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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Justice Alito's Inexcusable Rudeness - Garrett Epps - The Atlantic

Justice Alito's Inexcusable Rudeness - Garrett Epps - The Atlantic:

What's truly depressing is less Alito's opinionated facial reactions to both Obama and Ginsberg, than the tone of disrespect and boorishness of many of the commentators to this article. One expects better from readers of The Atlantic. I, as a classic liberal, happen to believe, along with Floyd Abrams, that Citizens United was rightly decided. I also happen to be of the opinion that economic inequality represents a serious problem in this country, but the way to fix that is not by attacking speech whether it be from an individual (regardless of wealth), an association (regardless of message), or a corporation, including newspapers (regardless of ownership.) Let's not forget the an issue in Citizens United was political speech, a form of speech that clearly was intended to be protected by the First Amendment. It was a quasi-documentary, paid for by an association of individuals to be broadcast within 60 days of the election. That FEC time restriction was, in part, what was ruled unconstitutional. I urge those interested to listen to the oral arguments and then read the majority and minority opinions of the Court. They are illuminating. There were four parts to the decision, the one that seems to have most irritated people was overruling the section of the McConnell decision. (In the prior cases, the Court had held that political speech may be banned based on the speaker's corporate identity.) But the court also held disclosure rules as constitutional and I believe strong disclosure requirements would go a long way toward addressing some people's concerns.

Obama's comments in the State of the Union Address represented an opinion. To call that a lie is just to misuse language. He may have been wrong in his suggestion that Citizens United would open the floodgates of foreign influence (there's little evidence that has happened - indeed the enormous spending on the right by all sorts of groups in the last election seems to have backfired) but when we conflate presenting an opinion with lying (which implies a deliberate falsehood) we descend to the nether regions of mudslinging with no substance. Alito's facial expressions are just symptomatic of his partisan rudeness, nothing more and should not detract from a much more serious concern: his consistent support for authoritarian governmental/business measures. .

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