Showdowns Between Presidents And The Supreme Court: Jefferson, Jackson, Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Nixon, And Obama

President Barack Obama today challenged the Supreme Court to support the Obama Health Care legislation, which was argued last week before the Court in an unprecedented three day, six hour presentation by the two sides in the case.

Obama made clear that two conservative Circuit Court judges, Laurence Silberman and Jeffrey Sutton, have backed the legislation as constitutional.

Just by simply answering a question from a journalist, what Obama has done is thrown down the gauntlet to the Court, as he did when he criticized them face to face at the State of the Union Address in 2010, shortly after the decision in the Citizens United case, the most unpopular decision of the Court since Bush V. Gore in 2000.

As the author listened to Obama’s challenge to the Court, it brought back the history of Presidential challenges to the Supreme Court in the past.

Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson challenged the Court’s authority, causing antagonism between both Presidents and Chief Justice John Marshall.

Abraham Lincoln was critical of the Dred Scott Decision before his Presidency, and was in conflict with Chief Justice Roger Taney during the Civil War, until Taney’s death in 1864.

Franklin D. Roosevelt denounced the Supreme Court over challenges to the New Deal programs, and tried to “pack” the Court, and Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes defended the Court from the attacks of the President.

Richard Nixon denounced the Court as too liberal and permissive under Chief Justice Earl Warren, when Nixon ran for President, with Warren swearing him in as President, and then retiring later in 1969. Nixon then had the opportunity to make four Supreme Court appointments and turn the Court more conservative.

And now, Barack Obama has challenged the Court for the second time, with Chief Justice John Roberts expressing discontent, after the fact, to the first criticism of the Court, expressed during the State of the Union Address.

Wondering what the ultimate relationship between Obama, and the Chief Justice and the entire Court in the future, will be, is one of the key events of this election year!

Certainly, Obama is in good company, distinguished company, with the other Presidents who have challenged the Supreme Court!