I’m guessing Justice Alito is going to wish he’d stayed home tonight

(You can buy Zinn's bestselling People's History of the US here. There is a also a young person's edition here. - promoted by Bob Neer)

As I noted in the SOTU thread, when President Obama criticized the Citizens United Decision, Justice Alito was obviously shaking his head, and appeared to be saying something like “no, that’s not right.”

Very, very bad form.  The Supreme Court Justices are supposed to sit there, never clap, never stand, and betray no hint of emotion either way during the speech.  That’s what Kennedy, who wrote the decision, did.  That’s what Roberts, who agreed with it, did as well.  They are not supposed to piss and moan if they come in for some criticism.  But that’s what Alito did.

CNN has already commented that this was one of the big moments of the speech.  It was less outwardly dramatic than Joe Wilson’s “you lie” moment, but more extraordinary because it came from a Supreme Court Justice instead of some lame congressman that nobody outside his district had ever heard of before.

There’s no requirement that Justices attend the State of the Union — Stevens, Scalia, and Thomas were absent.  Alito should have stayed home and yelled at his TV.  Instead, he’s going to be on tomorrow’s front pages for embarrassing himself, and for dishonoring the institution he serves.  Heckuva job, Sammy.

UPDATE: Rachel Maddow led her SOTU segment with Alito’s “Joe Wilson moment.”  AP’s got an article up.  Politico calls it Alito’s “You Lie moment.”  Hilarious that Sam Alito is now eternally linked with Joe Wilson.  :D

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78 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. Perhaps...

    I noticed his negative reaction as well. But, is it also appropriate for the President to criticize the Supreme Court in an environment where tradition holds that they cannot respond in any manner?  I am not at all certain that it is good form to attack those who cannot defend themselves.  

    • No one can $quot;defend themselves$quot; in the SOTU.

      He hammered Republicans; all they can do it sit on their hands.  And it's no secret how he felt about the decision -- he spent his entire weekly address on it.  If they didn't want to hear the criticism, they shouldn't have come.

      • Odd Suggestion

        Let me make sure I understand your objection that if "they didn't want to hear the criticism they shouldn't have come."  So, if you are going to be directly criticized by the President you should not go to the State of the Union address?  Given that he criticized Democrats, Republicans, and, of interest, himself, the address would have been given by no one to no one.    

        • Yes that's exactly my point.

          Very well said.

          No, choles, obviously I am talking specifically about the Supreme Court Justices.  There is no requirement that they come, and I don't recall ever seeing all nine of them there.  Rehnquist actively discouraged his colleagues from attending.  And if li'l Sammy Alito is such a delicate flower that he can't keep his emotions in check when subjected to a mild public rebuke, he definitely should stay home.

          • Speaking of delicate flowers. . .

            . . .David, if you're going to flip out over someone shaking his head and saying something that you can only lip read, I have some aluminum foil for you to line your hat.  The decision Alioto signed onto was horrible, and Obama's criticism was right on target. But to compare Alioto's reaction to Joe Wilson's calculated disruption is pretty lame.  What next, David?  Is some right winger winking at you?  Or passing notes to each other?  Making faces?

            • $quot;to compare Alioto's reaction to Joe Wilson's calculated disruption is pretty lame.$quot;

              Two things.  First, it's not just me.  Rachel Maddow, Politico, and numerous others have compared the two events, referring to the incident as Alito's "Joe Wilson moment," and even to Alito himself as "this year's Joe Wilson."  So I hope you've got a lot of aluminum foil, because there are lots of hats that need lining by your standard.

              Second, I don't actually think Joe Wilson's thing was "calculated."  I think it was ill-tempered, inappropriate, and reflective of an inability to conform his behavior to the occasion.  Just like Alito's.

              • It was absolutely calculated.

              • The difference of degree...

                ...makes for a difference of kind, Maddow et al notwithstanding.  One was disruptive; the other emotive.

