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Hullabaloo


Thursday, January 28, 2010

 
Embarrassing

by digby

The White House says President Barack Obama was accurate when he took on a Supreme Court ruling in the State of the Union address, even though Justice Sam Alito mouthed, “Not true.”

Alito’s protest came when the president said: “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. (Applause.) … And I'd urge Democrats and Republicans to pass a bill that helps to correct some of these problems.”

A senior administration official told POLITICO on Thursday morning: “There is a loophole that we need to address and are working with Congress to address. There are U.S. subsidiaries of foreign-controlled corporations that could influence our elections because of this ruling."

The issue was raised by Justice John Paul Stevens in his dissent in the case, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission: “[I]t would appear to afford the same protection to multinational corporations controlled by foreigners as to individual Americans.”

Stevens continued: “The Court all but confesses that a categorical approach to speaker identity is untenable when it acknowledges that Congress might be allowed to take measures aimed at “preventing foreign individuals or associations from influencing our Nation’s political process. … Such measures have been a part of U. S. campaign finance law for many years. The notion that Congress might lack the authority to distinguish foreigners from citizens in the regulation of electioneering would certainly have surprised the Framers.”

And on page 75, Stevens wrote: “Unlike voters in U. S. elections, corporations may be foreign controlled.”

The nonpartisan Citizens for Public Integrity has asked: “Will the Citizens United Ruling Let Hugo Chavez and King Abdullah Buy U.S. Elections? Supreme Court Ruling May Open Door to Foreign State-Owned Corporate Political Spending.”

Conservatives jumped on Obama’s comment. Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin said on Fox News’s "Hannity" that Obama was “embarrassing our Supreme Court. … [T]his will be the huge take-away moment.”

Poor Sarah. They must not have gotten to the "activist judges" portion of her debate prep before her mind started wandering.

And anyway, I think that any justice who thinks that unregulated free speech for corporations is sacred while the speech of some kid with a sign that says "bong hits 4 Jesus" can be suppressed has already amply embarrassed himself.


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