The Supreme Court really meant what it said in Citizens United, a robust defense of core political speech. In a per curiam decision of a mere three pages, the Supreme Court struck down a Montana law prohibiting corporations from making a campaign expenditures. By a vote of 5-4, the Court’s majority essentially said the court dealt with this issue in Citizens United and that that decision applied to Montana state law. The four “liberal” justices dissented (opposed taking the case), declaring that they really didn't agree with Citizens United.
Minority leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), a First Amendment junkie and reliable opponent of laws that tramples on free speech, released a statement that read:
In another important victory for freedom of speech, the Supreme Court has reversed the Montana Supreme Court, upholding First Amendment free speech rights that were set out in Citizens United. As I pointed out in an amicus brief that I filed in the Montana case, a review of Federal Election Commission records of independent spending supporting the eight Republican presidential candidates earlier this year showed only minimal corporate involvement in the 2012 election cycle. Not one Fortune 100 company contributed a cent to any of the eight Republican Super PACs, as of the end of March, according to FEC records. The records also showed that of the $96 million contributed to the eight Super PACs through March 31, an overwhelming 86.32 percent of that money came from individuals while only 13.68 percent came from corporations and 0.81 percent from public companies. Clearly, the much predicted corporate tsunami that critics of Citizens United warned about simply did not occur.
Apparently, the tongue-lashing the president delivered to the justices during his 2010 State of the Union address was unpersuasive. I’m sure we’ll hear from him again. But the act is wearing thin, and his repeated indifference to the explict words of the Constitution has a price. A new poll conducted for The Hill, for example, shows that “likely voters disapproved by an almost 2-to-1 margin of Obama’s assertion of presidential power in the case. Overall, 56 percent of voters disapproved of his action, while only 29 percent approved.”
There is little doubt that the president who fancied himself as a constitutional scholar is either ignorant of or indifferent to constitutional constraints. He believes he can appoint czars and change laws without Congress. He scolds the Supreme Court on Citizens United, neglecting any mention of the First Amendment principles on which it was based. And the left punditocracy, either out of ignorance or sheer partisan hackery, nods in agreement, or more often just ignores his abuses and overreach.
The thing is, however, the public isn’t with him. It dislikes Obamacare, believing the individual mandate to be unconstitutional, and objects to his Nixonian power grab. It is another episode in which the systematic dummying-down of the left — hear no Constitution, see no Constitution... — coincides with its alienation from average Americans.
I don’t mean to say the public is a always a reliable barometer of constitutionality. In fact, voters are all too willing, for example, to silence speech they don’t like. But the American people do have an innate sense that no one branch should be bludgeoning the others and that the president is not a free agent, unconstrained by law. They bristle at the bullying of the Supreme Court.
Obama has none of this internalized common sense and respect for the other branches. He apparently was one of the few Harvard law students of his era who came away with the impression that the imperial presidency was admirable. Or maybe he knows full well and doesn’t much care. He is bigger than facts and bigger than the Constitution. What a comeuppance awaits.