Chief Injustice Roberts argued: "...we must balance the importance of having constitutional questions decided against the importance of having them decided right."
(We think he left off a capital "R" on right.)
Injustice Thomas argued: "...the Court takes an important first step..."
(How much does that scare you?)
Injustice Scalia argued: "We should celebrate rather than condemn the addition of this speech to the public debate."
We think not.
The Roberts Court showed its true colors last Thursday, with its brazen and intellectually dishonest power grab in the Citizens United case.
Perhaps not surprisingly, it shared those same unfortunate characteristics with the Rehnquist Court in its Bush v. Gore decision.
After all, the core trio is the same--Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas.
And the two newcomers, Roberts and Alito, showed they were as disingenuous, misleading, and unfaithful to their supposed principles as the Bush v. Gore crowd had been.
They really should be impeached. They deserve it. After all, they spit right in the Senate's eyes. I assume the Senate doesn't have enough self-respect to actually stand up for itself, but what does the Senate's right to confirmation mean if Roberts and Alito can carry enough votes only by knowingly spreading disinformation for several days? And if they then quickly prove they didn't tell the Senators the truth, shouldn't they be impeached? Just like Alberto Gonzales should have been impeached for pretending he couldn't remember anything...and Karl Rove for refusing to even show up...Don't they all have in common an intentional contempt for Congress?
This is a dangerous decision, deliberately designed to tilt the political playing field acutely towards corporations. Whatever responses we can creatively come up with, and organize around, we should pursue. Imho, this does not mean just one cure-all response; it means a whole range of push-backs.
We've launched a new activist group, FreeSpeechforPeople.org , with the goal of rolling back the false premise of corporate free speech. We believe, like most Americans with common sense, that political free speech is for people, not for corporations. More important, that's really what the Constitution means, too.
So we will be supporting netroots favorite Rep. Donna Edwards' impending Constitutional Amendment to restore free speech rights for people in politics. We will be organizing lawyers to invalidate the bogus legal theories that the Roberts Court is trying to sell as the basis for their fraudulent ruling. We'll be working to demonstrate the hypocrisy of the Roberts Court, supposedly dedicated to stare decisis and strict constructionism, while trying to discredit their obviously fake opposition to judicial activism. And we will be glad to work in coalition with those who want to make rolling back this awful decision a key point in the selection of any new Supreme Court justices.
We chose this avenue because we believe this is very strong ground to fight back on. This is not only fairer for real people, it allows us to fight on the same side as the century of court cases, which favored the people's right to political free speech, not some invented corporate privilege. It allows us to stand on the side of the Constitution's Founders, which clearly did not have corporations in mind when they penned the First Amendment.
Oh, and for those of you who immediately object to the odds against a Constitutional Amendment, yes, we understand how hard that road is. But we also understand how much the Far Right has gained over the past half century by pushing for Constitutional Amendments and impeachments (from Earl Warren to Bill Clinton), even when they never got close to succeeding on those tasks.
They gained ground by changing the public debate, changing the issues being discussed, putting liberals on the defensive even when they were correct on key issues, intimidating centrist Democrats, and organizing supporters all over the country. They never got Earl Warren impeached or Bill Clinton convicted, haven't yet won their anti-choice or school prayer Constitutional Amendments--still, their issues usually drive the public debate.
Besides, it's a potentially populist moment in America, and millions of political conservatives and libertarians also fear the rising power of multinational corporations. There is potential here for a "strange bedfellows" organizing fight--which means that even a Constitutional Amendment or two might be possible.
So if you want to join us, please click here .
I do want to be clear--we do not believe we have the only solution to the dangerous and widespread increase in corporate power during the last few decades, of which the Citizens United ruling is just the latest abuse.
We support Public Campaign, Common Cause, U.S. Pirg, and all the other campaign finance activists who have worked for literally decades to publicly fund our elections. We support the Fair Elections Now Act (FENA), sponsored by Rep. John Larson and Senator Dick Durbin. We agree with Public Campaign that clean money is a necessary step to rescuing our political system from the entrenched greed of too-powerful corporations.
You can help Public Campaign here.
We also agree with our friends at MovetoAmend.org that a huge underlying problem in combatting corporate power is the misguided legal notion that got illegitimately injected into our body politic in the late 1880s, that wrongly suggested the idea of corporate personhood. It's a fiction. The Founders never believed it. So we also need a Constitutional Amendment to erase that stain on James Madison's best work.
Jump on MovetoAmend's petition here.
There are other good ideas out there. Public Citizen, for one, is pushing the concept of shareholder approval prior to corporate political spending. E. J. Dionne's column this morning suggests others, and I know many other creative people are responding angrily to this outrageous decision with good ideas.
And I would even suggest that one of the better short-term responses to the Roberts Court's impudent power grab would be to pass EFCA, the Employee Free Choice Act. Since the Roberts Court's ruling allows labor unions as well as corporations to spend directly from their treasuries on politics now, we could respond to this provocation by doing whatever we can to increase the power of labor unions.
Yes, they'll still be vastly outspent by corporate money--but at least if we pass EFCA, and make it easier to add millions of working Americans to the union movement, labor money can counteract some of the power imbalance the Supreme Court just created. Plus, we should pass EFCA anyway, on its own merits.
What do you think, Mr. President, Speaker Pelosi? The Roberts Court is trying a nasty, brazen power grab. How about fighting back immediately, with tough new restrictions on Wall Street and corporate execs, passing EFCA, and clean money public elections through FENA, combined with serious and well-publicized hearings on the need to roll back so-called corporate free speech and corporate personhood?
The Roberts Court is trying to steal the House and Senate majorities for its corporate team. It's trying to flood our political system with corporate money to cut off the Obama Administration at only one term. It's wrong, it's a stain on the Constitution, and we'd like to help fight back.
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