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A project tracking federal judicial nominations and courts.

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Editorials and Opinion


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Editorial: Saving democracy (Greensboro News & Record [NC], 01/23/10)
"Thursday's U.S. Supreme Court decision changes some of the rules for financing political campaigns in North Carolina and across the country, and probably not for the better. But the state can and should respond in ways that keep wealthy special interests honest."

Editorial: Big money wins (Rutland Herald [VT] , 01/23/10)
"he Citizens United decision is a gift from the Bush administration; it was made possible by the two conservative justices appointed to the court by President George W. Bush. The decision serves the same interests Bush served as president — giving greater weight to the power of money than to the well-being of the individual American. Obama can put himself at the head of a popular uprising against corporate abuses if he is willing to seize upon this ruling and challenge in a straightforward way the interests with which until now he has sought to find common ground."

Our views: Ruling on corporate campaign money hurts democracy (Florida Today, 01/23/10)
"Throwing away more than a century of legal precedent, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 Thursday the First Amendment allows corporations to spend unlimited amounts of cash to elect the candidates they favor and defeat the ones they oppose. The decision from its conservative majority mocks their purported belief in “judicial restraint,” not legislating from the bench and respecting legal precedent. Which, in this case, dates to 1907, when Congress reined in corporate titans of the Robber Baron era by banning corporate contributions to federal candidates, a move the high court repeatedly affirmed until Thursday."

Editorial: Big money wins (Times Argus [VT] , 01/23/10)
"The Citizens United decision is a gift from the Bush administration; it was made possible by the two conservative justices appointed to the court by President George W. Bush. The decision serves the same interests Bush served as president — giving greater weight to the power of money than to the well-being of the individual American."

Editorial: ‘We the people’ should rule (Chattanooga Times Free Press [TN] , 01/23/10)
"five justices of the United States Supreme Court have made a dangerous mistake by ruling that corporations may potentially spend millions of dollars in ways to influence the elections of our officials,... Ironically, this highly troubling and improper ruling, which dilutes the power of “we the people” and gives great power wrongly to corporations and unions, has been made by a 5-4 Supreme Court “conservative” majority! ... The astoundingly wrong decision by the five conservative Supreme Court justices is a terrible threat to “government of, by and for the people,” and allows improper concentration and exercise of power by organizations."

Globe editorial: Corporations aren’t people, don’t merit special protections (Boston Globe, 01/23/10)
"the Supreme Court had a choice between protecting the influence of real individuals and maximizing the influence of abstract entities created by legal fiat. And five justices chose the latter."

Editorial: Supreme Court's blow to citizen democracy (Day [CT] , 01/23/10)
"The length to which the conservative justices went to provide money-rich corporations the means to overwhelm the political discussion was stunning....The court could and should have issued a narrow ruling ... Instead, it chose to eviscerate laws limiting special-interest influence in elections. The conservative justices, who have railed against judicial activism in prior writings and decisions, were guilty of exactly that. Legislating from the bench, they replaced the will of Congress with their own opinions on how elections should be run.... The court's eagerness to needlessly toss aside past decisions gives lie to Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.'s testimony during his confirmation hearings that he would be loathe to overturn precedent."

A partisan Supreme Court: The decision on campaign finance points to something more troubling than unlimited corporate contributions. (Los Angeles Times, 01/23/10)
Tim Rutten Op-Ed: "Supreme Court decision granting corporations the right to spend unrestricted amounts of money supporting or opposing candidates in federal elections is so strained in its reasoning and so removed from the realities of American life that it would be grotesquely comedic, were its implications not so dire. of the most distressing things about this decision -- considered in a sequence stretching back to Bush vs. Gore -- is that it demonstrates that this is a partisan court, willing to hand down sweeping decisions that ignore decades of jurisprudence based on five Republican votes."

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."

Conservatives embrace judicial activism in campaign finance ruling: The Supreme Court's decision in favor of corporate spending in elections makes previous rhetoric laughable. (Los Angeles Times, 01/22/10)
Prof. Erwin Chemerinsky: "The Supreme Court's 5-4 decision holding that corporations and unions can spend unlimited amounts of money in election campaigns is a stunning example of judicial activism by its five most conservative justices. In striking down a federal statute and explicitly overturning prior decisions, the court has changed the nature of elections in the United States. At the same time, the conservative justices have demonstrated that decades of conservative criticism of judicial activism was nonsense. Conservative justices are happy to be activists when it serves their ideological agenda."

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."

