Following President Obama’s lead, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse chided the Supreme Court saying some of its members have become more interested in activism than jurisprudence.
“If you can’t tell the difference between health care and broccoli there’s a real problem,” he said this morning at RIC, referencing Justice Antonin Scalia’s line of questioning as the court debated Obamacare last week.
Whitehouse even offered a reply to Scalia’s broccoli comparison.
“If you house burns down, we don’t rebuild your house,” he said, while talking to a group at RIC for the Health Care Exchange Commission meeting he attended. “But if you go to the hospital, we fix your broken leg.”
Later in the day, on a conference call with Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY, he said, “There comes a point when have to be able to tell the truth about the Supreme Court, and that is it’s activist and is becoming even more activist. One might even say corporate activism.”
Whitehouse, a member of the Judiciary Committee, was once considered by President Obama for an open slot on the high court.
He noted the irony in Republicans and conservative-leaning Supreme Court justices taking issue with individual mandates, saying the idea was often trumpted by Richard Nixon, the Heritage Foundation and longtime moderate Republican from Rhode Island John Chafee, Gov. Linc Chafee’s dad.
“It was the insurance companies that wanted mandates in the bill,” he said, noting that only because of federalism, the idea that some decisions are best left to the states, is the issue before the Supreme Court.
“Every state can require mandates tomorrow and there isn’t a lawyer in the country who would say that is unconstitutional.”
Whitehouse said many Republicans in Congress agree that universal health insurance would be good for society, but said many are afraid of raising the ire of party extremists.
“I know people who say, ‘you’re absolutely right but I can’t talk about that because I’d get a Tea Party primary opponent if I do.'”
He added that both Republican and Democratic leaders agree that once you drill down into the deficit the big drivers are often related to health care, saying, “If we don’t do it this way, the way we are going to do it is when China says you guys are out of control and we’re not going to loan you any more money.”