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Supreme Court Gives Green Light To Corporate-Funded Elections

Posted by Jane Akre
Thursday, January 21, 2010 11:39 PM EST
Category: Protecting Your Family
Tags: Supreme Court, Federal Pre-emption, Election Laws, Corporate-Funded Elections, McCain-Feingold

The Supreme Court voted 5-4 to givecorporations the right to Free Speech and unlimited ability to contribute to political campaigns.

5-4 Vote

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IMAGE SOURCE: U.S. Supreme Court

Early Thursday, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected campaign spending limits on corporations with a 5-4 vote that opens the floodgates to what many fear could become corporate-sponsored elections.

In doing so, the court struck down a long-standing ban on corporate spending on candidate elections. Since 1907, the nation’s campaign finance laws have prevented corporate spending on candidates up for election.

In 1947, that ban was extended to unions.

In 2002, the McCain-Feingold bill further extended the ban to cover loopholes, including restricting corporate-funded election ads 30 days before an election.

While the provisions have been upheld in the past, today’s vote by a more conservative court reversed McCain- Feingold and struck down any ban on corporate spending, reports NPR.

Corporations First Amendment Rights

Judge Anthony Kennedy wrote the decision for the court saying that the marketplace of ideas includes corporations, which represent a significant segment of society. He suggested that government interference might amount to censorship since the First Amendment guarantees free speech.

“The court ruled that the first Amendment – designed to protect the speech of real, live humans – guarantees for-profit corporations the right to influence elections,” says Robert Weissman, president of the consumer group, Public Citizen.

Justice John Paul Stevens calls the decision a radical departure from precedent of 100 years of law. He says corporations already use political action committees to fund elections, though they are regulated and the amount limited.

Corporations have generally supported Republican candidates, so they are the likely beneficiaries of this high court ruling. The question remaining is to what extent corporations and labor unions will take advantage of their new found power.

The 2004 film, The Corporation, explores the issue of corporations enjoying the legal rights of a person (First Amendment right to free speech), without the consequences of unlawful behavior, such as federal pre-emption.

“What kind of person is it?” the film asks.

Citizens React

The Wall Street Journal reports that the Service Employees International Union denounced the decision.

Union spokeswoman Lori Lodes says, “I don’t think working people would ever have as much to spend as corporations. For us, being able to spend a few extra dollars isn’t worth allowing decision to be made from boardrooms instead of the polling booth.”

“With this decision, huge corporations like Goldman Sachs and AIG will be able to use their enormous wealth to run campaigns against the president or any person who might oppose their agenda” says Lisa Graves, Executive Director of CMD.

The Center for Media & Democracy and Public Citizen, both advocacy groups, are circulating a petition, Americans Before Corporations, to pass a constitutional amendment to restore humans to the center of the political process, not corporations.

Public Citizen has prepared a video on what is it planning in response to the Supreme Court’s decision. Their Web site with the petition is Don’t Get Rolled.

The case before the court was Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. #


2 Comments

Anonymous User
Posted by adbuerk
Friday, January 22, 2010 6:39 AM EST

Of course the unions don't like this. Now they can't control the elections alone anymore. Thumbs up to the SC.

Anonymous User
Posted by Steve Lombardi
Friday, January 22, 2010 12:17 PM EST

With all due respect your honors, how bizarre this is for American politics? How destructive will this be for American electoral process and for society? Who sponsored this lawsuit, the US and Chinese Chambers of Communism and their evil sister the ATRA?

Corporations aren't people. They don’t have a heart, a soul or a conscience for that matter. If corporations are "people" then why shouldn't probate estates also be considered a "person"? And what about LLC’s, partnerships, trusts and S-Corps all making contributions and influencing elections? The dead can literally vote with their wallets beyond the grave. Those that never existed as humans can influence an election with cash contributions.

Here is what the Star Chamber says about campaign finance reform:
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressional efforts to limit campaign spending by business are unconstitutional, said the United States Chamber of Commerce Executive Vice President Bruce Josten at a press conference with other business groups on the steps of the Supreme Court today.
"The Constitution protects the right of individuals and groups under the First Amendment," said Josten. "Congressional attempts to regulate or limit issue advocacy infringes on our Constitutional right of free speech. In the electronic age of costly television advertising, limiting spending is the same as muzzling a group’s right to be heard."

Is it my imagination or does this sound like what we say about tort reform the Chamber proposes? I feel like I’m looking in the Looking Glass.

How will this play out in reality? Will Iowa now have the Pfizer Corn-Belt Caucuses and can now sell names to political events as if an election were on the same plane as a stadium?

That’s an interesting decision; corporations get two votes for every one of unincorporated humans. Corporations get to vote with campaign contributions and all its employees get to vote in the election. Together we can elect the best Congressman that money can buy. Shall we incorporate ourselves? I’m now known as Stephen D. Lombardi, Inc. and you can’t limit what I contribute. So there!

Does anyone know if the Chinese Communist Party finances the U.S. Chamber of Commerce?

Comments for this article are closed.

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