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Alito openly disagrees with president’s criticism of court

Associated Press / January 29, 2010

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WASHINGTON - Supreme Court Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. disagreed with President Obama’s public criticism of the high court’s ruling removing many corporate campaign spending limits - and he didn’t try to hide it.

Alito made a dismissive face, shook his head repeatedly, and appeared to mouth the words “not true’’ or “simply not true’’ when Obama assailed the decision Wednesday night in his State of the Union address.

The president had taken the unusual step of publicly scolding the high court with some of its robed members seated before him in the House. “With all due deference to the separation of powers,’’ he said, the court last week “reversed a century of law that I believe will open the floodgates for special interests - including foreign corporations - to spend without limit in our elections.’’

Alito was in the majority in the 5-to-4 ruling.

Bill Burton, White House deputy press secretary, defended the president’s statement.

“One of the great things about our democracy is that powerful members of the government at high levels can disagree in public and private,’’ Burton said yesterday.

“This is one of those cases. But the president is not less committed to seeing this reform.’’

Vice President Joe Biden called the ruling “dead wrong’’ yesterday.

“The president didn’t question the integrity of the court; he questioned the judgment of it,’’ Biden said on ABC’s “Good Morning America.’’