97 Judicature 179 (2013-2014)
Presidential Rhetoric: Toward the Supreme Court

handle is hein.journals/judica97 and id is 179 raw text is: PRESIDENTIAL RHETORIC
Toward the Supreme Court

The authors introduce new data on the intensity and tone of presidential rhetoric toward
the Supreme Court from 1929-2011, analyze the determinants of aggregate rhetoric, and
discuss ways these data can aid in the study of executive-judicial relations.
by BETHANY BLACKSTONE and GREG GOELZHAUSER

Responding to a question about how
he would guarantee health care to
the uninsured if the Supreme Court
invalidated the Affordable Care
Act, President Obama said in part:
Ultimately, I'm confident that the
Supreme Court will not take what
would be an unprecedented, extraor-
dinary step of overturning a law that
was passed by a strong majority of a
democratically elected Congress.'
Many perceived President Obama's
remarks as an attack on the Court.
House Judiciary Committee Chair
Lamar Smith (R-TX) criticized Presi-
dent Obama for threatening [and]
trying to intimidate the Supreme
Court,' for example, and Senate
Minority Leader Mitch McConnell

(R-KY) suggested that President
Obama aimed to delegitimize the
Court.' After the Supreme Court
upheld the core of the Affordable
Care Act in National Federation of
Independent Business v. Sebelius,
Republican presidential candidate
Mitt Romney suggested that Presi-
dent Obama was trying in every way
he possibly could to signal that if the
Supreme Court didn't go along with
him on Obamacare that it would be
a very conflict-filled summer, and he
got what he wanted.s
President   Obama's    rhetori-
cal attack on the Supreme Court
is not unprecedented. President
Jackson famously delivered a lengthy
message vetoing a rechartering of

Thanks to Paul Collins, Matthew Eshbaugh-
Soha, Robert Hume, and participants at the 2012
annual meeting of the Midwest Political Science
Association for helpful feedback.
1. President Barack Obama, News Confer-
ence with President Felipe de Jesus Calderon
Hinojosa of Mexico and Prime Minister Stephen
Harper of Canada (April 2, 2012).
2. Alicia M. Cohn, GOP Lawmaker Warns Obama
Against Threatening the Supreme Court, The
Hill: Blog Briefing Room (Apr. 3,2012, 12:30 PM),
http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/
news/219633-gop-congressman-warns-obama-
not-to-intimidate-supreme-court-on-health-
care-decision-,
3. Ed O'Keefe, Mitch McConnell to Obama: Back
Off the Supreme Court, 2CHAMBERS: INSIDE THE
112TH CONGRESS (Apr. 5, 2012, 3:39 PM), http://
www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/2chambers/
post/mitch-mcconnell-to-obama-back-off-the-
supreme-court/2012/04/05/glQAoc2vxS blog.
html.
4. 132 S. Ct. 2566 (2012).
5. Henry J. Reske & Ronald Kessler, Romney:
Obama Comments Pressured Supreme Court,
NEWSMAX, June 29, 2012.
WWW.AJS.ORG 1 JUDCATJRE 179

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