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EARLYBIRD

Pundits & Editorials

Warnings abound that SCOTUS campaign finance case will open floodgates on corporate dollars. Plus: Should Obama give up on health reform?

• Reacting to the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission Supreme Court case handed down Thursday, the New York Times charges that "with a single, disastrous 5-to-4 ruling, the Supreme Court has thrust politics back to the robber-baron era of the 19th century.... The court's conservative majority has paved the way for corporations to use their vast treasuries to overwhelm elections and intimidate elected officials into doing their bidding."

• "With other campaign finance challenges in the pipeline, and the high court so clearly disposed to deregulation, it may only be a matter of time before other election restrictions topple," warns Eliza Newlin Carney.

 

• The Washington Post maintains that the ruling "was dangerous because corporate money, never lacking in the American political process, may now overwhelm both the contributions of individuals and the faith they may harbor in their democracy."

• "All it will take is an implicit threat to a member of Congress, from say, a large bank that despises the idea of having to answer to a consumer financial regulatory commission: Vote for that and we'll spend $10 million against you this fall," USA Today fears. "There's no obvious way to undo the damage."

• The Chicago Tribune sees an "upshot" in the ruling and proclaims it's "not afraid of information. We trust voters to sift through political messages, consider the source, and vote their best judgment."

 

• "For decades conservatives have accused liberal Supreme Court majorities of judicial activism, by which I mean sweeping aside democratically adopted laws and deeply rooted societal traditions to impose their own policy preferences based on highly debatable interpretations of the Constitution's language and established meaning," writes Stuart Taylor Jr. "On Thursday, the five more conservative justices -- and in particular Chief Justice John Roberts and Samuel Alito, who went well beyond anything they've said before -- forfeited whatever high ground they once held in the judicial activism debate."

• "This far-reaching ruling augurs a significant power struggle," writes Michael Waldman, executive director of the Brennan Center for Justice, in the Washington Post. "For the first time since 1937, an increasingly conservative federal judiciary faces a progressive and activist Congress and president. Until now, it was unclear how the justices would accommodate the new political alignment. The Citizens United decision suggests an assertive court, eager to overturn precedent, looming as a challenge to President Obama's agenda."

• The Los Angeles Times supports the outcome of the decision but says that "with conservatives on one side and liberals on another" it will "inevitably" encourage "the impression that the court is just another political body."

• "A substantial number of Haitians must be allowed to move to richer countries -- including ours," argues former Bush administration national security adviser Elliott Abrams in the Washington Post.

 

Michael Gerson outlines three options for Obama to react to Scott Brown's win in Massachusetts: "He can try to ignore the anger, embrace the anger or blunt the anger."

Paul Krugman has "a message to House Democrats: This is your moment of truth. You can do the right thing and pass the Senate health care bill. Or you can look for an easy way out, make excuses and fail the test of history."

• "After the last attempt" to pass health reform "crashed in 1994, it was 15 years before Congress was willing to try again," recalls Jonathan Rauch, while arguing in favor of the House passing the Senate's bill. "If the current effort fails, the next chance for comprehensive reform might not arrive for years."

• "The majority party had thought it was just a conference committee agreement away from finally enacting near universal healthcare," remarks Scot Lehigh. But Obama's interview with ABC's George Stephanopoulos signaled that, with "Brown's stunning victory, the party will have to adjust."

• If Obama "has decided to give up on health-care reform, he should just come out and say so. Then we could all get on with our lives -- those of us with health insurance, that is," implores Eugene Robinson.

David Brooks remembers a report that counseled "the new administration" to "move cautiously to rebuild trust before beginning a transformational agenda." Brooks says that "the Obama administration interpreted the political climate in an entirely different way."

• "Unabashedly feckless, the Republican Party aims to rise from the Congressional minority by brandishing a political agenda of just saying no," complains the New York Times.

• "Much of Washington assumes, probably correctly, that Democrats are now condemned to gridlock," writes Ronald Brownstein. "Obama's larger difficulty is that he's pushing so much change at a time when filibuster threats are so common that it requires 60 Senate votes to pass almost everything -- and the minority party won't provide the president votes on almost anything. We are operating in what amounts to a parliamentary system without majority rule, a formula for futility."

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