Thursday, January 21, 2010

Follow-Up: Supremes Rule Corporations May Own Politicians

That's the effective message: corporate free speech (!?) is violated by a part of the McCain-Feingold law, which is therefore unconstitutional, which means corp's can dump effectively unrestricted amounts of money into, say, congressional campaigns. We're cooked.


The long-awaited 5-4 ruling, in the Citizens United v. FEC case, presents advocates of regulation with a major challenge in limiting the flow of corporate money into campaigns, and potentially opens the door for unrestricted amounts of corporate money to flow into American politics.

In the case at issue, Citizens United (CU), a conservative advocacy group, was challenging a ruling by the FEC that barred it from airing a negative movie about Hillary Clinton. CU received corporate donations and the movie advocated the defeat of a political candidate within 60 days of an election. CU argued that the FEC ruling violated its freedom of speech, and that the relevant provision of McCain-Feingold was unconstitutional.
I don't see any remaining avenues for individuals who are not wealthy to participate meaningfully in choosing our leaders, even to the limited extent we did before. We simply can't compete with corporations; few if any individuals have the money. And if you don't think money is the determining factor in the vast majority of election outcomes, spend a little time browsing Open Secrets, the campaign finance information web site.

Any notion that America is a representative democracy died today, murdered by a 5-4 Supreme Court decision along expected lines. It's all over, folks.We hope you enjoyed your ride...


  1. Having looked at the question before the Court in this case, Justice Stevens has the right of it - this decision was made up out of whole cloth and doesn't actually address the question that it was asked to decide.

    Instead of focusing on the question, they decided to legislate from the bench.

  2. Bryan, several attorneys writing about the case have noted that the Court, in sending the case back down for retrial, insisted on completely different central issues as the basis... issues clearly designed to give the Court the opportunity for this outcome when the case came before them again. There is reportedly very little precedent for such a procedure; it does indeed look as if the Court was legislating from the bench.

    Let's ask Scalia if that troubles his conscience. %-}



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