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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The Really Important Supreme Court Decision No One Is Talking About

The Really Important Supreme Court Decision No One Is Talking About

“Two wrongs don’t make a right,” as my old Texas momma used to instruct my brothers and me. But apparently, five of the justices on our Supreme Court didn’t have mommas with such ethical sensibilities — or perhaps they’re just ignoring their mommas’ wisdom now in order to impose their extremist political agenda on you and me.

That agenda became startlingly clear in 2010, when the black-robed cabal of Sam Alito, Anthony Kennedy, John Roberts, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas hung their infamous Citizens United edict around America’s neck. It allowed unlimited sums of corporate cash to spew into our elections, effectively legalizing the wholesale purchase of America’s elected officials. In his majority decision, Supreme joker Kennedy drew from his deep well of political ignorance and judicial arrogance to declare that these gushers of special interest money “do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption.”

Is he on the court — or in a comedy club? Not only were Kennedy and his fellow corporatists wrong on the substance of their decree, but also ridiculously wrong on the politics. You don’t need a law degree to see that CEOs are presently flooding this year’s presidential and congressional races with hundreds of millions of corporate campaign dollars, gleefully perverting the political process to buy government policy for their own gain.

That not only gives the appearance of corruption, it is corrupt.

And now the same five judicial extremists have added a third egregious wrong to their agenda of turning The People’s rights over to soulless corporations. On June 25, they struck down a century-old Montana law (enacted directly by the people through a 1912 initiative vote) that banned corporate money from corrupting that state’s elections.

These five are not mere “judicial activists” — they’re dangerous political hacks, fronting for corporate powers that are openly attempting a plutocratic coup on America. As a Montana newspaper editorial succinctly put it: “The greatest living issue confronting us today is whether the corporations shall control the people or the people shall control the corporations.”

That was written in 1906, as Montanans were rising up in outrage against the “copper kings” — giant, out-of-state mining corporations that were grossly exploiting Montana’s workforce, extracting its public resources, and routinely extending bribes to control its government. A populist rebellion culminated 100 years ago in the passage of a citizens initiative, called the Corrupt Practices Act. With that, Montana’s people outlawed direct corporate expenditures in elections for state offices.

Their law worked, breaking the copper kings’ legislative chokehold. A century later, the law was still working, for the lack of corporate cash allowed people politics to supplant money politics, opening up a more democratic electoral process.

  • The 14th amendment to the constitution only needs one word added to it. That word is “Natural” We, humans are “Natural People” where corporations are considered “Factious People”

  • dtgraham

    Bernie Sanders was recently talking about Citizens United. He said that he had had private conversations with Republican senators on the issue and shared their thoughts, without revealing names. Apparently, even they know in their heart that CU is an outrage, but they also know something else; that it works to the Republican Party’s advantage, so they never say anything negative about the ruling publicly.

    One of our conservative contributors here is giddy about citizens united as he feels that this just evens things up. It allows the poor transnational corporations and billionaires to have a level playing field with the all powerful labour unions. That is amazing. I mean, what do you even say to that?

  • William Deutschlander

    The ROBERTS COURT is and always will be a disgrace and a horrible scar for DEMOCRACY!

  • tokoloshi27

    No question the decision was a disgrace, but it begs the question why. Montana might be a more inexpensive state to campaign in, but no campaign is undertaken without costs.

    Better to ask ourselves what would be the best method for the People to make their civic decisions? The current method promotes candidates from the legal profession, because the basic structure of legal partnerships allows the expenditure of time without loss of career skills or experience. The tie in here is that the Courts are in the same universe as the legislators, metaphorically speaking, trained in the same language and non-skills, not suggesting an unholy cabal, but logical fellow-travellers.

    On the other hand corporations should have the opportunity and right, as a collective and part of greater society, with all the responsibilities that come with employing others and looking out for their and their shareholders’ interests. Sure, capitalize things and call them ‘greedy’, they exist in a competitive arena and when they lose or someone like EPA arbitrarily doubles the cost of some new or existing facility or process; they should have the right to ask for reconsideration or alternative methods of meeting a given regulatory goal.

