Chief Justice stands up to White House bullying

As described in this blog on January 28th following President Obama’s state of the union address, the spectacle of a president deliberately and uncivilly criticizing the justices of the US Supreme Court who just days before had rendered a decision with which Mr. Obama disagreed, even as they sat politiely in front of him in the House chamber, was uncalled for and beneath the decorum which a president ought to practice.  This display of presidential bullying was made worse when, at the president’s implied prodding, Democratic House and Senate members stood, encircling the seated justices, and applauded the president’s ill-conceived — and, incidentally, inaccurate – remarks concerning the Court’s recent campaign finance law opinion.

Now, in answer to a question posed to him by a student at the University of Alabama School of Law on March 9th following a speech he delivered at the school, Chief Justice John Roberts politely but pointedly responded to the awkward position in which he and his colleagues were placed during the state of the union by President Obama and members of the president’s party who were present. 

The chief justice answered the student’s inquiry about the incident, first by indicating that criticism of the high Court’s decisions by the president or anyone else, is never out of place.  In our society, as Mr. Roberts noted, people have a right to criticize judges the same as they do members of the other two branches of government.

However, and as the chief justice also  stated quite clearly, criticizing the Court in that forum and in that manner raises serious questions about whether it makes sense for the justices to even bother attending such speeches in the future.  He summarized the situation as “troubling.”  He also accurately described modern states of the union speeches as nothing more than “political pep rall[ies].” 

The White House, preferring consistency to accuracy, once again, shortly after the chief justice’s March 9th remarks, continued to mischaracterize the Supreme Court’s decision that was the subject of the president’s lashing out at the Court on January 28th.

So far in this match between the Court and the White House, it’s “Advantage, Supreme Court.”

134 comments Add your comment


March 14th, 2010
1:46 pm

Hey Mitzymy, your worried about corporations running elections? Where is your concern about Acorn and their dead voters, their multiple votes and outright lying? You talk about his wife being criticized and being compared to a monkey, well excuse me you precious democrats did the exact same thing to Bush except you did it with pictures multiple pictures. Those people you talk about without health care if your party would admit it are the very people too lazy or ignorant to get a college education and get a good job but now that you have bred yourself into overpopulation you have found the means to vote yourself anything you want but all the while have forgotten someone has to pay for it. No we don’t like him because he’s black…… we don’t like him because he is a socialist who happens to be black. Come November we are going to vote him and the rest of you sorry irresponsible lazy useless idiots into oblivion.


March 14th, 2010
1:50 pm

I was there on the day the monkey came into this world
His face was round and reddish and his hair was slightly curled
He didn’t look too different from the others I had seen
Who’d-a-thought he was the answer to the nation’s dream?

At first he didn’t seem to be intelligent at all
Each time he’d start to walk about he’d stumble and he’d fall
My first impression was to be a most mistaken thought
Lord a’mighty, what’s this little hairy monkey wrought?

Because I witnessed his departure from his mother’s womb
I felt inclined to check his progress every afternoon
One day the keeper of the zoo called in the live tv
Frankly said, I think you’ll be amazed at what you see.

The monkey walked and talked and waved his arms about his head
In the corner was the stack of books that he had read
An educated monkey! said the papers ’cross the land
It was more than weary sociologists could stand

Oh, his fame was universal, he was on the carson how
People talked about him kindly everywhere he’d go
His insight was amazing, his philosophy was fair
He became a politician welcome everywhere

His wit was not to be compared with any mind intact
He’d lace a phrase with irony and blend it all with fact
Conservatives applauded and the liberals were entranced
The bigots and the integrationists were in his camp

Nobody dared to meet him in an open press debate
He was nominated by the folks from every state
Yes, a monkey was the president, though maybe not the first
And there was peace and harmony throughout the universe

The dream I had last night has been related as it came
As for interpretation, well, it’s really very plain
Would you rather have a monkey up in washington, d.c.
Or have those people making monkeys out of you and me?

