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Judge Alito's silent comment last night


"A sound bite too far

January 28, 2010 Posted by Paul at 12:22 PM

Source Powerlineblog.com

"During the oral argument in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, Seth Waxman, the former Solicitor General of the United States who was representing John McCain and other campaign finance law sponsors, asserted that the plaintiffs' position was contrary to the thrust of more than 50 years of Supreme Court precedent. Justice Alito said that this argument -- or "sound bite," as he characterized it -- is "perplexing." He noted that the issue before the Court was merely the validity of two precedents that don't date back that far.

Justice Alito's concern turned out to be prescient when, in his State of the Union address, President Obama (Mr. Sound Bite, himself) claimed that the Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United "reversed a century of law to open the floodgates for special interests - including foreign corporations - to spend without limit in our elections." Even Waxman had not made this claim at oral argument, although Solicitor General Kagan and Justice Sotomayor threw the number 100 around in this connection.

Last night, Justice Alito reportedly responded to Obama's sound bite by quietly saying something like "that's not true." Alito was right at least two levels. First, as noted above and as Linda Greenhouse acknowledges, Citizens United did not disturb any principles that date back 100 years.

Second, as Shannen Coffin points out, the decision in Citizens United is quite clear that it does not address whether the government can regulate improper foreign influence over our electoral process. Writing for the majority, Justice Kennedy stated: "We need not reach the question whether the Government has a compelling interest in preventing foreign individuals or associations from influencing our Nation's political process."

Presidents should feel free to criticize important Supreme Court decisions with which they disagree. It's bad form, however, to do so at an event where Justices are in attendance by invitation. And it is unconscionable to do so by blatantly misrepresenting what the Court has said.

It also seems like bad politics. It's understandable that Obama wants to pose as a populist, although he's not terribly convincing in the role. But the Supreme Court isn't a bank or an insurance company; it's a reasonably respected institution, as branches of government go. Moreover, Obama and his writers must have known they would be called on his misrepresentation of the Citizens United decision. Nor is it likely that the Court's swing voter, Justice Kennedy (author of the decision) was amused.

I'm pleased that Justice Alito did not wait around for bloggers and media fact checkers to discover that Obama's statements about the decision are false. Now the president has a reason, other than the apparently insufficient one of good manners, not to attack the Supreme Court when its Justices are present.

JOE adds the videotape:


Entry #1,616


TigerAngelComment by TigerAngel - January 28, 2010, 4:17 pm
I wish they would all shout out lier like the Brit parliment does!
konaneComment by konane - January 28, 2010, 4:59 pm
Thanks TigerAngel! That would be very funny.
jarasanComment by jarasan - January 28, 2010, 6:17 pm
GANGSTAPUPPETOTUSPOS dissed the SCOTUS, the congreff, and the USAmerican people. Alito has more brains in one of his nose hairs than GANGSTAPUPPETOTUSPOS or his telepromta'.
konaneComment by konane - January 28, 2010, 7:21 pm
Thanks Jarasan! People are learning Obama can't perform supernatural feats via spending our way out of a depression his spending digs us deeper into. Sometime before 2012 most of his ardent supporters will know HE is definitely NOT the one they've been waiting for. Snake oil anyone?
MADDOG10Comment by MADDOG10 - January 28, 2010, 10:28 pm
Obammy opens his mouth, and out comes another barf bag. The only turkey I know that can drop his credibility with every jaw drop. What a bone headed thing to say to the justices who were invited. I wonder how the people who voted for him perceive him now?
I needed three shots of Wild Turkey without the water bide after that statement.....!
konaneComment by konane - January 29, 2010, 12:44 am
Thanks Maddog! He sorely need some education in protocol expected from POTUS. However, the manner in which he's dealt with other heads of state, his faux pas last night came as no surprise.
Ms. PatComment by Ms. Pat - January 29, 2010, 6:03 pm
Not all lp members are against the president. LP members are diverse and that should be kept in mind. I don't think this site was intended to be a forum for bashing the president. Some people of color find such opinions offensive...
konaneComment by konane - January 29, 2010, 8:25 pm
Ms. Pat, you're free to post whatever you want on your own blog.

There's a massive choice of information someone *chooses* to read just like tuning into a radio or television channel.

If my blog offends you or anyone else then please by all means don't bother reading it.

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