car insurance is a state law, not federal. Even though all states require it, that’s an important distinction, one that is never understood by Beeboids, so they’ve never explained it to their audience. If I get a driver’s license, but don’t own a car, I’m not required to buy car insurance because I haven’t entered into commerce.

      To hear the BBC tell it, though, the laws on car insurance “provide” me with coverage that I wouldn’t be able to afford otherwise. This is of course not the case.