Corrupt to the core

Testifying under oath during confirmation hearings, Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justice Samuel Alito offered assurances about their respect for legal precedent and the appropriate role of the judiciary.

The recent decision of the court overturning settled campaign finance law achieved through bipartisan action of the elected legislative and executive branches was contemptuous of precedent, aggressive in its political intent, extremist in its impact and radical in its usurpation of power against the elected branches of government.

The “anything goes” ethic of a politics held in wide disrepute now extends to five Supreme Court justices who rule that unlimited sums of unregulated money can be spent to buy power over our republic.

They hold in contempt the warning of Madison in Federalist 10 that special-interest factions could overwhelm the nation. They ignore the warnings of Washington about the dangers of foreign entanglements that may, under this decision, if not clarified, further corrupt the governance of the nation. They hold in contempt the time-honored truth of Lincoln that America is the land of the people, by the people and for the people, and not the property of the money, by the money and for the money at the expense of people who lack the money.

Under the Supreme Court decision, companies that received investment from Nazi financiers and armed the Nazi war machine could have spent unlimited money to destroy elected officials who opposed their agenda.

Under this decision, oil companies dependent on the good will of unfriendly nations, which receive investment from foreign sources, including some that covertly fund bin Laden and others who overtly despise Israel, could spend unlimited money to promote an agenda hostile to our own.

The sheer extremism of this decision, the contempt for legal precedent that preceded it and the confirmation testimony that promised to honor this precedent, the disregard for the widely held view that Washington is corrupted by money in the service of greed, will go down in history alongside the opinion that slaves were property of slave-owners.

This decision is reminiscent of the mercantilist view of King George III, in which the power of the few with money would colonize the many who lack it, a view anathema to the essence of our republic, a view that inspired the American Revolution fought to end it.

I propose that Congress pass an American Elections for Americans Only Act of 2010 that would prohibit unlimited, unregulated spending by American subsidiaries of foreign companies and firms or entities that benefit from foreign investment or capital.

This act would simply prohibit unlimited spending, clarify ambiguities in the court decision and require the court to decide whether foreign interests have free-speech rights to dominate American elections.

A recent Gallup poll found that 76 percent of Americans believe government should limit corporate political spending. There will be a tidal wave of public support for making American elections American-only.

Our system is corrupt to the core. If a special interest offered bags of cash in return for a politician’s vote, it would be a criminal felony. Our system is designed to legalize what is essentially this transaction. The least we can do is not further globalize the corruption.

Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen and Bill Alexander, then chief deputy majority whip of the House. He holds an LL.M. degree in international financial law from the London School of Economics. He can be read on The Hill’s Pundits Blog and reached at