Editorials and Opinion
Conservatives Forfeit High Ground On Activism: Citizens United Ruling Overturns Decades Of Precedent On Campaign Law (National Journal, 01/22/10)
Stuart Taylor, Jr.: "For decades conservatives have accused liberal Supreme Court majorities of judicial activism, by which I mean sweeping aside democratically adopted laws and deeply rooted societal traditions to impose their own policy preferences based on highly debatable interpretations of the Constitution's language and established meaning.
On Thursday, the five more conservative justices -- and in particular Chief Justice John Roberts and Samuel Alito, who went well beyond anything they've said before -- forfeited whatever high ground they once held in the judicial activism debate."
Editorial: Supreme Court favors corporations over voters (Advocate [Stamford-Norwalk, CT], 01/22/10)
"by elevating corporate influence to a shout, Thursday's 5-4 ruling diminishes the voice of average people to a relative whisper.
We disagree with the high court's prevailing opinion that injecting billions of big-business bucks into election campaigns represents democracy in action."
Campaign finance ruling reflects Supreme Court's growing audacity (Washington Post, 01/22/10)
Michael Waldman: "deeply significant is what this shows about the court and its relationship to the Obama administration and Congress. ...The Citizens United decision suggests an assertive court, eager to overturn precedent, looming as a challenge to President Obama's agenda. ... he court boldly reached to consider a major constitutional case when it didn't have to. ... Health care, climate change, financial reregulation, the auto bailout -- all heighten government's role in the economy. The Citizens United ruling suggests the court may smile on even the most audacious conservative legal theories, such as those alleging that regulations are an improper taking by the government. And it shows an unsettling eagerness to overturn precedent in line with ideological predilection."
Editorial: Supreme Court opens floodgates of influence (Bakersfield Californian [CA], 01/22/10)
Justice John Paul Stevens, part of the majority in the two opinions that were overruled, had it right in his dissenting opinion Thursday. He called the opinion of the 5-4 majority "a rejection of the common sense of the American people, who have fought against the distinctive corrupting potential of corporate electioneering since the days of Theodore Roosevelt."
Editorial: Government by the people, RIP (Detroit Free Press [MI] , 01/22/10)
"Astonishingly, five U.S. Supreme Court justices ... delusional premise has become the basis for a radical and dangerous reversal of judicial precedent."
Editorial: Big biz, 1 People, 0 (Hays Daily News [KS], 01/22/10)
"The Supreme Court was wrong to toss out the landmark McCain-Feingold campaign finance bill ...The financial juggernaut that's about to be unleashed in campaigns will be insufferable.
The American public is the big loser with this decision. "
Pioneer Editorial: Ruling opens campaign floodgates (Bemidji Pioneer [MN], 01/22/10)
"Election law became more clouded on Thursday as the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that corporations and organizations can spend unlimited amounts of money on candidates in federal elections, making it hard to not pay attention to their positions."
Editorial: Talk about judicial activism (Scranton Times-Tribune [PA], 01/22/10)
"A decision by the conservative majority of the Supreme Court, however, is a breathtaking exercise in judicial activism."
Citizens ruling: an intellectually dishonest power grab (Washington Post, 01/22/10)
Ruth Marcus: "In opening the floodgates for corporate money in election campaigns, the Supreme Court did not simply engage in a brazen power grab. It did so in an opinion stunning in its intellectual dishonesty....It was unnecessary for the court to go so far when there were several less-radical grounds available. It was audacious to seize the opportunity to overrule precedents when the parties had not pressed this issue and the lower courts not considered it. It was the height of activism to usurp the judgments of Congress and state legislatures about how best to prevent corruption of the political process.... As bad as the court's activism, though, was its shoddy scholarship."
Money talks. And buys votes in Congress (Atlanta Journal Constitution, 01/22/10)
Cynthia Tucker: "Lobbyists and their money have corrupted the American political process, legally buying members of Congress.... That trend will just grow worse with yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling."
Editorial: High court's gift to corporations is a terrible mistake (Capital Times (WI), 01/22/10)
"The decision by Chief Justice John Roberts and four other justices on Thursday to reject history and precedent in order to put a radical pro-corporate spin on the First Amendment throws into question rules designed to regulate even the worst campaign abuses by business interests."
Editorials: Corporations didn’t need more rights (Dayton Daily News [OH] , 01/22/10)
"The court resolutely set aside its alleged commitment to “judicial restraint.” Recent conservative nominees have insisted they believe in in deciding what’s necessary and at hand, not in reaching out; that they believe in deferring to legislatures where possible and to prior decisions.
Chief Justice John Roberts likened himself to a mere “umpire.” But this is a redesign of the game."
Editorial: The Supreme Court removes important limits on campaign finance (Washington Post, 01/22/10)
"making a mockery of some justices' pretensions to judicial restraint, the Supreme Court unnecessarily and wrongly ruled 5 to 4 that the constitutional guarantee of free speech means that corporations can spend unlimited sums to help elect favored candidates or defeat those they oppose."
Editorial: The Court’s Blow to Democracy (New York Times, 01/21/10)
"With a single, disastrous 5-to-4 ruling, the Supreme Court has thrust politics back to the robber-baron era of the 19th century....This issue should never have been before the court. The justices overreached and seized on a case involving a narrower, technical question ... Chief Justice John Roberts Jr., no doubt aware of how sharply these actions clash with his confirmation-time vow to be judicially modest and simply “call balls and strikes,” wrote a separate opinion trying to excuse the shameless judicial overreaching."
