Justice Alito – The New Joe Wilson

Filed in National by on January 28, 2010

Now we know why the Supreme Court doesn’t want cameras in the chamber.

Alito shakes heading, mouthing “not true,” as Obama says recent Supreme Court decision will let lobbyists and corporations own our elections. Highly inappropriate for Alito to do this. You’ll notice the Sup Ct doesn’t even clap when the president enters. They are not supposed to respond to anything, lest it show bias. Highly inappropriate. Alito’s “You Lie!” moment:

Sorry, Justice Alito, but Obama is right, the SCOTUS Citizens United ruling did overturn a century of law and will allow corporations (including foreign ones) to spend without limit in our elections.

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Opinionated chemist, troublemaker, blogger on national and Delaware politics.

Comments (57)

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  1. pandora says:

    The more I think about this moment the more I realize that Obama calling out the Supreme Court was a pretty big deal – and needed to be done. They are an equal branch of government who tend to be portrayed as being above it all.

    In a perfect world they would be above it all, but when they play politics calling them out is warranted. If they are offended – and this branch seems easily offended in a “how dare you, mere mortals, question us” sort of way – then they have only themselves to blame.

    As far as Alito’s comment… it’s what I’ve come to expect, so I’m not outraged. If he’s okay with looking like a partisan when his party is out of power, fine with me. It only confirms what I already knew – he’s incapable (as of now) of rising to the level of a Supreme Court Justice, and only added to the tarnish his side inflicted last week.

  2. Right, pandora. If SCOTUS is going to make decisions based on political ideology, they should expect that they will get political criticism.

  3. anon says:

    Ok, but please address whether Alito was right or not. Is what the President said true? Does the ruling really open the door as far as he claims it does? My guess is Obama simplified a complex ruling and drew inferences that are not supported by the ruling. He then put those out there as truth, when they are fears, at best.

  4. anon says:

    Corporations are human beings with the same rights. That’s in the Constituion isn’t it?

  5. anon says:

    I was actually more offended by Justice Roberts’s barely perceptible frozen little shit-eating grin, like “What are you going to do about it?”

    I also wish there had been a reaction shot on John McCain when Obama called for legislation to fix the SCOTUS decision.

  6. anon says:

    The Court wrote that it was specifically NOT overturning laws pertaining to foreign monies. Obama referenced elections now being vulnerable to foreign monies more than once. Alito responded to that untruth.

  7. How is a foreign money ban going to be enforced? Most of these corporations are multi-national.

    Having two different anons arguing here is making my head a little a-splodey.

  8. anon says:

    Of course there will now be more foreign money in elections as a result of Alito. Obama was stating a broad truth, but Alito wanted to split hairs. Obama is a lawyer and knew damn well what he was saying.

  9. Once again the slightest dissent must be condemned. The President completely misrepresented the court decision at a state of the union. Then you want to complain if someone shakes their head or says to himself not true. You are unreal.

  10. pandora says:

    LOL, David. Especially when your side needed smelling salts over the fact that Obama didn’t wear a jacket in the Oval Office. Just be honest, you only demand respect for any office that houses your guy.

  11. Here’s some analysis by some legal scholars (which I definitely am not).

    From my quick skimming, a big complaint is that the Justices overturned election laws that were upheld just 6 years before. The ruling was extremely broad and not narrow, as one anon implied. It also strengthened corporate “personhood.” What’s next, corporate voting rights?

    Read for yourself:
    Richard Hasen in Slate

  12. I guess David would be okay then if Justices got up and whooped and hollered during parts of the speech, right?

  13. anon says:

    Corporate right to bear arms.

  14. Geezer says:

    The truth, broad or not, is that by setting up a shell corporation in Delaware, any foreigner can now contribute enormous sums to elections. The failure of Alito, or David, to acknowledge this obvious loophole shows that their ideology is not only uppermost in their minds, it shows them incapable of understanding anything outside that ideology.

  15. cassandra m says:

    The Bush Crime Family — now brought to you by Saudis Aramco!

