Justice Alito’s “Not True” Moment
Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito mouthed the words “not true” when President Obama commented on the Supreme Court decision giving First Amendment rights to corporations. But Alito may have been correct, if rude. Adam Winkler of UCLA Law breaks it down:
Obama said, “Last week, the Supreme Court reversed a century of law to open the floodgates for special interests, including foreign corporations, to spend without limit in our elections.”
Halfway through this sentence, Alito started to nod vigorously to express his disagreement. Then he mouthed, “It’s not true.” Some people are saying that Alito is this year’s Joe Wilson, who infamously shouted, “You lie” during an Obama speech to Congress.
There are a lot of grounds to criticize the Supreme Court’s campaign finance decision. It will allow corporations to spend shareholder money to influence the election of candidates many of those shareholders don’t support. And it does open up a loophole that allows foreign corporations to influence federal elections through their U.S. subsidiaries.
But the Court did not overturn “a century of law.” The provision upended by the Court was only seven years old. It was a novel innovation of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law adopted during the Bush Administration.
There is “a century of law” restricting direct corporate contributions to candidates. Last week’s decision didn’t address that law. While the logic of the opinion–which says corporate speech is entitled to the same protection as individual speech–calls into question the corporate contribution ban, it doesn’t overturn it.
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