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Big Sky Defiance


Dahlia Lithwick is good on the Montana Supreme Court’s rejection of Citizens United.    It probably wouldn’t save it from being overturned anyway, but the angle I would take in the same situation if I wanted to join the majority (I would probably have joined Nelson’s dissent) would be to pretend to take Kennedy’s logic seriously.   “OK, campaign expenditures by corporations entirely independent from campaigns get the same First Amendment protection as individuals.   Since ‘entirely independent’ has nothing to do with how any known PAC operates, the campaign finance restrictions in question are therefore upheld.”

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  • howard

    as an extremely amateur court watcher, it’s clear to me that kennedy is the dumbest current sitting justice, but how does he rate on the all-time scale?

    • Murc

      Actually, I have a certain tiny soupcon of sympathy for Tony Kennedy. The man clearly WANTS to be a straight-up doctrinaire conservative, but he has just enough brains and conscience that sometimes a case comes before him where he alternatively goes “okay, that’s a dumb argument, I’m not putting my name on it” or “I can’t sign onto this, I won’t be able to sleep at night.”

      If he were just a little bit dumber and more callous than he is, he could float serenely inside the same bubble that Alito and Roberts do and never have a care in the world.

      • howard

        murc, my perspective is that the likes of alito and roberts are smart but callous and oblivious whereas kennedy is dumb but, as you say, not completely callous.

        • David M. Nieporent

          Hmm. Anthony Kennedy is a graduate of Stanford (also attending the LSE) and Harvard Law School. You’re an anonymous schmoe commenter on a blog who by your own admission isn’t really paying much attention.

          But you think he’s “dumb.”

          Gotta love the left-wing circle jerk here in the LGF comments, where a bunch of know-nothings pat themselves on the back for being smarter and more virtuous than anybody they disagree with.

          • Malaclypse

            Although we do at least realize we’re not commenting over at Charles Johnson’s place…

          • Murc

            By this argument, you should never criticize anyone with more formal credentials than you, ever.

            • DrDick

              Actually, by that criteria, he should simply STFU forever.

            • Njorl

              Kennedy’s credentials put the burden of proof on those contending that he is “dumb”. I don’t see it.

              How do you judge the intelligence of a supreme court justice? He gets to be right simply by deciding to be so, if 4 colleagues agree. Kennedy has little difficulty finding 4 colleagues to agree with him. Facts are a distant second to his opinion in a determination of the “truth”.

              If you were allowed to arbitrarily decide what the truth is, what kind of things would you say?

            • David M. Nieporent

              Well, no, but we have some nice parting gifts for you.

              By this argument, when you’re talking about someone with a lot of formal credentials, and you don’t have any, you need a little more than “Boy, he’s dumb.”

          • Walt

            One thing that I learned from the Internet is that conservatives “know their place”. What enrages them about liberals is that we don’t. The only thing that matters to a conservative is that there is a hierarchy, and they know their place in the hierarchy, no matter how lowly. Liberals don’t respect hierarchies, which conservatives find the most offensive thing in the world.

            You can see that here. Anthony Kennedy is, in David’s mind, one of our rightful rulers. How dare we question him? Don’t we know our place?

            • R Johnston

              in David [M. Nieporent]’s mind

              As someone trained in mathematics I am fully capable of recognizing the empty set.

            • Malaclypse

              Neoplatonism today, neoplatonism tomorrow, neoplatonism forever!

            • Murc

              Honestly, I was more disappointed by his transparent appeal to authority than anything else. I’ve SEEN Nieporent construct intelligent arguments and rebuttals. I’d even go so far as to admit he’s gotten the best of me once or twice.

              But “Kennedy graduated from an Ivy, so shut up?” That was just sad.

              • David M. Nieporent

                There wasn’t any argument to rebut. The entire post was “it’s clear to me that kennedy is the dumbest current sitting justice,” with a followup of “Nah, he has just enough brains not to always disagree with me.” If there were specific cases pointed to, or observations about patterns in his jurisprudence, I could have rebutted it. But how can one respond substantively to “He’s a dummy”?

  • DrDick

    Oddly for a state so generally dominated by conservatives, our Supreme Court is pretty liberal and not bashful about expressing their minds.

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