                Your criticism would have been on point minus the Joe Wilson comparison (presuming a SCOTUS-specific tradition of stoic behavior).

                Here's the danger (IMHO) of such a comparison:

                Based upon the results, I do consider Wilson's behavior to be "ill-tempered, inappropriate...". I also consider it to have been calculated to chum the waters for the pseudopopulist Right. As such it was successful.

                It is dangerous to let adversaries connive the high ground by exploiting progressive overreactions.

              • Well, if such unbiased sources as Rachel Maddow are saying, then it MUST be true.

    • if they didn't want to be criticized for their decisions,

      they never should have accepted their appointment.

      And if they didn't want to accept shame for their shameful decisions, they shouldn't have shat on the people of this country.  

  2. Oh?

    The Supreme Court Justices are supposed to sit there, never clap, never stand, and betray no hint of emotion either way during the speech.

     

    Says who?

    • That's the way it is.

      I've watched a lot of these, and this is the first time I've ever seen a Justice react in that way.

      • That's the way it is doesn't cut it anymore.

        Even as a conservative, I no longer think that standing tradition in of itself justifies its continuity.  

        Saying someone is 'supposed' to do something with no reason other than that's the way it is is the exact opposite state of mind that liberals are supposed to have ;)

        • so,

          you think members of the Supreme Court of the United States should exhibit outward displays of partisanship?

          Actually, you know what, I'm glad he did it, too. I hope he and his ilk do it every year. That way there will be less opposition to a constitutional amendment and/or packing the court in the years to come.

          • If he is a supreme court justice

            and the president makes a comment about his decision, and the justice thinks what the president is saying is not accurate, how is that a partisan action?  Wasn't this decision one that crossed the partisan line?  Didn't Justice Kennedy write the opinion?    

            • Kennedy was appointed by Reagan

              and is pretty conservative.

            • as soon as he gets into politics,

              it becomes partisan. It's not his job to worry about what the President thinks about his decisions, or whether Obama and other politicians would do something to counteract it.

              He should have kept his trap shut.  

            • $quot;Wasn't this decision one that crossed the partisan line?$quot;

              No.  As noted above, Kennedy is a Reagan appointee, as is Scalia.  Thomas was GHW Bush.  Roberts and Alito are GW Bush.

              What "crossed the partisan line" was the dissent -- Justice Stevens is a Ford appointee.

      • $quot;this is the first time I've ever seen a Justice react in that way$quot;

        Well, this was the first time I had ever seen the President directly attack the decision of a co-equal branch of government in a formal setting, too.

        Maybe there's a double-secret ettiquette book for these situations that allows a nod of chagrin over the boorishness of a young-ish leader?

        • Oh please.

          It's entirely appropriate for a president to criticize decisions of the Supreme Court.  Happens all the time.  That's what checks and balances are all about.  This one was especially important, and happened to come a week before the SOTU.

          Boorishness?  Ha.  Like I said, if Alito's delicate sensibilities can't handle a little criticism in a public setting, it was entirely open to him to stay home.

          Hoyapaul, below, is exactly right.  I'm guessing Roberts is unhappy with Alito's absurd behavior.

        • Furthermore,

          this is silly:

          this was the first time I had ever seen the President directly attack the decision of a co-equal branch of government in a formal setting, too.

          Congress is a co-equal branch of government.  'Nuff said.

        • Court

          Well, this was the first time I had ever seen the President directly attack the decision of a co-equal branch of government in a formal setting, too.

          Really? I seem to remember President Bush and many Republican congressmen being strongly critical of Roe v. Wade. President Nixon, as the "law and order" president, was sharply critical of the Court's criminal procedure decisions, such as Miranda.

          In any case, the President and Congress are supposed to be political, which is why conservatives attack the Court for its liberal decisions and liberals for its conservative decisions. There's nothing unusual or "boorish" about this, on either side.

