Justice Alito’s Reaction - Opinionator Blog - NYTimes.com: "This time, Justice Alito shook his head as if to rebut the president’s characterization of the Citizens United decision, and seemed to mouth the words “not true.” Indeed, Mr. Obama’s description of the holding of the case was imprecise. He said the court had “reversed a century of law.”
The law that Congress enacted in the populist days of the early 20th century prohibited direct corporate contributions to political campaigns. That law was not at issue in the Citizens United case, and is still on the books. Rather, the court struck down a more complicated statute that barred corporations and unions from spending money directly from their treasuries — as opposed to their political action committees — on television advertising to urge a vote for or against a federal candidate in the period immediately before the election. It is true, though, that the majority wrote so broadly about corporate free speech rights as to call into question other limitations as well — although not necessarily the existing ban on direct contributions."
It's one thing for ordinary citizens to misunderstand Citizens United v. FCC, given the distorted commentary about it. But for the President to deliberately misstate it in the SOTU, just for a cheap shot at the Court, is sad. And when Linda Greenhouse says he was "imprecise," that is doing him a big favor. He used to teach Constitutional Law.