White House Pushes Back Against Chief Justice’s Criticism: Citizens United Decision Was ‘Troubling’

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The White House issued a rare statement smacking back at Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts’ criticism of President Obama disagreeing with the high court’s Citizens United decision on campaign finance rules.

It all started during the State of the Union, when Obama said the high court made the wrong decision in the Citizens United case (and Justice Samuel Alito mouthed ‘Not true’). Yesterday Roberts told a group of University of Alabama law students he found the whole incident “very troubling” and said the annual speech to Congress had “degenerated to a political pep rally.”White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs issued a sharp response last night.

“What is troubling is that this decision opened the floodgates for corporations and special interests to pour money into elections – drowning out the voices of average Americans,” Gibbs said. “The President has long been committed to reducing the undue influence of special interests and their lobbyists over government. That is why he spoke out to condemn the decision and is working with Congress on a legislative response.”

At the State of the Union, Obama broke with tradition and directly went after the decision, issued earlier this year and allowing corporations to get involved in elections. Congress is attempting to put together a legislative fix.

“With all due deference to separation of powers, last week the Supreme Court reversed a century of law that I believe will open the floodgates for special interests, including foreign corporations, to spend without limit in our elections,” Obama said from the House floor, as the majority of the Supreme Court justices sat right below him in the chamber.

Speaking with the law students, Roberts challenged Obama’s statement from that night.

“I’m not sure why we’re there,” Roberts said. “[T]here is the issue of the setting, the circumstances and the decorum. The image of having the members of one branch of government standing up, literally surrounding the Supreme Court, cheering and hollering while the court — according the requirements of protocol — has to sit there expressionless, I think is very troubling.”

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