  16. Desmond says:

    “The more I think about this moment the more I realize that Obama calling out the Supreme Court was a pretty big deal – and needed to be done.”

    Absolutely the wrong forum. Very petty.

  17. Brooke says:

    Well, and also confirms their very slight grasp of the Constitution.

  18. Yes, Desmond, how dare Obama talk about an important SCOTUS decision in the SOTU speech. The nerve of that guy!

  19. Another Mike says:

    “The Court wrote that it was specifically NOT overturning laws pertaining to foreign monies.”

    Does this mean that Anheuser-Busch (owned by a Belgian-Brazilian company) cannot contribute? How about Citgo (owned by Venezuela), Frigidaire (Swedish), 7-Eleven (Japanese), Holiday Inn (British), T-Mobile (German), Firestone and Bridgestone (Japanese), or Miller Beer (South Africa), just to name a few? Sony, Honda, Toyota, Shell?

  20. donviti says:

    All I heard Geezer say was more revenue for Delaware!



    Jack Markell

  21. V says:

    I acutally didn’t even notice Alito right away. I was busy looking at Ruth Bader Ginsburgs awesome bitchface. She is NOT happy.

    and i absolutely agree with what geezer said about loopholes. Shell corps for everyone.

  22. anon says:

    Well, to be fair, the Supreme Court’s job wasn’t to decide whether unlimited corporate contributions were a good idea or not. Their job was to decide if limits on corporate contributions were unconstitutional. They failed.

  23. Scott P says:

    I agree with Pandora that there are supposed to be three equal branches of government. If it’s OK for the President to scold/point out the failings of Congress, why not the Supreme Court? Besides, the Court abandoned all pretense of being a-political in 2000. They’re Supreme Court Justices, not Supreme Beings.

  24. Scott P says:

    As for the ruling itself, it’s just the kind of thing that corporations love (and expect out of their conservative government employees): it monumentally increases their already substantial power over the government, and does so in such a way that it flies under the radar of the vast majority of the public, so the masses don’t even know that they’ve lost even more control over their (supposedly their) government.

  25. just kiddin' says:

    When Obama made the comment to the court..it was one of the very few times both sides of chamber stood and applauded. Alito must have been taken back that even republicans were opposed. The court opened the door for the Bin Laden Deconstrution Company, China, India, Pakistan,Saudia Arabia or Israel to flood the coffers of all the electeds from President to dog catcher. Sandra Day O’connor was furious with the Courts decision. What happened to one man/woman, one vote?

  26. pandora says:

    After Alito’s emotional display it’s kinda funny how Republicans were so worried about Sotomayor’s temperament.

    Alito did himself no favors last night. From now on he can expect (right or wrong) all his decisions to be viewed in a political light rather than a judicial one.

  27. just kiddin' says:

    The five Supremes who voted against democracy should all be viewed as radical zealots who believe in corporations over the people. Remember when Sotomayer came up, the republicans said “she” would be radical. Who is more radical now?

  28. anonone says:

    Thomas and Scalia didn’t even show up.

  29. V says:

    A1, Rachel Maddow said last night that back when Rhenquist was in charge he actually encouraged them not to show up, because of their need to be seen as impartial(also why no clapping). While they’re not my favorites, I’m not irritated by that.

    also, how come I’m not hearing more Republican cries of “activist judges!”

  30. Bob White says:

    UI — the earlier ruling did not reach to that part of the law. In addition, you got to a point where the law as applied was so chilling to constitutionally protected speech as to render the whole thing a violation of the First Amendment.

    The FEC indicated it could enjoin the publication and sale of books that contained as much as one sentence of advocacy, and could ban movies and television shows that did the same. Do you really mean to imply that you believe that such limits are within the scope of First Amendment? And that speech by individuals who join together in order to engage in advocacy speech on political/policy issues (ACLU, NAACP, NRA, Sierra Club) can be limited by unelected bureaucrats enforcing a vague statute? Do you really believe that such a law — and such an enforcement regime — ought to be upheld? When did “make no law” become “make any law they want to”?

