Alito reaction touches ideological nerve

Jan. 28, 2010 at 3:24 PM
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WASHINGTON, Jan. 28 (UPI) -- A visible reaction by a U.S. Supreme Court justice during the State of the Union speech prompted conflicting responses from left- and right-wing interests.

Justice Samuel Alito Jr. appeared to mouth the words "not true" after President Barack Obama spoke about last week's 5-4 Supreme Court ruling overturning limits on political campaign spending by corporations and labor unions.

"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," Obama said during his first State of the Union address.

Five of the six justices in the audience at the Capitol showed no reaction to Obama's statement, but Alito -- who voted with the majority -- shook his head and appeared to say, "Not true, not true," The Washington Post reported.

Obama went on to urge Congress to pass legislation "that helps correct some of these problems."

Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton told reporters Thursday that Justice Ruth Ginsburg brought up the issue of contributions from foreign corporations in oral arguments and Justice John Paul Stevens in his dissent.

"So this is another one of the issues that the President is looking at in terms of campaign finance reform," he said. "In terms of the specific reaction to Justice Alito, one of the great things about our democracy is that powerful members of the government at high levels can disagree in public and in private. This is one of those cases. But the President is no less committed to seeing this reform."

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