The US attorney general, Eric Holder, has bowed to a federal judge’s demand that the Obama administration formally acknowledge the right of courts to strike down unconstitutional laws following the president’s admonishing of the “unelected” supreme court over as it considers his healthcare reforms.
Judge Jerry Smith, who is hearing a healthcare case at a court in Houston, demanded the justice department write “a three-page letter” affirming the supremacy of the courts in deciding the constitutionality of legislation after Barack Obama said on Monday it would be an “unprecedented, extraordinary step” for “an unelected group of people” on the supreme court to overturn the healthcare law “passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress”.
Holder, in a letter to Smith on Thursday that ran to two-and-a-half pages, said the administration is not challenging the authority of the courts.
“The longstanding, historical position of the United States regarding judicial review of the constitutionality of federal legislation has not changed,” the letter said. “The power of the courts to review the constitutionality of legislation is beyond dispute.”