Thursday, June 28, 2012

Left Side of the Aisle #63 - Part 3

Outrage of the Week: SCOTUS ignores facts to uphold Citizens United

I know you have heard of the Citizens United decision, the one where the Supine Court, bowing as it almost always does to the desires of corporate America, essentially stripped away controls on unlimited money pouring into federal elections.

I still predict, as I have from the day it was announced, that if we survive as a democracy, at some point this decision will come to be regarded with the same disdain as the Dred Scott decision is today, as one of the worst decisions in the court's history.

Be that as it may, several months ago, the Montana state supreme court upheld a century-old state law that says that a "corporation may not make an expenditure in connection with a candidate or a political committee that supports or opposes a candidate or a political party." The corporate clowns and cronies of course appealed to the Supreme Court.

Most people predicted the Supremes would sing their old standard song of "whatever corporations want, corporations get" and overturn the ruling and therefore invalidate the state law under challenge.

Which, in a 5-4 decision on June 25, they did. In fact, they were so eager to do so, so eager to do the bidding of the corporations, that the decision was announced now even though it wasn't expected until after the fall elections. More than that, they dismissed the whole case in one paragraph, precisely eight sentences. Dismissed it out of hand. Of course Citizens United overrules you, they said. What's more, they said, quoting, "Montana's arguments in support of the judgment below either were already rejected in Citizens United, or fail to meaningfully distinguish that case." That statement is wrong on both counts, so wrong, in fact, that it's hard to think is was accidental.

First, the case was clearly distinguished on the grounds that it was state election law, not federal. The general tradition has been to let states regulate their own elections, with the feds stepping in only when some identifiable group of voters was being denied access to the ballot box, which is clearly not the case here, unless the court's right wingers want corporations to be able to vote - and it wouldn't surprise me if they did.

Second, and this is critical, part of the, if I can stretch the word far enough, "logic" of Citizens United was the claim that evidence of the corrupting influence of money was lacking. (No, seriously, they really said that.) The Montana decision was evidence-based, citing the history of mining interests in Montana, the interests who essentially bought state elections, actions are what lead to the ban, as proof. To overturn the ruling, SCOTUS had to either deny that history or deny the relevance of facts - probably both.

Footnote: You know all those Super-Pacs raising all that unlimited money in this year's presidential race as a result of Citizens United? As of a few months ago, according to an analysis of their financial reports done at the time by USA Today, just under 25% of the entire amount raised by all of them had been put up by precisely five incredibly rich people. But money plays no role in politics. So say the greatest legal minds of our nation.

The Supreme Court - You know, I should declare SCOTUS the equivalent of a five-time Jeopardy! champion and retire it from the competition to give others a chance - but still for now, the Supreme Court is once again the Outrage of the Week.


No comments:

// I Support The Occupy Movement : banner and script by @jeffcouturer / (v1.2) document.write('
I support the OCCUPY movement
');function occupySwap(whichState){if(whichState==1){document.getElementById('occupyimg').src=""}else{document.getElementById('occupyimg').src=""}} document.write('');