Obama administration officials heeded a warning from a federal appeals court and provided a letter verifying that the courts had the final say-so on the constitutionality of the president’s health care reform law.
In a three-page letter submitted April 5 by Attorney General Eric Holder, the judges’ right to rule on any law passed by the president was affirmed.
“The longstanding, historical position of the United States regarding judicial review of the constitutionality of federal legislation has not changed and was accurately stated by counsel for the government at oral argument in this case a few days ago,” Holder wrote. “The Department has not in this litigation, nor in any other litigation of which I am aware, ever asked this or any other Court to reconsider or limit long-established precedent concerning judicial review of the constitutionality of federal legislation.”
The controversy began after President Obama on April 2 warned the Supreme Court about judicial activism in striking down or upholding laws passed by the legislative branch.
“And I’d just remind conservative commentators that, for years, what we have heard is the biggest problem on the bench was judicial activism, or a lack of judicial restraint, that an unelected group of people would somehow overturn a duly constituted and passed law,” Obama said, according to Reuters.
In response, the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals asked the Obama administration to clarify their interpretation of the judicial branch’s powers.
The issue was the latest encounter in a highly-contested fight over the constitutionality of the health care reform law, known as the Affordable Care Act. There are currently several challenges to the law, with the majority of conservatives opposing the law and most liberals in favor of it.
The Supreme Court will have the ultimate ruling on the matter later this year.