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nellie On January - 21 - 2010

This morning, conservative activists on the Supreme Court dealt another blow to self governance by We the People. In a 5 to 4 decision, the court struck down limits on corporate and union spending in elections (including judicial elections) in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.

What a lousy week this is turning out to be for our country.

The case

Majority Opinion (PDF)

Citizens United
Hillary the Movie

Although they make enormous contributions to our society, corporations are not actually members of it. They cannot vote or run for office. Because they may be managed and controlled by nonresidents, their interests may conflict in fundamental respects with the interests of eligible voters. The financial resources, legal structure,and instrumental orientation of corporations raise legitimate concerns about their role in the electoral process. Our lawmakers have a compelling constitutional basis, if not also a democratic duty, to take measures designed to guard against the potentially deleterious effects of corporate spending in local and national races.

—Justice Stevens, Dissenting


With its ruling today, the Supreme Court has given a green light to a new stampede of special interest money in our politics. It is a major victory for big oil, Wall Street banks, health insurance companies and the other powerful interests that marshal their power every day in Washington to drown out the voices of everyday Americans.

This ruling gives the special interests and their lobbyists even more power in Washington — while undermining the influence of average Americans who make small contributions to support their preferred candidates.

That’s why I am instructing my Administration to get to work immediately with Congress on this issue. We are going to talk with bipartisan Congressional leaders to develop a forceful response to this decision. The public interest requires nothing less.

—President Barack Obama

Schumer calls for hearings on ‘un-American’ court decision
Grayson on High Court Ruling: ‘Worst Decision Since Dred Scott’
Democrats plan bill to limit impact of campaign finance decision

Ignoring important principles of judicial restraint and respect for precedent, the Court has given corporate money a breathtaking new role in federal campaigns. Just six years ago, the Court said that the prohibition on corporations and unions dipping into their treasuries to influence campaigns was ‘firmly embedded in our law.’ Yet this Court has just upended that prohibition, and a century’s worth of campaign finance law designed to stem corruption in government. The American people will pay dearly for this decision when, more than ever, their voices are drowned out by corporate spending in our federal elections. In the coming weeks, I will work with my colleagues to pass legislation restoring as many of the critical restraints on corporate control of our elections as possible.

—Senator Russ Feingold

Common Cause: Supreme Court Decision Creates Political Crisis


McClatchy: Supreme Court ends limits on corporate campaign spending
NPR: Supreme Court Ruling: No More Ban On Corporate Campaign Money
NPR: High Court Rolls Back Campaign Spending Limits
Washington Post: Supreme Court rolls back campaign spending limits

New York Times: Justices Overturn Key Campaign Limits
New York Times: Justices Block Key Part of Campaign Law


Washington Post: Campaign finance ruling reflects Supreme Court’s growing audacity
New York Times: How Corporate Money Will Reshape Politics
McClatchy: Who’s activist now? In election spending case, conservatives

Possible Remedies

Immediate Legislative redress
Alan Grayson is asking everyone to go to SaveDemocracy.net and sign the petition for immediate action.

Campaign Finance
Campaign Reform in the Networked Age: Fostering Participation through Small Donors and Volunteers, Brookings
Publicly funded elections

Legal restraints
Before corporate dollars are spent, must have majority vote of shareholders

End corporate personhood
Move to Amend
Reclaim Democracy
Free Speech for People

Voter Action
Move to Amend
Reclaim Democracy
Free Speech for People

Categories: Featured, News & Politics

164 Responses so far.

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  1. BigDogMom says:

    Thanks to all you for posting all the petitions links here tonight, have signed them all and will be forwarding these links to as many people as possible tomorrow.

  2. KevenSeven says:

    Hey. Let’s just impeach Thomas, Scalia and Kennedy for throwing the 2000 election.

    We would only need 67 senators to go for that…..

  3. Hopeington says:

    Barney Frank, on Rachel Maddow’s show tonight was hopeful about changing corporate law itself, to address this issue. If you missed it, check it out.
    It was a glimmer from a corner I hadn’t considered.

    • Hopeington says:

      I wanted to add, that while he said some hopeful things, I was hurling obscenities at the screen and my son was laughing and pointing out how pissed Rachel was, shaking her head at some of the wimpy ass blankedy blank shit that was coming out of his mouth about working with the Republicans.

      • BigDogMom says:

        Hey Hope, I’m with you, I think all this talk about trying to work with the Repugs is hog wash…we’ve been there and done that, didn’t work, will never work.

        • Hopeington says:

          It was probably the first time I got Really Mad at Barney. Definitely seemed weak. I was glad to hear Obama come out and speak like he meant business. I think letters of encouragement to all our representatives is crucial right now, and the WH too.
          Grow some balls people!!

          • BigDogMom says:

            I was thinking of doing just that this morning by snail mail…Obama needs to come out strong on corporate/Banking reform, not this watered down bullshit that he’s presented in the past.

