21 January 2010

SUPREME COURTESANS

UPDATED: 03/05/2015
The United States Supreme Court released an incredible ruling that makes it legal for corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money on national campaigns...
Yes, they can buy politicians legally now under the guise of Freedom of Speech. Included in the majority opinion were conservative Justices Kennedy, Thomas, Scalia, and Alito; joined of course by Chief Justice Roberts.
If the First Amendment has any force,” wrote Justice Kennedy in the majority opinion, “it prohibits Congress from fining or jailing citizens, or associations of citizens, for simply engaging in political speech.”

"...for simply engaging in political speech."

Such impassioned language from les courtesans. In fact, the majority opinion itself amounts to a happy ending... the big pay-off to conservative movement that put each one of them there. Look at that statement again, "for simply engaging in political speech." 

It is defensive language, actually. It's meant to deflect the awkwardness of the terms found on the same sentence, "associations of citizens." That phrase sounds like average fed-gov lingo. But, I dont think it belongs in a passage about the First Amendment, which is all about individual liberties. That a phrase like that made it into this opinion is a stretch. Chief Justice Roberts knew it. And the others knew it too. But, as courtesans, their hands are tied to the agenda they swore to uphold.

Justice Stevens knew it was a stretch; when he (along with Justices Ginsburg, Breyer and Sotomayor) drafted his dissent, blasting the notion that corporations should be able to participate in this process:
"Although they make enormous contributions to our society, corporations are not actually members of it. They cannot vote or run for office. Because they may be managed and controlled by nonresidents, their interests may conflict in fundamental respects with the interests of eligible voters. The financial resources, legal structure, and instrumental orientation of corporations raise legitimate concerns about their role in the electoral process. Our lawmakers have a compelling constitutional basis, if not also a democratic duty, to take measures designed to guard against the potentially deleterious effects of corporate spending in local and national races."
At least, the shock over this ruling is getting noticed and reported on. 

President Obama said, "This ruling gives the special interests and their lobbyists even more power in Washington -- while undermining the influence of average Americans who make small contributions to support their preferred candidates." He is already said to be working with Congress to figure out ways to avoid this new ruling by reworking existing campaign finance laws. 

UPDATE 06/29/12: Chief Justice John Roberts' majority opinion affirming the Constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act (and its mandate) shows that I was wrong about this Supreme Court, in absolute terms. They do however remain a powerful force on the right; and ought to be recognized for deciding this absurdly contentious case ("Obamacare") quite even-handedly.

It is a sad statement of who we are today that a branch of government is widely anticipated to be up to no good... and hurrah to the court for taking those allegations by the horns, and in so doing, leading the country back on course. 

Now, can we talk about Citizens United? Wink.

UDPATE 03/05/2015: Interesting, relevant piece.