OTR Interviews

House Judiciary Chair: Obama intimidation tactics may backfire, president should be more respectful of Supreme Court

Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee believes president is worried High Court will reject 'ObamaCare'

 

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," April 5, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Congressman Lamar Smith accusing President Obama of threatening and trying to intimidate the Supreme Court. Congressman Smith is chair of the House Judiciary Committee. He joins us.

Good evening, sir.

REP. LAMAR SMITH, R-TEXAS, JUDICIARY COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: Greta, good to be with you.

VAN SUSTEREN: Now, do you really believe the president was trying to threaten the Supreme Court, or do you just think he was -- my word -- acting a little dopey and not thinking through and apparently a little confused about, you know, Marbury versus Madison?

SMITH: Well, I think the president knew what he was trying to do. He, you know, accused the Supreme Court of being unprecedented if they overturned part of the health care bill. He called them an unelected group of people. He was clearly trying to chip away at their authority and really credibility to overrule a federal law.

And whether he was trying to intimidate them or not, that sure is the way that it came across. And that is just not appropriate. He needs to show more respect for the Supreme Court.

You know, he was disrespectful of them over a year ago in his 2010 State of the Union address. They were sitting down in front of him. He insulted them then.

I think it's going to backfire. I don't think it's going to work. The president really should not be trying to intimidate the Supreme Court. And it might backfire.

VAN SUSTEREN: You know, I was thinking, though, as I heard it, I was thinking, What's the Supreme Court thinking? And I thought, Here are nine Justices who have a lifetime appointment. There is nothing the president can do to them. His job is up for review in November. There's nothing they can do that -- I would think they were thinking, Is he out of his mind to think that he can influence with whatever he says, that maybe that he thinks that he can somehow dazzle or threaten or insult?

I would have thought that they would have thought that he was, to use my word, a bit dopey.

SMITH: Yes. Well, you're absolutely right. In that case, I don't know what he was thinking because, clearly, he was smart enough to know, a former constitutional law professor in Chicago -- he knew it was not unprecedented for the Supreme Court to overturn this law or any other law. The Supreme Court overturns a couple of cases every year, so that's very common for them to do.

And in this case, what's unprecedented, of course, is the mandate in the health care bill that forces every American to purchase a specific type of health care policy. We've never seen that before in this country. So the president was unprecedented in what he said. And I think the Supreme Court is really not going to pay much attention to what he -- what he did.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, he's also dead wrong about something. And this is the message I think he's probably trying to send to the American people. He said that a strong majority of democratically elected Congress -- get (ph) that -- but a strong majority had passed it. Well, that simply is false. It was not a strong majority. It was right down to the wire. It was a very close vote. To say that it was a strong majority is -- is just -- it's untrue! It's false!

SMITH: But -- yes, almost everything the president said about it was not accurate. In this case, it was not a strong majority in Senate. In the House, the vote was 219 to 212. By no definition is that a strong majority.

And the poll last month, by the way, the most recent poll on the health care bill, is that a majority of the American people, 56 percent, want to repeal this health care bill.

So I don't know where he's getting this strong majority, maybe the same place he said it was unprecedented. I don't know.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, you know, he did do something the next day that I actually thought was more disturbing. I mean, the mistake he made on Monday was obvious. So everybody jumps him, and that one's -- that's a clean, obvious one. But on day two, what he argued is that the ends justified the means, that the fact that he thought it was an important bill, where people could get -- stay on their parents' health care, for instance, that that was a reason to sort of bypass a constitutional analysis of the mandate, that the end somehow justified the means.

Now, I actually think that was a more poisonous statement to make because this is -- the analysis the court is to make is not whether they think in the end this is a good idea, it's whether the mandate is constitutional or not, period.

SMITH: Right. The president has seemed to have forgotten that the judicial branch is one of the three equal -- coequal branches of government. You got the judicial. You got the executive. You got the legislative. And here he was trying to diminish one of those coequal branches of government.

And if he wants to change the Constitution, there's a process for that, but he can't do it all by himself. He can't suddenly decide the judicial branch is somehow unable to declare a federal law unconstitutional.

I think the Supreme Court's going to have the last word on this. And whether he agrees with it or not, we need to respect what they come up with.

VAN SUSTEREN: I'm just curious if -- if in the opinion -- the opinion by the Supreme Court, he's jabbed a little bit on his constitutional analysis. But we'll see. Congressman, thank you, sir.

(LAUGHTER)

SMITH: Good to be with you.