Jay Carney: President’s SCOTUS Goof Was ‘Shorthand’

Posted April 5, 2012 at 12:21pm

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney recalibrated his spin today on President Barack Obama’s verbal goof on the Supreme Court, contending that the president’s statement Monday about an “unprecedented” ruling amounted to “shorthand.”

“Because he is a constitutional law professor, he spoke in shorthand,” Carney said, as he sought for a second day to swat away questions about the president’s demonstrably false remark Monday that it would be “unprecedented” for the court to strike down a law that was enacted with a “strong majority” in Congress.

Carney acknowledged that the president on Monday did not include the full context for his “unprecedented” remark — that it would be unprecedented for the court to reject a law with national economic significance on Commerce Clause grounds in 85 years — but said that it was “preposterous” to suggest that Obama does not understand the court’s role and ability to determine which laws are constitutional.

“The president believes the Supreme Court has the final word,” Carney said.

Carney’s explanations earned a few retorts from CBS correspondent Bill Plante. “He made a mistake and you can’t admit it,” Plante said. Plante later asked Carney if the mind reader paid by the General Services Administration in a wasteful spending scandal knew what the president meant on Monday.

Republicans, meanwhile, stepped up their attacks on the president for his remarks on the court, accusing him of crossing an important line in the separation of powers.

“The president crossed a dangerous line this week. And anyone who cares about liberty needs to call him out on it,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said in prepared remarks today. “I would suggest the president back off. … Let the court do its work. Let our system work the way it was intended. The stability of our system and our laws and our very government depends on it. And the duties of the presidency demand it.”