Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Roberts Court's Constitutional Capitalism is about to Buy All of Our Elections.

I've complained in the past about the wishy washy personality of author and columnist John Nichols, who continues to give lend credibility to the Republican talking points. The Republican "bully on the playground" will end up getting more extreme if what they say is taken seriously. That's why the Republican Party has become so radicalized.

Having said that, I won't discount the researched articles Nichols has done along the way, like his most recent on campaign finance, the Supreme Court and Sen. Russ Feingold. The justices are about to overturn a centuries worth of precedent by what can accurately be called a conservative activist court. This is the lasting legacy of the Bush administration. Here's Nichols case along with interview quotes from Russ Feingold. The Capital Times:

Teddy Roosevelt called for full public financing of federal campaigns and told the Congress in 1905: "All contributions by corporations to any political committee or for any political purpose should be forbidden by law." Roosevelt did not get full public financing ... But Congress did in 1907 pass the Tillman Act, which banned corporate giving.

Successive congresses have strengthened that ban, with the Federal Corrupt Practices Act of 1925, the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, broad amendments to FECA in 1972 and 1974, and the McCain-Feingold Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform Act of 2002.

But the current chief justice of the United States, John Roberts, is a conservative judicial activist who has made little effort to disguise his determination to rearrange political rules to favor his political allies (in) ruling (on) Citizens United v. FEC (Federal Election Commission).

But U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold, worried. "This would be, in my view, a lawless decision from the Supreme Court …Part of me says I can't believe they'll do it, but there's some indication they might, and that means the whole idea of respecting the previous decisions of the Supreme Court won't mean anything anymore. The Supreme Court has affirmed over and over again that it's not part of free speech that corporations and unions can use their treasuries (to buy elections)."

If the court does overturn law and precedent to advance a corporate agenda, Feingold says it would be "an example of activism, and legislating by a court." Says Feingold: "If they overturn a hundred years of laws, it means that corporations or unions can just open their treasuries (and) just completely buy up all the television time, and drown out everyone else's voices."

For Republicans and tea party activists, freedom includes corporate spending, just like the flesh and blood right of individuals in the constitution. One day we might wonder how everything went wrong, like the current Great Recession, but it'll be too late. Welcome to the theory of constitutional capitalism.


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