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Supreme Court Rules for Big Money
by Stephen Lendman
06 Apr 2014
Supreme Court Rules for Big Money
by Stephen Lendman
It doesn't surprise. It's supremely pro-business. It's always been this way. It's more than ever now.
It supports Big Monied interests. It does so over democratic governance. It's on the wrong side of most issues mattering most.
On April 2, it repeated a familiar pattern. Its McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission decision ruled one dollar = one vote. It struck down federal campaign contribution limits. It did so disgracefully.
It gave monied interests more power. Writing for the majority, Chief Justice John Roberts referred to the landmark 1976 Buckley v. Valeo ruling saying:
"We conclude that the aggregate limits on contributions do not further the only governmental interest this court accepted as legitimate."
"They instead intrude without justification on a citizen's ability to express the most fundamental First Amendment activities."
Justice Stephen Breyer ruled otherwise. He read his comments from the bench saying McCutcheon "eviscerated our nation's campaign finance laws."
"If Citizens United opened a door, today's decision we fear will open a floodgate." It creates "huge loopholes in the law; and that undermines, perhaps devastates, what remains of campaign finance reform."
"It understates the importance of protecting the political integrity of our governmental institution."
"It creates, we think, a loophole that will allow a single individual to contribute millions of dollars to a political party or to a candidate's campaign."
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus lied calling McCutcheon "an important first step toward restoring the voice of candidates and party committees and a vindication for all those who support robust, transparent political discourse."
Responsible voices called it another step on the road to tyranny. It tramples on First Amendment freedoms.
It gives monied interests near-exclusive rights. It denies them to all others. It lets powerful voices drown them out.
More on McCutcheon below. In 2010, the High Court's Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ruled corporations are entitled to unconstrained federal campaign spending.
Writing for the majority at the time, Justice Anthony Kennedy said:
"(W)e now conclude that independent expenditures, including those made by corporations, do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption."
"The fact that speakers (aka donors) may have influence over or access to elected officials does not mean that these officials are corrupt."
His opinion drew on earlier ones, adding:
"Favoritism and influence are not…avoidable in representative politics. It is in the nature of an elected representative to favor certain policies, and, by necessary corollary, to favor the voters and contributors who support those policies."
"It is well understood that a substantial and legitimate reason, if not the only reason, to cast a vote for, or to make a contribution to, one candidate over another is that the candidate will respond by producing those political outcomes the supporter favors. Democracy is premised on responsiveness."
In other words, limitless corporate spending drowning out other voices = democracy.
At the time, Ralph Nader denounced Citizens United, saying:
It "shreds the fabric of our already weakened democracy by allowing corporations to more completely dominate our corrupted electoral process."
"It is outrageous that corporations already attempt to influence or bribe our political candidates through their political action committees (PACs), which solicit employees and shareholders for donations."
"With this decision, corporations can now also draw on their corporate treasuries and pour vast amounts of corporate money, through independent expenditures, into the electoral swamp already flooded with corporate campaign PAC contribution dollars."
"This corporatist, anti-voter decision is so extreme that it should galvanize a grassroots effort to enact a Constitutional Amendment to once and for all end corporate personhood and curtail the corrosive impact of big money on politics."
"It is indeed time for a Constitutional amendment to prevent corporate campaign contributions from commercializing our elections and drowning out the civic and political voices and values of citizens and voters."
"It is way overdue to overthrow 'King Corporation' and restore the sovereignty of 'We the People' "!
Dark money infests politics. America's political system is scandalous. Duopoly power corrupts it. Voters get the best democracy money can buy.
Corporations, NGO advocacy groups, and other powerful interest groups decide everything. Ordinary people have no say.
Democracy is a convenient illusion. On April 1, America's Supremes affirmed it writ large. Federalist Society (FS) members dominate decision-making.
They include Chief Justice John Roberts, Antonin Scalia, Samuel Alito, Anthony Kennedy, and Clarence Thomas. They're ideological extremists.
FS began 30 years ago at Harvard, Yale and University of Chicago law schools. Initially it was a student organization. It challenges orthodox liberalism. It corrupts itself in the process.
It advocates rolling back civil liberties. It wants New Deal social policies ended. It supports imperial wars, corporatism, and police state harshness.
