Late Associate Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia once appeared on Fox News declaring he was not afraid to vote against the establishment because what’s the worst that can happen?
In a July 2012 interview with Fox News Sunday’s Chris Wallace, Scalia was asked if he felt “pressured” by the administration to vote a certain way on Obamacare after the president publicly called the court out during an April press conference.
After reviewing a clip of Obama saying he felt confident the Supreme Court would not overturn the Affordable Health Act legislation, Wallace asked, “Justice, what did you think of that?”
SCALIA: It’s unusual. But as I say, I don’t criticize the president publicly and he normally doesn’t criticize me.
WALLACE: Did you feel any pressure as a result of that to vote a certain way?
SCALIA: No. What can he do to me? Or to any of us? We have life tenure and we have it precisely so that we will not be influenced by politics, by threats from anybody.
WALLACE: Did you view that as a threat?
SCALIA: I didn’t view it as a threat. I’m not even sure I heard it.
WALLACE: Well, you heard it now.
SCALIA: I’m glad you brought it to my attention!
WALLACE: And now, you — come on, you heard it.
As a matter of just fact, as a legal scholar, was the former constitutional law lecturer correct? How unprecedented is it for a court, or as the president put it there, an unelected group of people to overturn an act of Congress.
SCALIA: Oh, I’m not going to engage in a debate with —
SCALIA: Well, we have overruled Mayberry versus Madison, a very old case. We did just that and done it in a large number of cases since then. It’s part of the function of the court.
Look, the most important role we play and the reason we have life tenure is precisely because now and then, we have to tell the majority, the people that they can’t do what they want to do. That what they want to do is unconstitutional and therefore go away.
Now, that’s not going to make us popular. And you can say, oh, it’s very undemocratic and in a small sense it is. In the larger sense, it isn’t however, because it’s the American people who gave us that power. It’s the American people who said, no, there are some things we’re not going to let future legislators do, even if they want to do it.
And we are simply applying that judgment of the American people over time.
Watch the full clip below: