Jan 28, 2010

Obama Slams Court, Hails Russ Feingold's Work

Update: See also Justice Alito's conduct and the Court's credibility (Greenwald).

Reflecting the anger of the American people towards huge-moneyed special interests, President Obama assumed a populist tone in his State of the Union Address last night, using a derivation of the word "bank" and "lobbyist" in a negative fashion some 20 times, and defending Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold's signature legislative achievement against the recent Republican-led Court decision widely blasted as ultra-activist and intellectually dishonest.

Obama singled out the Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (08-205) that eviscerated the effect and policy rationale of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform law (Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (BCRA)) by allowing unlimited general treasury funds of for-profit corporations to be directed to corporations' chosen candidates for political office in political ads. Said Obama:

With all due deference to separation of powers, last week the Supreme Court reversed a century of law that I believe will open the floodgates for special interests –- including foreign corporations –- to spend without limit in our elections. I don't think American elections should be bankrolled by America's most powerful interests, or worse, by foreign entities. They should be decided by the American people. And I'd urge Democrats and Republicans to pass a bill that helps to correct some of these problems.
Supreme Court Justice Samual Alito visibly disparaged Obama's criticism of the Court's decision, Citizens United.

Justices Antonin Scalia, Anthony M. Kennedy, and Clarence Thomas of the Republican Court majority in Citizens United had previously joined an opinion issued by Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist in Timmons v. Twin Cities Area New Party (951608) (1997), reading in part: ''Ballots serve primarily to elect candidates, not as fora for political expression," contradicting their supposed advocacy of First Amendment rights in election law in the case Obama alluded to in his address.

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