Scalia: Don’t Like SuperPAC Ads, Turn Off Your TV

With good government activists uniting against the flood misleading political spending that is the result of dark money and Citizens United, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia decided to double-down behind the decision, offering a simple solution for people who don’t like the ads: turn off the tv.

Scalia was asked about the infamous decision during a presentation before the South Carolina Bar Association on Saturday. The presentation fell on the second anniversary of the decision. Scalia was joined by Justice Stephen Breyer who joined in the dissent of the 5-4 decision. And the contrast between the justices could not have been more apparent.

Scalia embraced a misguided free-market approach to political speech. “I don’t care who is doing the speech – the more the merrier,” Scalia said. “People are not stupid. If they don’t like it, they’ll shut it off.”

Breyer, on the other hand, showed great professionalism in refraining from directly criticizing the decision, instead pivoting to talk about the need for the citizenry to trust in the decisions of the judiciary, which is difficult in a 5-4 decision. By its nature, Bryer noted, that kind of decision means someone got it wrong.

Scalia’s open embrace of as much speech as possible for as many people works well in the vacuum of a political system where corporate power, with consolidated wealth shares power equally with individual citizens in terms of access and accountability of elected officials.

But we all know that is not the case. The result is a perversion of both the electoral system and the marketplace as corporate interests help write legislation that does not reward the healthiest company but instead the company with the greatest amount of lawmaker access. The fact that Justice Scalia cannot see that this is the natural consequence of the decision and his unique brand of constitutional conservatism is a hubris with devastating results.


Related Stories:

Citizens United Was Only Two Years Ago

Here’s How You Can Tell Congress To Dump Citizens United

Photo from US Mission Geneva via flickr.


Richard B.
Richard B5 years ago

In a way, Scalia is right. Let's have a "Turn off your TV" campaign.

Myron Scott
Myron Scott5 years ago

Originally corporate "personhood" was merely a procedural fiction and was recognized as such by jurists. It was not intended to be applied to free speech or any other personal Constitutional right except certain due process guarantees applicable also to governmental entities and other merely fictional "persons"; and it was so understood by jurists. The arguably clever but intellectually dishonest Mr. Justice Scalia has played a key role in changing that, and for some reason that utterly escapes me, the usually somewhat rational Justice Kennedy swallowed Scalia's stinking fish (red herring) whole. Course, he is a Republican. (Nixon v Gore was another example of Scalia's Constitutional revisionism in action, and one of the worst and most partisan SCOTUS decisions since the anti-New Deal decisions.)

If you study what historians and journalists have managed to uncover about SCOTUS, "office" politics often plays a role in such decisions, too. We all get stuck with the results.

Ira L.
Ellie L5 years ago

Scalia and his puppet Thomas are dangerous because they are twisted in their thinking. Roberts is the most dangerous because he is an evil bastard. Shame on Kennedy. Wonder how he sleeps at night, because he's the only one with half a conscience who went along with the 4 extreme fundamentalist judges. Note that I did not capitalize the "j" because they don't deserve it. They should be impeached for serving the big corporations and not the American people. Citizens United was a treasonous attack on our Democracy, and for that, they should be impeached!
Save America - Vote Obama in 2012 with a Democrat majority in the House and Senate.

Jo Anne P.
Jo Anne Pyne5 years ago

I agree with Charlene R. re Scalia. The Supreme Court has been making bad decisions since the Bush/Gore fiasco. Why would anyone in their right mind vote to let corporations donate an unlimited sum of money to campaigns (unless they were Republican). This is SICK! I think it's about time Supreme Court justices have term limits. Whoever gets a job that lasts a lifetime to make bad decisions?

Charlene Rush
Charlene Rush5 years ago

Justice Scalia, is simply another example of a disgraceful judge.

Ernest R.
Ernest R5 years ago

@ John S…”That this pompous ignoramus was actually nominated and confirmed is a testament to the intellectual bankruptcy of Republicans.” That is the description I like best. This is the a$$hole who couldn’t see the torture of prisoners as a violation of the constitutional prohibition of “cruel or unusual punishment”. Because “What were they being punished for ? “ Failing to provide satisfactory answers to questions, perhaps ? It looks like those punishments won’t be unusual much longer..

Dennis Warren

Don't like abortions-don't have one.
Don't want to marry a person of your gender-marry someone else.
Don't like drugs-don't do them.
What a simplistic moron scalia is, and he's supposed to be the smart one amongst the rethug teahadist supremes. God, is this country screwed when 5 idiots like him tell 300 million people how to live. And corporations are NOT people!

Chad A.
Chad Anderson5 years ago

One of the basic problems goes back to Buckley v. Valeo. Money does not equal speech. Effectively it says the rich are loquacious and the rest of us are mute.

Karen F.
karen Friedman5 years ago

Aaren't judges supposed to be smart? Well here's another right wing nut case that is as stupid as s&*#!

marc page
Marc P5 years ago

I hate to say it but I agree with Scalia: The REAL problem does not lie with free speech. The problem rests solely on the fact that corporations are deemed "People." And that needs to change.