Even Supreme Court Justices Are Laughing At General Motors Now

Ted Olson
Ted Olson

You know you’re in trouble when you’re openly mocked in the U.S. Supreme Court. That’s what happened to General Motors this morning during oral arguments in a campaign finance case that has nothing to do with the troubled Detroit company.

The joker in question was prominent Republican lawyer Ted Olson, who was arguing on behalf of a fairly obscure conservative group called Citizens United. It doesn’t like campaign finance regulations that limit its ability to show a movie that says nasty things about Hillary Clinton.

At one point, Justice Stephen G. Breyer, in attempting to draw a distinction between groups like Citizens United and larger organizations with more financial firepower, invoked General Motors.

“Well,” said Olson without missing a beat. “General Motors may be smaller than the client we are representing.”

As the court’s transcript notes, what follows was:


Several of the justices appeared amused at the quip, although Breyer was all business.

“I want to get an answer to the question,”  he said.

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Lawrence Hurley

Reporter based in Washington