One of the more shocking moments of the Obama presidency was the president’s attempt to bully the Supreme Court, in full view of the entire nation, during his State of the Union address in 2010. With six of the nine sitting mute in the House chamber, President Obama rebuked them for their holding in the Citizens United case.
The media pounced on Justice Samuel Alito for shaking his head and mouthing the words “not true” in reacting to the president’s mischaracterization of the case. Democrats–notably, Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York–leapt to their feet to applaud the president’s disregard for the separation of powers, as they would do again this year when the president promised to circumvent Congress entirely if they did not bend to his political directives.
The Court’s holding this week in McCutcheon v. FEC, which extended the Citizens United ruling, is being hailed by conservatives for is protection of free speech, and denounced by Democrats for protecting big money in politics. Yet beyond the debate over the substantive merits of the ruling, it is also a rebuke to the president for his attempt to intimidate the Court. For that reason alone, it ought to be celebrated by all Americans.