WASHINGTON, April 4 The White House was forced
on the defensive on Wednesday as it sought to explain
controversial remarks President Barack Obama made earlier in the
week about the Supreme Court's review of his signature
healthcare reform law.
"What he did was make an unremarkable observation about 80
years of Supreme Court history," Carney told reporters during a
White House briefing dominated by the topic.
Obama expressed confidence on Monday that the Court would
not take an "unprecedented, extraordinary step" by overturning
the law, provoking a storm of protest that he had been
inaccurate and was challenging the nation's top judges in an
The Supreme Court could decide to reject his Affordable Care
Act to expand health insurance to millions of Americans,
striking down a key achievement of his presidency and
potentially harming Obama's bid for re-election on Nov. 6.
The president, who taught constitutional law at the
University of Chicago, qualified the remark a day later by
stressing he meant action by the Court on a matter of commerce,
a legal distinction that cut little ice with his critics.
South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, who backs Mitt Romney
for the Republican nomination to confront Obama, told Fox News
the president was "bullying the Supreme Court," and the White
House was grilled on whether he had gone too far.
During robust questioning when Carney was told at one point
that he had mischaracterized what the president had said, the
press secretary was forced to repeatedly defend the remarks of
his boss as an observation of fact.
"Since the 1930s the Supreme Court has without exception
deferred to Congress when it comes to Congress's authority to
pass legislation to regulate matters of national economic
importance such as health care, 80 years," Carney said.
"He did not mean and did not suggest that ... it would be
unprecedented for the court to rule that a law was
unconstitutional. That's what the Supreme Court is there to
do," Carney said.
Arguments in the case were heard over three days last week.
A decision by the Supreme Court is expected by late June.
(Reporting By Alister Bull)