(WASHINGTON) — On Thursday, Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, took to the Senate floor to warn his colleagues and President Obama about public comments about the Supreme Court as it deliberates the health care case.
“Attempts to manipulate or to bully the Supreme Court, especially during deliberations in a particular proceeding, are irresponsible and they tend to threaten the very fabric of our constitutional republic,” Lee said during a floor speech.
Lee was responding in part to a speech in May by Sen. Patrick Leahy. D-Vt. Leahy took to the Senate floor to warn the Supreme Court, particularly Chief Justice John Roberts, not to strike down the Affordable Care Act.
Leahy said that when he attended oral arguments in March he “was struck by how little respect some of the justices showed to Congress.” He said some of the justices seemed “dismissive” of the months of work — including dozens of hearings — on the part of both the House and the Senate to enact the law.
Leahy singled out Roberts, explaining why he had voted for him during the chief justice’s confirmation hearings: “I trusted he would act to fulfill his responsibilities in accordance with the testimony he gave to the United States Senate. I said then that if I thought he would easily reject precedent or use his position on the Supreme Court as a bulwark for activism, I would not have supported his confirmation.”
During a Rose Garden ceremony in April, President Obama said, “Ultimately, I’m confident that the Supreme Court will not take what would be an unprecedented extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress.”
Lee, who thinks the individual mandate should be struck down, said Thursday, “Criticisms of the well-established principle of judicial review grossly misrepresent how our constitutional republic functions.”
Lee said that the president “and some members of this body have suggested that the judiciary, which they sometimes denigrate as a group of unelected people, should simply defer to Congress.”
Lee is a former clerk to Justice Samuel Alito.
The health care case is expected to be decided sometime by the end of June.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Chris Isidore, CNN
Theodore Schleifer, CNN
Eric Bradner, CNN