It is a bit unseemly when two branches of government publicly fight over the other's proper role in our society.
No doubt President Obama went a little overboard in public comments about the case before the Supreme Court challenging his health care law. He warned the court ("unelected judges") not to overturn the will of a "democratically elected" Congress.
The president, of course, was off base because that's exactly what judges do - if they find the actions of that Congress were unconstitutional.
But, as Ruth Marcus of the Washington Post reported Wednesday, the actions of a federal judge in Texas were worse than anything the president said or did. The judge - Jerry Smith of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals - upbraided a U.S. attorney defending portions of the law that were the focus of a session before him Tuesday.
"That (the president's comments) has troubled a number of people who have read it as somehow a challenge to the federal courts or to their authority to the appropriateness of the concept of judicial review,'' Smith said to U.S. Attorney Dana Lydia Kaersvang. "So I want to be sure that you're telling us the attorney general and the Department of Justice do recognize the authority of the federal courts through unelected judges to strike acts of Congress or portions thereof in appropriate cases."
Kaersvang replied that the principle of judicial review established in Marbury v. Madison "is the law" and that the Justice Department recognized it as such.
But that wasn't enough for Smith. He ordered Kaersvang to have a three-page, single-spaced report before him today stating the position of the attorney general and the Justice Department regarding the president's statements.
Marcus compared it to ordering the president to write 100 times on a blackboard "I do believe in Marbury v. Madison."
The judiciary is traditionally the most respected branch of government by the American public. Childish reactions like Judge Smith's demean the court and lower the system in the public's esteem.
It is time for federal officials to cool the rhetoric and let all the branches of government go about doing their jobs.
* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.