McConnell to Obama: 'Back off'
April 5th, 2012
12:20 PM ET
10 years ago

McConnell to Obama: 'Back off'

(CNN) - Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell directly attacked President Barack Obama on Thursday, tweaking the president over his controversial remarks about the Supreme Court.

"The president crossed a dangerous line this week. And anyone who cares about liberty needs to call him out on it," McConnell said in a speech at the Rotary Club of Lexington, according to prepared remarks.

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He continued: "Respectfully, I would suggest the president back off."

On Monday, Obama made headlines when he compared a potential Supreme Court overturning of the Affordable Care Act, passed by Congress in 2010, to the kind of "judicial activism" that conservative commentators oppose.

He went on to add that he firmly believed the health care law would be upheld and challenged the court not to take an "unprecedented" step of undoing the law.

The comments quickly caused a rouse among conservative leaders, who charged the president with being misleading and trying to intimidate the high court.

And a federal court this week ordered the Justice Department to explain whether the Obama administration believes federal courts have the power to strike down laws as unconstitutional, as granted by the Supreme Court's landmark 1803 ruling in Marbury v Madison.

McConnell, describing Obama's remarks as "troubling," accused the president of not respecting the Supreme Court and dismissing its power as a separate branch of government.

"Let the court do its work. Let our system work the way it was intended. The stability of our system and our laws and our very government depends on it," McConnell said.

The minority leader said if the Supreme Court decides to uphold the health care law, he would disagree with the decision but he would still "respect" it, drawing a contrast to what he sees as Obama's disregard for the high court.

"The American people should be able to expect that their president will defend the independence of the court, not undermine it," he said.

On Wednesday, however, Obama dialed down his language in a speech at a media luncheon.

"The point I was making is that the Supreme Court is the final say on our Constitution and our laws and all of us have to respect it," he said. "But it's precisely because of that extraordinary power that the court has traditionally exercised significant restraint and deference to our duly-elected legislature, our Congress."

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney on Thursday further defended the president, describing questions over Obama’s reverence for the Supreme Court as “preposterous.”

“The president was not clearly understood by some people,” Carney said. “Because he is a law professor, he spoke in short hand.”

- CNN's Bill Mears and Tom Cohen contributed to this report.

Also see:

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Romney makes general election pitch in Pennsylvania, but can't ignore Santorum

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Filed under: Health care • Kentucky • Mitch McConnell • President Obama • Supreme Court
soundoff (70 Responses)

    Oh please, give me a break!

    April 5, 2012 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  2. Want to help the deficit? END THE WARS STUPID!

    Lets see... Presidents' pick the Supreme Court Judges.. Yep! I'd say it's political!

    April 5, 2012 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  3. How much do the wars cost the US? Trillions!

    Freedom of speech! Obama is a US citizen. So he doesn't need to back off!

    April 5, 2012 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  4. Dave

    It's McConnell and the idiots on the right who should back off. No respect intended. I love how these clowns harp on and on about activist judges and rail against Supreme Court decisions that they dislike. Of course, when the shoe is on the other foot, they play a completely different tune. So typical of these brainless hacks.

    April 5, 2012 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  5. Myviewis

    Wow, you guys really don't give President Obama the credit that he realized he misspoke and corrected, clarified what he had said because his words did sound pretty bad. You guys are so wanting to fight that you have missed the President's capability to reflect, analyze his words and took the step/action to clarify words that sounded bad. Seriously, get over yourselves and pay attention to what Obama did here.

    April 5, 2012 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  6. Ferret out the BS

    I think it's very interesting that Mconnel says the SCOTUS is the final decision and ever since the SCOTUS ruled on Roe V Wade congress, SCOTUS, some citizens and groups have been trying to overturn it. The law has been weakened and legal practioners intimidated and murdered. So don't believe a word the Senator says, because he's only saying it to to hear his head roar.

    April 5, 2012 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  7. Jules

    I would suggest that Mconnell just mind his own business. We all know his only purpose in life is to defeat President Obama since he has stated that much. Why is he worried that the president might be stepping in it with his remarks? HMMMMM

    April 5, 2012 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  8. The Real Tom Paine

    Fair, what is wrong with the man speaking his opinion? You've had candidates for months saying the Court should strike the law down even before the arguements were heard, and were also offering details as to why it should be struck down. Can't the President speak his mind, or is it because he does not have an "R" after his name?

    April 5, 2012 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  9. Hammerer

    First obama attacks the Supreme Court as being activist and then he hosts the Muslim Brotherhood for a strategy session.
    Any ideas of his plans for America "after the election"?

    April 5, 2012 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  10. anotherGDlefty

    Coming from the guy who's sole mission in the last 3 years was to make sure this president fails at whatever he does, I'd say his opinion on anything is laughable.

    How are those jobs bills coming Republican House?
    Republican senators, why do you now hate YOUR OWN IDEA about the healthcare mandate?

    April 5, 2012 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  11. Hopeful

    Don't back off President Obama. We support you.

    April 5, 2012 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  12. BLKMANinAmerica

    Really................................OLE'McDonALD needs to "back off". Free speech is not only for repuks it's for all American's and the President can say whatever he desires and he dosen't need to conslult withone to say it.

    April 5, 2012 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |

    Oh pls mitch.....The lambasting of the Supreme Court is as American as apple pie...He isn't the first President to do it, & he won't be the last.....He also has the freedom of speech to do so.

    April 5, 2012 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  14. PJ/TX

    "..accused the President of not respecting the Supreme Court..."
    So, when John McCain said, regarding the Citizens United ruling:
    "What the Supreme Court did is a combination of arrogance, naivete and stupidity the likes of which I have never seen",
    is an example of "respecting" the Supreme Court? Not by a long shot, but McConnell was silent on this issue.

    April 5, 2012 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  15. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Hammerer – I would be interested to hear your conspiracy theory.

    April 5, 2012 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  16. Myviewis

    @The Real Tom Paine- You do realize that Obama did something bigger here than speaking his opinion? He actually was capable of recognizing, analyzing that his words sounded bad and Obama took the step to clarify his words that sounded bad coming from a President. Seriously, how could you miss this? You are so hooked on arguing against the Republicans that you completely ignored Obama's action and example to us all and what it says about him.

    April 5, 2012 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  17. Read the Health Care Reform Proposal - It contains "A Plan"!

    And by the way GOP... Obama's "Health Care Plan" is written in the pages of the Health Care Reform proposal. Read it! The reason Romney is calling out Obama about his "Plans" is because Romney knows You haven't read his plan. Romney has read it, and his own health care law modeled it. He just wants Obama to put his plan on the news, to jolt his memory and give him amunition to attack his plan. He must think Obama is as stupid as the average GOP voter or something. Well, I'm here to tell ya: He isn't! And don't ever think Obama doesn't have other "Specific Plans". Tune into CNN more and turn off FOX. Maybe you'll learn something.

    April 5, 2012 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |

    If McConnell says 'Back Off", then President Obama NEEDS to COME ON AND PILE ON!
    the only thing McConnell is worried about is defeating President Obama the country be damned.

    April 5, 2012 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  19. rev dan hartley

    what part of( back off)doesnt he understand.there will be a one world order.

    April 5, 2012 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  20. the Situation

    This coming from a guy that sole purpose to to ensure that Obama failed and was a one term president. McConnell, you back off!

    April 5, 2012 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
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