Thursday, January 28, 2010
The picture shows confidence, calm, and a pleasant demeanor. A smile that indicates that he will not worry about criticism from the right or the left, keeping his focus on the constitutional obligation to uphold our founding document.
If we pull a George H. W. Bush, we can clear see a different story.
Read Justice Alito's lips: that's not true.
And if you read his body language after President Obama's judgement on the Supreme Court's recent ruling on campaign support, you can see that the stoicism from Alito may not be as true, either.
So much for the notion that the Supreme Court is a ruling body that operates outside of the influences of emotion or concern for anything other than a just interpretation of the Constitution.
Perhaps judicial activism - or emotional investment - isn't just a liberal stronghold anymore.
For as bold as the president's stance was to take on the Supreme Court as Commander-in-Chief (and former constitutional law professor) during his first State of the Union Address was, it was also bold for the justice to knowingly mouth "...not true..." during a round of applause in response to the president's statement, especially as he must have known that cameras were catching responses throughout the room (especially after Congressman Joe Wilson's (R-SC) remarks in September.)
Usually, it is the Supreme Court that fits into the role of populist defender, guarding the rights of America and her citizens as afforded in the Constitution against the special interests of politicians and significant policy makers. Everything from defending the premise of equality (Brown v Board of Education) to the very nature of its makeup (the infamous FDR attempt to stack the Supreme Court with his choice of justices with a 1930s quasi-pyramid scheme to expand the number of justices on the court) has been under the umbrella of the Supreme Court in its quest to defend the tenets of the nation as a populist gatekeeper. President Obama's televised rebuttal from the presidential bully pulpit changed that dynamic.
As, perhaps, rightfully so, a point that rubbed Justice Alito - and perhaps judges modeling his style of ruling from this decision - the wrong way in such a public place.
Washington as usual has been defined as the ability of big dollars and big business to influence the manner of everyday politicking moreso than the everyday Americans that congresspeople represent through the election process. This ruling, on face value, seems to jeopardize the ability of the everyday American (i.e., the guy or lady without the "deep pockets" that a select few have) to have a tangible voice in the political process, particularly regarding campaign advertisements and big-dollar donations to campaigns that shift the attention span of candidates from the populace to the lobbyists. Regardless of the legal arguments stating that the risk is minimal at best (it may be true that the law directly speaking to foreign-based corporations was not addressed or changed by the Supreme Court last week), the fact remains that a risk was taken - perhaps inappropriately - by the Supreme Court in reversing this previous statute in favor of big businesses, notably at at time when big business has been able to receive bailout money without much responsibility to the American taxpayer for