Banned By Cindy

March 14th, 2010
1:56 pm

@ The Census Forms are HERE!!

Plus you – the truck stop homosexual.

Jeff in ATL

March 14th, 2010
2:25 pm

“Where is your concern about Acorn and their dead voters, their multiple votes and outright lying?”

Who cast more than one ballot in November 2008? Who was dead but showed up at the polls?

Registering to vote doesn’t equate voting.


March 14th, 2010
2:30 pm

Amazing how in 142 short days in the senate Mr. Obama learned all there is to know and now he alone knows whats good for us. How lucky we are that he came around. When do you think Mr. Arrogance will proclaim himself King of the World ??

Alabama Communist

March 14th, 2010
3:06 pm

Wow Bob! You really stir up the Communists with their comments here! However, Your Fascist buddies at this site have once again proven why they love a Supreme Furher in charge of Corporations

Jackson E. Thomasson

March 14th, 2010
3:12 pm

BHO is a vain boor. He is absolutely the worst president of my lifetime and that spans more than sixty years. I am convinced that he is deliberately trying to drive this country into financial ruin to satisfy his socialist desires. I wanted to support him when he came into office because he is our president, but there’s no way I can even pretend to support him after his constant effort to cram health reform down our collective throats. Why disrupt and virtually destroy our current system for 1/10 of the population that doesn’t have health care? What’s up with that? Why not do something to assist those 30 million that need help and quit screwing with the rest of us? He is an awful leader. No, I take that back. He can’t be classified as a leader. He is a bully. And he is ineffectual as the President of the United States.


March 14th, 2010
3:18 pm

It’s not the content of Obama’s inaccurate comments that rankle, it’s the setting. There’s a time and place for it, during the State of the Union when they are unable to defend themselves is neither. BHO is Al Gore in black skin, incompetent, overmatched, and illinformed


March 14th, 2010
3:40 pm

somewhereinga :

You “dodged” the press conference thing completely and the rest was typical liberal doublespeak.

“That’s” why we are so far apart as Americans.

Brian Shriver

March 14th, 2010
4:08 pm

I hope you’re not this stupid in real life.

We Need A New Start...Again

March 14th, 2010
4:15 pm

The best thing that could happen to our country is for the current Administration to completely resign…along with Pelosi, Waxman, Dodd, Q-Frank, Rangel, Reid, Waters…this is the biggest and worst circus in the history of our County. God help us.


March 14th, 2010
4:38 pm

Bobb Barr , however ‘qualified ‘ he may be doest NOT know the meaning of bully …Who is really the bully here , in the same way way it was in 200O?? Give us a break Bob…


March 14th, 2010
4:56 pm

A few observations:

1. No one has refuted or commented on the two posts that accurately pointed out that President Reagan (as in the Republican deity) rebuked the Supreme Court, in their presence, twice during his State of the Union addresses. To ensure that he removed any doubt that his first rebuke (school prayer) was that of a naive new president learning Washington’s (and southern) protocal and niceties, he made his second rebuke of the Court during his second term (anti-abortion). I would like someone who is upset with OUR President to explain why it was ok for President Reagan but not ok for President Obama to make comments critical of the Court in the presence of the Court during a State of the Union address.

2. The speech the President gave was a STATE OF THE UNION. One can clearly see a direct connection between the decision of the Supreme Court to permit corporate donations to political campaigns and its impact on the state of the Union. In his role as Chief Executive of the United States, Mr. Obama would have been derelict if he had not addressed an issue of grave concern to over 80% of his constituents (which statistically includes an overwhelming majority of the readers of the AJC which thereby must include a considerable number of conservatives because there aren’t enough socialists readers of the AJC to cover our share of the 80%). The bigger issue is that the Supreme Court has become accustomed to life inside the marble palace such that they were genuinely shocked by the outrage of +80% of their constituents to one of their decisions. Sure the media and other commentators criticize many of their decisions. Do you REALLY believe John Roberts spends any time actually watching Fox News, Bloomberg, or CNBC on a nightly basis? Do you conservatives really want your Chief Justice getting his information from Glenn Beck? He’s far too above those commoners to waste any of his time. His outrage, and that of Justice Alito, is derived from their shock in facing the reality of the impact of their decision.

