Conservative media are highlighting Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito mouthing "not true" during the State of the Union address after President Obama said the court's decision in Citizens United v. FEC would "open the floodgates" for special interests -- including foreign corporations -- to spend in U.S. elections to accuse Obama of "attacking" the First Amendment or not telling the truth. But, in fact, four of the Supreme Court's justices agreed in their opinion that the decision "would appear to afford the same protection to multinational corporations controlled by foreigners as to individual Americans" to make certain election-related expenditures.
Conservative media: Obama's criticism "just not the truth"; Obama "demagoging"
Palin: Obama's criticism "may not be true," and he was "embarrassing our Supreme Court." In post-speech analysis with Sean Hannity on January 27, Fox News contributor Sarah Palin said in response to Obama's criticism: "This is why people are disenchanted and are becoming more and more disengaged really from what their government is doing, because when we see an issue like this -- words spoken that may not be true coming from our president and embarrassing our Supreme Court and not respecting the separation of powers -- we have a problem. And that's illustrated there by that justice mouthing those words, 'not true.' Now, one or the other is being disingenuous here -- either our president in what he just claimed, or the Supreme Court justice."
Scarborough: Obama's statement on foreign entities "is just not the truth." On the January 28 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe, host Joe Scarborough said, "I hate to be chained to facts, but let's just -- we've got to tell the truth, and that is that what the president said last night is not based in fact, it's not based in law. ... So the president was not served well last night; he went out and said something that just wasn't the truth. And I'm sure that that was very difficult for the Supreme Court to sit there and have the president tell America and the world these jokers on the front row just opened up American campaigns to foreign entities when that in fact is just not the truth."
Gateway Pundit: Obama "attacked the Supreme Court for defending the First Amendment." In a blog post on GatewayPundit.com, Jim Hoft wrote, "Justice Alito responded to Barack Obama tonight by mouthing 'Not True' when the president attacked the Supreme Court for defending the First Amendment."
Hot Air: Obama was "demagoging the First Amendment." In a HotAir.com blog post, blogger Allahpundit wrote of Alito's reaction: "When you hear the president of the United States demagoging the First Amendment, you sit there and you take it, son."
Instapundit: Alito's response will turn Obama's "demagoguery into a negative for him." In response to Allahpundit's post, Glenn Reynolds wrote on the blog Instapuntit: "No, actually, you don't, and Alito didn't. And that will step on Obama's press tonight and tomorrow, turning his demagoguery into a negative for him. That's why Presidents usually act Presidential. Not so much because it's dignified. But because it's smart. That's something that Obama, with his limited experience on the national stage, hasn't figured out yet."
Four justices: Logic of decision would appear to protect "multinational corporations controlled by foreigners"
Stevens: Logic of decision "would appear to afford the same protection to multinational corporations controlled by foreigners as to individual Americans." From Justice John Paul Stevens' opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part in Citizens United v. FEC -- an opinion joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, and Sonia Sotomayor (footnotes omitted):
If taken seriously, our colleagues' assumption that the identity of a speaker has no relevance to the Government's ability to regulate political speech would lead to some remarkable conclusions. Such an assumption would have accorded the propaganda broadcasts to our troops by "Tokyo Rose" during World War II the same protection as speech by Allied commanders. More pertinently, it would appear to afford the same protection to multinational corporations controlled by foreigners as to individual Americans: To do otherwise, after all, could " 'enhance the relative voice' " of some ( i.e. , humans) over others ( i.e. , nonhumans). Ante , at 33 (quoting Buckley , 424 U. S., at 49). Under the majority's view, I suppose it may be a First Amendment problem that corporations are not permitted to vote, given that voting is, among other things, a form of speech.
Stevens: Decision will "cripple" government's ability to prevent "corporate domination of the electoral process." Stevens also wrote:
The Court's blinkered and aphoristic approach to the First Amendment may well promote corporate power at the cost of the individual and collective self-expression the Amendment was meant to serve. It will undoubtedly cripple the ability of ordinary citizens, Congress, and the States to adopt even limited measures to protect against corporate domination of the electoral process. Americans may be forgiven if they do not feel the Court has advanced the cause of self-government today.
Other experts say Citizens United decision might lead to campaign money from foreign corporations
Several experts argue that decision opens door to campaign money from U.S. subsidiaries of foreign corporations. Politico reported: " 'It is a plausible inference from the court's opinion that [foreign] money can't be restricted,' said Michael Dorf, a Cornell law professor who has backed giving foreigners the right to contribute to U.S. campaigns. 'For me, that's not such a terrible thing.' " Campaign finance reform advocate Fred Wertheimer stated: "Under the Supreme Court decision, foreign countries, such as China (and its Sovereign Wealth Fund, the China Investment Corporation), foreign corporations and foreign individuals are now able to make campaign expenditures to directly support or oppose federal candidates, so long as these expenditures are made through foreign-controlled domestic corporations." A post on the Center for Public Integrity website reported:
Some legal observers fear the ruling would open up the floodgates for any corporation operating in the United States, no matter who owns them. J. Gerald Hebert, executive director and director of litigation at the non-partisan Campaign Legal Center, told the Center for Public Integrity that the existing prohibition on foreign involvement does not refer to foreign controlled domestic corporations. "With the corporate campaign expenditure ban now being declared unconstitutional, domestic corporations controlled by foreign governments or other foreign entities are free to spend money to elect or defeat federal candidates," he believes.