Justice Scalia encourages amending the Constitution in response to Citizens United.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, a noted conservative who was among the signers of the Court’s 5-4 majority opinion in Citizens United, last week called on those of us — 80% of Americans, according to polls — who disagree with that decision to respond by amending the Constitution.

According to the Las Vegas Sun-Journal, the following exchange took place Wednesday, Sept. 5th between Scalia and Kathy Kama, a law student at the University at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas:

[Kama] asked the famously conservative jurist about the court’s controversial 2010 Citizens United decision, which loosened campaign finance laws.

“I just wonder if the court considered the negative impact it would have on democracy?” Kama asked Scalia. “And what I mean by negative impact is the flooding of money into the political process.”

Scalia, who has dressed down many a prominent attorney during oral arguments before the court, shot back jokingly — “No we don’t care about all that stuff” — before engaging Kama in an at-times heated back and forth, marked by Scalia’s trademark blend of sharp intellect and biting sarcasm.

“Of course the court considered that,” he said, before framing the decision as a free-speech issue. “The principle of the First Amendment is the more the merrier; the more speech the better. False speech will be answered by true speech. That’s what we believe and maybe it’s a stupid belief, but if it is you should amend the First Amendment.” [Emphasis added.] 

Because Citizens United (wrongly) extended First Amendment rights to corporations, as if they were people, when Scalia says "amend the First Amendment", it’s reasonable to interpret his remark as meaning we should amend the Constitution to clarify the fact that the Court’s view of the First Amendment was incorrect in this case, and in related cases such as Buckley v. Valeo.

Scalia also went further in voicing his support for amending the Constitution when necessary:

[Scalia] advocated for a strict reading of the document as written, with changes made through amendments.

“Americans used to understand … that the Constitution meant things, it meant things that didn’t change,” Scalia said. “If we wanted to change it, we had to do it the way the Constitution says, we adopted an amendment. … That’s not what we do anymore.”

Scalia pointed toward the fight for women’s suffrage during the early 20th century as an area where an amendment was added to effectively provide a right the Constitution previously neglected.

(For the full Las Vegas Sun-Journal article, click here.)
 

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