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   Court's campaign finance decision a case of shoddy scholarship

NEWS INFORMATION

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Parent

News Date

1/24/2010 1:00 am

Author

Ruth Marcus

Media

Washington Post

Category

Opinion

Database Record

Entered 1/24/2010, Updated 1/24/2010

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In opening the floodgates for corporate money in election campaigns, the Supreme Court did not simply engage in a brazen power grab. It did so in an opinion stunning in its intellectual dishonesty. Many of those commenting on the decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission have focused on the power-grab part. I agree with them. It was unnecessary for the court to go so far when there were several less-radical grounds available. It was audacious to seize the opportunity to overrule precedents when the parties had not pressed this issue and the lower courts had not considered it. It was the height of activism to usurp the judgments of Congress and state legislatures about how best to prevent corruption of the political process. "If it is not necessary to decide more, it is necessary not to decide more," a wise judge once wrote. That was Chief Justice John G. Roberts -- back when -- and dissenting Justice John Paul Stevens rightly turned that line against him. As bad as the court's activism, though, was its shoddy scholarship.


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