3. As for the arrogance of OUR President, I have 3 words: “Axis of Evil”. Those three words that set in motion a disastrous course of history that needlessly cost over 3,000 Americans their lives (not too mention the hundreds of wives, husbands, daughters, sons, parents and loved ones) just to settle a score for the President’s father aren’t the pinnacle of arrogance, I hope never to reach that height. If that wasn’t pure arrogance! Yet a President who genuinely believes that his years of studying and teaching constitutional law, as well as in exercising the judgment he was elected to exercise, led him to the conclusion that the impact of this Court’s decision on the state of this Union required his comment is somehow expected to remain silent in observance of our notions of southern gentility. His comments are far from arrogant, but authoritative and representative of his constituency. Can President Bush truthfully say the same about his “Axis of Evil” comment?

4. Mr. Barr, would you kindly respond to “retiredds”

South GA Conservative

March 14th, 2010
5:50 pm

Mitzymy, Chris Murphy, Atlanta, GA , screwbarr and the rest of you blind morons-

You and Obama and everyone else have EVERY RIGHT to criticize this SCOTUS decision until you turn blue- the issue in this blog was not the correctness of the decision (which Obama and his ignorant advisors did not even understand) but the decorum expected from the office of the POTUS.

He will compete with Jimmy Carter for the distinction of being one of the worst Presidents in the history of the US, and they are comparable in the lack of class they demonstrate- Carter since being booted from office for his ineptness, and Obama while in office. Just so this comment is not misconstrued as racist, let me make it clear that Obama’s WHITE mother obvious failed to teach the man ANY social graces. I was raised dirt poor in south GA but my mother had the dignity and grace to teach me that there is a time and a place for everything. The dignity and decorum of the OFFICE forbids an attack on the EQUAL BRANCH OF GOVERNMENT in a Joint Session of Congress on national TV.

You can fill a classless, tacky person with all of the Ivy League education you want, but if that person has no character all you get in the end is an ARROGANT classless, tacky person. Hail to the chief!

And Jeff in Atlanta- back up your claim with facts- I’m calling BS on you-

Robert Littel

March 14th, 2010
5:52 pm

Justice Roberts (Using the term “Justice” in its most charitable way) is a corporate owned LYING pig, who made a mockery of his confirmation hearings, when he said he would not use the court to write new law. If there was such a place as hell, he would have well earned a special place in the hottest part for handing the government over in a bloodless coup, to the forces of obscene wealth.

Miss Bush yet?

March 14th, 2010
6:26 pm

Mitzymy — are you a moron. This has nothing to do with the President being Black. You know why racism in this country never dies because people like you keep bringing it up. Mr. Obama made a hell of a lot of promises in his campaign as did the other Democrats in preparation for their win. They have screwed the pooch. Forget the BS about what he inherited…blah blah blah…every president has issues when he comes into office.

He promised to stop the war – it is still going on in Iraq and Afghanistan. Why?

He promised to be accountable for the members in his party? All the people he nominated had some issue or another and primarily they did not pay their taxes. Is it that hard to find someone in your cabinet that paid their taxes? Why?

We are on the health care reform, which the country needs. However, in the negotiation of this wonderful plan – will congress and the president himself switch to it? No. Why?

There are many many many more question that could continue. The Democrats have failed. All the bashing of the republicans and what they failed to do when they had control and the Democrats have managed the same thing. Obama lied. We have no change unless you count things being worse.

We bail out everyone for whatever reason, we are still at war, the economy still sucks, the banks are all still getting paid their hoard…and yes people are still spending their time to say it is was bush’s fault. Whine Whine Whine…it is always somebody else’s fault.

None of my comments are predicated on Obama being black. That is just the excuse the you and other morons bring up when someone criticizes your unworthy and unexperienced leader. Obama should go and all of Congress with him.

