Supreme Court of the United States Seal (Photo credit: DonkeyHotey)
The Supreme Court has made several extremely consequential and controversial decisions along partisan lines in recent years to empower the one percent. Most people have heard of the Citizens United decision, but not many of the others. Use the link below to see a short summary of 8 important Supreme Court cases decided along partisan lines, then come back and take the poll. Vote on the 3 decisions you feel to be the most consequential. Leave a comment as to why you feel your 3 choices were the most consequential and any thoughts you may have about any of the cases.
Jamie Raskin, a constitutional law professor, recently wrote a very interesting article on the Citizens United decision. The irony of the Citizens United case is that the plaintiffs only wanted a ruling stating that the electioneering provisions of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform law didn’t apply to them. “But the conservatives sent the parties back to brief and argue the paradigm-shifting constitutional question they were so keen to decide. As dissenting Justice John Paul Stevens observed, the justices in the majority ‘changed the case to give themselves an opportunity to change the law.'”
Raskin states that the influx of money spent by super PACs and dark money 501(c)4 groups in the 2010 election changed the focus of that year’s election from the continuing effects of the subprime mortgage crisis, the BP oil spill, and the Massey Energy coal mine disaster to the urgent importance of deregulating corporations (and, of course, repealing Obamacare). He discusses how, after 200 years of precedent, the Supreme Court changed its views of corporations from an “artificial entity” and “mere creation of the law” to one of personhood.
image courtesy of reuters
Raskin describes how corporations are now actually more protected than individuals and small businesses. Defenders say that “corporations should be free to keep their political spending secret because they may face intimidation and even — God forbid — boycotts from consumers who dislike their politics.” Small businesses are at a disadvantage since they don’t have the kind of money to spend that large corporations do in order to have their voices heard.
In another ruling against democratic principles, the Supreme Court overturned a provision of Arizona’s law on public campaign financing, a law that was passed by referendum by its citizens. “The Court ruled that privately financed candidates backed by wealthy interests not only have a right to spend to the heavens to win office but also a right, in states with public financing laws, to lock in their massive financial advantage over publicly financed candidates, whose campaign speech may not be even modestly amplified by public funding when they get outspent. The First Amendment becomes not the guardian of democratic discussion but the guarantee of unequal protection for well-born and wealth-backed politicians. Today corporations can saturate the airwaves and billionaires can spend to their hearts’ content, but government cannot create even a modest megaphone to help poorer candidates be heard.”
The current fight to get money out of politics prompted by the Citizens United decision is not the first time that a crusade has been necessary to fight against the crony capitalism of big business and politicians, and a Supreme Court that protects them. Over 100 years ago, Teddy Roosevelt championed progressive policies such as trust busting and increased regulation of business. His domestic policy centered around what he called the “Square Deal”, promising the average citizen a fair share. It took the human suffering of the Great Depression before many of these progressive policies were passed into law. Over the last 30-40 years, there has been a concerted effort by corporate and moneyed interests to weaken or overturn many of these laws. Continue reading →
In his famous speech at Gettysburg during the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln talked about America as a country “of the people, by the people and for the people.” Today, as a result of Citizens United, we are rapidly moving toward a nation of the rich, by the rich and for the rich. Despite having the most unequal distribution of wealth and income of any major country on earth, millionaires and billionaires want more, more and more.
In recent weeks, multi-billionaires such as the Koch brothers and Sheldon Adelson have made it clear that, as a result of the Citizens United decision, they intend to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to buy this election for candidates who support the super-wealthy.
As a former business manager who has experience with managing manufacturing operations over a thirty year period Continue reading →
FlackCheck.org released a video on 6/20/12 (see link below) concerning deceptive ads that were released by the four biggest spending 501(c)4 groups between 12/1/11 and 6/1/12. According to their source, 85% of the money spent on presidential ads by these four “social welfare organizations” during this period supported ads that contained at least one deceptive claim according to fact-checking groups. After watching the video, scroll down the page to see a list of some of the misleading attacks. You will note that some of those attacks were made by these Republican-leaning 501(c)4’s against fellow Republicans during the primaries.