Back in January of 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court turned back many years of precedent as far as campaign financing in a highly controversial ruling labeled “Citizens United vs. FEC”. The ruling in its entirety allows corporations to use their unlimited funds to influence elections by contributing to super pacs.
It even opened the door for organizations that are registered as non-profit, such as Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS, to collect donations without any disclosure whatsoever of the donor’s identity. This means any corporation or wealthy individual can throw as much money as they wish at an election without fear of being scrutinized by voters.
The subsequent results of that ruling for the last year and a half have shown a steep rise in corporate contributions and donations from wealthy donors, in a bid to change the results of elections. “To the highest bidder” became the new campaign finance system as millions of dollars are poured into ads on all levels of government to install new legislators who are in the pockets of corporations and wealthy benefactors.
Obviously, the negative results didn’t matter to a court that has shown its disregard for the ordinary citizens of this great nation by robbing them of equality against the interests of corporations and Big Money.
The issue before the court was a ruling by Montana’s Supreme Court which in December 2011 confirming a state law passed back in 1912 by a voter referendum; the Corrupt Practices Act. The state court ruled the law was justifiable and upheld it which stood in direct dispute of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United vs. FEC.
Montana’s law states “corporation may not make … an expenditure in connection with a candidate or a political party that supports or opposes a candidate or a political party.”
In a ruling that reinforces the power of “Citizens United vs. FEC” the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the same “Citizens United” ruling applied in this case as well.
The conservative majority on the court is actually saying to the State of Montana and every other state that they must allow corporations with their super pacs and so-called non-profit organizations to spend all the money they want to influence state elections.
What this ruling leads me to believe is that any case brought before this court which has to do with the profits of big corporations and the freedom for those corporations to do whatever they wish, we can always count on a conservative ruling in favor of the corporations. This has been in my opinion, the reliable pattern of Chief Justice John Robert’s court since the beginning.
And if my hunch – which is what I will call it – is right, then the civil rights of corporations will always outweigh the rights of individuals or in other words; the majority of Americans, as long as that conservative majority can hold the reins of this court.
This country has seen presidents that were crooks and even bigots, and certainly congresses that were led by their own biases or their constituency’s biases, when it came to the rights of African-Americans, women, Hispanics, gay people and other minorities. But our U.S. Supreme Court could always be counted on to be the underdog, protector of the rights of the voiceless.
Those glorious days seem to be over for the time being, at least with this court. It would appear now the only voice that seems to really matter is the voice of money.
I believe as long as the ruling of the court on “Citizen’s United vs. FEC” stands, our democracy will dwindle. We can only hope for a future more liberal U.S. Supreme Court which will again, hand democracy back to its people.
Corporations are not people. They may employ people but those people have the same rights as everyone else. By designating corporations as people, which is what really transpired in the “Citizens United” ruling, they gave corporations and wealthy individuals more access to government compared to average citizens.
The only permanent solution to keep the U.S. Supreme Court from handing our country over to the highest bidder is a constitutional amendment ending private campaign financing. Along with that amendment, an amendment that restricts outside groups from using their unfair financial advantage over ordinary voters from influencing our elections, at least without full disclosure of their donors.
Democracy can be a fleeting thing when it can be put in jeopardy by Supreme Court justices whose conservative or even liberal interests drives them to serve their own agenda and not the will of the People.
The continuous rulings of this court in favor of corporations tells me we need to be sure and give President Barack Obama a second term, at least in the hopes that one of the conservative justices will retire and again we can give balance back to moderation for a branch of government that in so many historical times of our nation, has stood for the rights of our most vulnerable citizens.