KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Questions Emerge After Obama Spars With The Supreme Court

Earlier this week, President Barack Obama made comments that "implicitly" warned the court against overturning the health law. Since then, defenders and critics have weighed in on his words and strategy.

The New York Times: Court's Potential To Goad Voters Swings To Democrats
Now strategists in both parties are suggesting this could be the Democrats' year to make the court a foil to mobilize voters. The prospect arises both because of President Obama's comments this week implicitly warning the court against striking down his signature domestic achievement, the expanded health insurance law, and because of recent court rulings, chiefly the Citizens United campaign finance decision, and looming cases on immigration and affirmative action that incite passions on the left (Calmes, 4/4).

Reuters: White House In Damage Control Over Obama Supreme Court Remarks
The White House was forced on the defensive on Wednesday as it sought to explain controversial remarks President Barack Obama made earlier in the week about the Supreme Court's review of his signature healthcare reform law. "What he did was make an unremarkable observation about 80 years of Supreme Court history," White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters during a White House briefing dominated by the topic (Bull, 4/4).

The Washington Post: Obama's Supreme Court Comments Lead Some To Question His Strategy
Many conservatives charged that Obama's words amounted to a stark warning that he intends to campaign against the court if the law or its key elements are struck down, while some speculated that he was trying to bully the justices. One Texas judge … ordered the Justice Department to submit a three-page explanation of what role the administration believes the courts have. Even some legal scholars sympathetic to Obama and the health-care law are saying that the president might have been better off keeping quiet (Wallsten and Barnes, 4/4).

The Wall Street Journal’s Washington Wire: Laurence Tribe: Obama Misspoke On Supreme Court
Constitutional law scholar Laurence Tribe, a Harvard Law School professor and former mentor to President Barack Obama, said the president "obviously misspoke" earlier this week when he made comments about the Supreme Court possibly overturning the health-care law. Mr. Tribe, who calls the president one of his best students, said in an interview: "He didn’t say what he meant…and having said that, in order to avoid misleading anyone, he had to clarify it" (Favole, 4/4).

CQ HealthBeat: Did Obama Cross The Line With His Comments On Health Law Case?
With oral argument in the constitutional challenge to the health care law wrapped up and U.S. Supreme Court justices now thinking over their decision, did President Obama cross the line this week by making extensive comments on the case? To Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Obama was clearly trying to intimidate the court on Monday with his remarks...The bottom line is that Obama simply couldn't resist throwing in a few arguments of his own to back up those made last week on the law's behalf by U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr. What's not known is if Obama continues to comment on the case, whether it will help the law's chances in what's expected to be a very close decision that will shape health policy for years, if not decades (Reichard, 4/4).

Roll Call: White House Still Playing Defense On Barack Obama SCOTUS Remarks
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney struggled today to walk back President Barack Obama's false statement Monday that it would be "unprecedented" for the Supreme Court to overturn a law "passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress."... Carney said Obama does not regret using the word "unprecedented" and noted that Obama clarified the remark Tuesday during questioning at an Associated Press conference. But the unedited original remark appears just plain wrong. And giddy Republicans released an extensive list of laws passed by Congress but overturned by the courts. And they have ridiculed his claim that the 219-212 majority for the health care reform law in the House represented a "strong majority" (Dennis, 4/4).

The Hill (Video): Carney: Obama Remark About Supreme Court Was Misunderstood
In an occasionally testy exchange with reporters, White House press secretary Jay Carney defended President Obama’s remark that it would be "unprecedented" for the Supreme Court to overturn the administration's health care law, saying the comment had been misunderstood. Speaking at a Rose Garden news conference on Monday, Obama weighed in on the matter for the first time since last week's high court hearings that left many Democrats fearful that the five conservative judges would band together to strike down his signature domestic achievement (Easley, 4/4).

Bloomberg: Obama Risks Voter Backlash By Warning High Court On Health Law
President Barack Obama has shown a willingness to campaign against the U.S. Supreme Court if the justices strike down his 2010 health-care law. It's a strategy that’s as risky as it is rare. With the court months away from a ruling, Obama ratcheted up the political stakes this week by saying a decision to reject the law and its requirement that Americans get insurance would be "judicial activism" by "an unelected group of people." Taking on the court would mean fighting an institution that polls show is historically the most admired branch of government (Stohr and Stern, 4/5).

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