The decision by Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia to accept an invitation from Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), the founder of the House's Tea Party Caucus, to speak to incoming House members about the Constitution is drawing fire from some who worry the court is injecting itself into partisan politics.
Almost 40 years ago, a Virginia lawyer named Lewis F. Powell Jr. warned that the nation s free enterprise system was under attack. He urged the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to assemble a highly competent staff of lawyers and retain outside counsel of national standing and reputation to appear before the Supreme Court and advance the interests of American business.
I wish Chief Justice John Roberts could spend a day and a night in the Rocky Mountains experiencing what his activist Supreme Court majority has dumped on the American voter in 2010. The sludge flow from out-of-state, secretive political groups is unrelenting. All hours. All mediums. A football game-break brings three attacks in a row, calling a senator a liar, a vandal and a glutton for debt. A weather update is interrupted by a trio of hits from the other side, making the challenger out to be the worst thing for women since Neanderthal man took up a club as an accessory to romance.
In a decision that was either the most Machiavellian in American history or the most naive, a 5 to 4 conservative majority broke with decades of precedent and said Congress had no right to ban corporate or labor union spending to influence the outcome of elections. The court ruled that corporations such as Consolidated Megacorp have to be treated the same as living, breathing "persons." The decision is Machiavellian if the conservatives on the court consciously want to bring us back to the 1890s. Or it's naive because the justices didn't consider what their ruling would mean in practice.
The real surprise of the Supreme Court s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which magnified the ability of corporations to spend money in political campaigns, is how widely disliked the ruling is across the ideological spectrum. After more than a month, the storm set off by the Citizens United ruling is still raging.
The nation owes a substantial debt to Justice Samuel Alito for his display of unhappiness over President Obama's criticisms of the Supreme Court's recent legislation -- excuse me, decision -- opening our electoral system to a new torrent of corporate money.