Constitutional Law, Election 2012, Samuel Alito, SCOTUS, Supreme Court

On Constitution Day, Americans Like The Constitution Just The Way It Is, So Long As It Says What They Like

I’m always amazed by the ability of the American public to contradict themselves. People hate Congress, but consistently reelect their Congressmen. People want more government services, but don’t support tax increases. The say they hate negative ads, but allow them to be incredibly effective.

Today is Constitution Day, and the Associated Press has a new poll that’s giving Americans a chance to express their contradictory views about our beloved organizing document.

One “headline” from the poll: nearly 70% of Americans believe the Constitution is an “enduring” document that doesn’t need to be “modernized.” Although that number is going down.

So it’s perfect the way it is, except for the parts that people don’t like….

Both the New York Times and the WSJ Law Blog have stories on the Constitution Day poll. Once again, Americans are pretty sure that the Supreme Court got it wrong on Citizens United. From the Law Blog:

Regardless of partisan views, Americans broadly support limits on the amount of money that individuals and corporations should be able to contribute to election campaigns:

• On individual donations to campaigns, 70% of Democrats, 68% of independents, and 62% of Republicans support limitations.

• On corporate donations to outside organizations, 85% of Democrats believe there should be limits, as do 81% of Republicans and 78% of independents.

When reached for comment, the Supreme Court said: “Good, we can feel your anger. We are defenseless. Take your weapon. Strike us down with all of your hatred and your journey towards the dark side will be complete!”

I’m just kidding. Kind of. Speaking at Roger Williams University School of Law (Staci says it’s accredited), Samuel “Not True” Alito did blame the media for the public’s dislike of Citizens United. From the AP:

Alito cited the Citizens United ruling, which freed corporations and labor unions of most limits on political spending, saying it involved a complex area of elections law and application of First Amendment law.

“Campaign finance is very complicated, so it’s easy to get it wrong, and sometimes people get it wrong inadvertently,” he said.

Yeah, somebody should tell Alito that the media are people, my friend. (Side note: Has Alito reached the “archconservative” stage? Chief Justice Roberts’s recent show of ideological flexibility seems to highlight Alito’s dogmatic approach.)

Of course, 71% of people believe in free speech. I think the 29% of people who don’t believe in free speech should be forced to shut the hell up.

There was a big party split on whether minority voting rights “needed legal protection.” The poll showed that 60% of Democrats believed there still needs to be protection for those rights, while only 33% of Republicans are in favor of the same protections. So… the people most likely to suppress minority voting don’t think that voting rights need to be especially protected for minorities. Curious.

But things were better on the LGBT rights front, 60% of Americans believe in same-sex benefits.

That seems pretty modern to me, but what do I know, I’m just a guy who thinks our Constitution can endure a little modernization.

Poll: Most Americans Support Limits on Political Spending [WSJ Law Blog]
Poll: Strong Support for Campaign Spending Limits [New York Times]
Alito says Supreme Court misunderstood by media [Boston Globe]

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