About This Blog
In the controversial Citizens United Supreme Court case, Justice Samuel Alito voted with the 5-4 majority ruling which severely rolled back the tepid campaign finance reform attempted in the McCain/Feingold legislation.
The majority opinion, the one Samuel Alito agreed with, was written by Justice Kennedy. Kennedy wrote....
"If the First Amendment has any force, it prohibits Congress from fining or jailing citizens, or associations of citizens, for simply engaging in political speech."
Shortly after the Court's ruling, Obama, in a State of the Union address, openly disagreed with the ruling, warning that the ruling could very well open the floodgates of foreign corporate money into U.S. political campaigns. Obama's words provoked Samuel Alito to shake his head and mouth the words, "not true", during the speech.
While I disagree entirely with the Citizens United ruling, the obvious reasons to be revealed soon in the 2012 election cycle, I believe the gist of the majority Justices opinion was that individual citizens, or groups of individual citizens, without distinction, have unlimited free speech rights in the political arena. This right, again according to the ruling, includes not just, you know, speech.....but money which pays for speech.
My purpose today is not to re-argue an opinion I disagree with entirely. Citizens United is what it is.
Instead, my purpose today is to shine a light on Samuel Alito's disconnect from himself in the Westboro Baptist case which was decided for Westboro 8-1 yesterday, Alito the lone dissenter.
Briefly....Westboro Baptist Church members protested publicly at U.S. soldier funerals. Westboro's religious beliefs, very similar to those of the deceased Jerry Falwell and the excitable Pat Robertson, include the belief that god is actively punishing the United States....evidence=dead U.S. soldiers.....because America is tolerant of homosexual behavior. God hates homosexuality.....god is an angry god.....god punishes country which does not also hate and marginalize homosexuals.
Just as when Falwell and Robertson blamed liberals who are tolerant of homosexuals for god's withdrawal of protection on 9-11.....so too, Fred Phelps, pastor of Westboro, blames tolerance for homosexuals as the occasion for god to withdraw protection of U.S. soldiers in harm's way.
The lone dissenter in Westboro.....quite remarkable actually.....was Justice Alito...who wrote....
"Our profound national commitment to free and open debate is not a license for the vicious verbal assault that occurred in this case," Alito wrote in his dissent.
Chief Justice Roberts, at least consistent with his vote in Citizens United, said this in the majority Westboro ruling....
"Speech is powerful. It can stir people to action, move them to tears of both joy and sorrow, and--as it did here--inflict great pain," Chief Justice Roberts wrote in the decision. "On the facts before us, we cannot react to that pain by punishing the speaker. As a Nation, we have chosen a different course--to protect even hurtful speech on public issues to ensure that we do not stifle public debate."
Not good enough, says Alito....
Alito noted in his dissent.....that the father of the soldier was not a public figure, but "simply a parent" who wanted to "bury his son in peace."
Alito said the father suffered "severe and lasting emotional injury" as a result of the church's "malevolent verbal attack."
He added that such vicious verbal attacks that make "no contribution to public debate" are not protected when they inflict "severe emotional injury on private persons at a time of intense emotional sensitivity."
In Citizens United, Alito found no limits on free speech in the 1st amendment either on actual speech or the purchase of speech. No limits. But in Westboro, Alito finds numerous limitations in the 1st amendment on speech he finds offensive.
Alito mocked those who suggested that Citizens United would lead to severe and lasting injury to the democratic process of our country....yet whines in Westboro of severe emotional injury caused by the exercise of free speech at a moment of intense emotional sensitivity. Yeah...sensitivity.
I think Clarence Thomas is by far our most biased and dysfunctional Supreme Court Justice.....on a Court which has never been as far to the right during my lifetime. But what to say about Justice Alito?
Alito can't even find agreement with....Alito.