The Pinocchio ProjectWatching as the Supreme Court turns a corporation into a real live boy. (Slate Magazine, 01/21/10)
Dahlia Lithwick: "The court had to reach out far beyond any place it needed to go to strike down century-old restrictions on corporate spending in federal elections....Even former Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist once warned that treating corporate spending as the First Amendment equivalent of individual free speech is "to confuse metaphor with reality." Today that metaphor won a very real victory at the Supreme Court."
Citizens United: What Happens Next? (Huffington Post, 01/21/10)
Rick Hasen: "Today's Supreme Court opinion marks a very bad day for American democracy, and one that was totally avoidable. Make no mistake: the Supreme Court had ample ways (I count at least six) to have avoided deciding the issues in the case."
Who's activist now? In election spending case, conservatives (McClatchy newspapers, 01/21/10)
Michael Doyle: "The 5-4 ruling exposes how the court's stark ideological divide is stronger than Chief Justice John G. Roberts' stated fealty to precedence and consensus building. It's a markedly activist decision, going well beyond what the justices were asked to do.... Ironically, the 57-page opinion that united the court's conservative wing might also provide ammunition for critics of "activist" judges.... League of Conservation Voters President Gene Karpinski quickly warned the ruling "will open the floodgates for oil companies like Exxon to spend vast sums of money to influence the outcome of federal elections.""
Citizens United: The Problem Isn't the Law, It's the Court (Huffington Post, 01/21/10)
Doug Kendall: "As overwhelmingly demonstrated by Justice John Paul Stevens' breathtaking dissent -- read aloud from the bench and joined by Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, and Sotomayor -- today's ruling is startlingly activist and plainly contrary to constitutional text and history.... A progressive long-term strategy to put the Supreme Court back on track is particularly fitting, given that today's ruling is the result of a long-term conservative plan to change the Court to serve corporations' interests"
Money GrubbersThe Supreme Court kills campaign finance reform. (Slate Magazine, 01/21/10)
Richard L. Hasen: "It is time for everyone to drop all the talk about the Roberts court's "judicial minimalism," with Chief Justice Roberts as an "umpire" who just calls balls and strikes. Make no mistake, this is an activist court that is well on its way to recrafting constitutional law in its image."
Corporations are not people; money is not speech (Atlanta Journal Constitution, 01/21/10)
Jay Bookman: Today’s Supreme Court ruling is an Alice in Wonderland exercise. The five-justice majority reached the outcome it sought — an outcome that greatly expands the legal rights and political power of corporations — by trying to redefine basic reality.
No matter what the Court majority may prefer to argue or believe, corporations are not people and money is not speech. They simply are not. ... To rule that Congress cannot limit the rights of corporations that are invented by man and controlled by man — to endow those legal fictions with the same natural rights as living, human beings — is absurd. To claim the U.S. Constitution as the basis for that ruling is an outright fabrication."
Editorial: Restoring Access to the Courts (New York Times, 12/22/09)
"In a lamentable 5-to-4 decision earlier this year, the Supreme Court discarded 50 years of legal precedent to make it significantly harder for Americans to assert their legal rights in federal court....The court altered the procedural rules for initiating a lawsuit, raising the bar in a fashion destined to make it far harder to bring valid actions and to allow wrongdoers to avoid accountability....It is the responsibility of Congress to reopen the courthouse doors."
Editorial: Clean Water: Still Elusive (New York Times, 10/21/09)
"Two misguided Supreme Court decisions have forced the E.P.A. to use precious resources to resolve jurisdictional disputes over its authority to protect wetlands and small streams."
Editorial: Preventing Age Discrimination (New York Times, 10/12/09)
"Congress made clear four decades ago that it wants to protect older workers from discrimination, but the Supreme Court has tried to interfere with that effort. It is up to Congress to put the teeth back into the law."
Editorial: Pay equity matters (Ventura County Star, 10/09/09)
"When Ms. Ledbetter’s wage-discrimination case made it to the U.S. Supreme Court in 2007, in a classic Catch-22, she lost on a 5-to-4 vote"
Editorial: Clearing up the Clean Water Act The "Clean Water Restoration Act" in Congress would restore the original act back to its role in protecting our nation's waters. (Denver Post [CO] , 10/04/09)
When Congress passed the Clean Water Act in 1972, lawmakers clearly hoped to clean up polluted rivers and lakes, not promote the travel of boats.
Yet two Supreme Court rulings this decade, and the ensuing interpretations of those rulings by the Bush administration, have sabotaged the law's intent.
Presently, Congress is considering the so-called "Clean Water Restoration Act" to repair the damage done over the last decade, and we wish them godspeed.
After the high court's rulings in 2001 and 2006, the Clean Water Act has been narrowed to protect only "navigable waters," leaving wetlands, isolated waters such as ponds and other habitat for waterfowl, and the intermittent creeks and streams that run throughout Colorado's mountains without federal oversight and protection.
Another result of the court's decisions (in Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County vs. United States Army Corps of Engineers and Rapanos vs. United States) has been great confusion about regulation and protections of the country's waters.