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.
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
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
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
Immediate Legislative redress
Alan Grayson is asking everyone to go to SaveDemocracy.net and sign the petition for immediate action.
Campaign Reform in the Networked Age: Fostering Participation through Small Donors and Volunteers, Brookings
Publicly funded elections
Before corporate dollars are spent, must have majority vote of shareholders