President Barack Obama's attack on the Supreme Court last night got The New Republic's Jeffrey Rosen pretty excited. After noting that "it takes only a few high-profile presidential attacks to tar a Court as activist in the eyes of history," Rosen makes the inevitable comparison to President Franklin Roosevelt, who denounced the Supreme Court for unanimously striking down FDR's beloved National Industrial Recovery Act (and the accompanying National Recovery Administration) in 1935 and then infamously threatened to pack the Court with New Deal-friendly justices in 1937. Is this a model of presidential behavior that Obama (and why not George W. Bush before him?) should emulate? Rosen apparently thinks so:
During the 1930s, the Supreme Court upheld a great deal of FDR's economic recovery program, but the New Deal Court is remembered today as a group of unprincipled activists because of just a handful of high profile decisions that FDR prominently attacked.
It's a relief to see former Professor Obama having the nerve to stand up for judicial restraint and to criticize the conservative justices to their faces. If the justices don't take the criticism to heart, they're headed toward a full-blown confrontation with the White House and Congress that won't end well for the Court.