Supreme Court

Alito's "Not True" Moment


As mentioned last night, here's Supreme Court justice Samuel Alito shaking his head, crinkling his eyebrows, and saying "not true, not true" when the head of the executive branch complains that Citizens United vs. FEC reverses a century of precedent and allows foreign entities to corrupt our elections:

In the event, it is "not true" that the decision changes restrictions on foreign-sourced campaign donations, and Supreme Court watcher Linda Greenhouse writes in the New York Times (perhaps contradicting that paper's news desk) that the century-old precedent thing was wrong as well:

Mr. Obama's description of the holding of the case was imprecise. He said the court had "reversed a century of law."

The law that Congress enacted in the populist days of the early 20th century prohibited direct corporate contributions to political campaigns. That law was not at issue in the Citizens United case, and is still on the books. Rather, the court struck down a more complicated statute that barred corporations and unions from spending money directly from their treasuries — as opposed to their political action committees — on television advertising to urge a vote for or against a federal candidate in the period immediately before the election. It is true, though, that the majority wrote so broadly about corporate free speech rights as to call into question other limitations as well — although not necessarily the existing ban on direct contributions.

More over at the Center for Competetive Politics.

NEXT: It's the Economy, Stupid

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  1. For fans of the State, any freedom is “too much” and “will lead to chaos”.

    1. The libertarians on this site are woefully confused and naive.

      This decision gives the state and government more power – through corporations.

      Corporations are created by the state.

      Corporations’ treasuries accrue through state-created beneficial tax laws.

      Corporation’s treasuries used to influence elections of the government – unregulated – becomes self-perpetuating.

      Folks, get your head out of the sand.

      Only on the surface is this decision pro-libertarian.

      Please – think about it, and educate yourselves.

      1. I’m sure this is a troll, and I shouldn’t feed you, but there are a number of glaring errors in your statements.

        1. Corporations are created by individuals. The state merely defines the conditions under which that creation occurs.
        2. Corporations have no wealth. All wealth in a corporation belongs to the shareholders who own that company. If the government takes away any of that wealth, they are taking it from the shareholders. The corporation is simply a legal entity.
        3. Restrictions on the use of wealth to influence law and public opinion is an argument that supersedes whether it is done by a corporation or an individual. What the rules should be is a subject for debate and legislation. But in the end, corporations don’t vote, individuals do. It is the responsibility of every citizen to understand the issues and to vote from a position of knowledge and logic. Unfortunately, the real tragedy is how little the average voter knows, and how poor is their understanding of logic.

      2. Is the First Amendment is pro-libertarian? Just because someone uses it to espouse, say, communism doesn’t change the fact that the protection of free speech is still a virtue and right to be respected.

        That free speech may lead to unpleasant outcomes–not that the case will probably empower the corporations more than they are empowered already–does not negate the value of protecting free speech.

        Educate your damned self.

      3. Since AG started feeding, I’ll throw some chum as well.

        Joe, you seem to think that this will lead to corporations buying elections and ushering in the apocalypse. Why hasn’t this happened in any of the states that already allow unlimited campaigning by corporations (but still no direct contributions)?

        And why the hell do you think it will make a difference in the end? Remember NJ?

        “Gov. Jon Corzine outspent Gov.-elect Chris Christie by about 2-to-1 in his losing bid for a second term, including $28.5 million from the multimillionaire governor’s own pocket, according to reports released today.”

        1. Our new troll is immune to reason and logic. Save your time responding to it.

          It should be mocked and pitied, in amounts concordant with its parrot-like intellect and Turing test ability to mimic actual human responses.

          Feed at your own peril.

      4. Ah, another situational constitutionalist–someone who only supports the Constitution for what he can get for himself.

        Educate yourself. Start by looking up the word “principle” in the dictionary. Go ahead, learning new words is fun.

      5. “Corporations’ treasuries accrue through state-created beneficial tax laws.” Where on God’s green earth did you get that idiotic notion? I don’t think you ned to get your head out of the sand – it is somewhere else.
        Your comment reflects your opinion that the government owns the fruits of your labors and you only get to keep what the government deigns to let you keep. Sorry – even though you and the government think that you are just a slave to the state, this republic was founded on the notion that men have the right to life, liberty and property – including the wealth they create.
        Corporations’ treauries contain the money that their customers voluntarily gave over to them in exchange (voluntary) for goods and services.
        A corporation’s money is its owners’ money – not the government’s. They got it from customers – not tax breaks.
        Also, you totally avoid the reality that most corporations are, in fact, small businesses. Small businesses that chose – mainly for liability advantages – to incorporate.

