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National Review
National Review
22 Apr 2023
Jeff Zymeri


NextImg:AOC Renews Calls for Biden Administration to Defy Federal Court Rulings

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.) has doubled down on calls for the Biden administration to defy federal courts, including the nation’s highest, which she believes to be “a highly politicized entity that is rapidly delegitimizing.”

Ocasio-Cortez argued earlier this month that the Biden administration should ignore Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk’s ruling suspending approval of mifepristone, which is used in a regimen that constitutes the most common method of procuring an abortion in the United States. The Department of Justice appealed the ruling to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals and then the Supreme Court. On Friday, the high court stayed Kacsmaryk’s ruling in full.

Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito would have denied the applications for stays, with Alito writing that the applicants “have not shown that they are likely to suffer irreparable harm in the interim.” One line in Alito’s dissent drew a reaction from Ocasio-Cortez — namely, his point that “the Government has not dispelled legitimate doubts that it would even obey an unfavorable order in these cases, much less that it would choose to take enforcement actions to which it has strong objections.”

In response, Ocasio-Cortez speculated on Twitter that she and others who had supported defying federal courts contributed to the stay of mifepristone’s suspension.

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“The court is a political entity currently engaged in overreach and abuse of power. In our system of checks and balances, SCOTUS’s reckless behavior warrants a check from the leg + executive branches. This is not unprecedented, it’s how our system is designed to avert tyranny,” Ocasio-Cortez continued.

The representative’s comments on Friday follow an interview she gave to Anderson Cooper on CNN in which she argued much the same.

“It is the justices themselves through the deeply partisan and unfounded nature of these rulings that are undermining their own enforcement…It is up to the Biden administration to choose whether or not to enforce such a ruling,” she said.

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“We are seeing 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, many of which are appointed with even the American Bar Association saying they’re completely unfit for the role,” Ocasio-Cortez added.

The representative is not the only Democratic member of Congress that has openly called for the federal courts to be ignored by the executive branch. Senator Ron Wyden (D., Or.) said in a statement there was no way Kacsmaryk’s order has a basis in the law.

“It is instead rooted in conservatives’ dangerous and undemocratic takeover of our country’s institutions. No matter what happens in seven days, I believe the Food and Drug Administration has the authority to ignore this ruling, which is why I’m again calling on President Biden and the FDA to do just that,” Wyden wrote.

These calls drew condemnation from many concerned with the rule of law. Though the Wall Street Journal editorial board harbored doubts about Kacsmaryk’s ruling, they thought the remarks of Wyden and Ocasio-Cortez were beyond the pale.

“This is dangerous for the rule of law, and Democrats shouldn’t think they’ll be the only politicians who pick up the Wyden Nullification Doctrine. Southern Democrats called for ‘massive resistance’ to legal orders in the 1950s after the Supreme Court’s school desegregation ruling in Brown v. Board of Education. Is that now the Wyden-AOC model?,” the editorial board wrote.

“There’s a risk the Administration will cave under progressive pressure if the legal rulings don’t go its way. If it does, the U.S. will take another giant step toward lawless politics,” the editorial board added.