Legal Challenge

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Bret Baier of Fox News interviewed President Obama one-on-one on St. Patrick’s day this year, in anticipation of the then-upcoming vote on healthcare reform.

Talking afterwards with Fox pundit Bill O’Reilly, Baier admitted it’s a difficult challenge to get Obama to answer questions directly. Baier spent some time trying to get a straight yes-or-no from him about whether he approved the reconciliation trick of voting for a rule rather than a bill; the rule would allow the House to “deem” that the bill had passed the House if the Senate would then approve amendments that the House wanted.

I appreciate Baier’s challenge, but I really wish he would have just confronted the president in this way: “Sir, you are distinguished among U.S. presidents not only in having a Harvard law degree (only the second to earn such a degree, after Rutherford B. Hayes) but in actually having taught constitutional law. As a constitutional lawyer, are you willing to go on record, in opposition to several legal scholars who have published in newspaper columns throughout the country this week, in saying that the reconciliation move is constitutional? As president, you have sworn to uphold the Constitution. Does it follow that if a healthcare reform bill reaches your desk by traveling this reconciliation route, your signature will indicate that you are putting your scholarly reputation on the line to the effect that you believe such a maneuver to be constitutional? Are you willing to ask the Supreme Court to rule

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