Clarence Thomas Defends Recent Ruling on Campaign Finance

Associate Justice Clarence Thomas appeared to take on President Obama this week in discussing the ruling in Citizens United — contradicting the President’s portrayal in the State of the Union. In my view, the President did overstate the holding (not unheard of in the halls of Congress), but I continue to despair over the increasing public role played by justices (here). In my view, Thomas should not be engaging in such a public debate and should allow these decisions to speak for themselves.

In an earlier entry, I stated that I believed that Associate Justice Samuel Alito should apologize for his shaking his head and mouthing “not true” in response to the President’s statements. It was not just injudicious but a direct violation of a tradition of strict neutrality for justices attending such events.

Now, Thomas appears eager to join the fray. He took a shot at commentators with the observation that “I found it fascinating that the people who were editorializing against it were The New York Times Company and The Washington Post Company.” A fair point, but I find it fascinating that justices now believe that they can write opinions and then hop on a speaking circuit to defend them like some politician. Given the growing view of the Court as driven by politics since the Bush v. Gore decision, this type of campaigning in support of a decision only serves to undermine the Court’s credibility further.

While Thomas did not directly discuss the President’s words, he made it clear that he disagreed with such criticism.

I have previously objected to such appearances by Justice Scalia and have strongly supported a return to the traditional view of justices, who largely avoided public speaking engagements beyond ceremonial remarks at graduations.

For the full story, click here.

29 thoughts on “Clarence Thomas Defends Recent Ruling on Campaign Finance”

  1. id dat yose utter butter Amen rim? I tanks ey knows im. he dwas at meese madawg huse aforn lung tumm. himm akes meese mawdwag biggo.

  2. Byron: “If government can deny corporations the right of free speech could they not also deny gays the ability to be married? If corporations are “legal fiction” then aren’t all state sanctioned entities such as marriage and partnerships “legal fictions” as well?”

    There is no such thing as ‘marriage’ in the state of nature; its existence is dependent upon societal recognition. However while marriage itself is not a legal fiction, some of the old common law rules based on the concept of marriage are. For example, deeding property as ‘tenants by the entirety’ where the husband and wife are deemed to be one person.

    Byron: “And if they are doesn’t that speak to the issue of individual rights? And isn’t that ultimately why corporations are allowed to spend money on campaign adds?”

    No.

  3. If government can deny corporations the right of free speech could they not also deny gays the ability to be married? If corporations are “legal fiction” then aren’t all state sanctioned entities such as marriage and partnerships “legal fictions” as well?

    And if they are doesn’t that speak to the issue of individual rights? And isn’t that ultimately why corporations are allowed to spend money on campaign adds?

  4. Thomas was the is the least qualified justice on the Court in terms of experience. He was little more than a political operative before his appointment and was appointed by Bush as a slur on Thurgood Marshall. The biggest problem with the other four is that shile they have experience, they are so politically focus that they don’t even follow their own purported judicial philosophies.

  5. Exclusive Interview: Top Constitutional Law Authority Erwin Chemerinsky Talks Corporate Speech

    Damien: This begs the question for the Court to consider whether there exists a distinguishing characteristic between human beings who can vote in elections and corporations which cannot.

    Dean Chemerinsky: In First National Bank of Boston v. Bellotti, the Supreme Court stressed the reason for protecting corporate speech was to inform the public. The public’s ability to hear and learn would be enhanced if there are more speakers. Ever since, the Supreme Court has been less willing to draw a distinction between corporate speech and individual speech.

    Obviously, the Bill of Rights was meant to protect individuals, not corporations. I think protecting corporate speech would be very troubling to those on the Court who are Originalists. Ironically, those are the same Justices who are likely to give corporations Free Speech rights.

    I think the Court is going to accept corporations have First Amendment rights and therefore the right to spend money in election campaigns.

    http://wallstcheatsheet.com/tag/erwin-chemerinsky/

    Conservatives embrace judicial activism in campaign finance ruling

    http://articles.latimes.com/2010/jan/22/opinion/la-oe-chemerinsky22-2010jan22

  6. Clarence Thomas has shown to be a mental midget in the Supreme Court. He rarely has anything to say and rarely writes positive opinions. If we go by his book, Thomas has a chip on his shoulder and is taking out his lifelong frustrations on those who appear before the court. He has to be the worst justice to ever sit on the court.

    As for Alito, who cares. He has yet to distinguish himself and has shown he does not understand the ripple effect of the boulder that the court dropped into the pool.

    It is very clear that Justice Scalia runs the conservative wing with the blessing of Chief Justice Roberts. This is trouble for America as the lackeys Alito and Thomas as whipped into line. Too bad these guys are too young to consider retirement.

  7. Whatever is the absolute minimum required allowance of respect due such Justices as Thomas and Scalia is twice that which I can muster for either of them. And Roberts and Alito are perjuers. I heard a most apt comparison of the enormity of wrongheadedness of this finding and its consequences to that of the infamous Dred Scott decision: In Dred Scott the Court ruled that people are property. With this decision they’ve ruled that property is people.

    This finding shreds one of the basic precepts of our democracy: one man, one vote. It’s wrong and it’s a danger to our democracy’s future. When you allow unlimited campaign contributions from corporate entities, there can be no other result. Whenever provided the opportunity to cheat the public or manipulate the political process corporate America has never passed up the chance. Think Enron, CitCorp, AIG, BofA, Wall Street…….

  8. It seems that these Justices are becoming increasingly comfortable throwing off the “impartial judge” costume and exposing their true nature as partisan players acting on ideology rather than law. A disturbing development, which may push beyond the original intent of Article 3 Section 1 regarding “good behavior”.

  9. “I have previously objected to such appearances by Justice Scalia and have strongly supported a return to the traditional view of justices, who largely avoided public speaking engagements beyond ceremonial remarks at graduations.”

    **************

    Agreed. Every step towards celebrity status diminishes the standing of the Court’s impartiality. Partisanship is supposed to be a foreign concept to the bench.

  10. “”Why shouldn’t we look to the wisdom of a judge from abroad with at least as much ease as we would read a law review article from a professor,” asks Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She went on, “I frankly don’t understand all the brouhaha lately from Congress and even from some of my colleagues about referring to foreign law.”

    http://fastcase.blogspot.com/2009/04/justice-ginsburg-defends-using-foreign.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Fastcase-AcceleratedLegalResearch+%28Fastcase+-+Accelerated+Legal+Research%29

  11. It’s propaganda rationalizing dicta for a decision a child could see the truth of. Advisory opinion? Oh no. This kind of behavior is far more insidious. Base media manipulation to fool the easily fooled. Thomas should have kept a sock in it once the opinion was rendered. He had his chance to speak and the ruling was it. Anything else is backpedaling and/or spin.

  12. I suppose the one salient point that has never been disturbed and the reason for the judicial restraint is that in Marbury the Sct stated that they do not give advisory opinions.

    Wouldn’t commenting on such be rendering a quasi nonbinding advisory opinion?

  13. If being judicious in avoiding speaking engagements simply served to hide ones partisanship then I am not sure we need that.

  14. Oops wring/wrong

    The new Chinese restaurant that just opened that I saw is named Fou King. It really is. I kid you not.

    I just hope no one ever gets a bad mean there.

  15. I agree with you on the issue that the Justice should not comment on these matters outside a written opinion.

    But was it not the Sct that stated that if a Defendant is not guilty he/she should not be afraid to speak about the matter?

    Or maybe they realize that they are wring and just trying to politicize the posting even further.

    Who knows I do not care much for Long Dong Rider anyway.

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