        What a cretin!

    2. You…need…a…clue

  2. “with all due deference”, god that made me flash back to my days as an enlisted man. Adding those weasel words in front of you opinion allowed you to tell an officer what the real deal was without doing some time in the brig.

    “With all due respect, sir, that is the dumbest fucking idea I’ve ever heard.”

    Also, didn’t Obama’s campaign play a little fast and loose with the rules and take contributions (small ones) without checking to make sure they weren’t from foreigners?

    1. Also, didn’t Obama’s campaign play a little fast and loose with the rules and take contributions (small ones) without checking to make sure they weren’t from foreigners?

      I don’t think playing fast and loose is the right way to say he lied out his ass.

      1. Oh I don’t know. When I have had diarrhea, it’s been not only loose but pretty damn fast.

      2. I did the same thing. It’s different when you’re trying to save the world – the ends justify the means, you know.

      3. Sooooo GWB didn’t play it fast and loose? Totally in control during his campaign? Mix in a clue. I’ve always wondered how the Bin Laden’s got out of NY. Any idea?

  3. But- but-

    The President is a Constitutional scholar! And he edited the Harvard Law Review. What does that buffoon Alito know?

    1. What does it say about Obama that even with all that education he still can’t understand a simple statement like, “Congress shall make no law… abridging the freedom of speech….”? Usually reading is something you pick up as a child, but Obama is 48 and still struggles with it.

    2. Almost makes you forget that he’s Black for a little while. [wipes tear away] And gin-up even dumber comments explaining.

    3. The President is a Constitutional scholar!

      No he isn’t. At least I have yet to see any evidence of such.

      1. I know the Constitution quite well. As they say, know your enemy.

      2. The President has left a very thin trail of scholarship, especially during his previous tenure as President (of the Harvard Law Review):

        One thing Obama did not do while with the review was publish any of his own work. Campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt said Obama didn’t write any articles for the Review, though his two semesters at the helm did produce a wide range of edited case analyses and unsigned “notes” from Harvard students [via].

        It would be very interesting to see him explain and defend his SotU remarks in a Legal Journal; perhaps Harvard Law Review would be an appropriate venue.

  4. Why let little things like “facts” get in the way of some good demagoguery?

  5. Stay classy, Obama.

  6. Does this count as the night’s Joe Wilson moment? And would there have been such controversy if Joe would have yelled “not true?”

  7. that the century-old precedent thing was wrong as well

    Whether right or wrong, precedents should be maintained because of stare decis. To do otherwise would allow the court to overturn laws that are the express wishes of the people. The court should have respected the first amendment and protected free speech from the corrupting influence of corporations.

    1. so if it’s fucked up let’s keep it that way? 2S4Ws

      1. To a degree, yes.

        1. Steve, doesn’t the Constitution protects indiviuals from the baying mob of the majority?

          1. I wonder if they, the powers that be, should have given deference to the much older law that begins with “Congress shall make no law…”

            Sounds like a better plan to me.

            1. Yeah what happened to that stare decisis regarding the 3/5ths of a person thing…that was precedent…should we have kept that? Ohh wait….


    2. Laws should be overturned because they are unconstitutional. You know, like the one they just overturned. If a precedent was set but wrong it is sometimes because humans, including Justices of the Supreme Court, are not perfect. Hell, 4 of the robed wonders got this one wrong. Clarence Thomas voted to allow 13 year old ibuprofen possessors to be strip searched. These people are sometimes as retarded as you and should be corrected when they err.

    3. Steve, Steve, Steve… [sigh] …

      Stare decisis refers to the court’s respecting precedent – as in the court’s prior decisions. Which hardly are “the express wishes of the people.”

      And the doctrine of stare decisis does not mean slavish adherence to every word of every decision the court has issued. If that were the case, we’d still have Dred Scott’s ruling that slaves were personal property and Plessey v. Ferguson’s “separate but equal” standard.

