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Bernie Sanders Doesn't Seem to Know How the Supreme Court Works — Look at How His Supporters React


"Any Supreme Court nominee of mine will make overturning Citizens United one of their first decisions."

AP Photo/John Minchillo, File

Although democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders is receiving some criticism on social media for a Thursday tweet about what his requirements for a Supreme Court nominee would be, his avid supporters seemed to pay no heed to Sanders' apparent disregard for how the Supreme Court operates.

In tweets posted Thursday, Sanders expressed his disapproval for the 2010 Citizens United vs. FEC Supreme Court decision that upheld the First Amendment's right to free speech by prohibiting the U.S. government from restricting nonprofit organizations' political endorsements and expenditures. The case controversy first arose when Citizens United, a conservative lobbying group, was prevented from airing "Hillary: The Movie," a film that contained criticism of Clinton, on TV broadcasts during Clinton's campaign for the 2008 presidential nomination.

The Supreme Court's deciding principles have since been extended to other types of organizations, gutting controversial campaign finance laws.

In his tweet, Sanders declared, "Any Supreme Court nominee of mine will make overturning Citizens United one of their first decisions."

The Supreme Court, however, is constitutionally limited in how it can address previous rulings, as it must wait for an actual case to arise before it can readdress a previous decision. The court can overturn or affirm a precedent only with a majority of the justices on board.

"The Federal Courts do not, under Article III of the Constitution, have the power to resolve legal questions that do not arise out of an actual dispute between real parties," according to Cornell University Law School's website

In response to Sanders' initial tweet, Andrew Kirell, a senior editor for the Daily Beast, called him out on his misunderstanding of how the Supreme Court operates.

Some of Sanders' supporters seem to remain, nonetheless, undeterred by his apparent lack of understanding regarding the Supreme Court's operations and technicalities.

Other social media users, however, called Sanders on his bluff.

Follow Kathryn Blackhurst (@kablackhurst) on Twitter

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