It’s the Supreme Court, Dummy!

  
Excellent article here and a great follow-up to Matt Yglesias’ recent Jeremiad about Democratic complacency at the state level. The fact of the matter is SCOTUS is the third hyper-partisan branch of government and with the other two almost certainly still divided after 2016, the most important. Forget undoing the damage of the Roberts Court; Democrats must retain the White House to prevent what could effectively be the outlawry of the Democratic Party, progressivism, and the tattered remnants of American democracy. It’s that fucking important.

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Published in: on October 29, 2015 at 8:49 pm  Leave a Comment  
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All Free Speech is Created Equal…

...but some is more equal than others.

Here’s a modest proposal: obviously, the effects of the Buckley v. Valeo, Citizens United and McCutcheon decisions can only be completely overturned with a Constitutional amendment. Either that, or a dramatically reconstituted Supreme Court (which most Americans now see, correctly, as just another political branch of government). In the meantime, I suggest we pass a law in state legislatures and Congress stating that lawmakers must recuse themselves from any vote on any piece of legislation that will directly benefit any person or organization which donated more than, say $500, to them in the last two election cycles. Whore yourself out to the oligarchs all you want, in other words, but you can’t do their bidding. This would necessarily require a strong and independent ethics commission to enforce, but even that is less difficult than amending the Constitution. You could require than each bill be accompanied by an Ethical Impact Statement that lists all donors who would directly benefit from its passage. It’s not a perfect solution, of course; for one thing, SCOTUS may well be on the verge of completely throwing out all disclosure requirements as a violation of the right to anonymous speech. For another, it wouldn’t effect governors or presidents. Still, it’s a start. Progressive states might even add scuh a provision to their constitutions, thus making it harder to water-down or throw out as the political winds shift. That’s my contribution to the debate.

Religion, Incorporated

First impressions of oral arguments in the Hobby Lobby case, which could potentially result in extending constitutional freedom of religion rights to corporations. Corporations, mind you. This is a case brought by a corporation (albeit a privately held one) NOT an individual. This Supreme Court has already ruled, in Citizens United, that corporations have free speech rights; where does it stop? Could corporations adopt children (The Truman Show)? Could a corporation marry? Vote? Run for office? And how do we decide what religion a corporation is? Will it be like kingdoms during the Reformation and the peasants adopt whatever religion the King has? Is it the same religion as the CEO or the largest shareholder? Could a corporation vote by majority vote of the shareholders? May a shareholder sue the corporation for not fulfilling its religion duties (staying open on the Sabbath, for example; or selling non-kosher products)? And which religious beliefs are valid? Can I decide my corporation has a religious objection to environmental laws? The minimum wage? Workplace safety laws?

It’s utterly asinine to extend Constitutional rights to paper entities like corporations. There is no valid theory to uphold it, certainly not Original Intent, as corporations as we know them did not even exist at the time the Constitution was written. The only reason for the Supreme Court to even consider this ridiculous claim is the majority’s utterly loathing of President Obama and pro-corporate bent.

 

UPDATE: Justice Kennedy apparently thinks this is a case about abortion. That is potentially very bad news for people who don’t want their employer deciding what kind of birth control they can use.

Published in: on March 25, 2014 at 12:03 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Following the Money

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is investigating the US Chamber of Commerce for allegedly laundering campaign contributions.  You may remember that Big Insurance poured about $86 million into the USCoC in 2009 to try to defeat the Affordable Care Act.  Combined with this week’s Supreme Court ruling reinforcing Citizens United, this news just reinforces my belief that the corporatist wing of the Supremes will soon find a “First Amendment” right of corporations to donate money without any sort of disclosure whatsoever.

Follow the Money

Mother Jones tracks down the dark history of dark money, beginning with (surprise, surprise) Nixon.  Though there has been some nonsense lately in the MSM about how the Chief Justice was “shocked, shocked” by the results of Citizens United, that’s just so much eyewash.  Citizens United was Roberts’ baby and it has achieved precisely the desired result:  a plutocracy.  Needless to say, I have almost no faith that the Supremes will do anything to disturb this in the pending Montana case American Tradition Partnership v. Bullock.

Dear Mega-Donors:

Since your widdle feelin’s is all hurt, I’ll make you a deal: stop trying to buy my country and I’ll go back to not giving two shits about you.  Otherwise, nut up or shut up.

Welcome to the Jungle

In the brave, new, post-Citizens United world, millionaires who allow senior citizens to be sexually assaulted in their nursing homes can use limitless funds to punish prosecutors who dare to interfere in their “business.”  Thanks, Sam Alito!

I For One Welcome Our New Corporate Overlords

As anticipated, the US Supreme Court today officially abolished the inconvenience of democracy for the free market efficiency of plutocracy.  Today’s ruling clears the way for large corporations (considered artificial citizens under the law) to pour unlimited amounts of cash (which equals “free speech” thanks to the disastrous Buckley v. Valeo decision) into electoral campaigns, drowning out the few pitiful remaining voices who spoke out against them.  Look for future decisions to abolish disclosure requirements as well, so you won’t even know the names of the people who are buying your country out from under you.

UPDATE: On ongoing analysis of the decision from the Great and Powerful Kos.

UPDATE 2: Citizens United as judicial activism.

It’s The End of the World As We Know It

The US Supreme Court is poised to formally cede control of the American democratic process to large, unaccountable corporations and special interest group.  The ruling could potentially allow these groups to dump millions of dollars into elections, while denying voters the right to even know where the money came from.  This is the natural result of the disastrous Buckley v. Valeo decision:  if money = “free speech,” then those who have more money have more rights, creating a two-class system.  Or, to put it another way, it’s the Golden Rule:  them that has the gold makes the rules.