      Stare decisis absolutely allows the court to revisit its earlier decisions and determine that they were incorrectly decided, or that the court should reach a different result now.

      If we now know that decision was wrong, and it still is wrong, then it doesn’t matter how long it’s been around. If it’s wrong and we can correct it, then we should correct it.

      E.g., Plessey v. Ferguson’s ruling was around for something like 70 years or so, but was overturned in Brown v. Bd. of Ed.

      1. Stare decisis is a term rarely used by people outside the legal realm. It is even less frequently used correctly by those outside the legal realm.

        This is because “stare decisis” is the rallying cry of opponents whenever something gets overturned. The few who know how to use it use it, and then the sheep echo it, thinking it makes them seem smart and that because they haven’t heard of the term, it must be some particularly important concept that justifies their stance.

        1. It’s Latin. It’s got to be really super cool and important if it’s in Latin, right?

        2. (sung to Starry Starry Night)

          stare decisis
          precident will rule the day
          it’s always gonna be this way
          there’s really nothing else for me to say

      2. I don’t think it was a judicial decision that threw out “Dred Scott’s ruling that slaves were personal property.” It was the 13th Amendment. (Actually, the question of whether slaves were personal property wasn’t at issue in Dred Scott v. Sandford. Everyone acknowledged that they were. What was at issue was (1) whether blacks, free or slave, could be citizens of a state for purposes of diversity jurisdiction, and (2) whether the a slave brought into a U.S. territory from which slavery was banned by the Missouri Compromise would thereby become free.)

    4. Racial segregation was the express wish of the people too – should the court have deferred to that as well?

      1. No, because it was wrong.

        1. Sez you.

        2. Same argument applies here.

          1. Shorter Steve: Change is bad. Except when I say it isn’t.

            1. That would actually be longer Steve, but whatever.

    5. So, I suppose that you opposed Brown v. Board of Ed then, since it found state laws unconstitutional and reversed Plessy v. Ferguson, which came 55 years before Brown?

    6. You are opening my eyes to the magic of stare decis, Steve. The Romans set the precedent of forcing criminals to fight each other and wild beasts to death in the arena, and I would love to see some of that shit. It’s the will of the people, and its like a 2100 year old precedent! Bring on the gladiators!

      1. Hell YES!!! Biden vs. Lion. Bernake vs. orangatang…Pelosi vs. school of electric eels.

        Im down with that

        1. go find yourself some video game programmers. you have a winnnnnaaaaa

      2. Yes and don’t forget executing the criminals by letting the lions tear them apart.

    7. Go Dred Scott!

    8. ‘…a long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right…’

      Thomas Paine

  8. Too Stupid for Words…

  9. For those of you keeping score, that’s two years in a row in which someone in his audience has indicated, with varying degrees of forcefulness, that Obama was not being honest about something he said. I can’t be sure, but that seems unprecedented to me. Can he keep the streak alive throughout his presidency?

    1. I’m sure someone in the audience has shaken their heads and muttered to themselves at every State of the Union address since the dawn of the Republic. The difference here is that Alito got caught on camera doing it.

      1. And for that, we thank him. If he didn’t get caught, perhaps no one would be talking about how Obama continues to get things wrong. The post-speech opposition response is never as powerful as the “You lie” moment.

        1. Well, I thought Wilson’s vocal outburst during the previous speech was impolite and ill-advised, however true. He came off as a rambunctuous boor.

          Here, the fact that the MSM and Dems are trying to make a Separation of Powers issue out of Alito shaking his head and muttering to himself is only going to make themselves look like fools.

  10. Hey dufus, “laws are the express wishes of people”? They are laws, sometimes statutory, sometimes constitutional, sometimes created by caselaw. No one would define them as you did.

    1. Steve apparently thinks that the Alien & Sedition laws were fine, becuase they were the “express wishes of the people.”

      I’m not sure what the court’s role would be in this type of world. Just to handle personal injury claims, I suppose.

  11. That’s it? Liberals are that desperate for something to be offended over?

    1. Are you as surprised as I am? People are mistaking me for Al Pacino, that I’m so surprised.

  12. Wait a minute, Obama mischaracterized something? BARACK Obama? That can’t be.

  13. laws that are the express wishes of the people…

    …are often odious.

