Legal and political scholars are lambasting U.S. Senator Rand Paul, R-Ky., for dismissing the role of the U.S. Supreme Court in reaction to the health care ruling on Thursday.
In a statement, Paul said the Affordable Care Act would destroy the country's health care system and belittled the role of judicial review.
“Just because a couple people on the Supreme Court declare something to be ‘constitutional’ does not make it so. The whole thing remains unconstitutional,” said Paul. “While the court may have erroneously come to the conclusion that the law is allowable, it certainly does nothing to make this mandate or government takeover of our health care right.”
But several local and national observers have called Paul's comment out of bounds with the Constitution and the landmark Madison v. Marbury case (1803), which allows for the high court to review laws.
University of Louisville law professor Sam Marcosson says Paul's comments are irresponsible, adding the Supreme Court is the referee of the Constitution.
“Senator Paul can certainly say that he thinks the decision was wrong or we should change the Constitution in response, that’s certainly acceptable. But not to accept the role of the court to determine constitutionality shows that Senator Paul is maybe confusing his role as a Senator with Chief Justice Roberts and that’s not where he should be.”
For legal scholars, this case is the most important decision by the high court since the Bush v. Gore ruling in the 2000 presidential election. And Roberts—who was appointed by former President George W. Bush—is facing harsh criticism from conservative activists for siding with Mr. Obama’s health care overhaul.
But few have challenged the judicial branch's authority as Paul has and during his 2005 confirmation hearings, Roberts defended the high court's role as umpires before lawmakers.
From The Washington Post:
“Judges are like umpires. Umpires don’t make the rules; they apply them. The role of an umpire and a judge is critical. They make sure everybody plays by the rules. But it is a limited role. Nobody ever went to a ball game to see the umpire… I will remember that it’s my job to call balls and strikes and not to pitch or bat.”
University of Louisville political science professor Dewey Clayton says the ruling may upset Paul, but the high court is the final arbiter of the Constitution and lawmakers cannot pick and choose when the judicial branch has power.
“Senator Paul, who has sworn an oath of office to uphold the Constitution when we was elected knows that’s the final law of the land,” he says. “We can move to the political realm and discuss that now, but legally the court has ruled and the court has spoken. Whether we agree with the decision or not, this is how we settle disputes in this country.”
The Senator's office has yet to respond to our request for comment.