We're in for it now

Corporations already have too much control over American political discourse, and that problem will only get worse thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in the Citizens United case. Adam B posted excerpts from the decision and the dissents.

The SCOTUS blog posted the complete text of the ruling and linked to many reactions and commentaries.

Election law expert Richard Hasen concludes that the court just killed campaign finance reform:

It is time for everyone to drop all the talk about the Roberts court’s “judicial minimalism,” with Chief Justice Roberts as an “umpire” who just calls balls and strikes. Make no mistake, this is an activist court that is well on its way to recrafting constitutional law in its image. The best example of that is this morning’s transformative opinion in Citizens United v. FEC. Today the court struck down decades-old limits on corporate and union spending in elections (including judicial elections) and opened up our political system to a money free-for-all.

The Des Moines Register assessed the impact on Iowa law, suggesting that our state may not be able to continue to ban corporate campaign contributions. (I thought this ruling pertained to independent expenditures by corporations, not direct corporate donations to candidates.) Kathie Obradovich collected some comments from Iowa politicians. Democrats slammed the ruling–not that they’ve accomplished anything on campaign finance reform since taking power.

All in all, a depressing day for our sorry excuse for a democracy. Any relevant comments are welcome in this thread.

UPDATE: Representative Leonard Boswell has introduced a constitutional amendment to overturn this ruling:

“I have introduced this important legislation because the Supreme Court’s ruling strikes at the very core of democracy in the United States by inflating the speech rights of large, faceless corporations to the same level of hard-working, every day Americans,” Boswell said in a statement. “The court’s elevation of corporate speech inevitably overpowers the speech and interests of human citizens who do not have the coffers to speak as loudly.”

Boswell said House Joint Resolution 68 would disallow a corporation or labor organization from using any operating funds or any other funds from its general treasury to pay for an advertisement in connection with a federal election campaign, regardless of whether or not the advertisement expressly advocates the election or defeat of a specified candidate.

“Corporations already have an active role in American political discourse through million-dollar political action committees and personal donations to campaigns,” Boswell said. “The legislation I introduced will prevent the Wall Street corporations that received billions in taxpayer bailout dollars from turning around and pouring that same money into candidates that will prevent financial regulation on their industry. No American should have to turn on the TV and see AIG telling them how to vote.”

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  • Help Florida Congressman Alan Grayson fight this issue...

    Grayson currently has 2 “Recommended” diary posts up on Daily Kos.  He has 5 bills ready to go and a petition for the grassroots to sign.  Send him your support.  Our vote is already compromised by big corporations and their lobbyist organizations.  If we can’t overturn this latest assault on greed and fraud, we as citizens, are truly DONE!



    Sign Grayson’s petition here (www.savedemocracry.net):


  • Ralph talks "Corporate Personhood"...

    I know, I know, Ralph Nader is probably persona non grata with most of your readership, seeing how the Gore supporters stole most of Ralph’s votes in the 2000 election cycle, but here’s Ralph’s take on today’s SCOTUS decision for what it’s worth:


    As for Lenny “I got courage because I got medals in Vietnam” Boswell? Shit. I gotta support him all the way on this one, dammit all to hell.

  • Didn't the ACLU support

    Citizens United in this case?

    • don't know

      but just because I’m a card-carrying member of the ACLU doesn’t mean they’re right about everything…

      We should be limiting corporate contributions more, not removing all limits. As someone suggested at MyDD, if the Supremes think corporations are people, then let’s limit corporate contributions toward federal elections to $2,300, the same as the limit for individual contributions.

      • ACLU did file an amicus brief in support of Citizens United...

        See it here:


        I’m not a card carrying member of the ACLU, but my wife is off to NYC this weekend to participate as a member of the national board. 😉

        As for Lenny B., maybe I should try for another sit-down with him. Where do you think he stands on the idea of a capitalist state?

  • A Healthy Clarity?

    I was musing about this on my own blog yesterday:

    …Perhaps this will get rid of the fiction that corporations and unions were somehow walled off from politics by the prohibition on corporate and union donations.

    It ought to be pretty simple to come up with a way to show a given legislator’s corporate and union donations on a “smart” TV or internet screen whenever they are on there talking or are quoted in the press (similar to the way corporate financial data can be quickly linked-to in online news stories about publicly-traded corporations).

    In short, it could actually clarify things in a way that is healthy.

    Postscript: It bears repeating that while the individual unions spend a lot of money on politics, the corporate sector as a whole outspends organized labor about 10 to 1.

    In discussing it further, it occurs to me that there is already a substantial “wealth primary” that deters under-connected or not-personally-wealthy potential candidates from running in the first place… to what extent does Citizens United really make this problem worse?

    And, I may be using the term inaccurately here, but to the extent that this might allow for a Leninist “smoke out the contradictions” strategy, it might work, but it would also carry grave risks.

    In any case, I am glad to know about the constituional amendments being offered, but that’s obviously an enormous mountain to climb.

    Probably time to start figuring out how to mitigate or, as with my daydream, even capitalize on this new arrangement.