          What is odd is when members of the Court -- who play a counter-majoritiarian role in our system -- cannot countenance this sort of political criticism. Do I think Justice Alito's behavior was a huge deal? In the scheme of things, not really. But it was wrong, and hopefully Alito comes to realize that.

          • Hoya - during the state of the union speech?

            I think the President has a right, if not duty, to make such criticism.  To a captive audience of Justices, who will have zoom lenses trained on their face for reactions - with the preferred reaction apparently being a grinning rictus - not so much.

        • Huh?

          Guess you weren't alive during the Jackson administration...

        • Reagan and School prayer?

          Ring any bells ...

    • Justice is supposed to be blind,

      and justices are supposed to be impartial.  Of course they're not, or not all of them all the time, but they're supposed to act like it to preserve trust in the judicial system.  "Says who?"  Common sense!

      • I fail to see how visibly disagreeing with the president's assessment of a decision

        causes one to lose impartiality.  

        • No doubt

          I have no doubt that you fail to see the bias that is as plain as the nose on his face.

          The job of the Democratic Party in this campaign is to highlight just such blindness.

        • It doesn't

          It shows he didn't have any impartiality in the first place, and undermines future decisions he makes.

          But we all knew he was a partisan when he was nominated. I wish to god the Dems had filibustered his ass back then, nuclear option threat or not.

  3. Alito

    I missed Alito's reaction live, but I agree that it's out of line for him to do that. Actually, not just out of line, but just plain strange.

    I'd mention that though Chief Justice Roberts is a solid conservative, as someone with respect for the institution of the Court I think he'd be quite disappointed in Alito's behavior as well.

  4. Amusingly,

    it's on YouTube already.

    • Somewhat clearer video

      • The other strange thing

        with Justice Alito's reaction is that it comes directly after Obama's comment that the decision "will open the floodgates for special interests".

        So not only was he breaking an old Supreme Court tradition, but his reaction reflected an apparent disagreement with a political effect of the decision, rather than simply a reaction to the President's mention of the case (which still would have been wrong).

        The video clearly shows that Justices Sotomayor and Roberts, to their credit, have no reaction whatsoever to the President's comments, as it should be. Alito really needs to keep the political editorializing to himself.

        • this is exactly the point

          his reaction reflected an apparent disagreement with a political effect of the decision
        • Well, it is actually Obama saying $quot;I believe$quot;

          Apparently, Alito believes he knows the President's mind better than the President himself.

          Which gives one a hint of the hubris that a lifetime appointment can create.

  5. Okay.

    I didn't understand it with Joe Wilson, and I don't understand it now. He's a president, not an emperor. Given the constant ovations present, people seem to think that only approval may be expressed when the president stands up and gives his big speech--completely ridiculous for a democratic leader.

    Maybe the Wilson folks had a point, simply because it is blatantly disruptive and nowhere close to reasoned discourse. But shaking one's head? Should that really give true, small-d democrats the vapors?

    • wait a minute...

      So you think yelling out "you lie" is an appropriate counterbalance to the other side cheering? Are you insane?

      As for the should-have-been filibustered Alito, I would have agreed with you, if he was in a position that was in opposition to the President. He's supposed to be nonpartisan. When he goes to partisan events -- and a SOTU is a partisan event -- he should STFU.

      • mixed ratings

        A 6 for your first line.  There's no place for that kind of disrespect directed at POTUS in the House chamber.

        Probably a 4 for the rest.  I think you've been a little harsh on this thread in general and also want to dig a little bit at your "should-have-been-filibustered" comment.  Awhile back we had an exchange regarding your desire to abolish (or at least make proportional) the Senate and you cited the filibuster and the 60-vote requirement (on this much we agree) as a key factor in what was wrong.  So do you think this is an appropriate rule or not?  I have said that everything should come to an up or down majority vote, though I would be open to a constitutional amendment requiring supermajorities to confirm Justices.