    1. So what, if more than 50% of people want it it should be the law.

      1. Really? I hadn’t initially thought of you as being against healthcare reform and a supporter of anti-abortion laws. How interesting.

      2. In a democracy, perhaps. In a Republic with limitations on government with a Bill of Rights, absolutely not.

        By your logic, if 50% +1 want you to be painted green and stuck to the side of a building, that’s as it should be. Forget your rights, over half of citizens want it.

        1. Turn your argument around to the 5-4 decision of the court.

          It overturns years of precedent, and our people’s free will to regulate corporations – a state-created entity.


          As you say, forget your rights, over 50% of this activist SC want it.

          1. For the billionth goddamn time, it’s not being an “activist” supreme court to watch them do their damn job for once!

            Upholding what the Constitution actually says is the opposite of “Judicial Activism”.

            Secondly, 50%+1 is completely meaningless in a country that is supposed to have guaranteed individual liberties. 50%+1 in the United States is not supposed to be allowed to steal from you or eliminate your right to due process, or prohibit you from speaking.

            That’s the whole deal.

            And you have “rights” completely backward. My rights and those of everyone else were greatly improved by the Citizen decision, Joeshmo. How do you not grasp that?

            We were living in a nation in which just a few years ago, an incumbent politician was allowed to cite a terrible law to silence a movie critical of her during an election.

            How the hell is that the world you want to live in??

      3. The list of things that can get 50% + 1 of the votes that aren’t a good idea, nice, constitutional or that don’t violate a civil right of another is endless.

        Good luck in that world.

        But most importantly… that’s not our system of government, so its largely irrelevant. The Constitution divides the powers and provides checks and balances.

        1. it should, but don’t take that for granted

      4. So, if 50% of the people wanted to, say, lock up everyone named Steven, that would be OK with you?

      5. “We 50.1 % of us have plans for you 49.9% of you. Complaints can be rendered out back. Please be sure to pick up a blindfold and cigarette piece of sugarless gum on your way.”

    2. I want a law that says anyone named “Steven” is jailed for life for arguing that 50%+1 “should be the law” without considering that whole, messy, “constitutional” business (or, apparently, any other reason).

      Now, once 50%+ agree with me – off to the pokey with all the Stevens! Yay, law!

      1. Nebraska insists that Steven Wright not be included if you want the distinguished Senator’s vote.

  14. SOTUs a silly things. More disrespect and maybe some fist fights in the stands would be an improvement.

    1. It’s been mentioned before, but we should adopt the same rules of conduct as the House of Commons. It’s strange that grown men shouting “harumph” could be an improvement, but I’d take it over the posturing we get.

      1. The pure artform of the wit displayed in the House of Commons is beyond the capability of our public masters servents. There are some phenominal gems. (usually however you really need the context). The movie Ridicule as well as that one about ending slavery in the UK are great examples of Parlamentary wit.

        Alas, you speak so much as to have the jawbone of an ASS

  15. I hereby promise, if ever accidentally elected president of these united states (I wouldnt do it on purpose) that I will announce the time for my first SOTU address, allow all the rigamarole to happen, and send a written statement instead of showing up myself. Also, it wont be in late January.

    1. I never had you pegged for a Constitution violator. Article II Section 3 man.

      1. It doesn’t say the Pres. has to deliver the information orally in person to Congress. It would be perfectly constitutional to send Congress a memo.

        The in-person SOTU is more of a PR media event than anything else anymore.

      2. “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”. No requirement for spoken to Joint Session, no requirement for January.

      3. There’s even precedent – Jefferson did not address Congress directly, and no other president after him did so until the current format was introduced by Woodrow Wilson in 1913.

      4. Others handled it, but you got burned.

        Note to self: dont rely on Tulpa for constitutional knowledge.

        1. Note to robc “you didn’t get that memo a while ago?”


        2. Hey, even a constitutional lawyer like Obama gets it wrong sometimes.

          1. I hold H&R posters to a higher standard than the POTUS. For obvious reasons.

    2. I addressed this in the Top 100 Things I’d Do if I Ever Became a Libertarian President:

      76. My first State of the Union address will simply be to read the Constitution to Congress and the American people. Verbatim.

