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‘Fighting’ Obama hits Supreme Court over campaign finance

The Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling striking down a 2002 campaign finance reform law ‘strikes at democracy itself,’ Obama says in his weekly address. Republicans say ‘free speech’ – even in the form of money – strengthens democracy.

By Staff writer / January 23, 2010

President Barack Obama speaks during a town hall meeting at Lorain County Community College in Elyria, Ohio, Friday.

Mark Duncan/AP

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Atlanta

Fresh off a fighting stance at an Ohio event, President Obama aimed a haymaker at the Supreme Court in his Saturday morning address, saying a 5-4 ruling striking down the 2002 McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform law undermines the Republic by giving “voice to the powerful interests that already drown out the voices of everyday Americans.”

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In unusually testy language, Mr. Obama vented his frustration at the end of a tough week for liberals that saw the election of a Republican in dark-blue Massachusetts, the potential demise of broad-based healthcare reform, and the crash of the liberal radio network Air America.

But the Supreme Court’s ruling, which lifted some limits on corporate and union campaign spending, represents perhaps the gravest threat of all to Americans since it could mean the end of “common sense legislation” regarding healthcare or the environment, Obama said. Republicans, meanwhile, hailed the ruling as a tribute to free speech, which GOP chairman Michael Steele said “strengthens democracy.”

Lobbyists had a banner year

Although Roll Call reports that K Street lobbyists had a banner year in 2009, Obama told Americans that his administration has “pushed back” against special interests to make sure the White House is “the people’s house.” The ruling on Thursday gives corporations – and, most notably, foreign businesses – undue influence on US elections, Obama said.

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