Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Obama and the Supreme Court

I didn’t watch the state of the union address because, quite frankly, I’m tired of watching stump speeches and that’s all the SOTU is and has been for as long as I can remember. I’m sure President Obama gave a good speech, as he always does. I’m sure there was lots of positive rhetoric and even a few inspiring turns of phrase, as there always is. I’m also sure that the speech had only a tenuous connection to reality, as is always the case.

But I did have someone point out to me the president’s criticism of the Supreme Court and the howls of outrage from conservatives over it, so I went back and looked at the transcript to see what he actually said — and then I laughed out loud at the utter hypocrisy of the right wing on this issue. For the record, here is what he actually said in the speech:

With all due deference to separation of powers, last week, the Supreme Court reversed a century of law that I believe will open the floodgates for special interests, including foreign corporations, to spend without limit in our elections.

I don’t think American elections should be bankrolled by America’s most powerful interests or, worse, by foreign entities. They should be decided by the American people. And I urge Democrats and Republicans to pass a bill that helps correct some of these problems.

Now, one can certainly say that his criticism is wrong because, quite frankly, it is, for reasons I’ve already explained. But his political enemies — conservatives — immediately jumped on this and claimed that he was “embarrassing” the Supreme Court and somehow violating the separation of powers by publicly disagreeing with the court. Here’s Sarah Palin on Fox News, mouthing empty platitudes she has no ability to understand:

“This is why people are disenchanted and are becoming more and more disengaged really from what their government is doing, because when we see an issue like this — words spoken that may not be true coming from our president and embarrassing our Supreme Court and not respecting the separation of powers — we have a problem.

Wouldn’t you love to ask Palin to explain exactly why having the president criticize a Supreme Court ruling means they’re not respecting the separation of powers? She’d get a glazed over look on her face and babble some incoherent answer, probably involving the need to support the troops, as she vainly searches her warehouse of cliches and catchphrases to find one that is even remotely related to the subject.

First of all, the notion that conservatives are now opposed to presidents and legislators criticizing Supreme Court rulings out of concern for the separation of powers is monumentally laughable. Conservative politicians have turned attacking the Supreme Court into a rather lucrative cottage industry.

Conservative politicians routinely attack those “unelected judges” who “subvert the will of the people.” Going at least as far back as the Warren court, conservatives have been attacking the Supreme Court in the most vicious ways imaginable, calling them baby killers for Roe v Wade, savaging them for decisions ranging from the flag burning decision to the ruling overturning state sodomy laws.

Every decision on church/state issues that they don’t like has prompted conservatives to rail against the Supreme Court and has prompted frenzied cries to amend the constitution. In case after case, a ruling they don’t like has prompted conservatives to call on Congress to remove the court’s power to hear certain kinds of cases.

But one mild disagreement with the court by Obama is suddenly a threat to the republic? Give me a fucking break.