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The U.S. Supreme Court Killed Democracy Today

January 21, 2010

In a 5-4 opinion just released today, the Supreme Court killed American Democracy.
Democracy (aged 221 years and clearly frail and fragile) had no comment on its deathbed.
Democracy’s new spokesperson, the Corporation, gave a statement to its Corporate Press:
“Don’t worry. Democracy is resting peacefully. We’re in charge now.”
Democracy’s next of kin, the American People, also had no comment.
The Corporate Media, under new regulations dictated by Our Glorious Overlord Exxon, declined to comment on the duct tape stuffed in the American People’s mouth.”

Here’s the upshot of today’s Supreme Court ruling:
Corporations are people too.
Well, not really people.
Superior people, with far greater rights than you and me.
After all, they can break the law and steal billions without ever going to jail.
Even better, for the corporations at least, less than one-twentieth of Exxon profits has power to influence a Presidential campaign far more than the billions of dollars spent by every single American on every single Presidential candidate (in the primary and general elections) that ran in 2008.
So stay home, America. Don’t participate in the political process.
The corporations have it covered and will tell you who to vote for.
All thanks to that same great Supreme Court that gave Bush the Presidency,
even though more Americans (and more Floridians) voted for Gore.
Good-bye, Democracy. We’ll miss you.
It’s so hard to say goodbye after 200 years.
You weren’t perfect to be sure, but I, for one, will mourn your passing.
But look on the bright side:
One single CEO will have more power than 300 million Americans.
So if you can get to be that CEO, you can be dictator, not only over the USA, but over the entire world!
And do so without firing a single bullet (at least not at first).
Ain’t the Supreme Court wonderful?
A special 3-hour show tonight, as Mark guest-hosts for Leslie Marshall
Sadly, this is no joke.
The Supreme Court’s decision that corporations have more constitutional rights than mere humans was determined by a one-judge margin. Justice Scalia, and four of his buddies, unilaterally determined that corporations have express constitutional rights in excess of human’s constitutional rights, even though the word “corporation” is not found anywhere in the Constitution on the grounds that the Civil War — which some call the “War to Free the Slaves” was actually the “War to Free Corporations from Human Bondage” and that the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, passed as a consequence of that war and giving all American “persons” equal rights under the law was actually designed to allow corporations to own and control Members of Congress.  Scalia had ZERO evidence for his decision, but, of course, he didn’t need any.  After choosing the President in 2000, despite the fact that the American People and the Electoral College rejected Scalia’s candidate, Scalia knew that, with four colleagues, he could unilaterally take over dictatorship of the USA. And so he has.)
Read these excerpts from the opinion of Justice John Paul Stevens, in his angry dissent to the Citizens United case, backed up by three justices:
“The Court’s ruling threatens to undermine the integrity of elected institutions across the Nation.”
“[F]ive Justices were unhappy with the limited nature of the case before us, so they changed the case to give themselves an opportunity to change the law.”

– “[F]ive Justices today destroy a longstanding American practice.”
“[This decision] threaten[s] to short circuit the democratic process by preventing laws embodying the will of the people from being implemented in a manner consistent with the Constitution. These concerns are heightened when judges overrule settled doctrine upon which the legislature has relied. The Court operates with a sledgehammer rather than a scalpel when it strikes down one of Congress’ most significant efforts to regulate the role that corporations and unions play in electoral politics. It compounds the offense by implicitly striking down a great many state laws as well.”

