Thursday, January 28, 2010

A brief note on Barack Obama and the Citizens United case 

I'm late to writing about Barack Obama's criticism of the Supreme Court's decision in last week's Citizens United decision (which held that certain restrictions on political advertising paid for by corporations violated the First Amendment) and Sam Alito's silent rebuttal, but you can read through the links in this round-up for a sense of it on the small chance you were in some island in the net and missed the discussion everywhere else.

At any rate, my one point, which must have been made elsewhere in the last 24 hours, is that it takes fairly gargantuan balls for the man who more or less single-handedly destroyed the public financing of presidential campaigns -- the other pillar of campaign finance "reform" -- to complain that the Supreme Court has found some other aspect of the law unconstitutional.

MORE: The law professor bloggers pile in with their reactions. Another point that I assume has been made elsewhere: Isn't the pro-Obama side making a tactical error in going after Justice Alito? First, do you really want to irritate the more centrist Justices, Anthony Kennedy in particular? Second, aren't you just ensuring that speculation about which Justices will attend will suck up a big part of the news cycle ahead of next year's SOTU?


By Anonymous boxty, at Fri Jan 29, 01:46:00 AM:

Wasn't there also evidence that Obama's people deliberately disabled security measures that would have prohibited credit card donations from foreign donors to his campaign? I guess Obama was for it before he was against it.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri Jan 29, 02:10:00 AM:

Follow the money, TH. Soros' return on his investment in Obama has been astronomical. Who would have thought you could buy a whole friggin' country these days?  

By Blogger JPMcT, at Fri Jan 29, 06:30:00 AM:

You could say it took brass balls...but actually all it took was ignorance, narcissism and a sense of entitlement and detachment from reality.

Our own little Hugo Chavez, without the charm.  

By Blogger K. Pablo, at Fri Jan 29, 09:12:00 AM:

So besides being UNPUBLISHED law school faculty, he is also a colossal ignoramus within his purported field of expertise (constitutional law)? Alas, the damage done by affirmative action to academia!  

By Anonymous feeblemind, at Fri Jan 29, 09:28:00 AM:

Re '...do you really want to irritate the more centrist Justices...?'

I am wondering if the goal was not irritation but intimidation?  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri Jan 29, 09:36:00 AM:

The President never looked more un-presidential when he went after the Supreme Court in his speech. You and other commentators hit the nail on the head -- he just doesn't like it because it didn't go his way, and, worse, he could care less about campaign finance reform given the way he financed his campaign.

The speech was disingenuous. Nothing was the president's fault. He blamed Congress, blamed industries that have trouble fighting back, blamed the Republicans despite the fact that he has huge majorities in both houses of Congress.

On the narrower point of the Supreme Court, what President Obama did was as particularly low moment. His intermittent resorting to demagoguery doesn't serve him well.

The Centrist  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri Jan 29, 10:03:00 AM:

I think the president has every right to criticize Supreme COurt decisions he doesn't like, just as he has every right to criticize the Senate, Republicans, the media, other citizens, foreign leaders and client nations not towing the line.

I only would ask that he not choose the SOTU to make these criticisms; it diminishes him and the office. It looks adolescent, coming from the presidnet on a state occasion.

Have your surrogates do it on the Sunday talk shows, or in punditry; that's where it belongs.  

By Blogger Elise, at Fri Jan 29, 10:03:00 AM:

I don't think Obama disliked the SCOTUS decison in the Citizens United case because I don't think he cares about it one way or the other. Attacking the decision was simply throwing a bone to a subset of his base.

This attack was a three-fer. Many of those on the Left hate this ruling but it's a little tricky to attack SCOTUS for upholding the First Amendment. So instead, Obama attacked SCOTUS for:

1) overturning precedent, thus throwing a usually conservative complaint back at the Right;

2) promoting the influence of special interests, thus appealing to all voters - everyone hates special interests, right?;

3) benefitting dastardly foreigners, thus appealing to voters on the Right who everyone knows are xenophobic.

I'm sure it looked rhetorically brilliant to whoever wrote it but in the end it suffered from the usual Obama problem of trying to be all things to all people. Well, and from being not quite accurate of course. Perhaps Obama is betting that the nuance known as accuracy will get lost in the rhetoric.

And if Obama will, in fact, have the opportunity to appoint two justices this summer I don't imagine he cares about annoying the centrist judges. Or perhaps he knows that SCOTUS is not going to make decisions just to spite him - counting on their good behavior to let him get away with bad.

Finally, perhaps at this point Obama would be grateful for anything that would divert the news cycle's attention away from him before next year's SOTU.  

By Blogger kreiz1, at Fri Jan 29, 11:15:00 AM:

If they were smacking Scalia, it would seem like a fair fight. Here, it feels like they're beating up on the scrawny kid with glasses. For now, it's inside the beltway stuff with little political import.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri Jan 29, 12:07:00 PM:

Boxty's question is the same one I was inclined to ask. No one knows how much of the fortune raised by Obama came from foreign sources, or even how much of it was Soros money, laundered through a series of small donations.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri Jan 29, 02:14:00 PM:

Yes, he disabled the credit card security system for online donations. I tested it and it cost me $50 (the least his system would accept) to verify that a totally bogus name and impossible address would satisfy his system.

That was late October 2008. Ever since then I've known what we were up against. We'll be lucky to see an orderly exit in 2012.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat Jan 30, 02:47:00 PM:

To the Obama administration, the concept of three counter-balancing branches of government is just a temporary impediment to the job of 'transforming' America to something more of their liking. The Legislative and Judicial branches should realize by now that the Executive branch knows what's best for the country, and that they (Congress and USSC) should just get the hell out of the way!  

By Blogger Gary Rosen, at Mon Feb 01, 03:00:00 AM:

"Here, it feels like they're beating up on the scrawny kid with glasses."

You've been there, right? And I don't mean dishing it out.  

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