Thursday, January 28, 2010

Looks like the gloves come off after Obama rips Supreme Court ruling

The political furor escalated over President Obama's high-profile rebuke of a recent Supreme Court ruling on campaign advertising Thursday, as Democrats pounded the high court decision.

Democrats rallied around Obama the day after the president committed a rare breach of political etiquette, criticizing the controversial ruling in his State of the Union address as members of the high court sat only a few feet away.

That triggered something equally unusual. Justice Samuel Alito, a conservative backer of the ruling, frowned and appeared to mouth the words "not true." Alito's apparent reply was a rare flash of emotion among Supreme Court justices who typically sit stony faced and refrain from even clapping during State of the Union speeches.

The actions of both men may be unprecedented, according to one longtime court observer.

The court's 5-4 decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, issued last week, removed long-established legal barriers preventing corporations and unions from spending unlimited sums of money to influence voters in political campaigns. Democrats fear the decision has given the traditionally pro-business GOP a powerful new advantage.

"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," Obama told a packed House of Representatives chamber Wednesday night.

Alito, part of the court's conservative majority, could be seen apparently frowning and quietly mouthing the words "not true."
Supreme Court justices rarely express any hint of emotion or opinion during the president's State of the Union speech.

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