“I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States…” were the words that President Obama planned to say on January 20th before Chief Justice John Roberts botched the presidential oath of office and Mr. Obama repeated his mistake. Assuming no darker motives—that Mr. Roberts was not deliberately creating a validation for a future ruling that Mr. Obama is not America’s president—his public snafu with Mr. Obama might at least foreshadow a period of little cooperation, perhaps even blatant counteraction, between an economically interventionist Mr. Obama and a still strict-constructionist Supreme Court.
1978, the last time America saw a Democratic majority in Congress as great as it is now—nearly 60%—coincided with the first term of President Carter—also a Democrat. The 96th Congress that convened until 1980 was marked by broad productivity, passing more laws than the two Congress’ that preceded it. If the high output of bills was due to Democratic control of the legislature and the White House, then the current—111th—Congress ought to be the most productive in a long time. Nonetheless, the current federal judiciary remains much more conservative than that of 1978, suggesting that any productive period in Congress will likely be met with constitutionality rulings in the Supreme Court.