US President Barack Obama on Monday challenged the “unelected” Supreme Court not to take the “extraordinary” and “unprecedented” step of overturning his landmark health reform law.
In a highly combative salvo on a case which could have a critical impact on his reelection chances, Obama warned that health care for millions of people was at stake, even as nine Supreme Court justices deliberate the arguments.
The US Supreme Court held compelling legal arguments on the health reform law, the centerpiece of Obama’s political legacy, last week, amid a flurry of commentary predicting the law will be ruled unconstitutional.
Obama noted that for years, conservatives had been arguing that the “unelected” Supreme Court should not adopt an activist approach by making rather than interpreting law, and held up the health legislation as an example.
Following pointed questions by Supreme Court justices to the government’s lawyer at hearings on the health care case last week, many commentators are predicting a conservative majority on the court will strike the law down.
Obama’s comments will be seen as a warning shot to the court, one of the three branches of the US government, and could draw complaints from critics that he is trying to influence the deliberations.
The president also vigorously defended the law’s individual mandate clause by which the government requires all Americans to buy health insurance coverage to expand coverage and in return for requiring insurers to cover all patients.
Obama also argued there was a “human element” to the health care battle, as well as legal and political dimensions.
He said that without the law, passed after a fierce battle with Republicans in 2010, several million children would not have health care, and millions more adults with pre-existing conditions would also be deprived of treatment.