I was out last night and so missed President Obama’s State of the Union address. Thus, it wasn’t until late last night that I learned to my shock that he had directly criticized the Supreme Court over its decision in Citizens United (PDF) in front of a joint session of Congress (and the entire nation), with the Justices present. This is what Obama said:
With all due deference to separation of powers, last week the Supreme Court reversed a century of law that I believe will open the floodgates for special interests –- including foreign corporations –- to spend without limit in our elections. (Applause.) I don’t think American elections should be bankrolled by America’s most powerful interests, or worse, by foreign entities. (Applause.) They should be decided by the American people. And I’d urge Democrats and Republicans to pass a bill that helps to correct some of these problems.
The Justices sat stony-faced while the Democrats stood to cheer, other than for Justice Alito, who shook his head and said “not true:”
It was an unprecedented humiliation for the Court to be called out like that in such a venue, a fit of pique beneath the dignity of a Chief of State. It was also, in my opinion, an indirect but substantial attack on the First Amendment, the provisions of which the Court had reaffirmed and defended in Citizens United. But, anyone who’s been paying attention knows Obama has a problem with free speech.
And the hypocrisy was breathtaking. The Obama campaign had accepted tens of thousands of dollars in foreign and otherwise illegal campaign donations during the last presidential election cycle. To complain that the Supreme Court had now opened the doors to “foreign entities” should have provoked derisive laughter, not applause.
I was going to write a long rant about how dumb the President’s statement was, but William Jacobson at Legal Insurrection covers the ground much better than I:
The attack on the Supreme Court during the State of the Union was a window into Obama’s divisive soul. I have posted numerous times before about Obama’s need to identify and campaign against enemies. He did it during the campaign and he does it every day in office.
Last night it was (mostly) the bankers and Wall Street (which donated more money to his campaign than to Republicans) and the Senate Republicans who were his target. But it those were the only attacks, it would have been merely another typical political speech.
The attack on the Supreme Court exposes the intolerance of this President. The politician who campaigned and allegedly champions the rule of law actually has very little use for the rule of law when it does not advance his political agenda.
Read the whole thing and follow the links. It will be well-worth your time.
Is it 2012, yet?
UPDATE: The quote that summarizes it all:
This is either blithering ignorance of the law or demagoguery of the worst kind.
How about both?