In a recent interview, Jeffrey Rosen of the New Republic bluntly asked Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, “What’s the worst ruling the current Court has produced?”
Ginsburg could have punted on Rosen’s question. She could have stuck to the company script and ignored Rosen’s inquiry. Instead, Ginsburg had a direct answer–Citizens United.
Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission was a 2010 case in which the Court, 5-4, held that political spending by corporations was protected by the First Amendment. In Justice Kennedy’s majority opinion, he wrote, “We find no basis for the proposition that, in the context of political speech, the Government may impose restrictions on certain disfavored speakers. Both history and logic lead us to this conclusion.”
Ginsburg joined the dissentors, led by Justice Stevens, to criticize the Court’s decision: “The Court’s ruling threatens to undermine the integrity of elected institutions across the Nation. The path it has taken to reach its outcome will, I fear, do damage to this institution.”
More than four years later, Ginsburg seems to hold steady to the dissenting viewpoint. In answering Rosen’s question, Ginsburg responded:
If there was one decision I would overrule, it would be Citizens United. I think the notion that we have all the democracy that money can buy strays so far from what our democracy is supposed to be. So that’s number one on my list.
The new term of the U.S. Supreme Court begins Oct. 6. It will be Ginsburg’s 21st year serving on the bench.