Saturday, April 17, 2010

A Belated Word on Citizens United v. FEC

You all know Citizens United, even if you don't know it by name. It's the case where the Supreme Court overturned damn near a century of precedent and whole volumes of campaign finance law by ruling that corporations have a right to free speech than includes a right to spend literally unlimited amounts of money.

The most disgusting thing about this decision is that it comes from the ridiculously-named "conservative" wing of the court (Scalia, Thomas, Roberts, Alito, and ever so slightly less "conservative" Kennedy). Roberts particularly ought to be ashamed of himself. After literally days of hearings filled with bullshit analogies and promise after promise after promise of judicial restraint, Roberts has joined with the most activist opinion the Court has written in recent memory.

"Conservatism" and "originalism" are such a great guise for judicial activism because they unravel all the way back to the founding, and anything done since then is up for grabs. You just decide exactly how "original" you want to be and then select a case from some point in history to which you are "returning" the law, or say that every single case ever decided on the matter was wrong and misconstrued the "original" version of the written law (that's where you get to claim the "strict constructionist" mantle as an added defense for your blatant activism).

I've been irritated with the blatant misuse of the phrase "judicial activism" to tar exclusively left-wing judges for a while now, but Citizens United really makes it clear how deep this ridiculous doublethink goes. The "conservatives" on the Supreme Court are anything but.


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