A federal judge in Houston demanded that the Department of Justice clarify President Obama's recent comments about the U.S. Supreme Court.
The president said it could be considered judicial activism if the high court strikes down his health care law.
During oral arguments regarding a separate challenge to the health care law, U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Jerry Smith said Obama's comments were troubling and seemed to challenge the authority of federal courts.
"I'm referring to statements by the president in the past few days to the effect ... that it is somehow inappropriate for what he termed 'unelected judges' to strike acts of Congress," Smith said.
"He was referring, of course, to 'Obamacare,' to what he termed a broad consensus and majorities in both houses of Congress," he continued.
On Monday, the president issued a direct challenge to the Supreme Court, saying he didn't believe the high court would take the "unprecedented" step of overturning a law passed by a strong majority of Congress.
In response, Smith has ordered Justice Department attorney Dana Kaersvang to submit a letter to his court by Thursday stating the department's position on judicial review.
"The letter needs to be at least three pages, single spaced -- no less," Smith demanded. "And it needs to be specific. It needs to make specific reference to the president's statements."
Neither the Justice Department nor the White House have responded to Smith's comments.