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."

Editorial: Reckless Supreme Court ruling on campaign finance: Special interests win, we lose (Star-Ledger Newark [NJ] , 01/22/10)
"The conservative majority of the Supreme Court just made a mockery of its claim to judicial restraint, overturning decades of law and legal precedent with a decision that will inevitably corrupt our democracy."

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."

Reply to George Will (and a note on Justice Roberts) (Washington Post, 01/22/10)
E.J. Dionne: "I am pleased that George Will acknowledges that the Supreme Court’s decision Thursday on corporate campaign money is “radical” -- even if he pulls back from the full implications of that bracing word ... On Chief Justice John Roberts: Boy was he defensive about his judicial activism here. He wrote an entire concurring opinion (joined by Justice Samuel Alito) to explain that this was not judicial activism, that he really, really doesn’t like overturning precedent, but that he had no choice in this case. In his dissent, Stevens shredded the idea that the Court was justified in overturning precedent here."

Editorial: Our View: Court ruling a troubling turn (Norwich Bulletin [CT] , 01/22/10)
"The U.S. Supreme Court decision this week allowing corporations and unions to freely pump as much money as they want into political campaigns is a major step backward in efforts to curtail special interest influence on the political process."

EDITORIAL: Campaign floodgates already open; The High Court’s campaign spending ruling is sweeping (Register Guard [OR], 01/22/10)
"notable is evidence of the court majority’s willingness to paint with broad legal strokes, reversing long-standing precedents and established law, pointing toward an era of conservative judicial activism.... the court’s majority clearly has staked a claim to an activist role. The decision shows neither reverence for precedent nor deference to the legislative branch of government. On Thursday, the court’s majority — perhaps sensing that one more appointment by President Obama would foreclose its opportunity — may have signaled a readiness to set restraint aside. Complaints about judicial activism, long a staple of conservative commentary, are likely to become muted as the court asserts its power for conservative purposes."

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. "

Our view: Corporations free to speak over public voice (Town Talk [LA], 01/22/10)
"the U.S. Supreme Court has overturned 20 years of campaign finance regulations, unleashing corporations to wield unprecedented control over U.S. elections....Trust has just walked out the door."

Editorial: A game changer: The high court's ruling on corporations and political spending is what quaintly used to be called legislating from the bench. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel [WI], 01/22/10)
"During confirmation hearings Chief Justice John Roberts indicated a reverence for precedent. That was then. On Thursday, Roberts, joining the four other conservative justices in a 5-4 vote, made it clear that this was simply an expedient."

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."

Editorial: Corporate speech; Supreme Court's checkbook politics (Salt Lake Tribune [UT], 01/22/10)
"an absolutist Supreme Court would brook no middle ground. Its ruling returns U.S. politics to the Gilded Age, when corporations owned candidates and government."

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: 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: Company cash: Flooding into politics? (Charleston Gazette [WV] , 01/22/10)
four right-wing justices -- Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and John Roberts -- persuaded moderate Anthony Kennedy to join them in allowing corporate campaign cash, on the pretext that company spending is "free speech."

Editorial: Campaigns up for sale (Boston Herald, 01/22/10)
"the court on a 5-4 vote overturned not simply a major section of the 2002 McCain-Feingold campaign finance law, but also a 63-year-old law.... In the interest of, as Chief Justice John Roberts put it, not restraining “the vibrant public discourse that is at the foundation of our democracy,” the court has thrown open the floodgates for special interests."

Editorial: Court nixes wise limit on corporate money; Decision will unleash political spending by companies, unions. (Charlotte Observer [NC] , 01/22/10)
"The U.S. Supreme Court decision Thursday striking down restrictions on corporate spending in political campaigns was disappointing in its effect and astonishing in its was stunning because it represented the Supreme Court majority's enthusiasm for judicial activism. It expanded a narrowly-focused case to the broader question"

The U.S. Supreme Court strikes down campaign finance restrictions. What is your reaction to this decision? (The Hill, 01/22/10)
Thomas E. Mann, senior fellow of Governance Studies at the Brookings Institue: "It makes a mockery of Chief Justice Roberts’ pious statements during his confirmation hearing before Congress about his embrace of judicial modesty and constitutional avoidance. His concurring decision fashioned to answer this expected criticism strikes this reader as defensive and lame. This decision constitutes a dramatic change in law yet nothing has changed to produce it other than the composition of the Court. Sadly, deliberation on the Court is becoming as ideologically driven as that in Congress."

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."