        • Christopher

          Before you get your circular firing squad on, one of the main REASONS to kill a filibuster now is that it stood us in very poor stead when we were a minority. That the nuclear option was used to prevent us from even risking its use is the very reason why the damn thing is useless to us.

          The Republicans got everything they wanted passed when in the majority by suppressing the filibuster use by Dems. Now they use it 100% of the time (f-ing LITerally!) to stop legislation from being passed at all.

          The decision to kill the filibuster is first and foremost a political tactic, one the Republicans indicated they'd be perfectly willing to enact, and therefore, their protests to the contrary now are perfect fodder for arguing to kill it. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't have filibustered the truly worst that damned administration did to this country unchecked.

          In fact, we damn well should have, let them pull out the nukes, and then we would not even need to have this conversation.

        • Lynne said it first

          As Lynne said,

          Before you get your circular firing squad on, one of the main REASONS to kill a filibuster now is that it stood us in very poor stead when we were a minority.

          If we're not even going to use it, we may as well lose it. The fact that the Democrats were completely unwilling to stand up to the GOP and use the filibuster, when the Republicans are willing to use it like it's never been used before, then get rid of it. Yesterday.  

    • This is not the House of Commons.

      We have our traditions; they have theirs.

    • Decorum

      The issue gets to the role of proper decorum and basic civility that is supposed to underlie congressional debate and speeches.

      One doesn't have to think we're treating presidents or congressmen as "emperors" to see why members of Congress refer to one another, even their political opponents, as "the distinguished gentleman from Wyoming" or "my esteemed colleague from California." It's to ensure at least a thin baseline of civility in the chamber.

      Unfortunately, not only are Republicans using and abusing long-standing rules such as the filibuster, but a few (including Wilson and, now, Alito) are abusing basic rules of congressional civility.

    • Its called decorum!!!

      You don't have to applaud or stand in ovation but you should show respect to the office of the President of the United States....

      The Juestices have always showed impartiality - I would give Justice Alito on this one and not brand him as a Joe Wilson - I am sure he voed on the constitutionality of the Citizens United issue - however he his raction was purely to the political argument that the President made - regretful.

    • Heh

      Calling anyone on the other side a "liar" is banned speech in several Westminster/parliamentary systems and can result in suspension of the member from the chamber.

      sabutai   @   Tue 4 Dec 7:00 PM
  6. David, Justice Alito is going to feel just fine.

    He is the proud product of the conservative movement's long-term goal to stack the judicial system with justices who will favor the wealthy over the poor and the powerful over the powerless.

    Why would he let that bit of decorum get in the way of his moral crusade to let artificial persons benefit at the expense of flesh & blood humans?

    • We can laugh, but...

      Joe Wilson is a hero among many of the people who helped elect Scott Brown and are threatening the DEM majority in congress.

      My bet is that Sam Alito will likewise be seen as a hero.  I don't think either Obama or Alito did anything appropriate.  

      My problem with the "You Lie" moment from the fall was that the press became all about that and not about what Obama's speech was all about.  This time, that may actually be a good thing because I think some of what Obama proposed last night was not good.(the spending freeze in particular)

  7. Talk about dissecting a gnat...

    Big F'ing deal, he shook his head and mouthed some words. I saw people talking all night in there. If you are zeroing in on a member of SCOTUS showing emotion, I think you're overreacting. It's not like he was standing up and boing or banging his shoe on the table.

    I also thought I saw a few of the judges "smiling" when Obama said something funny, shall we start the inquisition for the "smiling" judges?

    Rather than having so many comments on this non-issue, why not fix one of giant problems in the country?

    • Being a supreme court justice is a big f'n deal...

      ...and obviously it's too much for Alito to handle.  He wants all the glamour of the job, with none of the required forbearance.

      At least Scalia and Thomas acknowledge that they don't have the professionalism to sit through a Democratic president's SOTU.  Alito lacks that self-honesty.

      sabutai   @   Tue 4 Dec 7:00 PM
      • Well, don't reelect him

        Maybe Rachel Maddow's influence can be enough to Bork Alito in reverse, so that he never got the job.

