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SCOTUS To Overhaul Campaign Finance Laws?

with 2 comments

Money & Politics

This is pretty disturbing:

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court appears poised to wipe away limits on campaign spending by corporations and labor unions in time for next year’s congressional elections in a case that began as a dispute over a movie about Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The justices return to the bench Sept. 9 — nearly a month early — to consider whether to overrule two earlier decisions that restrict how and when corporations and unions can take part in federal campaigns. Laws that impose similar limits in 24 states also are threatened.

The court first heard arguments in March in the case of whether “Hillary: The Movie,” a scathingly critical look at Clinton’s presidential ambitions, could be regulated as a campaign ad. The emphasis has shifted away from the 90-minute film.

Now the justices could decide whether corporations and unions should be treated differently from individuals when it comes to campaign spending. Restrictions on corporations have been around for more than 100 years; limits on unions date from the 1940s.

Deep corporate and labor pockets and the potential for corruption “amply justify treating corporate and union expenditures differently from those by individuals and ideological nonprofit groups,” argued Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Russ Feingold, D-Wis., and other sponsors of a major campaign finance law who don’t want any significant change to the restrictions.

That is nothing short of amazing. If it’s true, the SCOTUS is moving towards opening the flood gates for corporate campaign contributions in U.S. elections. If you were under the impression that corporate interests were being put before those of average citizens, this will surely solidify and freely finance that fear. This is effectively allowing for corporate interests to buy elections even more blatantly than they currently do. That the Supreme Court is oblivious to this is beyond any reasonable explanation. The system is imperfect as is, so for the SCOTUS to lift century-old safeguards against such pure, unadulterated monetary influence is startling.

If they believe that the interests of ordinary citizens can compete against corporate interests, I need to see what’s being poured into their flasks in the morning.


Written by PJ

September 9, 2009 at 6:26 pm

2 Responses

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  1. I’m hoping they’ll approach the question properly. First, determine by what power delegated under Section 8 of Article I could the legislation fall under. If properly assessed, it could only be a restriction upon members of Congress accepting money from these sources, or any emoluments/benefits from these sources.

    Perhaps they’ll go a step further, and say congress has no authority to accept bribes from any source, regardless of intent. Doing so would be a violation of the trust they hold in office. Too much is accepted as acceptable, and primarily because it’s been this way as long as we can remember… it doesn’t have to be.


    September 9, 2009 at 6:44 pm

    • Agreed. The direction you want to go in is the one which makes sense. They should be restricting the influence of corporate money in Washington, not liberalizing laws to increase it.

      Striking down section 203 of the Campaign Reform Act is clearly a step in the wrong direction.


      September 9, 2009 at 7:04 pm

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