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

8 tips to prep for summer storms

Metro Phoenix got its first hint of summer monsoons Monday night, with some lightning, particularly in the East Valley. And, as residents brac…

Published: June 30, 2016 - 9:00 pm @ http://srpconnect.com/summer-monsoons/

Lynch-Clinton 'tarmac summit': Another White House headache

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest praised Attorney Gen. Loretta Lynch for her direct answer to questions about her tarmac summit with f…

Published: June 30, 2016 - 8:49 pm @ http://www.politico.com/story/2016/06/bill-clinton…

Albert Brooks fans, rejoice! His genius films are coming to Netflix — and they feel more relevant than ever

Topics: Albert Brooks, Media Criticism, Movies, Netflix, Reality television, Entertainment News There’s a lot of bad news in American life the…

Published: June 30, 2016 - 8:48 pm @ http://www.salon.com/2016/06/30/albert_brooks_fans…

41st Annual Red, White & Boom Launches 4th Weekend: Ahwatukee’s American Legion Post 64 Opens Ceremonies

As American Legion Post 64 Commander Ed Mangan readies his white, gold and blue summer uniform to wear for the 41st annual Red,White & Boo…

Published: June 30, 2016 - 8:49 pm @ http://www.ahwatukee.com/communitylife/article_57a…

It's here! 'All or Nothing' Arizona Cardinals documentary available on Amazon a day early

It wasn't supposed to be available until Friday -- but then again, it is already Friday in some parts of the world. "All or Nothing," Amazon's…

Published: June 30, 2016 - 8:48 pm @ http://www.abc15.com/sports/sports-blogs-local/its…

IBM Watson Enters Self-Driving Vehicle Space Via the World’s First Autonomous Talking Electric Shuttle

In mid-June, Local Motors, the leading vehicle technology integrator and creator of the world's first 3D-printed car, introduced the first sel…

Published: June 30, 2016 - 8:51 pm @ http://www.fool.com/investing/2016/06/30/ibm-watso…

Blue Cross, Health Net drop Obamacare plans in Ariz.

Two major health insurers in Arizona are discontinuing Obamacare plans in part of the state next year. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona and H…

Published: June 30, 2016 - 8:51 pm @ http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/blue-cross-healt…

Just how deep is the partisan divide over Benghazi? These eight cartoons tell the political tale.

YOU EXPECT official Washington to reach some sort of consensus on Benghazi? Why, you can’t even get a room full of political cartoonists to ag…

Published: June 30, 2016 - 8:47 pm @ https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/comic-riffs/wp…


Arizona Bioscience News: CEI names new director; Tempe talks bio campus; Nominations open for AZ tech awards

Tech sector leading the way for Phoenix job growth / Phoenix Business Journal (Op-ed) Steve Zylstra, president and CEO of the Arizona Technolo…

Published: June 30, 2016 - 7:56 pm @ http://www.flinn.org/arizona-bioscience-news-cei-n…

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…