      I also have a plan to raise money through selling naming rights to the SoTU and other federal events and places:

      84. Sell sponsorship opportunities for events and federal locations–e.g., the “AT&T State of the Union”; “The Martha White House”; “United States of America, Brought to You by Coca-Cola”.

      1. But reading the Constitution would NOT be the state of the Union. So would Joe Wilson yell “You lie!” (assuming he’s still in office)? 🙁

        Oh boy…

        1. Yes, you’re right. It’s not really the “state” of the union. It’s a teaching moment.

          Hey, they don’t call it the Bully Pulpit for nothing!

        2. Just say “according to this we are fucking up!” at then end. There is your SOTU.

      2. …oh, and I LOVE #84! “The Summer’s Eve Douche Black Caucus Meeting”. Excellent!

        1. One last thing – “RACIST!” on myself. Sorry

        2. I think they really should do stuff like this.

          Apollo 11–brought to you by Coca-Cola. Drink refreshing Coke. . .on the Moon! That’s one small sip for a man, one giant gulp for mankind.

        3. Olde English 800 Black Caucus Meeting

      3. Not truly addressed, you were going to show up in person and read it.

        1. I meant that I addressed what a libertarian should do. Hell, yeah, I’m showing up, because it’s the one time I’ve got everyone’s attention. How many SoTUs will a libertarian president get before impeachment and conviction?

          1. zero.

            If he does it right.

            1. About what I figure. Somewhere between me firing 99% of the IRS and refusing to enforce most laws, I’m assuming I’ll be hauled before the Senate.

              1. Yeah, I figure that Jan 21 pardon of all drug possession convictions causes problems.

                1. Oh, yeah. They’ll do you for treason after that.

  16. We need less Alito and more Artest.

    1. More cowbell

  17. My word, but that’s some substandard trolling from Steven.

    1. Everyone is a sock puppet these days. I miss Cesar.

      1. It’s an art form in decline.

      2. Wrong. I do not have anyone’s hand inserted into my bottom (unfortunately).

        1. Relax, turn around and take my hand.

  18. Everyone is a sock puppet these days.

    I blame threaded comments.

    How long will it be until we get the “State of the Union Tweet”? I can’t wait.

    1. The comments have always been threaded. I think you mean nested comments, and you’re wrong. Nested commenting is the Comment Arrangement of the Gods.

    2. How long will it be until we get the “State of the Union Tweet”?

      Not soon enough for my tastes.

  19. I guess it’s time to admit that I’m Virginia Postrel.

    1. “No, me and my wife are Virginia Postrel!”

      1. Just kidding. I’m actually Teller.

  20. I long for the golden age of sockpuppetry.

  21. I used to watch that. That makes me about 100, doesn’t it?

  22. “This targeted drone strike was brought to you by Stanley Tools; sometimes, you really do just need a bigger hammer.”

  23. We need less Alito and more Artest.

    If I ever accidentally become president, I’ll rush a motherfucker for you. You’ll know it’s about to go down the year the SOTU audience is given stadium fountain drinks. I want the still sequence of me elbow-shivering Schumer to have flying ice in it.


  24. Freedom is a slippery slope. The Supreme Court is on a dangerous path to absolute freedom of speech. And we know where that leads. Freedom of speech = Hitler.

  25. If I were ever to very accidentally become President, assuming that the cosmos survived, I would probably pre-release a pretty blase SOTU, then march up the aisle without gladhanding anyone, take the podium, and chew Congress’s ass ex tempore, my general theme being that the SOTU is that it is burdened by an idiotic legislature and a grossly bloated state.

    1. “My fellow Americans. Only one thing stands between us and a strong economy. Only one thing prevents us from being truly free. Only one thing is your real enemy, sucking away your wealth, your liberty, and your character. My friends, that one thing is the federal government. [shouts from the audience] Down with Congress! Down with me! Revolt!”

  26. Politifact has a good write-up on this.

  27. Well, you must admit they actually raise some valid points.


    1. Anon Akabar!!

  28. “I think it was dead wrong and we have to correct it,” said Biden, inviting Congress to pass legislation negating the decision.

