In the media coverage of the recent United States Supreme Court case involving organizational spending on political campaigns — the Hillary movie case — there is a hint of a follow-up issue on campaign finance law.The organizational brain behind the Citizens United case, Indiana attorney James Bogg Jr., promises the next test case will challenge disclosure laws requiring identification of people who petition for state laws, in this case, Washington state’s opponents of same-sex marriage. It is argued that anonymity is required to protect petitioners from harassment by gay-rights advocates. Mr. Bogg is candid about his tactic to whittle away at election disclosure laws. Requiring disclosure, he argues, is punitive.
One more thought on the Supreme Court ruling that corporations have the First Amendment right to free expression and are therefore able to spend on campaigns as if they were individuals.
It's a human right. Right? Actually, that's the flaw in the decision: Humans have hearts. Corporations decidedly do not. As we've witnessed in the massive waves of layoffs to protect profits, in the despicable tactics of those in the big bank and finance companies, in the contemptible treatment of customers with health problems by the insurance companies, they are heartLESS.
The elected president and Congress should answer the unelected Supreme Court by passing what I call the American Elections for Americans Only Act of 2010.
According to the recent Gallup poll following the court decision, 76 percent of voters believe that elected officials should regulate American corporate political spending. I believe my proposal would garner support from more than 90 percent of our voters, who are tired of outsourcing our jobs, our finance and our strength in the world and are outraged at the prospect of outsourcing the buying of our democracy and our nation.
At least the Supremes’ latest hit is a blow for honesty. The 5-4 ruling that corporations (and unions) can directly spend their megabucks for the ads that can distort the elections means they can have their way without having to jump through all those phony hoops.
What a victory for the Republicans. On those rare occasions that the Democrats don't just hand them an election, like the freebie they gave away in Massachusetts, the GOP can buy it, now that there is easier access to the coffers of their patrons. They'll get whatever they need simply by reminding them how they always protect their interests.
Chief Justice John Roberts did not tell the truth in his confirmation hearings when he claimed he would respect stare decisis, the idea of legal precedent. The Supreme Court decision allowing unlimited corporate cash to buy unlimited political power through unlimited political spending is one of the greatest single attacks on democracy in the history of jurisprudence, and one of the single greatest demonstrations of contempt for legal precedent in the history of the United States Supreme Court.
When politicians face too much heat from the people, they try to do things like enact campaign finance reform.
And eventually, the Supreme Court decides that these efforts to keep the people at bay run afoul of the First Amendment.
Several years ago, my former boss, Speaker Denny Hastert, tried to stop moderate Republicans, like Chris Shays and John McCain, from joining with Democrats in passing campaign finance reform.
The latest chapter in the long debate over televised court proceedings arose in the ongoing federal trial in San Francisco over California Proposition 8 barring same-sex marriage. In that case, Hollingsworth v. Perry, both sides on the incendiary issue have lined up articulate lawyers, spokesmen and expert witnesses to propound their views. Whatever one’s views on the substantive subject of gay marriage, the case presents an interesting opportunity to educate the public on a contentious issue of contemporary policy.
How the Senate perverts the lawmaking process with its filibuster rule is a subject I wrote about on this site on Dec. 22, 2009. I return to the subject, inspired by Thomas Geoghegan’s scholarly op-ed analysis in today’s New York Times.
My earlier focus was on the workings of the Electoral College and our system of bicameral legislative government on democracy. A small fraction of the population determines our federal laws by diluting the votes of large states’ populations. Some states’ total populations are less than some cities in other states. New Yorkers or Californians could quip facetiously about the populations of states like Wyoming, “We’ve got more people in our building.”
One major campaign issue last year was the need to improve our federal courts. I wrote about this subject several times on this blog. Approaching the first quarter of the Obama presidency, his scorecard is tepid and disappointing.On Jan. 20, 2009, the new president inherited 55 vacancies on the federal courts, which would be understaffed if all the seats were filled. As of Nov. 30, 2009, there were 98 vacancies, 20 on the circuit (appellate) courts and 78 on the district (trial) courts.