    And for those complaining about Alito’s reaction, please note that he did not shout and did not make a scene. He spoke to one of his colleagues — I believe Sotomayor. Is it your position that the justices cannot even speak to each other during an applause break in the speech?

    Perhaps you guys might consider getting upset over the mendacity of the president’s false statement (and it is false, as noted by commentators on the right and the left) rather than an inaudible comment that can be lip read because the camera crew chose to zoom in on the justices at that moment.

  31. Bob White says:

    Oh, and by the way — no corporation can contribute to any candidate. All they can do is make independent, uncoordinated expenditures.

  32. Alito absolutely spoke out loud, why do you think Schumer (sitting behind him) reacted?

    So, is the standard of behavior now that if he doesn’t shout out “You Lie!” that means he’s being civil.

  33. Corporations are not people.

  34. Lizard says:

    Soelant Green is People!

  35. liberalgeek says:

    And the Soylent Green Company will be contributing to Sarah Palin’s campaign…

  36. Bob White says:

    Yeah — Schumer heard a comment made to Sotomayor.

    But beyond that, if the First Amendment does not apply to corporations, then that includes newspapers owned by corporations. Do you really believe that freedom of the press applies only to newspapers operated by individuals and partnerships, but not corporations?

    And if the Bill of Rights applies only to American citizens, surely you are going to have to reconsider your position on due process for illegal aliens and the right to a civilian trial for terrorists.

  37. Bob White says:

    And LG, if Soylent Green Company contributes to the Palin campaign, it will be prosecuted for violating the election laws (upheld under this decision) that prohibit such direct contributions. So will Palin and her campaign treasurer.

  38. LOL, I love the fact that conservatives are running around and saying that foreigners are covered under the Bill of Rights, too.

    Corporations aren’t people. When the U.S. starts putting corporations in jail, let me know.

  39. I can tell that conservatives are on the defensive after Obama’s speech because they are spinning like crazy right now.

  40. Bob White says:

    Also, UI, television and radio are not the printed word, and neither is the internet. Somehow, though, we all agree that freedom of the press applies to each of those media, despite the fact that there is no actual printing press involved.

  41. Bob White says:

    Corporations are not put in jail, but they are prosecuted and fined (significantly) on a regular basis.

    And foreigners are undoubtedly covered by the Bill of Rights — though not those who are engaged in acts of war against the United States (see Ex Parte Quirin for details). After all, the government cannot require that a foreign Buddhist attend the local synagogue as a condition of remaining in the country. Neither can we forbid Mexican nationals from gathering to support a change to our immigration laws. And when some Kenyan exchange student enters into a bigamous marriage and knocks up a naive American girl, that individual is entitled to a jury trial, lawyer, and due process of law every bit as much as his American-born child is when he is charged with a crime.

  42. No, I get it, those poor, poor downtrodden corporations which have been suffering so long and have no political power just got some. It’s like the Civil Rights act or something.

  43. nemski says:

    Well, Bob is just getting ready to defend the banks against any regulations or taxes put forward by the Democrats.

  44. Bob White says:

    No, UI — it is like the First Amendment or something. Everybody gets to speak — including the folks you don’t like.

    And I’ll defend or oppose what’s coming based entirely upon whether or not I think it is good policy that conforms to the Constitution.

  45. A corporation isn’t a folk. You do understand this, don’t you?

  46. Bob White says:

    Under that argument, I can’t wait hear your voicing your support if a future GOP Congress shouts out a hearty legislative “STFU” to the ACLU, NOW, NAACP, and other liberal activist groups. After all, they aren’t folks, either, so apparently the First Amendment doesn’t apply to them, either. Especially since some of their money comes from those despicable “furriners” who you claim don’t have rights under the US Constitution.

    And you really shouldn’t leave such a wide open invitation to an off-color response involving the world “folk”. 🙂

  47. V says:

    ACLU, NOW and NAACP aren’t corporations are they? I thought they were non-profits. Isn’t that a different category?