    Given all this, who stands to gain for these bloated costs for campaigns? ‘The’ Media and political consultants, robo-callers, pollsters, other lawyers (filing whatever and checking polling places etc.) and smaller guys like yard sign manufacturers or billboard hangers. If we could somehow eliminate the cost of all those stress-inducing annoyances, I think we’d be better off. How to do this? Stop the signs, ads and the spin starting and stopping apparatchiks, have every campaign registered for an election put together their best policy and position papers. Put it all into a package that every registered voter can get it at their polling place in advance of the election (also presented orally for democratic voters, but in the polling/official place). Something like this could serve to eliminate a substantial amount of the costs of running for office and could be done entirely with tax-payer funding.

    Just a thought.

    • sigrid28

      Great idea. Let me add my wish list. Shorter time allocations for elections. Position papers in three forms: on-line, DVD, and paper, period. Registered voters must all identify an address, so make these three forms available at home as well as at polling places, well in advance. Too complicated? If the public can fill in a bracket for basketball championships, they can probably figure out how to pick a candidate and vote for him or her. This system has a big problem, aside from outside distractions (how do you stop the media circus from carrying on anyway?): the delivery system for these proposed elections would still be members of the fourth estate, producing DVDs, creating on-line information, and writing “best policy and position papers,” the individuals Senator Al Franken used to call “lying liars lying” on “Saturday Night Live.” Our current problem is we have a three-ring circus with no sanctioned messaging, which is what tokoloshi27 tries to allow for in his proposal. His proposal does not inhibit Free Speech but gives it a useful hierarchy.

  • quasm

    Mr. Hightower;

    Does this apply equally to unions using their money to influence elections?

    Dik Thurston
    Colorado Springs

    • jebediah123

      What “powerful” unions? I believe union membership in this country is about 13% of all workers. Hey, just for fun, you might want to check out Germany—-they have very strong unions right along with A REAL GOOD ECONOMY AND SOCIALIZED HEALTH CARE! HUH???

      • dtgraham

        Exactly right. Germany is highly unionized. Sweden has a remarkable figure of around 70% of it’s workforce unionized. In both cases, the economy is robust and both countries are very wealthy. The national debt, per capita, is quite a bit less than the U.S. too. This crap from the right is just empty ideological rhetoric with no basis in reality.

  • When the Republican Board of Directors (formerly known as SCOTUS) made their Citizens United decision to sell our Government to the highest bidder, do they get a commission? Looks like it is between the Koch Brothers, Adelson and Karl Rove’s Super Pac – who is going to own our Government.

    Koch Brothers – want EPA regulations removed so they won’t keep getting fined for violating them. They believe in segregation and they do not believe in minimum wage laws. Wonder why?

    Adelson – does not want Unions in his casino in the U.S. and wants us to protect his home land Israel and attack Iran.

    Karl Rove’s Super Pac – wants to tell us what Religious beliefs we must have, what a women do with their reproduction process, to keep the middle class down and push more into poverty.

    Gee what is the price of Democracy going to be?

  • m8lsem

    The Court made use of an over-simplication. Corporations have always been recognized as legal persons in the sense of being able to buy and sell property, to sue and be sued, and so forth. There’s nothing wrong with that. Hence the answer is not to create a great mystery around my immediately above statement by saying ‘corporations are not people’ or by denying them the 14th Amendment.

    Rather, the answer is to expressly authorize limits on campaign spending treating all natural persons the same, and permitting prohibition of spending by non-natural persons given that all non-natural persons directly or indirectly have natural person owners and employees who can act as individuals.

  • You gotta love this guy! He wears the most smug / antaginizing / stick a dirty diaper under your nose smirks on all his pics. its gotta drive the americans nuts and i cant stop laughin at the thought of how bad “they” must be losin it over this concept alone.

  • Political hacks in high places. Buying candidates and voter supression. Know nothing/do nothing congress. Signing pledges to a corrupt lobbiest rather than our constitution. Whatever happened to the land of the free and home of the brave?

  • “The greatest living issue confronting us today is whether the corporations shall control the people or the people shall control the corporations.” I would only add that ……….. corporations are definitely NOT people!

  • onedonewong

    Your right you don’t nee a law degree to see that this country was founded on the premise of freedom of speech. If you want this ended then newspapers and the State run media needs to end their bias