Last week, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., called for the impeachment of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas over the judge’s gifts from a longtime friend.
Then, after two federal districts’ rulings on abortion, Ocasio-Cortez went a step further and demanded the White House simply ignore the judicial branch.
She urged President Joe Biden to simply ignore a recent ruling, a move that would trigger a constitutional crisis. What’s more, she blamed the court for making Biden violate the checks and balances.
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“I believe that the Biden administration should ignore this ruling,” Ocasio-Cortez told CNN’s Anderson Cooper last week.
“The courts have the legitimacy, and they rely on the legitimacy of their rulings. And what they are currently doing is engaged in an unprecedented and dramatic erosion of the legitimacy of the courts. It is the justices themselves who — through the deeply partisan and unfounded nature of these rulings — that are undermining their own enforcement.”
According to socialist superstar, the court is leaving Biden with no other choice than to start a constitutional crisis.
Ocasio-Cortez dismissed all criticism on Twitter.
“GOP are losing their mind over this, but there’s precedent – including their own,” the representative tweeted Sunday. “Courts ordered Trump to fully restore DACA. They ignored it w/ Republican support.”
Previous presidents have exercised executive discretion without simply ignoring court rulings, and the Biden administration has avenues other than ignoring the courts. For example, Biden’s Justice Department can appeal the rulings.
The U.S. has approached a constitutional crisis over this issue before. According to legend, Democratic President Andrew Jackson once said, “John Marshal [the chief justice] has made his ruling; now let him enforce it.” However, Jackson ultimately agreed with the court’s final ruling.
Ocasio-Cortez seems to view Jackson’s apocryphal remark as an instruction manual. “The interesting thing when it comes to a ruling is that it relies on enforcement, and it is up to the Biden administration to enforce, to choose whether or not to enforce such a ruling,” Ocasio-Cortez said.
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However, Ocasio-Cortez quickly backtracked after some questions from Cooper.
Cooper asked, “Do we really want to live in a world where a government can decide to ignore a federal court of law?”
“Well, no. I do think that it raises these important questions,” Ocasio-Cortez said.
“The F.D.A. and the Biden administration is going to figure out how exactly we map this out. On the other hand, what we are also seeing is a power grab over our courts in which the laws passed by Congress and the rules and policies passed by the executive branch now are going to require unanimous consent from 650 district court judges?”
Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan, a liberal, has long been warning about the court’s lack of power to enforce its more controversial rulings.
“Judges create legitimacy problems for themselves … when they instead stray into places where it looks like they’re an extension of the political process or when they’re imposing their own personal preferences,” Kagan said at Temple Emanu-El in New York last year.
However, another justice cautioned, “Simply because people disagree with an opinion is not a basis for questioning the legitimacy of the court.”
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Take a look —
GOP are losing their mind over this, but there’s precedent – including their own.
Courts ordered Trump to fully restore DACA. They ignored it w/ Republican support.
GOP operate in complete contempt for the law until they’re in a position to shred Constitutional & human rights. https://t.co/kfxsdF5eKG
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) April 9, 2023
AOC: He said himself a friend of 25 years. Justice Thomas has been on the court for 30 years and so to say what he is admitting in his statement.. is that he began this relationship with a billionaire and receiving these gifts after he was appointed to the Supreme Court pic.twitter.com/EEPyWaZ2Es
— Acyn (@Acyn) April 9, 2023
Ocasio-Cortez was referring to two recent rulings, each from a different federal district.
On Friday, access to the most commonly used method of abortion in the U.S. plunged into uncertainty, after the two conflicting court rulings over the legality of mifepristone, an abortion drug.
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For now, the drug the Food and Drug Administration approved in 2000 appeared to remain at least immediately available in the wake of two separate rulings that were issued in quick succession by federal judges in Texas and Washington.
U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, a Trump appointee, ordered a hold on federal approval of mifepristone. But that decision came at nearly the same time that U.S. District Judge Thomas O. Rice, an Obama appointee, essentially ordered the opposite and directed U.S. authorities not to make any changes that would restrict access to the drug in at least 17 states where Democrats sued in an effort to protect availability.
The extraordinary timing of the competing orders revealed the high stakes surrounding the drug nearly a year after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and allowed states to make their own abortion laws.
The whiplash of the conflicting decisions looks likely to put the issue on an accelerated path to the Supreme Court.
The Horn editorial team and the Associated Press contributed to this article.