        • Uh, what?

          Don't reelect Alito?  Surely you jest...

          • that would break the bmg decoum of never jesting

            right, my point is, what's your point?  When I see that Rachel Maddow is joining you in outrage, I guess the point is to see how offended you can get about something you can't do anything about.

  8. Not with you on this

    David, I'm not with you on this. Justice Alito's reaction was not a Rep. Wilson-style outburst, and while we can all agree that the Citizens United case is a really bad decision, it's also true that the President's assertion that the case had "reversed a century of law" was, according to Linda Greenhouse, "imprecise." I think he was within his rights to mutter to himself.

    TedF

    • First,

      regardless of whether Obama's comment was "imprecise," tradition dictates that Justices sit stone-faced through the speech.  Alito departed from that tradition, and as a result is all over the press.  A mistake on his part.  Frankly, why the Justices attend is beyond me.

      Second, while "reversed a century of law" might have been "imprecise," it would have been perfectly accurate to say "invalidated" or "undermined."  While there aren't court cases going back that far, there are indeed statutes that do.  The "imprecise" point is overly technical and hardly justifies an outburst like Alito's -- indeed, that doesn't seem to have been what set him off.

      Third, as pointed out elsewhere in this thread, it appears from the video that Alito is reacting not to the assertion that the decision changed a lot of law (something with which Alito would surely agree), but that it would open the floodgates for corporate money to flood the system.  That's a political result -- something that Alito is entirely unqualified to judge.

      He's "within his rights" to mutter, in the sense that there's no rule saying he can't.  But he shouldn't do it on national TV.  I'm embarrassed for him.

      • Why the justices attend

        This is just about the highest occasion of State that this country puts on, second possibly only to an inauguration.  It's our equivalent to the Speech From The Throne at the opening of Parliament.  They attend because all the Great Officers do, not just Congress, but the Cabinet (save one), the top military brass, and the Dean of the Diplomatic Corps.  All having the privilege of being announced by the Sergeant-at-Arms.

        Frankly this ranks pretty high on the mountain/molehill scale.  I didn't see it when it happened and didn't know it happened until Rachel Maddow pointed it out.  I like the idea that the Supreme Court doesn't applaud, but I'm going to chalk this up to an accidental open mike/open camera moment that Alito didn't really intend.

        • $quot;They attend because all the Great Officers do$quot;

          That's actually not true.  As I've said several times, it's exceedingly rare that all the Justices attend.  Stevens, Scalia, and Thomas were absent last night, and during the Rehnquist era, it was very common for only a couple of Justices to show up since he actively discouraged his colleagues from attending.

          Furthermore, the "tradition" of turning SOTU into a big annual speech dates back only to the 20th century (Wilson, IIRC).  It used to be common to deliver the constitutionally-required update and proposals in writing.

          I have no doubt that Alito didn't intend it.  But that's irrelevant.  It was still inappropriate and embarrassing.

          • You're absolutely correct...

            ...both about not all justices always attending and it going back to Wilson.  Heck not every member of Congress necessarily attends, but my point is that all the institutions of the government are gathered in one place, and I also very much LIKE the idea of high ceremony with everyone processing in, etc.  Washington and Adams did address Congress then Jefferson discontinued the practice partly because he didn't like the speech from the throne imagery and partly because he was a poor public speaker.  As for Alito I guess I can just picture myself possibly doing something similar without much thought, whether robed in black or not.

  9. Justice Alito shook his head and muttered

    when President Obama said that the decision allows foreign corporations to influence US elections. Section (B)(4) of Kennedy's opinion explocitly declines to extend the holding to "foreign individuals or associations," but the decision does implicitly hint that a law prohibiting foreign influences in US elections would be constitutional. I am more offended at President Obama deliberately mischaracterizing a Supreme Court decision than I am a Supreme Court justice shaking his head and muttering when he heard the President's mischaracterization.

