Supreme Court makes U.S. a plutocracy - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Commentary

default avatar
Welcome to the site! Login or Signup below.
|
||
Logout|My Dashboard

Supreme Court makes U.S. a plutocracy

Print
Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Posted: Tuesday, February 16, 2010 12:00 am

In their landmark decision, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, five activist Supreme Court justices abolished a century of campaign-finance laws designed to curb the Gilded-Age robber barons’ power to corrupt the political process. One overturned law, barring corporate financing of federal legislation, was signed by President Teddy Roosevelt in 1907. This Tillman Act was a response to the 1896 election of President McKinley, who overwhelmed his Democratic opponent with corporate money.

At the intellectual roots of this decision are two so-called “legal fictions.” These are metaphysical constructs fabricated by lawyers to justify ridiculous legal doctrines when they can’t think of anything better. According to one legal fiction, money – i.e., political campaign donations – is equivalent to free speech. In the other, the court defines corporations as human beings, enjoying the same civil rights – i.e., free speech – as individual citizens.

The triumphant justices obviously ignored their decision’s logical implications. If money is free speech, how can courts ban monetary contributions to judges or jurors by parties to lawsuits, or even defendants in criminal trials? According to the court’s logic, mere involvement in a judicial proceeding should pose no obstacle to your First Amendment right to free speech. If money is free speech, judicial anti-bribery statutes should be declared unconstitutional. Free speech, in the court’s opinion, is a sacred right, not to be trifled with to serve less important goals.

In his ruling opinion, Justice Arthur Kennedy argues that you can’t prove campaign contributions buy legislators votes. By the same logic, you can’t prove that donations to judges would buy judicial decisions. You know only that both instances involve gargantuan conflicts of interest.

Compounding the logical problems posed by the money-equals-speech metaphor, treating a corporation as a person also poses big problems. In practical effect, the court identifies a corporation as its CEO and directors, for they alone will direct the corporation’s now unlimited political donations. As any stockholder can attest, no corporation even makes the slightest attempt to determine its owners’ political opinions. Nonetheless, the Supreme Court has given corporate managers the right to spend unconsulted owners’ money to promote their private political interests. It’s closer to farce than serious judicial reasoning.

While honoring their dubious legal fictions, the five “strict constructionists” demonstrated unprecedented contempt for the well-founded legal doctrine of stare decisis (“to stand by things decided”). Despite his personal opposition to the death penalty, Justice John Paul Stevens deferred to stare decisis by voting to uphold a death sentence.

But Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. lacks Justice Stevens’ principles. At his 2005 confirmation hearing, Roberts testified, “It is a jolt to the legal system when you overrule a precedent.” Yet in Citizens United, Roberts overrode not one precedent, but seven Supreme Court precedents, extending over 103 years of history.

Citizens United is more than a jolt to the legal system; it portends a probable degradation of our already money-corrupted political system. It will undoubtedly accelerate our transition from a democratic republic into a full-fledged plutocracy, ruled by an alliance of venal politicians and rich socialists like the hoggish bankers, forever gorging themselves at the public trough.

 

C.W. Griffin has lived in Ahwatukee Foothills since 1988. He is a retired consulting engineer and a published author.

More about

More about

More about

  • Discuss

Texas, facing a lawsuit, makes it easier for U.S.-born children of immigrants to get birth certificates

Last year, a group of Central American and Mexican immigrant parents sued Texas in federal court, claiming that the state had denied their chi…

Published: July 25, 2016 - 11:03 pm @ http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-texas-birth-ce…

Hiker rescues up in 2016; hundreds helped off Valley mountains so far

PHOENIX - It's a desperate situation that frankly firefighters are seeing way too often. "I think that this year we've just had some real trag…

Published: July 25, 2016 - 10:29 pm @ http://www.abc15.com/news/region-phoenix-metro/cen…

Protests Over Western Troops Threaten Libyan 'Unity' Government

Print Libya's UN-backed Government Condemns France Following Crash Three French Soldiers Killed During Operation in Libya Islamist-backed demo…

Published: July 25, 2016 - 9:36 pm @ http://www.voanews.com/content/libya-un-backed-uni…

Phoenix Serial Street Shooter likely using multiple vehicles

PHOENIX - Phoenix police said they are getting new details and tips about a serial shooter connected to seven murders . But investigators can’…

Published: July 25, 2016 - 8:58 pm @ http://www.abc15.com/news/region-phoenix-metro/wes…

Group behind $12/hour minimum wage initiative wants lawsuit dropped

Arizona Healthy Working Families, the group behind a ballot initiative to make the state's minimum wage $12 an hour by 2020 , wants to dismiss…

Published: July 25, 2016 - 8:35 pm @ http://www.abc15.com/news/state/group-behind-12-an…

Larry Fitzgerald remembers Dennis Green in essay

Dennis Green was more than just a football coach. In a Player’s Tribune piece written by Larry Fitzgerald, the wide receiver recalls his longt…

Published: July 25, 2016 - 8:28 pm @ http://arizonasports.com/story/744945/larry-fitzge…

Praising Kaine: How Clinton's choice of a widely respected senator drives a deep wedge into the GOP

Hillary Clinton announced her selection of Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine as her running mate late on Friday evening, and something incredible has al…

Published: July 25, 2016 - 8:27 pm @ http://www.dailykos.com/story/2016/07/23/1551229/-…

Arizona becomes the last state to provide health insurance to low-income children

Arizona is rejoining a children's health insurance program for low and middle-income families, becoming the last state in the union to provide…

Published: July 25, 2016 - 7:58 pm @ https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health…

The WNBA’s Black Lives Matter Protest Has Set a New Standard for Sports Activism

This month, the WNBA has become the site of one of the most united, persistent political statements in sports history. In recent weeks, entire…

Published: July 25, 2016 - 7:31 pm @ http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2016/07/25/th…

In Opinion: Chances of survival for a Democratic Senate are slim

This article first appeared on the Dorf on Law site. Many Democrats are anticipating a big night on November 8.   Although the inevitable nois…

Published: July 25, 2016 - 7:30 pm @ http://www.newsweek.com/chances-survival-democrati…

Facebook

ahwatukee.com on Facebook

Twitter

ahwatukee.com on Twitter

RSS

Subscribe to ahwatukee.com via RSS

RSS Feeds

Spacer4px

Most Popular

Online poll

Loading…