OTR Interviews

Fla. Attorney General: Pres. Obama's comments on pending Supreme 'ObamaCare' case 'unprecedented'

Are Pres. Obama's comments on the Supreme Court's possible handling of 'ObamaCare' legally sound or a method of intimidation?

 

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," April 3, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Well, one of the dumbest things you can do in politics is give your opponents lots of political ammunition. Here's Rush Limbaugh today, blasting the president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: He says things in these sound bites, which you'll hear coming up, and they're chilling to me! The court has to understand -- the court must understand is one of the sound bites.

No. The court must not, does not have to listen to you. What is this, the court must understand? That is a threat! I'll tell you, it is hilarious to hear Obama arguing, threatening, warning, Justices of the Supreme Court that the individual mandate is constitutional. It isn't!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, is it a threat, as Rush Limbaugh seems to say? Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi joins us. Pam, your thoughts today? We've got the president saying something yesterday. Today we even have the court of appeals getting into the mix. Your thoughts?

PAM BONDI, FLORIDA ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, first of all, Greta, I think it's highly unusual for a sitting president to be criticizing our top court in the land on a pending case, and moreover, I mean, talking about judicial activism. I mean, I totally agree with your view of judicial activism.

And what -- what this president is doing is he is not encouraging respect for our judiciary! And he has a duty as commander-in-chief to respect the branches of government. And he is not doing that.

And you know, you said you find it unusual that this judge, Judge Smith in the 5th district did that. Well, I mean, this is unprecedented, what President Obama did!

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, well, today, I just want to read one passage from what he said. And I always hate to read a passage thinking that it's (INAUDIBLE) taking out of context. But he says, "And I think it's important and I think American people understand and I think the Justices should understand that in the absence of an individual mandate, you cannot have a mechanism to ensure that people with preexisting conditions can actually get health care."

Now, that is irrelevant to the question of whether the mandate is constitutional or not.

BONDI: Yes.

VAN SUSTEREN: That -- that is -- he's telling the court that, you know, You're going to -- you're going to cause a lot of trouble if you find this unconstitutional. That's the problem because that's not what the court is supposed to be doing. That's where you have the ends justifying the means.

BONDI: Well, two points on that. He's playing politics and he's playing policy. And our argument has to do with the merits of the case. Our argument has to do with the text of the Constitution of the United States! Our argument has to do with 200-plus years of case law! That's what our argument's about.

And as far as intimidating the court, I think it's clear -- I spent three days in front of these Justices. They're certainly not going to be intimidated by anyone. And clearly...

VAN SUSTEREN: Yes, but...

BONDI: ... the 5th circuit court of appeals -- they're not going to be intimidated by the president.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, nobody -- the court should not be intimidated by anybody. But I think there's one sort of little...

BONDI: Of course not.

VAN SUSTEREN: There's one little sort of dirty secret to all of this. I mean, the whole question is the breadth of the commerce clause and whether or not that the president -- the mandate is within the breadth of the commerce clause or out.

But the problem is that the commerce clause is a fluid concept, and nine people get to decide what it is. There's no scientific theory to it.

BONDI: Right.

VAN SUSTEREN: They just get to decide what it is. And so, you know, in some ways, they are a little bit legislating because we're giving it to them to decide. That is their responsibility. But this is -- you know, this is -- this could be essentially a vote. Like, how broad do you think the commerce clause is? And it is not scientific, but we have to live with whatever the court does, constitutional or not.

BONDI: But it's based on their authority under the Constitution, and it's based on the law that applies and the merits of the case, not politics and policy, which is what the president is trying to say. And I believe his audience was the American people because I think he had a bad week last week and he's worried he's going to lose.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, the whole idea, too, is that your chance to, quote, "influence the court" is when you're in the courthouse and you're up at the lectern.

BONDI: Right.

VAN SUSTEREN: That's your chance. And the sort of side thing, trying to use your stature as a coequal branch of government and to really misstate things -- he said yesterday, for instance, that a strong majority of democratically elected Congress, meaning not the Supreme Court, but it wasn't a strong majority. It was 219 to 212 in the House and 60 to 39...

BONDI: Seven votes!

VAN SUSTEREN: ... in the Senate. Yes, so this, I mean...

BONDI: That's right.

VAN SUSTEREN: That's not true. So I mean, that was simply...

BONDI: No, of course not.

VAN SUSTEREN: But anyway...

BONDI: No, Greta. Yes. No. It was seven votes, and then that reconciliation process they did in the Senate after Scott Brown got elected.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, there's -- there's going to be a lot more to this. We'll have to see what happens. We'll get this noon deadline, anyway, on Thursday. Fascinating. Thank you, Attorney General Bondi.

BONDI: Thank you, Greta.