A couple weeks ago Richard Posner, one of America’s most influential conservative judges, made big news when he said the Republican Party has become “goofy“. Now he is backing that claim up more by offering his view on some of the bigger decisions the Supreme Court has made and the right supports, namely Citizens United:
Speaking to foreign educators, Judge Richard Posner told the assembled that the wealthy give lots of money to legislators and that an individual legislator “knows that if he doesn’t promote the interests of the donor,” he won’t get any more money.
Posner left no doubt about his criticism of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United campaign-finance decision. He said, “Our political system is pervasively corrupt due to our Supreme Court taking away campaign-contribution restrictions on the basis of the First Amendment.”
Let’s think about this in common sense terms and maybe terms that those on the right will understand. I own a business that makes devices for abortions. Congress is going to try to outlaw abortions after all these years. Well business has been good and I have a ton of cash. I know if this legislation passes and becomes law, my cash flow ceases. So I decide to give some huge donations to key players in Congress. Why? To prevent this legislation from becoming law. To keep my cash flow coming.
Citizens United did just that – it allowed that unlimited cash flow to come in to the hands of our politicians. It didn’t open the door to bribery, it made bribery legal. I believe Ronald Reagan would have seen it that way and the fact that one of his most famous appointments to the federal court sees it like that helps me validate my view.
But Posner didn’t stop there. He also dove into the issue of the second amendment:
He also didn’t mind naming some names, in particular that of Justice Antonin Scalia, a onetime member of the law school faculty who lectured and taught at the school in February. Posner brought up the Supreme Court’s 2008 decision in District of Columbia v. Heller, affirming the right of individuals to have handguns at home for self-defense.
Posner doesn’t think the Second Amendment has anything to do with an individual’s right to bear arms, a basis of the decision for which Scalia wrote the majority opinion.
“That didn’t slow down Scalia,” Posner told his Asian listeners. “He loves guns. He’s a hunter.”
Now it is easy to argue with Posner’s opinion there, especially given “the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed” in the second amendment. But I’m not a judge. Instead I view that as an outdated right. It was one created in a time when guns fired maybe two rounds per minute, instead of multiple per second. Things have changed, technology has changed. That’s an argument conservatives loved making when it came to warrantless wiretapping and it’s one that should apply here.
I can only imagine that onslaught of personal attacks against Posner from the right will increase swiftly in the coming days. They don’t like hearing one of their own has differing opinions. It’s a staple of the right and their small tent mentality I just wonder how long before calls for impeachment start.