Thursday, January 21, 2010

Money Swears

Got speech for sale?
The Supreme Court today overturned decades of laws restricting corporations from spending money on political campaigns. Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the usual suspects, dismissed the overturned laws as tantamount to government thought control. The decision was a victory for the right-wing group Citizens United, which put out an infomercial masquerading as a documentary about - and making the case against - Hillary Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign.
A lower court ruled against Citizens United. It stated that the infomercial violated a provision in the McCain-Feingold Act, which forbids corporations, unions and other interest groups from using funds from their general treasuries for an airing of a television program that refers to a candidate for federal office during an election season, according to the Washington Post. The right-wing bloc on the Court expanded it to cover the constitutionality of campaign finance laws in general, and struck down laws dating back sixty years in the process. The ruling adds insult to injury against the American progressive movement, still reeling from the special Senate election loss in Massachusetts. In addition to health care on life support, liberals now have to face corporate America outspending them into political irrelevance.
The silver lining? Unions can spend as much money as they want, too.
President Obama criticized the decision, and New York senator Charles Schumer has vowed to push for new legislation that would, among other things, limit donations from government contracts and get shareholder approval for campaign spending, but trying to circumvent a Supreme Court ruling is like trying to avoid quicksand in the jungle; you have to tread very carefully, and you might still slip. Congress has to produce a law that passes constitutional muster according to the current Court's view. Good luck.
Corporate America won a victory for "free speech," which they can put a price on now.

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