  48. Bob White says:

    V — you are apparently ignorant of the relevant detail here. Those groups are all non-profit CORPORATIONS.

  49. a.price says:

    which have a fraction of the dough that oil companies, insurance ponzis, and the club for WHITE POWER growth have…. get a clue Bob.

  50. V says:

    My greatest apologies oh great Mr. White. I will now retreat into my cave……

  51. Bob White says:

    Irrelevant, a.price. As corporations, they have First Amendment right or don’t, just like GE or any other corporation. And if one accepts UI’s argument, their speech can be abridged by law at the whim of Congress.

  52. Bob White says:

    And i love the irrelevant and unsubstantiated charge of racism flung out there, a.price. Clearly proof that you recognize that you really don’t have the facts on your side, so you just need to use the only thing you have left — the nuclear option of shouting RAAAAACIST!

  53. a.price says:

    well apparently they DO have first amendment rights. I don’t thinK they should. their CEOs already have those rights, why do they deserve double. Do you worship the dollar so much that you actually believe the wealthy get THIS MUCH MORE power than average people? INCLUDING YOU? Why does a non living entity deserve a voice? What’s next? wil corporations also get a vote? this is ridiculous. they are treated better than human beings. And i wasnt calling YOU racist, bob. You felt the need to bring up all these “powerful” left wing groups.. specifically mentioning the NAACP… i felt i should balance out your claim with a much more powerful organization (club for growth) that, if not in mission statement, definitely in deed caters to rich white interests. But keep crusading for your poor oppressed corporations. they have it SO tough in the country. they sell us their poison crap and don’t even employ americans who make it. I wouldn’t even be as upset with this ruling if they had to have most of their work force here, but they don’t.

    DO YOU REALIZE that a company that has large controlling interest and labor force IN CHINA can now heavily influence american elections? wake up.

    but no. Obama opposes it, so the Conservative Kool-Aid dictates you must be against it. Baaaaa sheep Baaaa

  54. Bob White says:

    Actually, I named the first three big liberal activist groups I could think of, each with an interest in a different issue. I could have made it any one of a number of other groups, but these were the first big lobbying groups I could think of.

    And every argument you made about corporate officers already having a voice applies equally to the leaders of the groups I mentioned — and to the New York Times and other news outlets that are allowed under law to speak when other corporations can’t and which are also, under the logic of the current liberal talking point, not people, not endowed with any constitutional rights, and therefore corrupting of the system because of their disproportionate ability to get their message out using corporate funds.

    And if you really believe that money allowing some to speak louder is a problem, i assume you would support a speech rationing scheme that would prevent Bill Gates and George Soros from buying ads with their own money to advocate for or against a candidate, initiative, or issue.

  55. a.price says:

    back track on labeling the NAACP liberal as a pejorative all you want. what you are supporting is a double voice for the most powerful money interests in… or in some cases out of the country. The NYT has it’s balance in the WSJ. The conservative movement has an entire cable channel and all of nationally syndicated AM dedicated to it’s talking points, so stop whining about how the poor big business conservatives don’t have a say. Bill Gates and Soros…(who btw, isn’t really even that important in liberal circles… get a new straw man) are private citizens. I actually don’t think they should be able to use the full power and weight of their corporations to ALSO effect policy.

    Any Conservative is allowed to use their money to form political action committees, or donate themselves. (there is still oddly a limit on how much private citizens can donate… this law really does give corporations MORE RIGHTS than people.)
    I dont understand why the conservatives feel they need additional help from non living entities who have protection from liabilities and can spend as much as they want…. oh, wait. because the only way conservatives can convince people to vote for their ideals that are generally contrary to the best interests of The People, is to spend millions of dollars on think tanks and lies.

    But it’s law now. The supreme court.. through judicial activism has changed the legal and political landscape. and i hope bill gates, and GE, and other powerful CEOS of “liberal” companies bury the conservative candidates with the best advertising money can buy. It is a dirty disgusting new way to conduct our democratic process and i hope conservatives fail at using as bad as they do at running the country.