Time to Make Souter Dissent on Citizens United Public

It could air the court's 'dirty laundry': Richard Hasen
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted May 17, 2012 2:21 PM CDT
Time to Make Souter Dissent on Citizens United Public
Retired Supreme Court Justice David Souter.   (AP Photo/Jim Cole, File)

The Supreme Court could soon revisit the issue of campaign finance, and it's time we heard David Souter's opinion on the matter. Souter wrote an unpublished draft dissent against Citizens United, the case that opened the door to super PACs; it was an issue dear to his heart, notes Richard Hasen at Slate. The dissent was likely a scathing one: According to a New Yorker piece by Jeffrey Toobin, it "aired some of the Court’s dirty laundry."

Toobin writes that "Souter accused the Chief Justice of violating the Court’s own procedures to engineer the result he wanted." The retired justice may well have been suggesting that the court was breaking a rule prohibiting justices from settling matters neither raised by the parties nor inquired about by the justices. A decision in the case was postponed at the time, perhaps for fear Souter's dissent would "damage the court's credibility," according to Toobin. There's no rule against releasing Souter's papers now that he's retired—and this dissent could provide an excellent weapon against super PACs in an upcoming case on Montana's campaign finance laws. Click through for Hasen's full piece. (Read more David Souter stories.)

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