Alito’s “You lie!” moment

Perhaps the most talked-about moment in Obama’s speech in the hours and days to come is going to be his rejoinder to the Supreme Court’s recent decision on campaign donations from corporations: With all due deference to separation of powers, last week the Supreme Court reversed a century of law that I believe will open ...

Perhaps the most talked-about moment in Obama's speech in the hours and days to come is going to be his rejoinder to the Supreme Court's recent decision on campaign donations from corporations:

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. (Applause.) I don't think American elections should be bankrolled by America's most powerful interests, or worse, by foreign entities. (Applause.) They should be decided by the American people. And I'd urge Democrats and Republicans to pass a bill that helps to correct some of these problems.

Video making the rounds now clearly shows Samuel Alito mouthing the words "not true" after Obama made the claim about foreign corporations, an unusual breach of decorum for a sitting Supreme Court justice. His colleagues sat impassively, though they clearly were not happy at being singled out for criticism in a State of the Union address.

Perhaps the most talked-about moment in Obama’s speech in the hours and days to come is going to be his rejoinder to the Supreme Court’s recent decision on campaign donations from corporations:

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. (Applause.) I don’t think American elections should be bankrolled by America’s most powerful interests, or worse, by foreign entities. (Applause.) They should be decided by the American people. And I’d urge Democrats and Republicans to pass a bill that helps to correct some of these problems.

Video making the rounds now clearly shows Samuel Alito mouthing the words "not true" after Obama made the claim about foreign corporations, an unusual breach of decorum for a sitting Supreme Court justice. His colleagues sat impassively, though they clearly were not happy at being singled out for criticism in a State of the Union address.

The majority’s decision in the case in question, Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission, reads:

We need not reach the question whether the Government has a compelling interest in preventing foreign individuals or associations from influencing our Nation’s political process. . . Section 441b is not limited to corporations or associations that were created in foreign countries or funded predominantly by foreign shareholders. Section 441b therefore would be overbroad even if we assumed, arguendo, that the Government has a compelling interest in limiting foreign influence over our political process.

In other words, the court essentially said it wasn’t going to decide on whether foreign corporations can claim First Amendment rights. You might say it was an open invitation to let Congress weigh in on this question, or let interested parties duke it out in the courts.

UPDATE: Linda Greenhouse thinks Alito was reacting to the "century of law" bit, not the point about foreign corporations.

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