President Trump is taking heat for questioning the judges mulling over his immigration executive order. Specifically, there is outrage that the president would publicly attack the judicial branch and attempt to bully judges into ruling his way. “The president continues to flout the separation of powers!” Huffington Post reported.
Concern is warranted (even Trump's own Supreme Court nominee spoke up) but the “Resist” left is engaging in some serious concern-trolling here. President Obama, to the literal cheer of Democrats, set a precedent both for attacking judicial decisions and attempting to bully the Supreme Court into ruling his way.
Most famously, days after the Citizens United decision, President Obama took the extraordinarily unprecedented step to publicly shame the Supreme Court - which was assembled directly in front of him - during his State of the Union speech in 2010.
"With all due deference to separation of powers,” he said before railing against the decision:
“Last week the Supreme Court reversed a century of law that, I believe, will open the floodgates for special interests...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.”
Speaking live to millions, Obama questioned the Supreme Court's ruling, blaming it for corrupting elections while simultaneously suggesting that they overstepped their constitutional bounds. Even the New York Times labeled it a “rare rebuke.” The Chief Justice later questioned if the Court should have even bothered attending. “I can't ever recall a president taking a swipe at the Supreme Court like that,” one legal expert told the Washington Post.
Meanwhile, how did Democrats in Congress react to the president's criticism of the judicial branch? They gave the president a standing ovation!
Fast forward two years to 2012, when the Supreme Court was considering whether or not ObamaCare was unconstitutional. Instead of silently deferring to the judicial branch - as the left now apparently expects President Trump to do - Obama again publicly slammed the Supreme Court, which hadn't even made a ruling yet:
Ultimately, I'm 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. And I would like to remind conservative commentators that for years what we have heard is that the biggest problem is judicial activism and that an unelected group of people would somehow overturn a duly constituted and passed law.
Obama not-so-subtly reminded the Supreme Court that they are an “unelected group of people” and that overturning his law would be “unprecedented extraordinary step.”
The Supreme Court, of course, ultimately ruled in Obama's favor on that case. Democrats, instead of expressing shock at the attack on the judicial branch, took notes that publicly threatening the Supreme Court might work to get it to rule their way.
A shocking email exchange uncovered by Wikileaks last year revealed a Hillary Clinton staffer and a Democratic operative openly agreeing that the president's “warning” to the Supreme Court had worked - and that the tactic should be used again:
As Jennifer will remember, it was pretty critical that the President threw the gauntlet down last time on the Court, warning them in the first case that it would politicize the role of the Court for them to rule against the ACA. As a close reader of the case, I honestly believe that was vital to scaring Roberts off.
What does all this mean? Criticizing judges for their decisions, or bullying them into ruling a certain way, may in fact be a challenge to the separation of powers.
But it's hard to take the Democrats dire warnings about Trump as anything other than political posturing when the last president repeatedly did it himself and they cheered him on.