Why does it seem that Chief Justice Roberts has no idea how US government works? It seems a sudden fit of ignorance brought on by fear.
During the Supreme Court hearings recently about gay marriage, we get this choice quote from Chief Justice Roberts:
“If he has made a determination that executing the law (DOMA) by enforcing the terms is unconstitutional, I don’t see why he doesn’t have the courage of his convictions,” Roberts said of Obama, “and execute not only the statute, but do it consistent with his view of the Constitution, rather than saying, oh, we’ll wait till the Supreme Court tells us we have no choice.”
The White House spokesman, Josh Earnest, seems to have had to educate Mr. Roberts on how law works.
“We’ll do that even for laws that we disagree with, including the Defense of Marriage Act.”
And he’s right. The US Constitution does say this “He [the President] shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient; he may, on extraordinary Occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in Case of Disagreement between them, with Respect to the Time of Adjournment, he may adjourn them to such Time as he shall think proper; he shall receive Ambassadors and other public Ministers; he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed, and shall Commission all the Officers of the United States.”
Tsk, for someone who thinks himself so familiar with the Constitution, I guess Mr. Roberts forgot that part.
Now, if one knows US law, the Supreme Court was created to do exactly what Mr. Roberts doesn’t think it should do, interpret laws against the Constitution. All I can see from this is that his sudden ignorance on what his job is no more than him being desperately afraid of having to rule on the subject. I’m guessing poor ol’ Scalia is in the same boat. They are doing their best to avoid responsibility by saying that the President can enforce or not enforce whatever laws they want. They conveniently seem to forget that the US Constitution gave them this duty, not to the Executive or the Legislative branches.
Here’s what the Constitution says about the duties of the Supreme Court:
The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and Treaties made, or which shall be made, under their Authority; to all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls; to all Cases of admiralty and maritime Jurisdiction; to Controversies to which the United States shall be a Party; to Controversies between two or more States; between a State and Citizens of another State; between Citizens of different States; between Citizens of the same State claiming Lands under Grants of different States, and between a State, or the Citizens thereof, and foreign States, Citizens or Subjects.
This has been restricted somewhat by the 11th amendment and by Congress. The Court is responsible for cases that impact on the federal government and those cases that concern differences between states: “If the case presents a federal question, meaning that it involves a claim or issue “arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States”. The wikipedia article on the SCOTUS has all of the detail of US code and law.
When Mr. Roberts insists that the President has the ability to execute the law anyway he sees fit and seems to imply that Mr. Roberts is just fine with that, that’s just so adorable. It’s just great to imagine uproar from the Republicans if the President did anything like that for real. Do you think they could scream “Impeachment!” quick enough?