    But this is really just a tempest in a teapot. You have a large room of people who are vigorously applauding, standing, gasping, yelling, vehemently shaking their heads, or laughing but Justice Alito is called out for this slight response.

    • How are you going to decide

      what constitutes enough "foreign influence" to be banned?  As you well know, corporate structures get very complicated very quickly, and the line will prove difficult to draw and fairly easy to circumvent.  As a commenter over at Volokh observed,

      I would expect a strong second-year law student, or above-average third-year student, given a week to research the point, to be able to explain how a foreign financial interest could arrange, in a practical and lawful manner, funding of campaign-related speech in the United States.
      • It's a good question

        Here's a starting point - any entity that does of file a US tax or informational return, that files an 1120-F, or any subsidiary of an entity that does not file a US tax or informational return and that has no economic substance. Of course there can be aggressive "election planning" just as there is aggressive tax planning. But would you rather the President start down the road of banning foreign influence over US elections, or would you rather the President mischaracterize the Supreme Court's decision for political gain? If it's hard should he just throw up his hands and whine about the Supreme Court, or should he actually get to work?    

        • You're 100 miles behind and you haven't even started running

          With respect, once a business gets to a certain size national identity has no real meaning. We live in a global economy, not a national one. Wal Mart, just to take one example, is in many respects a Chinese company, even thought I suspect the vast majority of observers believe (with justification in some respects, and not in others) that it is a US business.

          • Except that we have established rules

            in many other regulatory areas (like tax, financial reporting, labor, census) that already establish when a company is "in" the US for those regulatory purposes. No point in reinventing the wheel. I just borrowed some quick rules from tax law to start the discussion. If the President were actually serious that he is worried about foreign entities influencing US elections then he could get to work examining which established regulatory framework is best to apply to election law. But instead of starting that work and calling for a law to ban foreign influence in US elections, he instead mischaracterized the Supreme Court's decision to gain political points. And then a Supreme Court Justice who joined the decision shook his head and muttered at that mischaracterization.  

        • Whatever laws are written are easy to circumvent

          Just pay an American company that you routinely do business with to do your political speech for you. Keep the contract secret, with enforcement provided by only paying as the obligations are fulfilled (secret contracts obviously can't go to court for enforcement without becoming public).

          Unless you think it would be possible to ban political contributions and messages from all companies that do international business, there is no way to stop this. Even looking at financial statements would only show something if the political money is a large fraction of the total money transferred.

          It might be possible to prevent foreign companies with no business relationships with any US companies from spending money on US politics. But I doubt they would have much to gain from it anyway, so they aren't the companies likely to be trying. And I doubt there are many companies in the world without a business relationship with a US company that have enough money to spend that they could actually make a difference.

  10. Alito's Action an Insult to his Colleagues...

    This decision divided the court. While Alito is entitled to his opinion, his actions not only were bad form, they showed up his colleagues who dissented from that opinion and we didn't see them nodding and high-fiving when the President supported their view.

    It also appeared that Alito was disagreeing with the President's interpretation of what the political consequences of the decision may be. While Alito may disagree with the President's view of the decision, I am not sure what qualifications he has to disagree with the political assessment.

  11. I doubt he cares

    What practical effect will this have for him? None, in all likelihood: he has a lifetime appointment. Unless you want to argue that this is not "good behavior" and he should be impeached. Now that certainly would be exciting, and just the kind of thing that would effectively punctuate an end to Obama's failing "bipartisan" strategy, should he decide to abandon it after the dubious results of his first year. That would, of course, give Senator Brown another potential opportunity to case a decisive 41st vote.

    • Heh.

      Well, it was certainly not "good behavior."  So surely the constitutional literalists out there would see no problem with impeaching him.  :D

  12. Why are we so surprised at Justice Alito's behavior?

    I guess I am perplexed by the shock and disdain expressed at Justice Alito's behavior at last night's "State of the Union" address.

