Why Obama Should Run Against the Supreme Court

Publication Type: 
Other Writing
Publication Date: 
April 9, 2012

Recently, there has been considerable debate over whether President Obama should run against the Supreme Court as part of his reelection campaign. High-ranking Democratic Rep. James Clyburn has endorsed the idea, and Obama himself has seemed to test the waters with anticipatory criticism of a decision striking down his health-care law as unconstitutional.

But there's a strong case to be made that Obama should run against the Supreme Court however the health-care case turns out, and that his campaign should begin that effort today. He should run, specifically, against the five justices on the Court who span the spectrum from conservative to very conservative: Anthony Kennedy, John Roberts, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito.

There are two prominent objections to running against the court. But a closer looks shows why they should carry less weight than they now do.

The first objection is purely strategic. According to this line of thinking, Obama would be making a strategic error in picking the fight with the court because of its standing and popularity, or because the clash would inevitably be so divisive it couldn't but diminish him. The court's approval rating (46 percent a few months ago) rivals President Obama's (48 percent) own and far exceeds that of Congress (12 percent), which passed the health-care law.

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