Leave the race card on the floor and deal with this as an American and not based on race.

Will the American people have the balls to vote people out who make promises that they have no ability or intention of keeping? I promised 10 things and none will come true….would you vote for him again?

Avery Bundren

March 14th, 2010
6:50 pm

It is noteworthy that the Chief Justice chose to make his remarks before that cosmopolitan, free-thinking, definitely not right wing audience at the University of Alabama. I am not certain that the President was entirely appropriate with his comments about the Supreme Court decision, but I am sure that Roberts, Alito, Scalia, and the still bitter Clarence Thomas would ever agree with President Obama on anything. They are mediocre and really should not be on the US Supreme Court.

Avery Bundren

March 14th, 2010
6:56 pm

George Bush, Dick Cheney, et al are war criminals and should be in prison now, not making the rounds on talk shows as Cheney so frequently does. If there is justice, and there may not be in this world, but there should be a special place, in the next one, for people like Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld.


March 14th, 2010
7:08 pm

Bob is correct. Obama’s criticism of the Supreme Court there was way out of line and completely low-rent/uncalled for. Obama appears to want to be a dictator with all his attempts at strong-arming those that disagree with him (health care etc.). The beauty of it is that the Founding Fathers set up the system to deal with pathetic Chicago scumbag politicians like he and Rahm Emanuel. I’m just sorry that he was able to con my vote out of me. Hope he enjoyed it because it is unlikely that I’ll vote for another Democratic politician for a long time to come.


March 14th, 2010
7:20 pm

The true Obama is making himself known to America. His stunt at the SOU address was just the latest example of his real agenda. Not at all the post-partisan moderate that he said he would be, he’s turned out to be as petty and spiteful as any of the others before him. No worries, though. With the screwups and scandals that are rampant, he’ll be a one timer for sure. It’s funny- I thought nobody could be a worse president than Jimmy Carter. Boy, was I wrong.


March 14th, 2010
7:33 pm

Remember: obama has a mandate, so the Supreme Court needs to get with the program and stay on message, or Rahm Emanuel will be very angry and likely place a visit to the court to set them straight.

Eric P.

March 14th, 2010
7:40 pm

Quick question. What could President Obama POSSIBLY gain from turning our country socialist? Everyone who says this is obviously quoting Rush, etc., but no one ever explains how that could ever help him personally (or professionally). Think about it. What benefit would he ever get by “turning our country socialist”? Answer-None whatsoever. Think for yourselves, people. Don’t call people names (its not Christian) and decide for yourselves what you believe in.

Oh, and which is it? Is the President Obama strong for standing up for his beliefs and calling out the supreme court? Or is he weak and ineffective as I keep hearing because he wont. Open your mind people, God’s watching (and taking notes).


March 14th, 2010
8:25 pm

I hope as you various posters read each others comments that you realize just how viciously polarized we are getting. That type of political situation does not go on forever …………… and it ends in many different ways. Just saying ……………..

Tony T

March 14th, 2010
8:49 pm


Last time I wrote you it was to tell you to back off the BS Clinton impeachment (I live in your old district.). You sent me a “Thank you for your support” letter.

President Obama spoke the truth. in spite of all his mistakes, I am grateful to have a President that stands up to the constant onslaught from the misguided Right. The Dems spent the W admin cowering in fear of being accusd of hating America.

John Q

March 14th, 2010
8:57 pm

Bob, your combination of a big mouth and a small mind leads you to misunderstand the significance of even the most obvious events. The way you claim to be such a constitutional scholar, you should be screaming about the atrocious and disgracefully dishonest ruling that those GOP bought-and-paid-for justices pushed through. The level of dishonesty in their analysis puts this decision on a level with Korematsu v. United States, which approved the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. It warranted mention from the TOP of our government and, frankly, warranted much more of a rebuke than Obama gave them.

Now why don’t YOU start getting honest with yourself before writing your next article….


