Tuesday, June 26, 2012

New SCOTUS Ruling Extends Citizens United To State, Local Elections

The hits just keep coming in the War on Voters. Here's John Nichols of The Nation:

The same Court that in January 2010 ruled with the Citizens United decision that corporations can spend freely in federal elections—enjoying the same avenues of expression as human beings—on Monday ruled that states no longer have the ability to guard against what historically has been seen as political corruption and the buying of elections.

The court’s 5–4 decision in the Montana case of American Tradition Partnership v. Bullock significantly expands the scope and reach of the Citizens United ruling by striking down state limits on corporate spending in state and local elections. “The question presented in this case is whether the holding of Citizens United applies to the Montana state law,” the majority wrote. “There can be no serious doubt that it does.”

Translation: if Exxon Mobil wants to spend $10 million to support a favored candidate in a state legislative or city council race that might decide whether the corporation is regulated, or whether it gets new drilling rights, it can. But why stop at $10 million? If it costs $100 million to shout down the opposition, the Court says that is fine. If if costs $1 billion, that’s fine, too.

And what of the opposition. Can groups that represent the public interest push back? Can labor unions take a stand in favor of taxing corporations like Exxon Mobil?

Not with the same freedom or flexibility that they had from the 1930s until this year. Last Thursday, the Court erected elaborate new barriers to participation in elections by public-sector unions—requiring that they get affirmative approval from workers they represent (but who may not at the moment be union members) before making special dues assessments to fund campaigns countering corporations.

The fat Catholic overgrown choirboy is getting everything he wants, and it isn't even Christmas.

What will a mayor's race cost in a major city? What will it cost in Houston, which is "major" when measured in terms of commerce transacted here? If the popular Mayor Annise Parker chooses to run for a third and final term next year, will she face $1 billion in opposition?

We have gone from strict legal curbs on campaign contributions, together with the Equal Time rule and the Fairness Doctrine, to a freewheeling, devil-take-the-hindmost spending race at every level of government, a race that makes a mockery of the very concept of democracy. That Republicans authored and approve of this change speaks volumes about the party; that Democrats seem to be following that same path to hell is enough to make one cry. As for the rest of us, who have nothing to contribute but our votes... well, that noise you hear is the aforementioned devil at your heels.

Representative democracy: it was nice while it lasted.

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