At the State of the Union earlier this year, President Obama denounced the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling that invalidated a sixty-three year-old ban on corporate money in federal elections as the members of the court looked on. “I don’t think American elections should be bankrolled by America’s most powerful interests or, worse, by foreign entities,” said Obama. “They should be decided by the American people.”
At the University of Alabama this week, Chief Justice John Roberts called the scene at the State of the Union “very troubling.” “To the extent the State of the Union has degenerated into a political pep rally, I’m not sure why we’re there,” said Roberts. On Fox News Sunday today, Center for American Progress President and CEO John Podesta said Roberts’ complaint was “a little disingenuous” and suggested that the Supreme Court open its hearings to television cameras:
PODESTA: Well, look, I think it’s a little disingenuous. I don’t think Justice Roberts, Chief Justice Roberts, felt too bad when he was at President Bush’s pep rallies. But I would actually offer him a compromise, which is the Supreme Court stop going to the State of the Union and in exchange they start broadcasting, on C-SPAN or otherwise, their decisions. So that when they issue a decision reversing a hundred years of precedent, let all this corporate money flow into the political system, do it on television so the American people can see it.
Host Chris Wallace appeared to agree with Podesta’s call for greater transparency at the Supreme Court, telling guest Dana Perino that she’s “a Fox News contributor” and the network wants the Supreme Court on television. “I know that you do, but I’m more of a traditionalist,” responded Perino, who was shaking her head as Podesta spoke.
Speaking of being “disingenuous,” at the beginning of the discussion on Roberts’ comment, Weekly Standard editor and Keep America Safe board member Bill Kristol said he had “mixed feelings” on the dust up because while he thought the State of the Union venue wasn’t “quite appropriate,” he thinks “judges and lawyers are awfully hyper-sensitive to any criticism.” “I do think the whole legal profession has gotten a little bit full of itself,” said Kristol, acknowledging that he has “a slight self interest” in the making that point. Recently, Keep America Safe was strongly criticized by lawyers across the political spectrum for questioning the loyalties of lawyers in the Justice Department.