Sessions Reeling from Supreme Court Rulings
By David Zaslawsky
Using humor, sarcasm and condemnation, Sen. Jeff Sessions blasted recent U.S. Supreme Court landmark rulings like retaining individual subsidies in the Affordable Care Act. The former U.S. Attorney and Alabama Attorney General, Sessions called the Supreme Court decisions “very troubling.” He said the 6-3 decision on the Affordable Care Act “was a statutory misconstruction.” The Court ruled that individuals living in states with a federal health care exchange may receive subsidies although the Affordable Care Act language gave subsidies to only those individuals in states with their own exchanges.
Sessions, speaking at a Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce Eggs & Issues at the RSA Activity Center, said a Supreme Court majority added words “that weren’t in it to make it say what they wanted it to say. It’s a big deal. The courts are a wholly equal branch. This whole idea that some people have a superior branch is not accurate in my opinion. It’s really not accurate in my opinion.”
Sessions, R-Mobile, a four-term senator, said that 535 members of Congress “should be as good as nine on the Supreme Court.” He pointed out that those 535 members of Congress were elected. “You can vote me out of office,” he said. The Supreme Court justices are appointed for life.
He also raised one of Justice Antonin Scalia’s arguments that all nine justices were educated at either Harvard University or Yale University. “Not one from middle America,” Sessions said.
Sessions said it should be left to the people and states to decide about the legality of same-sex marriage. “They’re (Supreme Court justices) now taking it on themselves to decide matters that have always been the people’s issues to decide. If they are so smart and so brilliant, why did four of them dissent?”
The court just needs five votes for a majority and the Senate needs 60 votes to pass legislation, Sessions said. The justices don’t have “superhuman wisdom,” he said.
For Sessions, the court’s same-sex ruling “is more troubling” than the Affordable Care Act decision. He said there is nothing in the Constitution that provides for same-sex marriage and criticized the argument of equal protection.
“The president is very, very proud to have appointed activist judges to advance agendas,” Sessions said. “I don’t know how to push back or what Congress should do.” He said he was “uneasy” about how the Supreme Court “can undermine the rule of law.”
He recalled that during now-Chief Justice John Roberts’ nomination hearing, Roberts said the role of a judge is to function as an umpire calling balls and strikes and not taking sides. Now, Sessions worries that Americans will feel that judges are not neutral and have an agenda.
On other matters, Sessions said:
The cyber program at Maxwell Air Force Base and Gunter Annex has the potential to grow and “become more and more important.” A member of the Subcommittee on Strategic Forces, Sessions said the group asked the military to report on its vulnerabilities to cyber attacks and what it will take to fix it. About $200 million has been budgeted for cyber and Sessions hopes that Maxwell-Gunter receives some of that funding.
The interest on the debt is currently $234 billion a year, but will grow to $800 billion in 10 years based on estimates by the Congressional Budget Office, which includes a return to normal interest rates. The current Social Security budget is $790 billion. The interest on the debt will erode funding for roads, research, health care and education.
The entitlement programs “continue to absorb a larger and larger percentage of money.” We’ve got to get spending under control and it cannot be fixed just by raising taxes.”
The U.S. military left Iraq too soon and perhaps a force as small as 10,000 could have stopped the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
He opposes a nuclear program agreement with Iran, which he said could lead to other Middle Eastern countries with nuclear weapons such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.
European allies need to show more strength against Russian President Vladimir Putin.
European countries need to step up and spend more on defense. He said that Germany spends 1.3 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) on defense; and England manipulates its numbers and spends less than 2 percent of its GDP on defense. The U.S. spends between 3.6 percent and 3.8 of its GDP on defense.