Think back to your high school history class, the part where you learned about the structure and function of the three branches of government in the American system.
Without getting into the nitty-gritty, the lesson about the Supreme Court likely stipulated that the key responsibility of the Supreme Court is to determine whether or not laws are constitutional. Can you name a Supreme Court case that did not hinge on whether or not a law was constitutional? And when the ruling came down, the answer to that question was the part that made headlines.
Oklahoma Republican Congressman Jim Bridenstine apparently disagrees. In an interview posted by The Daily Caller, Bridenstine suggests that the challenge begins when members of Congress disagree with a Supreme Court. In other words, when it comes to constitutionality, the buck does not stop at the Supreme Court. In the case of the Affordable Care Act, Bridenstine puts the responsibility on those who disagree with the ruling.
“Just because the Supreme Court rules on something doesn’t necessarily mean that that’s constitutional. What that means is that that’s what they decided on that particular day given the makeup of the Court on that particular day,” he said.
Bridenstine’s presentation of how the American system of government works is befuddling: would he agree that citizens who disagree with something Congress has passed can just opt not to follow the laws? After all, the outcome of a Congressional vote on any given issue is a representation of the makeup of Congress “on that particular day.”
In the coming months and years, the Supreme Court is likely going to make historic rulings on cases from same-sex marriage to affirmative action to voting rights. These are decisions that will no doubt determine the very future of our country.
Shouldn’t our elected officials be the individuals who set the example for the rest of us, recognizing the validity of these decisions, and that when a ruling comes down from the Supreme Court, stating that a law is constitutional, it is–by definition–constitutional?