By Scott Lemieux
I recently wrote about the possibility that Obama, facing a Supreme Court with a majority appointed by the previous Republican regime, might ultimately be embroiled in public conflict with the Court. I did not necessarily it expect to happen this quickly, but at last week's State of the Union Address President Obama expressed disagreement with the Court's recent Citizens United decision:
There is some disagreement about how unusual Obama's actions were. Certainly, there's nothing unusual about a President criticizing a Supreme Court opinion, and nor is it unprecedented for the President to engage in criticism of the Supreme Court during a State of the Union address. Other commentators have argued that the context of modern media -- having the Supreme Court in attendance on a live national television broadcast -- makes Obama's criticism of the Court new (and potentially disturbing.) The appropriateness of Obama's actions is, of course, a question of judgment. What will be more interesting to students of American government is whether or not conflicts with the Court will be a recurring pattern. It will also be interesting to see if Congress takes up Obama's suggestion to pass new campaign finance regulations to at least partially replace the legislation the Court struck down. But it's not surprising that some friction has emerged.