Why Supreme Court Justice May Have Been So Annoyed at the President’s State of the Union Address
At the president’s recent State of the Union address, he misleadingly attacked the Supreme Court for supposedly “reversing a century of law” restricting corporate spending on political campaigns in its ruling this month in Citizens United v. FEC.
In response, an annoyed Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, who was attending the speech as an invited guest, apparently mouthed the words “not true,” although his words were not audible and did not interrupt the president’s speech. (Obama was criticizing a Supreme Court ruling that struck down a recent federal restriction on corporations’ ability to criticize politicians. The ruling, which was based on the First Amendment, said it was not invalidating a century-old 1907 law that bans corporations from making donations to politicians, who have long leaned on corporations to give money to their pet causes. The ruling also did not lift restrictions on foreign corporations. I earlier explained in the New York Times why corporations logically do have free speech rights.)
Maybe Justice Alito’s annoyance was cumulative, and based as much on the president’s past lies about an earlier Supreme Court ruling authored by Alito, as on his misleading criticism of the Supreme Court’s recent ruling. Past lies make later falsehoods seem less like innocent mistakes.