– “The problem goes still deeper, for the Court does all of this on the basis of pure speculation.”
– “By reinstating a claim that Citizens United abandoned, the Court gives it a perverse litigating advantage over its adversary, which was deprived of the opportunity to gather and present information necessary to its rebuttal.
– “[The Court] leaps from this unfounded prediction to the unfounded conclusion that such complexity counsels the abandonment of all normal restraint.”
“[There is no] significant justification, beyond the preferences of five Justices, for overturning settled doctrine.”
“The majority has no empirical evidence with which to substantiate the claim”
– “State legislatures have relied on their authority to regulate corporate electioneering . . . for more than a century. The Federal Congress has relied on this authority for a comparable stretch of time, . . . The total record it compiled was 100,000 pages long. Pulling out the rug beneath Congress after affirming the constitutionality . . . shows great disrespect for a coequal branch.”
“The Court’s ruling thus dramatically enhances the role of corporations and unions ‘and the narrow interests they representvis-a -vis the role of political parties’and the broad coalitions they represent ‘in determining who will hold public office.”
– “[T]he majority’s characterization of the FEC is deeply disconcerting.”
“Congress and half the state legislatures have concluded, over many decades, that their core functions of administering elections and passing legislation cannot operate effectively without some narrow restrictions on corporate electioneering paid for by general treasury funds.”
– If taken seriously, our colleagues’ assumption that the identity of a speaker has no relevance to the Government’s ability to regulate political speech would lead to some remarkable conclusions. Such an assumption would have accorded the propaganda broadcasts to our troops by ‘Tokyo Rose’ during World War II the same protection as speech by Allied commanders. More pertinently, it would appear to afford the same protection to multinational corporations controlled by foreigners as to individual Americans: To do otherwise, after all, could enhance the relative voice of some (i.e., humans) over others (i.e., nonhumans). . . . Under the majority’s view, I suppose it may be a First Amendment problem that corporations are not permitted to vote, given that voting is, among other things, a form of speech.”
– “[T]here is not a scintilla of evidence to support the notion that anyone [of the Framers] believed [the First Amendment] would preclude regulatory distinctions based on the corporate form. To the extent that the Framers’ views are discernible and relevant to the disposition of this case, they would appear to cut strongly against the majority’ position.”
“This case sheds a revelatory light on the assumption of some that an impartial judge’s application of an originalist methodology is likely to yield more determinate answers, or to play a more decisive role in the decisional process, than his or her views about sound policy.”
– [I]t pays to remember that nothing in our constitutional history dictates today’s outcome. To the contrary, this history helps illuminate just how extraordinarily dissonant the decision is.”
– [In] 1907, when Congress passed the Tillman Act, banning all corporate contributions to candidates[, t]he Senate Report on the legislation observed that ‘[t]he evils of the use of [corporate] money in connection with political elections are so generally recognized that the committee deems it unnecessary to make any argument in favor of the general purpose of this measure. It is in the interest of good government and calculated to promote purity in the selection of public officials.’ . . . President Roosevelt, in his 1905 annual message to Congress, declared: ‘All contributions by corporations to any political committee or for any political purpose should be forbidden by law; directors should not be permitted to use stockholders’ money for such purpose.'”
– “We have repeatedly sustained legislation aimed at ‘the corrosive and distorting effects of immense aggregations of wealth that are accumulated with the help of the corporate form and that have little or no correlation to the public’s support for the corporation’s political ideas.'”
“[I]n a functioning democracy the public must have faith that its representatives owe their positions to the people, not to the corporations with the deepest pockets.”
– “[The majority] disregards our constitutional history and the fundamental demands of a democratic society.”
“A democracy cannot function effectively when its constituent members believe laws are being bought and sold.”
“Starting today, corporations with large war chests to deploy on electioneering may find democratically elected bodies becoming much more attuned to their interests.”
– “It is an interesting question “who’ is even speaking when a business corporation places an advertisement that endorses or attacks a particular candidate. Presumably it is not the customers or employees, who typically have no say in such matters. It cannot realistically be said to be the shareholders, who tend to be far removed from the day-to-day decisions of the firm and whose political preferences may be opaque to management. Perhaps the officers or directors of the corporation have the best claim to be the ones speaking, except their fiduciary duties generally prohibit them from using corporate funds for personal ends. Some individuals associated with the corporation must make the decision to place the ad, but the idea that these individuals are thereby fostering their self expression or cultivating their critical faculties is fanciful. It is entirely possible that the corporation’s electoral message will conflict with their personal convictions. Take away the ability to use general treasury funds for some of those ads, and no one’s autonomy, dignity, or political equality has been impinged upon in the least.”
“When citizens turn on their televisions and radios before an election and hear only corporate electioneering, they may lose faith in their capacity, as citizens, to influence public policy.”
– “[Today’s decision] may well promote corporate power at the cost of the individual and collective self-expression the Amendment was meant to serve. It will undoubtedly cripple the ability of ordinary citizens, Congress, and the States to adopt even limited measures to protect against corporate domination of the electoral process. Americans may be forgiven if they do not feel the Court has advanced the cause of self-government today.”
– “At bottom, the Court’s opinion is thus a rejection of the common sense of the American people, who have recognized a need to prevent corporations from undermining self government since the founding, and who have fought against the distinctive corrupting potential of corporate electioneering since the days of Theodore Roosevelt. It is a strange time to repudiate that common sense. While American democracy is imperfect, few outside the majority of this Court would have thought its flaws included a dearth of corporate money in politics.
And, lastly (Congratulations, if you’ve read this far!), a few quotes from our Founders:
From Thomas Jefferson: “I hope we shall . . . crush in [its] birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength and bid defiance to the laws of our country’.
From Chief Justice John Marshall in a decision from 1819: ‘A corporation is an artificial being, invisible, intangible, and existing only in contemplation of law. Being the mere creature of law, it possesses only those properties which the charter of its creation confers upon it’
And so, by one a one-vote margin, five men killed democracy today.
May democracy rest in peace.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

  • Robt January 25, 2010 2:47 am

    Here is a question :
    Pat Robertson’s religious organization has a Corporation called the 700 Club.
    It is a Corporation and therefore breaks the church and state barrier in religious tests for President. Not to mention the Lords money running ads and buying their candidates.
    Gov’t can’t take any corporate rights away from the 700 Club because it is a religion and Gov’t shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion or prohibiting there of.
    This decision just keeps sounding worse the more I think of it.
    How did money ever get ruled as free speech?
    Money is a promise of value that when put together can total the equivelant worth of property value of another.
    So money is basically commerce?
    So if money is commerce,
    Commerce is material goods or services.
    Weapons grade Anthrax is a commodity. Can we give weapons grade anthrax to a political candidate under free speech.
    After all the anthrax would cost you money and money is free speech.
    Extreme argument but is the principal really untrue?