Politics

Obama expects high court to show 'deference' to Congress in health law review

FILE: The United States Supreme Court is seen in Washington, ahead of the landmark hearings on the federal health care overhaul.

FILE: The United States Supreme Court is seen in Washington, ahead of the landmark hearings on the federal health care overhaul.  (AP)

President Obama, for the second straight day, put public pressure on the Supreme Court to uphold the federal health care overhaul -- saying the court has traditionally shown "deference" to Congress. 

The president addressed the case during a meeting with newspaper executives in Washington, D.C., following a lengthy speech on budget priorities. 

Asked about the court case, Obama once again said he's confident the law will be upheld while offering words of warning to the high court. 

"The Supreme Court is the final say on our Constitution and our laws and all of us have to respect it. But it's precisely because of that extraordinary power that the court has traditionally exercised significant restraint and deference to our duly elected legislature, our Congress," Obama said. 

"The burden is on those who would overturn a law like this. Now, as I said, I expect the Supreme Court actually to recognize that and to abide by well-established precedents out there," he added. 

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The president said the administration is not spending much time "planning for contingencies" because he doesn't expect the overhaul to be struck down. 

The comments follow his remarks a day earlier during a news conference in which he suggested a ruling against the health care overhaul would be tantamount to "judicial activism." He referred to the justices as "unelected" and noted the law had been approved by Congress.

Republicans, though, have accused the president of trying to "intimidate" the court. 

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, called it a "fantasy" to think "every law you like is constitutional and every Supreme Court decision you don't is 'activist.'" 

Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, told Fox News Radio he was "disappointed" by the president's remarks. 

"It is not unprecedented at all for the Supreme Court to declare a law unconstitutional; they do that on a regular basis, so it's not unprecedented at all," he said. "What is unprecedented is for the president of the United States trying to intimidate the Supreme Court." 

The Supreme Court spent three days hearing arguments last week in four separate challenges to the health care law, which stands as the president's signature domestic policy accomplishment. A central challenge was over the individual mandate -- the requirement that Americans buy health insurance. Critics say the mandate is unconstitutional and that the federal government cannot force people into the insurance marketplace.