Supreme Court Gives Corporations Carte Blanche to Buy Political Campaigns

The Supreme Court ruled today the government may not ban political spending by corporations in candidate elections.

Justice John Paul Stevens read a long dissent from the bench. He said the majority had committed a grave error in treating corporate speech the same as that of human beings. His decision was joined by the other three members of the court’s liberal wing.

The case had unlikely origins. It involved a documentary called “Hillary: The Movie,” a 90-minute stew of caustic political commentary and advocacy journalism. It was produced by Citizens United, a conservative nonprofit corporation, and was released during the Democratic presidential primaries in 2008.

Citizens United lost a suit that year against the Federal Election Commission, and scuttled plans to show the film on a cable video-on-demand service and to broadcast television advertisements for it. But the film was shown in theaters in six cities, and it remains available on DVD and the Internet.

The lower court said the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, usually called the McCain-Feingold law, prohibited the planned broadcasts. The law bans the broadcast, cable or satellite transmission of “electioneering communications” paid for by corporations in the 30 days before a presidential primary and in the 60 days before the general election. That leaves out old technologies, like newspapers, and new ones, like YouTube.

Isn't it nice that corporations are treated like people when it benefits their agenda?

Here is an AP video report:

 

This ruling strikes down a 1907 law and now corporations can literally run commercials, directly campaign and fund a campaign.

Well, at least it might be more clear which candidates are the corporate representative instead of the people.

The buy your candidate and buy your Congress problem which has denied reforms from health care to financial reform to offshore outsourcing to trade to basic consumer rights probably just got a lot worse.

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This is an extreme decision

Activist judges are OK if they are right wing activist judges. These 5 right wing judges legislated directly from the bench. They overturned several state and federal laws and judicial precedence.

Basically, what we are left with is:

Money = Speech

Corporations = People

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Attention Congressman Grayson:

I know you have several bill addressing this ruling but I have one more:

Since corporations are being treated as people, then corporation should be held to same criminal standards including death penalty - in case of corporations - forced bankruptcy.

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Or Life in Prison

And let the CEOs serve it. Crimes like, let's see, murder? Treason? Raping the shareholders?
Frank T.

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Frank T.

I am reading this decision now and it's very bad

This decision truly means that income inequality now means political inequality.

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sure as hell does

Because regardless of the media, even social networking, blogs, it's very easy for these corporations to hire offshore outsourced "commentators" to write bs crap and fictional blog sites with lots of money.....very difficult to discern who are the real folks and who are the paid glorified advertisers.

(which is another point in that I am aware of this....using offshore outsourced labor somewhere to write bogus articles, blogs, comments pushing some crappy agenda, we literally had the U.S. Chamber of Commerce stooge trying to get onto EP to post their propaganda).

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Robert, this is very bad.

Offshoring aside. This means that a corporation with vast amounts of money can run negative ads every day during an election cycle to thwart a "populist" candidate. It means that if an incumbent politician want to stay in office they will do NOTHING to change policies that threaten corporations in any shape or form.

This includes financial regulatory reform. This decision effectively allows Chase or Goldman Sachs to go out and buy certain elected officials. Supreme Court thought they were doing us a favor by keeping disclosure requirement in place (althought wingnut Justice Thomas even opposed disclosure requirements). But give me a break the damage will be done by a swift boat type ad campaign before disclosure does anything - the damage will be done.

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I agree Rebel, why I posted this

If something is $$$ then it's an appropriate topic for EP, but as you are aware, it's a rare day for me to personally write up this kind of thing on EP. But yeah, I put the best "sum it up" title I could think of because it's like 100 steps backward and our government is already so bought and paid for as it is.

The middle class doesn't stand a chance unless we get some sort of organization that every single person in America agrees to donate funds to to basically buy our nation back. I don't see that happening because instead we have these various special interest groups doing that and sometimes those policies they promote are actually going to hurt the U.S. middle class.

It's like every single thing but the middle class as a whole, working America as a whole has their checkbooks out in D.C.

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What Ian Welsh said.

I'm not sure that one can overstate the significance (or should I say ominous forboding) of this ruling. We have 3 branches of government here in USAnistan, and all appear to be controlled and/or occupied by Corporatists.

To wit, please consider Ian Welsh's observation today, The Unvarnished Truth About The US.

Yesterday’s decision makes the US a soft fascist state. Roosevelt’s definition of fascism was control of government by corporate interests. Unlimited money means that private interests can dump billions into elections if they choose. Given that the government can, will, and has rewarded them with trillions, as in the bailouts, or is thinking about doing so in HCR, by forcing millions of Americans to buy their products the return on investment is so good that I would argue that corporations have a fiduciary duty to their shareholders to buy out government - after all if you pay a million to get a billion, or a billion to get a trillion, that’s far far better returns than are avaiable anywhere else.

{snip}

Add to this the US’s complete inability to manage its economic affairs, and its refusal to fix its profound structural problems, whether in the financial system, the education system, the military, concrete infrastructure, technology or anything else and I cannot see a likely scenario where the US turns things around. The US’s problems in almost every area amount to “monied interests are making a killing on business as usual, and ologopolistic markets and will do anything they can to make sure the problem isn’t fixed”.

Even before they had the ability to dump unlimited money into the political system, they virtually controlled Washington. This will put their influence on steroids. Any congressperson who goes against their interests can be threatened by what amounts to unlimited money. And any one who does their bidding can be rewarded with so much money their reelection is virtually secure.

This decision makes the US’s recovery from its decline even more unlikely than before—and before it was still very unlikely. Absolute catastrophe will have to occur before people are angry enough and corporations weak enough for their (sic) to even be a chance.

(my emphasis added)

What more can I say, except that maybe we should reconsider our hegemonic overreach vis a vis The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. It does seem to me that we are approaching the end of American exceptionalism, aka the American Empire.

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