March 14th, 2010
9:32 pm

On what other occasions do Americans get the chance to see the black-robed Supremes all in one place? Why should the President NOT take the opportunity to take them to task over a disagreement with one of their rulings? I was glad to see the President make his remarks to the Supremes because I wish for the opportunity to tell them the same thing but will never have the chance. Thank God we have a President with the guts to confront them directly. So they’re offended? So what.


March 14th, 2010
9:38 pm

Mr. Barr, with all due respect, did you criticize Mr. Reagan when he criticized the Supreme Court for two its decisions during State of the Union Addresses?

Secondly, the Supreme Court is a co-equal branch of our government. The President can question their decisions but have no sway upon the justices to make a ruling that is to his liking.


March 14th, 2010
9:47 pm

It’s too bad that someone hasn’t criticized the SC in previous administrations, especially the courts that actively made law rather than simply interpret it. The SC has for years had a privileged status, that itself is above the law, by some of the verdicts that it has rendered. It is interesting to watch the balance of power in the three branches of the government. But to whom are the appointed courts really answerable?

Will Jones - Atlanta Jeffersonian Exegesis

March 14th, 2010
10:05 pm

Capon Roberts is cursed by G-d, he is a tool of fascist plutocracy, and no man. His want of Grace is manifest.

Those who support him are cursed as well: the American “Fifth Column” of the Roman Anti-Christ…so named by America’s Founder, Author, and Prophet Thomas Jefferson.

For integrity’s sake, and for the pleasure of the Hitler Youth alum gay pope, supporters of the pro-corporate fascist Roman Catholic SCOTUS bloc, the same one which led by Rehnquist violated the Constitution and legal precedent to appoint Hitler’s banker’s draft-dodging, closet-queen grandson to the White House to commit 9/11, should be overt about their anti-American, papist, tory sentiments.

The People is sovereign in America. Tory traitors must be expropriated and extirpated.

Death for Treason

Real Athens

March 14th, 2010
10:09 pm

John Roberts is arguably the most unqualified person to sit on the modern Supreme Court. For most of his professional life he has been a political partisan; he has been an operative of the Republican party his whole professional life. His allegiance to a political party instead of precedent makes him, arguably, the most “activist” of judges on the court.

John Roberts was a judge for only TWO years when he was selected to the court. He was then suddenly promoted to justice of the Supreme Court because?

He has earned no exceptional distinction in public service that could justify such an unorthodox promotion. In fact, it took Roberts several failed nominations over 14 years before he was finally appointed to federal court in 2003.


March 14th, 2010
10:21 pm

Should a citizen of another country, individual or corporation, have a greater voice in the operation of our government than any citizen of the USA?

It appears the Supreme Court says yes; one is free to spend any amount they choose to support any political candidate in our country. They have a bigger voice because they have a larger bank account than most individuals.


March 15th, 2010
5:38 am

Bully? I’d sure like to see him use the bully pulpit more. The justices are grownups and should be able to take a little public berating when they act irresponsibily. At least it wasn’t in their house. I’m puzzled by the number of 5-4 decisions. Is the Constitution that vague or the court that political?

Will Jones - Atlanta Jeffersonian Exegesis

March 15th, 2010
6:37 am

The “5″ are the Roman Catholics. Thank G-d Sotomayor may be further proof, as with Stephen Colbert, that one may call oneself “Roman Catholic” yet be truly American.


April 2nd, 2010
9:11 am

Obama has proven, time and again, that he is not the man for the job.
First, he used underhanded tactics, to get into the Senate; then he lied to get into the White House.
Since then, he’s tried to change America’s attitude toward Israel, alienated even the kids, who (stupidly) voted for him.
He pretended to be African-American, which would mean descended of slaves…another bold faced lie.
And now, he’s trashed, long-standing, decorum, to make himself “better” than even those, whom he serves (of course, he probably sees himself as a dictator).

So, I am counting the days until he is thrown out of office…either by law or by election — mark my word of this: he will never win re-election and he will destroy any hope of future black politicians being elected to that high office, along the way.