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U.S. Supreme Court

Alito Defends Citizens United, Says Opponents’ Bumper Stickers Are Pithy but Misguided

Posted Nov 19, 2012 9:35 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. says opponents of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision have waged a successful public relations campaign, even if their point is misguided.

Opponents have targeted Citizens United for its holding that corporations have a First Amendment right to expressly support political candidates with independent spending. Speaking on Thursday, Alito pointed to the public relations campaign against free speech rights for corporations that has gathered steam since the decision, report the Associated Press and The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times.

“It is pithy, it fits on a bumper sticker, and in fact a variety of bumper stickers are available,” Alito said at a Federalist Society dinner. He pointed to two examples: “End Corporate Personhood” and “Life does not begin at incorporation.”

Alito said there may be arguments for overturning Citizens United, but not on the basis that corporations lack First Amendment rights. Media corporations already have such rights, the court has made clear, when they were fighting libel suits or seeking the right to publish the Pentagon papers, Alito said.

Alito also did some reminiscing during the speech as he talked about his constitutional law class at Yale Law School with Charles Reich, who had written several books about the decline of society. Reich thought “redemption could be found in the college hippie,” Alito said. Reich spent lots of time on the difficulties of legal practice, but little time on constitutional law, Alito said. “I was forced to teach myself.”

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