America

If Alito Did Say 'Not True' About Obama's Claim, He May Have Had A Point

Judge for yourself: Did Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito mutter something like "not true" or "simply not true" last night during the State of the Union address?

The moment came as President Barack Obama was, as the Associated Press puts it, "scolding the high court."

"With all due deference to the separation of powers," said Obama, last week the "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."

Politico has posted the video showing Alito's reaction:

At The New York Times Opinionator blog, Linda Greenhouse says Alito may have had a point:

Indeed, Mr. Obama's description of the holding of the case was imprecise. He said the court had "reversed a century of law."

The law that Congress enacted in the populist days of the early 20th century prohibited direct corporate contributions to political campaigns. That law was not at issue in the Citizens United case, and is still on the books. Rather, the court struck down a more complicated statute that barred corporations and unions from spending money directly from their treasuries — as opposed to their political action committees — on television advertising to urge a vote for or against a federal candidate in the period immediately before the election.

Update at 11:30 a.m. ET. The White House stands by the president's words:

A "senior administration official" told Politico this morning that: "There is a loophole that we need to address and are working with Congress to address. There are U.S. subsidiaries of foreign-controlled corporations that could influence our elections because of this ruling."

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.