Presidents leave something in their wake: a legacy. It has been said that those who write history determine history. We shall see what is written about President Obama.
What will be the legacy of Obama’s first term? He killed Osama Bin Laden, appointed two of nine members of the U.S. Supreme Court, passed mandated healthcare, issued more debt than any president in history, and bailed out General Motors. Any of these could be his legacy and seem likely given where we are here and now.
But it’s equally likely that history will prove his legacy to include the dwindling of standing of the U.S. Supreme Court. Not because of his appointees, but because of the magnitude of his public criticism and attacks against the institution.
The United States Supreme Court has had a crucial role in the shaping society: ending segregation in schools, affording Miranda rights to the accused, enforcing the freedom of the press and our right to assemble, among others. Supreme Court justices have usually been revered and respected, much like doctors or clergymen. Traditionally, the justices’ opinions have been held in the highest regard and their guidance accepted with credibility, even reverence.
In the last few years, however, that respect has been missing. Our president’s endless attacks on the courts are unlike any other president—so much so that it is likely to be a hallmark of his record. President Obama continues disparaging their judgments in an effort to denigrate the Court’s rulings and, with it, the position of the Court itself.
Obama even used his State of the Union address to publicly malign the Court over its ruling in Citizen’s United. The Court told us that Congress’ segregation laws were illegal and now the Court tells us that limiting campaign activities is a violation of speech. We are all free to disagree with particular rulings of the Court, but its ruling is law and should be honored as such. Instead, our President is bludgeoning it.
Today should bring us the Court’s ruling on Obamacare, a ruling most scholars expect will find the mandate to be unconstitutional. If that happens, what remains to be seen is the attack on the Court that follows—not just an attack on the ruling itself, but on the institution—by none other than our president and those in his party. Under Obama, the same insititution that brought us landmark decisions like Brown v The Board of Education and Roe v Wade has been reduced to a political punching bag. What remains is to see if this continues.
Thursday may not just be the day that Obamacare is decided. It may prove to be the day that Obama’s legacy is determined: dramatically reducing the standing of the Supreme Court in the eyes of the citizenry. Imagine a Court whose public standing falls as low as the regard we have for Congress. What a loss.
The Constitution may be an old document, but its words are not outdated. This document allowed the greatest democracy on earth to flourish for more than 200 years. Faith in the integrity of the Supreme Court by our citizens is a critical element of our democracy. Historians will decide if our President honored the Court with appropriate respect or used his office to denigrate it in the minds of the citizenry.
Mr. President, your legacy is yours to build, but the Court belongs to us all. Please honor it.
Author, 52 REASONS NOT TO VOTE FOR OBAMA
Anthony appears regularly on Fox, CNBC, and other networks. View his YouTube Channel.