            This crap about being bipartisan is not working, he needs to make some enemies, (corps/banks/repugs), and have some clear proposals and I think the people will be behind him.

  4. KevenSeven says:

    I thank all the Puritans who insisted that there was no difference between Gore and Bush.

    • jan4insight says:

      Yeah, I once had a friend like that. Our friendship ended the night before the 2000 election, when I challenged his proposal to vote for Nader (!) because it was the same thing as voting for Bush. And he said he’d rather have Bush ,,, and this was gay man …. go figure!

  5. Kalima says:

    I’ve spent a few hours emailing with a friend in NC, he’s devastated and says that this could mean the end to the American way of life 15 to 20 years down the road. He also said that at some point this could be reversed but that these laws seem to linger on before anyone attempts that, still it seems like a small glimmer of hope.

  6. jan4insight says:

    Here’s another link to add our list of those fighting against the travesty of the day:


  7. bitohistory says:

    It’s fucking over! Hope you enjoyed your last vote!!!

    • nellie says:

      I think congress is going to have something to say about this. That balance of power idea motivates people to protect their turf.

      • bitohistory says:

        nellie, If it’s not passed by the midterms, it will be the last election that you can vote in!

        • nellie says:

          I don’t think so.

          This will be fixed, because this country eventually gets around to fixing whatever impedes civil rights.

          We fixed Dred Scott. We’ll fix this, too.

          We can pass laws to require public financing.

          We can institute Instant Runoff Voting to admit third and fourth parties.

          We can eliminate the electoral college.

          We can eliminate corporate personhood to say that corporations do not have civil rights.

          We can decide that money is not speech, money is commerce.

          We could use activism — for example we could start a national movement that whenever we see a campaign ad paid for by a corporate sponsor, we boycott that company for the next week.

          Alan Grayson is asking everyone to go to SaveDemocracy.net

          • Hopeington says:

            Now you’re talkin’
            These are all great ideas Nellie!
            Cher posted this earlier
            Thought I’d bring closer to the top.
            I signed Grayson’s petition yesterday along with 5 friends and am working on more.
            what I found, talking to people, is they are working so hard just trying to hang on to what they’ve got, they really don’t have the time to pay much attention to this. I actually got laughed at and shooed away today, by a friend who was stressing about the decline of her business, for bringing this up, she just didn’t want to know or hear that things could get worse. It was over load.

            • nellie says:

              The last section in the article is called “Possible Remedies” where those links are listed as well. I will add Grayson’s petition.

          • bitohistory says:

            nellie, I don’t know anymore. I am pissed, angry and depressed. I am not my optimistic self. Perhaps it is my illness speaking right now and I should just withhold my thoughts for now. I am going to watch KO’s comment and then go back to bed.

            good night, and take care.

            • kesmarn says:

              Good night, b’ito. And, for what it’s worth, I don’t think it’s necessarily your illness speaking tonight. There’s plenty to be bummed out about…

              Tomorrow is another day.

            • Hopeington says:

              I just watched KO’s comment, he really said it all, with no let up.
              The only real combat about this is going to have to come from the people. Information on who is being bought by the corps. should really have a prominent place in the media, to let people see and decide for themselves..???.
              Just trying to stay positive.
              Rest well Bito

            • nellie says:

              take care, bito.

              My reaction to a setback is to go into high gear right away. That’s just my chemistry.

              So I’ll just say — step back and take care of yourself first. Have a good night.

              And never feel you need to withhold your thoughts on my account. I’m always on your side.

          • KQuark says:

            The problem is I in this case your average American does not look at this as a civil rights issue.

            • nellie says:

              But the average American can be motivated by activism.

              I think we’ve forgotten how powerful grassroots activism can be. We’ve practically abandoned it as a political tool — but it’s probably the most powerful tool the public has.

            • nellie says:

              I’ll give you one little example, K.

              During the BlackBox voting campaigns-- which we need to reinvigorate, btw — I wrote a piece targeting common cause and PFAW because they would not support paper ballots. I wish I could find it. But I sent it everywhere. And I sent it to PFAW and Common Cause.

              Somehow it must have stirred something up because it actually led to a fairly extended dialogue w one of the heads of PFAW.

              And then a few weeks later — they changed their stance.

              I’m not saying that my one editorial piece was responsible, but probably my one editorial — added to all the other flack they were getting — helped.

              Activism works. But it takes persistence. And a belief that eventually, it will have an impact. And if we’re persistent, eventually, it will.

            • KQuark says:

              Bless you nellie you are truly inspiring. I’ve only been what I call an activist for a few years and I’m feeling totally defeated by our system. I know you’ve been active much longer. I guess we just need to get off the ground, dust ourselves off and keep on trying.

  8. whatsthatsound says:

    Golden Rule:
    Them what has the gold makes the rules.

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