Monday, July 06, 2009
The Raw Story
If this editorial in the Times has it right, American democracy could be in for a rough ride in the coming years.The most troubling part of the court’s action is the brave new world of politics it could usher in. Auto companies that receive multibillion-dollar bailouts could spend vast sums to re-elect the same officials who hand them the money. If Exxon Mobil or Wal-Mart wants something from a member of Congress, it could threaten to spend as much as it takes to defeat him or her in the next election.
– From an editorial in the New York Times, July 4, 2009
A largely-overlooked order from the United States Supreme Court last week suggests the nation’s highest court wants to revisit long-standing restrictions on campaign contributions from corporations.
On the last day of its current session, the Supreme Court surprised observers by declining to return a ruling in the case of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, instead asking lawyers on both sides of the case to return in September for an unusual pre-session hearing on the validity of various electoral laws pertaining to the case.
Citizens United vs. FEC revolves around a political film the conservative activist group Citizens United made about Hillary Clinton in 2008, while the then-senator from New York was running for president. The FEC had charged Citizens United with breaking campaign finance laws by distributing the film during a certain period before the primary elections.
But instead of ruling on the case and the relevant law (the McCain-Fengold law, which set some restrictions on corporate political spending), the court instead asked the lawyers in the case to present briefs on a relevant case from 20 years ago: Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce.
This is important because that was the Supreme Court case that ruled that restrictions on campaign contributions by corporations, unions and other organizations were legal despite their infringement on First Amendment rights....(Remainder.)