KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Federal Court Judge Takes Umbrage At Obama’s Remarks On Judicial Activism

The judge ordered the Justice Department to explain whether Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. believes federal judges have the authority to strike down federal law.

The Washington Post: Judge Tells Justice Dept.: Clarify Remarks On Judicial Activism Amid Health-Care Debate
A federal judge on Tuesday expressed concern over President Obama's comments on the Supreme Court's consideration of the health-care law and demanded a letter explaining whether Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. believes federal judges have the authority to strike down federal laws (Markon, 4/3).

The Associated Press: Judge Upset By Obama's Comments On Health Care Law
A federal appeals court judge on Tuesday seemed to take offense to comments President Barack Obama made earlier this week in which he warned that if the Supreme Court overturned his signature health care overhaul it would amount to overreach by an "unelected" court... During oral arguments in Houston in a separate challenge to another aspect of the federal health care law, U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Jerry Smith said Obama's comments troubled a number of people who have read them as a challenge to the authority of federal courts (Lozano, 4/3).

The Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire: Judge Pokes Obama Over Court Comment
On Tuesday, a three-judge panel in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ordered the Justice Department to explain whether courts indeed have the right to strike down a federal law. It's been well-established since the 1803 case of Marbury v. Madison that they do, and the Justice Department is expected to say as much in its response. The answer is due by Thursday. The order came during a proceeding on a separate challenge to the health law by physician-owned hospitals (Meckler, 4/3).

Politico: Report: Federal Judge Hits Back At Obama
The request — from 5th Circuit Judge Jerry E. Smith, a Ronald Reagan-appointee — seemed to be a direct shot at Obama, who said Monday that the Supreme Court would be guilty of an "unprecedented" act of "judicial activism" if it strikes down the health care reform law. Obama's comments have "troubled a number of people who have read it as somehow a challenge to the federal courts or to their authority or to the appropriateness of the concept of judicial review," Smith told a Justice Department attorney during oral arguments in a case involving the health reform law's limits on physician-owned hospitals. "And that's not a small matter" (Haberkorn, 4/3).

The Hill: Texas Judge Confronts Obama Administration Over 'Judicial Restraint' Statement
A federal judge in Texas is demanding that the Department of Justice clarify whether President Obama's dig about "judicial restraint" means the administration thinks the Judicial Branch has no right to overturn unconstitutional laws. Fifth Circuit Judge Jerry Edwin Smith, a Reagan appointee, is part of a three-judge panel hearing a lawsuit challenging the law's restriction on physician-owned hospitals. During oral arguments Tuesday, Smith demanded that Attorney General Eric Holder send him a three-page, single-spaced letter by noon Thursday explaining what Obama meant when he said Monday that ruling against his health law would be an "unprecedented" act of judicial activism (Pecquet, 4/3).

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