Unanimous Supreme Court Corrects Obama Overreach, MSNBC's Ball Downplays Importance

Only MSNBC’s token failed congressional candidate can make Ronan Farrow seem less partisan. On the June 26 edition of Ronan Farrow Daily, guest host Kystal Ball did everything she could to downplay the latest unanimous Supreme Court decision which corrects executive overreach by President Obama while simultaneously demonizing Republicans.

When Republican strategist John Feehery called the verdict “a significant victory for the legislative branch,” Ball replied that “it's important to remember the context of where this case and this decision came from.” She agreed with Democratic strategist Rodell Mollineau that the case “starts and ends with Senate Republican obstructionism” and emphasized that the new filibuster rules mean that as long as “the Democrats are in power in the Senate, this isn't going to have such a large impact on the president directly.”[See video below. Click here for MP3 audio]

Ball conveniently failed to note that the Senate’s habit of gaveling in every three days for a pro forma session – so as to prevent the president from making a recess appointment – was originally a tactic devised and executed by Sen. Harry Reid and the Democrats against then-President George W. Bush.

The MSNBC personality ended the interview by asking Mollineau if the decision gives Republicans “another talking point in that narrative”of “executive branch overreach.” The Democratic strategist replied that it did, and that he’d “never seen the level of obstructionism of both Speaker Boehner and Mitch McConnell doing everything that they can to thwart the president.”

Ball agreed, then ended the interview without soliciting a rebuttal from Feehery, the GOP strategist.

See transcript below:

MSNBC
Ronan Farrow Daily
June 26, 2014
1:05 p.m. Eastern
3 minutes and 56 seconds


KRYSTAL BALL: So John, how much of a blow to the president do you see this as being?

JOHN FEEHERY: This is a significant victory for the legislative branch and the power grab -- power tussle between the legislative and executive branches. I think it helps the Senate make its case. I think it helps John Boehner. He'll be filing a lawsuit in the next couple of days against the -- what he calls the president's overreach. I think also the most fascinating thing about this, the ruling was 9-0. So all the liberals on the Supreme Court agreed that the president was trying to overreach his power and I think that for Republicans, that is a very good sign about future rulings.

BALL: And yet Rodell, I think it's important to remember the context of where this case and this decision came from. The National Labor Relations Board has five seats on it. Republicans were blocking that board from having enough members to even be able to meet and make decisions. So really this came, this president's actions, came out of a frustration that he could not get the government, get his people in place to make the government function on a basic level.

RODELL MOLLINEAU: Well, you are absolutely right. This starts and ends with Senate Republican obstructionism. And it's not the first time you see it. The thing that's the most galling for the president and also for Senate Democrats is that Republicans were not opposing these members of the board for any one thing that they might have done or said. It's just because they don't believe in a National Labor Relations Board to protect the rights of workers. We saw the same thing with the Consumer Financial Bureau with Richard Cordray. You know, Republicans will actually say off the record that they like Richard Cordray. They just didn't necessarily like the fact there's a new bureau protecting the rights of consumers that came out of Wall Street reform. So, you know, this is a win for obstructionism, I guess you could also say it’s a win for the legislative branch. I'm not sure, you know, in the short term I'm not sure how much this is going to hurt the president. But long term this is definitely a win for the legislative branch.

BALL: And John, as Rodell is sort of referring to there, one of the reason why yes this isn't such a huge blow to the president is because the Senate has already changed filibuster rules to require just a majority for Senate nominations to be confirmed with the exception of Supreme Court justices. As long as the Democrats are in power in the Senate, this isn't going to have such a large impact on the president direct ly.

FEEHERY: Well, that’s probably right. I would say–the reason I said it was a victory for the legislative branch is this just  wasn't with president Obama. There's always been this game played on recess appointments between, no matter who the president is. So for the president to actually have rules about what a recess appointment is more than ten days, you know it means the Senate doesn't have to play all these rules, of these games, of keeping people in the chair for every three days or so. So I think that, you know, there's long-term implications as the legislative branch has more power and the president, no matter who is the president is, can't sneak things through. But you’re right, the rules change with Senator Reid makes it easier for the president to appoint someone with 51 votes. And that might happen. We'll see what happens.

BALL: Right. And Rodell, we see Republicans already lumping this decision into a broader theme that they've been talking about with executive branch overreach. Sort of ties into the fact that John Boehner is planning on suing the president for taking too many executive actions. Does this give them another talking point in that narrative?

MOLLINEAU: It does. But I think overall, it's nonsense. I've never seen -- John and I have worked on the hill, or used to work on the hill for a long time. I've never seen the level of obstructionism of both speaker Boehner and Mitch McConnell doing everything that they can to thwart the president. Not just on major policy issues. On everyday things that should be -- that should be rather simple. We shouldn't have this court case place. It should have been easy for the president to nominate people to the National Labor Relations Board.

BALL: Absolutely, alright.

Laura Flint
Laura Flint is a 2014 summer intern for the MRC's News Analysis Division.