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Romney, Santorum, Obama and a judge all fire away over healthcare

By Tom Sullivan
09:58 AM
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During primary day Tuesday in D.C, Maryland, and Wisconsin, the GOP contenders and President Obama fired back and forth via the media shots about healthcare in the Supreme Court and how the political spectrum has shifted such that the formerly-conservative individual mandate is now widely thought to be federal overreach.

Indeed, Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) on Tuesday lambasted Obama for what Johanns claimed to be “threatening” Supreme Court justices when Obama said that a decision to overturn health reform would be equivalent to the sort of judicial activism so many Republicans abhor.

[Podcast: SCOTUS and ACA, what we know, what we don't, and why each matters.]

Former Governor Mitt Romney, meanwhile, also returned fire at Obama. "An activist court is one that departs from the Constitution and begins legislating from the bench," Romney said, according to a National Journal article. "In this case, the Court is doing the job they were put in place to do."

A federal appeals court judge entered the fray, too, ordering the Department of Justice to explain Obama’s remark. During arguments in an unrelated health care case, Judge Jerry Smith said to a DOJ lawyer, “I want to be sure that you are telling us that the Attorney General and the Department of Justice do recognize the authority of the federal courts to strike acts of Congress or portions thereof in appropriate cases."

President Obama, meanwhile, used a speech on Tuesday to sling arrows right back at Republicans, insisting that his own health reform law is rooted in conservative thinking.

“There's a reason why there's a little bit of confusion in the Republican primary about health care and the individual mandate since it originated as a conservative idea to preserve the private marketplace in health care while still assuring that everybody got covered, in contrast to a single-payer plan,” the President said during an Associated Press Luncheon. “Now, suddenly, this is some socialist overreach.”

[Political Malpractice: How politics distort Americans' perception of health reform.]

Even though Romney swept all three states Tuesday, Rick Santorum maintained to supporters in Pennsylvania, the state where was formerly a Senator, that the game is still on.

"The clock starts tonight," Santorum is quoted as saying in a CNN story. "Half the delegates in this process have been selected, and who's ready to charge out of the locker room in Pennsylvania for a strong second half?"