It wants reproductive choice, government regulations, labor rights, and environmental protections ended. It spurns justice in defense of privilege. It defiles constitutional protections doing so.
The words "Equal Justice Under Law" adorn the Supreme Court Building's west facade. The motto "Justice, the Guardian of Liberty" faces east.
In America, wealth, power and privilege alone count. "We the people" never mattered. For sure not now.
Egalitarian principles exist in name only. Checks and balances, equity and justice, as well democratic values are meaningless figures of speech.
Men rule America, not laws or high moral and ethical standards. Executive, congressional, and judicial officials systematically lie, connive, and pretty much do what they please for their own self-interest.
Most High Court justices are some of the worst. They're ideologically over-the-top. They're as unprincipled and venal as political rogues infesting federal, state and city governments.
Money does not equal speech. Ruling otherwise defiles First Amendment principles. In McCutcheon v. FEC, justices ruled 5 - 4.
They struck down limits on what individuals can donate during each federal two-year electoral cycle. Earlier it couldn't exceed a maximum $123,200.
Public advocacy groups say they can now contribute nearly $6 million during the same period.
The ruling leaves unchanged base donor amounts permitted for each candidate or committee.
It's currently $2,600. It's $32,400 for each political party. Big donors on their own can spend unlimited amounts on supportive or attack ads, as well as other campaign efforts.
Shaun McCutcheon is a Republican National Committee member/Alabama businessman. In 2012, he donated to 15 federal candidates.
He wanted to give more, he said. Federal law constrained him. He nonsensically claimed cap limits infringe on his speech rights.
He challenged Federal Election Campaign Act section 441. It limits biennial individual donor amounts. He wants none whatever imposed.
He wants Big Money deciding who'll rule. He wants ordinary people shut out. They can't make sizable contributions. Even among individuals able to give maximum amounts, only about 0.1% do so.
Deep-pocketed interests contribute most. During the 2012 electoral cycle, less than 600 gave federal candidates an estimated $3.1 billion.
Democracy 21 president Fred Wertheimer said:
"With its Citizens United and McCutcheon decisions, the Supreme Court has turned our representative system of government into a sandbox for America's billionaires and millionaires to play in."
"The court's decisions have empowered a new class of American political oligarchs."
America more than ever reflects plutocratic interests. High Court ideologues are on the wrong side of history.
The National Constitution Center (NCC) called McCutcheon Citizens United 2. It's "now history," it said. It's a huge step backwards.
NCC quoted NYT legal/Supreme Court writer Jesse Wegman calling McCutcheon "another blow to democracy."
According to People For The American Way:
"Our nation's wealthiest people don’t need even more political influence, but that’s what today’s decision hands them."
"The Supreme Court has given its stamp of approval to a government unduly influenced by the rich and powerful."
"As with the 2010 Citizens United decision, the consequences for our democracy of today's deeply misguided decision will be grave, opening the door to for wealthy donors to give, in aggregate, millions of dollars in direct contributions in a single election cycle."
"The Roberts Court has once again proven itself to be ideologically-driven, going out of its way to protect the interests of the most powerful among us at the expense of everyday Americans."
McCutcheon dealt freedom another major body blow. It's already on life support. It's eroding in real time.
It's practically gone already. It's one more major homeland false flag attack away from disappearing altogether. Full-blown tyranny is a hair's breadth away.
Corrupted officials hasten its arrival. It could happen any time. Perhaps when least expected. Perhaps with public approval.
Perhaps for added security at the expense of fundamental freedoms. Perhaps not knowing sacrificing them loses both. Perhaps awakening too late to matter. Perhaps it already is now.
America is too corrupted to fix. It's unfit to live in. Transformational change is needed. So is disruptive people power more than ever.
Making it the new normal is vital. The alternative is police state ruthlessness. It's monied interests over popular ones.
It's permanent wars for global dominance. It's dystopian harshness. It's what free societies don't tolerate. It's government of, by and for powerful interests only.
It's preventing it for everyone equitably and fairly. It's institutionalizing dark side rule. It's up to ordinary people to prevent it.
"If not now, when? If not us, who?" If not soon, maybe never. If that's not incentive enough, what is?
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen (at) sbcglobal.net.
His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.
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This work is in the public domain