    Oh, Joey. Don’t you change one bit.

  29. Looking at that screenshot, I have to ask myself why somebody didn’t send Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s clerk back to the car to get her ear trumpet.

    1. I laughed really hard at this comment. Thanks.

  30. Anyone notice how often Obama inserts himself into his speeches. “I am” and “I believe” and “when I came into office” and “I am not going to take a walk on those people” and “I have always” and “That’s why I ran for president” and on and on and on.

    It is an insufferable trait. Everything is about him. If it is not about him, it is wrong, it is the last eight years and it is racist.

    This guy is one narcissistic negro.

    1. Which is odd, considering how most liberals detest the concept of the individual…

      “At a time when our entire country is banding together and facing down individualism, the Patriots set a wonderful example, showing us all what is possible when we work together, believe in each other, and sacrifice for the greater good.” – Ted Kennedy

    2. I SEE YOU!!!!!!!

  31. Obama loses three state elections and his response is to launch a unprecedented rant about the Supreme Court during the State of the Union. Any guesses how much further his behavior will deteriorate for next year’s address after the Dems lose control of the House and maybe the Senate? This is not going to end well for the country and especially not Obama. It is not out of the realm of possibility that they will have to call out the National Guard to evict McHopey from the Oval Office.

    1. It is not out of the realm of possibility that they will have to call out the National Guard to evict McHopey from the Oval Office.

      …if only for his own protection.

      1. This is not going to end well for the country and especially not Obama.

        I dunno, John. Why wouldn’t having Obama truly crash and burn be good for the Republic?

        1. It might teach us a few needed lessons. And it is not like he is king. The Congress and the federal bureaucracy would keep him largely in check. But still having a President suffer some kind of a mental breakdown can’t be good.

    2. Imagine if George W. Bush had executed such a “rant” against the SCOTUS. We’d be hearing from the Truther crowd that Bush and Cheney were planning a coup, were going to imprison the SCOTUS members, cancel elections, and impose martial law. (Remember those good old days, when morons on the Left fantasized day and night about Darth Cheney and Bushitler and the looming dictatorship?)

      PS. I wasn’t sure if that was Ruth Bader Ginsburg or “Granny” from the Beverly Hillbillies!

  32. The libertarians on this site are woefully confused and naive.

    Lame. You missed the dart board, and stuck the Bud advert on the other end of the room with that one. Take it up with management.

    This decision gives the state and government more power – through corporations.

    It overturns regulations put in place during a period of time that Fedreal power increased substantially. If it did as you claim, Schumer would be the first person in line to the camera praising the decision.

    Corporations are created by the state.

    Corporations are created by those who voluntarily came together to form them, and they existed before there was consideration of regulation. The ‘incorporation’ comes from the recognition of the binding agreement through court arbitration from a period in time when the courts were independent of the government and worked more like modern arbitrators. See Murray Rothbard’s history of the colonies for a more fully rounded explanation of why you get this entirely backwards.

    Corporations’ treasuries accrue through state-created beneficial tax laws.

    Not at all relevant. If those laws were removed, corporations would still be around even if their composition changed.

    Corporation’s treasuries used to influence elections of the government – unregulated – becomes self-perpetuating.

    That is quite a naive remark. You have never spent time on K Street.

    Please – think about it, and educate yourselves.

    From your comments, I have serious doubts about your education. Appeasing the mind set of your left wing professors to get a good mark or two is not the same as having a rigorously thought out understanding of the world around you. Your remarks show you are adept at the former, but you are grievously impoverished on the later.

    1. Alan,

      Excellent reply. +1

  33. It’s lovely how the uniter-in-chief singled out and scolded a group of nine people as though they were naughty schoolchildren for essentially doing their job. By having everyone around the stand up, clap and look askance in their direction, it looks less like was he criticizing them and more like he wanted to ostracize them. “All due deference” must mean none.

    I also like how he threw in “foreign” corporations. Perhaps he equates populism with xenophobia, and assumes he will win populist support by brewing fear of things “foreign.”

  34. The President’s public pimp-slapping of the SCOTUS may have pissed them off enough to get all Constitutional on his ass. If that happens, I would submit that, purely by accident, He may have done more for the liberty of this country than anyone in 100 years.

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