CNN's senior legal analyst said on Thursday's Starting Point that "some of these Republican judges are just deranged by hatred of the President." Jeffrey Toobin was railing against the three-judge panel on the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court that had made the Justice Department write a three page memo about the Obama administration's take on judicial review.
Toobin called the act a "disgrace." However, though President Obama had said the Supreme Court overturning his health care law would be "unprecedented" and "judicial activism," Toobin defended his remarks as "entirely appropriate." [Video below the break. Audio here.]
In response to those remarks, one of the three Fifth Circuit Court judges expressed concern over Obama's remarks and the panel then made the Justice Department explain just what the administration had in mind about judicial review, through a single-spaced three page letter.
Actions like that, said Toobin, reveal a "hatred" of the President. "That was a perfectly appropriate comment by the President and it just shows how some of these Republican judges are just deranged by hatred of the President," he insisted.
The Blaze.com's Will Cain called Toobin out for his analysis of Obama's remarks. "I find the President's statement that was the predication for this, really I find that unprecedented as well. You find it completely normal," he told Toobin.
Cain said that presidents have clashed with the Court before, but after certain decisions had been ruled on, unlike Obama who made his comments before the Court has reached a verdict. "It's hard not to see that as some sort of influence, warning, intimidation," he insisted.
A transcript of the segment, which aired on April 5 at 7:16 a.m. EDT, is as follows:
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: Obama administration scrambling to meet this deadline now. It comes from Republican-appointed federal judges. And those judges want answers in writing after the President made kind of a controversial remark about the Supreme Court's upcoming decision over his health care law. Here's what he said.
BARACK OBAMA, (D) President of the United States: I'm confident that the Supreme Court will not take what would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected congress.
(End Video Clip)
O'BRIEN: So that was what the President said in a press conference. Some people say the president was warning the justices not to overturn the law. It didn't sit very well with the three-judge panel hearing a different challenge to the same law. And here's what one of those judges, his name is Jerry Smith, said in court.
JERRY SMITH, judge, U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals: He was referring, of course, to ObamaCare to what he termed 'a broad consensus of majorities in both houses of Congress.' That has troubled a number of people who have read it as somehow a challenge to the federal courts or to their authority, or to the appropriateness of the concept of judicial review. And that's not a small matter.
(End Video Clip)
O'BRIEN: Hence, Jeff Toobin, CNN legal analyst. I said that you call this a pissing match, but I got that wrong. You called this a hissy fit.
TOOBIN: A hissy fit. I think what these judges have done is a disgrace. What President Obama said was entirely appropriate. There is nothing wrong, there's nothing controversial. He said I signed a law that was passed by the democratically-elected Congress and I think it's constitutional.
And then these judges give the Justice Department a homework assignment, a three-page letter, single-spaced, explaining what the President said. They don't have to explain what the President said. That was a perfectly appropriate comment by the President and it just shows how some of these Republican judges are just deranged by hatred of the President.
O'BRIEN: But isn't the role of the Supreme Court to overturn stuff that's unconstitutional?
TOOBIN: If they find it.
TOOBIN: And there's nothing that Obama said that was contrary to that. The President has no leverage over the Supreme Court. He can't threaten – what's he going to threaten to do? If you rule this way, I won't – if you rule this way, I'm not going to invite you to a state dinner. I mean, that's about his only leverage.
CAIN: This is where I must step in, and I totally agree with you, Jeff. This is a very odd requirement.
O'BRIEN: Hissy fit.
WILL CAIN, CNN contributor: Three-page letter, single spaced, explaining the President's views on judicial review. That being said, I find the President's statement that was the predication for this, really I find that unprecedented as well. You find it completely normal. But while judicial review has been a 250-year-old concept that the country has lived by, presidents have at times had problems with it. Jefferson. FDR had a court-packing incident. But those all happened after court decisions. ObamaCare tries this extraordinary and unprecedented before the Supreme Court made their decision. It's hard not to see that as some sort of influence, warning, intimidation.
TOOBIN: To do what?
CAIN: To rule in his favor.
JOHN FUGELSANG, comedian: What's he going to do if they don't?
TOOBIN: His administration wrote a brief asking them to rule in his favor. So it's not exactly a secret.
O'BRIEN: Everyone knows they want the justices to rule in theirs favor.
FUGELSANG: – what side the President's on here.
CAIN: He continues to call it unprecedented, extraordinary exercise of judicial power, from an unelected group of members. He's putting a lot of language in here, Jeff, that suggests it would be totally off-base for the Supreme Court to apply judicial review to his favorite law.
TOOBIN: And that's what his Justice Department said to the justices last week. I mean, there is no secret about the Obama administration's position on this issue. I don't see why the President saying it, the Attorney General saying it, the Solicitor General saying it –
CAIN: Because it calls into question the legitimacy of their decision, not his disagreement but the legitimacy to make the decision.
TOOBIN: He didn't say anything about their legitimacy. He said my interpretation of the law is the following. He's an American citizen. He has the right to express his opinion.
O'BRIEN: Okay, so let's talk bigger picture. So bigger picture. How is what is really a political statement at a press conference becoming sort of a judicial statement, right? Shouldn't the two of them really –
TOOBIN: Well, I think what I have devoted my career to attempting to prove is that the line between law and politics is essentially nonexistent. When you have cases like this, when you have cases like abortion, affirmative action, these are essentially political decisions being made by individuals who wear black robes, but they are, in essence, political decisions. And I think the more we recognize that and the more we eliminate this artificial line, this sort of idealistic but really meaningless line between law and politics, the better, because I think that's the way the world works.