The U.S. Supreme Court ruled last month that corporations may spend as freely as they like to support or oppose candidates for President and Congress. This ruling takes away decades-old limits on business efforts to influence federal election campaigns. By a 5-4 vote, the Court overturned a 20-year-old ruling that said companies can be prohibited from using money from their general treasuries to produce and run their own campaign ads. The Court has literally opened the floodgates for corporations to pour their money into political campaigns. In my opinion, the laws struck down by the five Republican appointees to the High Court were critical to maintaining a true democracy.
Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority opinion, joined by his four of his colleagues. Strongly disagreeing, Justice John Paul Stevens said in his dissent, “The Court’s ruling threatens to undermine the integrity of elected institutions around the nation.” Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor joined Stevens’ dissent, parts of which the Justice read aloud in the courtroom for all to hear.
When the Court made its ruling, one of my friends in Washington said he thought it was gunfire when he heard a “pop-popping sound.” But he later found out it was just the corporate lobbyists and some of the GOP members of Congress “popping the champagne corks and dancing on what is left of our Constitution.” While that may be a stretch, it’s not far off the mark when you consider exactly what the High Court did. It’s certainly no exaggeration to say the very foundation of our democracy will be under attack once the tidal wave of corporate dollars floods into GOP campaigns in the upcoming Congressional elections. At a time when the American people badly need campaign finance reform, instead of reform they get the shaft from five Supreme Court Justices.
The Justices also struck down part of the landmark McCain-Feingold campaign finance bill that barred issue ads in the closing days of election campaigns paid for by unions and corporations. Advocates of strong campaign finance regulations have to be greatly disappointed with this ruling. Their worst fears have come to pass and it’s clear their fears were well-founded.
The Court has given corporations greater influence in elections and public policy and has dealt a blow to ordinary citizens. Corporations are already running roughshod over our “democracy” and now things will get much worse. I wonder how many people agree that the First Amendment, which was adopted to protect real people, was never intended to protect a corporation. Congress should act now to make sure people – not corporations – have control of our elections.
Source: Associated Press
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