    Isn't he just another right-wing, movement Federalist Society-loving conservative who has spent his entire legal career seeking to undermine and overthrow progressive reform in federal statutory and constitutional law?

    All of these movement conservatives (Wilson, Bachmann, Rove, Scalia, etc..) have displayed instances of gracelessness and disdain for their political opponents, whether they have worn judicial robes, Congressional business suits, or Texas-size cowboy hats.

    The notion that the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court are not as partisan, at least inwardly, as a freshman Republican or Democratic Congressman is just about as absurd as the majority decision in Bush v. Gore. Justice Alito's mini-outburst last night represented a brief, but telling, unveiling of the highly partisan, megalomaniacal, and condescending attitude held by most appellate federal judges when approaching matters of constitutional and statutory interpretation and debate.

    Finally, if you think Justice Alito's behavior represented a new low in boorish judicial or even Supreme Court justice behavior, I would suggest witnessing Justice Scalia, inside or outside the courtroom, engage in a debate over any constitutional issue of importance. He makes Alito's comportment last night seem like it was straight out of Emily Post or Miss Manners. See this golden oldie for an example of Justice Scalia's disdain for others who would question his brilliance.

  13. Alito was right, Obama was wrong

    At least that's what Linda Greenhouse at the NYT writes here.

    Not only was it un-presidential, it's a bonehead move politically.   By insulting the SCOTUS, in a State of the Union, to their faces, on national TV, I think Obama hurt himself with the huge, moderate American middle.

    So did the asshat Dems, jumping up to applaud.  In the NFL that's "taunting" and a penalty.  How soon before we seen that "disrespect" used in a Republican challenger's campaign commercial?

    • Did you mean to link a different article?

      "Alito was right, Obama was wrong" is certainly NOT what I walk away from that Greenhouse piece with.

      Just as the decision doesn't lend itself to a sound bite, neither do the fixes.

      If Republicans want to talk about disrespecting respectable offices of our government, they've got a lot of 'splainin' to do.  Sheesh.  

    • He very gently scolded them.

      Besides SCOTUS is no more nor less a co-equal branch to the President as Congress is and Presidents criticize Congresses during SOTUs all the time.

    • This won't lose moderates

      I think this may be one of the most unpopular Supreme Court decisions ever. Nobody is going to run on defending it. I doubt there is a single congressional district in the country where you would gain net votes by supporting this decision.

      Most people don't like corporate influence over the government. This decision is basically saying that it is unconstitutional for the government to stop corporations from bribing elected officials. Nobody is going to defend that. The surprising thing is that the Republicans didn't clap for this part of the speech. That is what might be used in campaigns. The way to win elections right now is to show that you aren't in the pocket of big business.

      • Totally agree.

        Unfortunately, the Supreme Court squandered a lot of its "political capital" with Bush v. Gore, and they squandered a bunch more of whatever was left with this decision.  "Moderates" have no particular love for the Supreme Court, particularly when they think it's sticking its nose where it doesn't belong.  And I'd wager that's exactly how most "moderates" see Citizens United.

    • Actually Obama's giving his opinion is required.

      I noted this comment left at Salon.com:

      Article II, Section 3: He shall from time to time give to the Congress information of the state of the union, and recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.

      First, it's not only allowed that the president would give his views on the 3rd branch's ruling, it is a constitutional requirement, if he feels it needs consideration by Congress.

      Second, Obama is absolutely correct that, regardless of how you stand on the court's ruling, it is an important ruling and unarguably merits consideration by congress.

  14. Two differences between Wilson and Alito

    Wilson was disruptive and obnoxious; Alito was a glorified mutter that got picked up by a mike.

    "You lie" is personal and reflects on character; "not true" is just a comment on the accuracy of the statement.

    SNL's Weekend Update now has "Justice Sotomayor" commenting on this incident.

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