Citizens United II- The McCutcheon case

Soapbox: Definition——–The term is used to describe a person engaging in often flamboyant impromptu or unofficial public speaking, as in the phrases "He’s on his soapbox", or "Get off your soapbox."

OK so here I am back on my soapbox. As you may know, my political pet peeve is the ability of the wealthiest, richest people and corporations to now, after the Supreme Court decision in the case called Citizens United, essentially BUY our politicians.

 

Two articles in the New York Times on April 3rd talk about this subject. First, the main Editorial starts with these words: "The Supreme Court on Wednesday continued its crusade to knock down all barriers to the distorting power of money on American elections…" (referring to a follow-up case to Citizens United decided this past week called McCutcheon.)

The editorial goes on to state that "Thanks to Wednesday’s (McCutcheon) decision, the interests of the very few wealthiest Americans–which differ significantly from those of most Americans–will now get even more outsize consideration by legislators."

We now have a system where there is no limit on how much money can be given to a politician! Why? Because the Supreme Court said so, in Citizens United and McCutcheon.

Even more troubling: An Op-Ed article on the very next page of the New York Times on April 3rd. This article is by the Vice-Charperson of the Federal Election Commission (FEC.) She states that, "The Federal Election Commission is failing to enforce the nation’s campaign finance laws. I’m in a position to know. I’m the vice-chairwoman of the commission…"

The vice-chairwoman goes on to explain that the FEC continuously fails to pursue "investigations into potentially significant fundraising and spending violations" by political candidates. Why? Because "the three Republicans often vote as a bloc against pursuing" these cases.

So, what we NOW have is a Supreme Court and an Election Commission that are saying to the wealthiest tiny fraction of our population, "Go ahead, do whatever you want, we won’t look over your shoulder. Wanna "donate" thousands, or even millions of dollars for the purpose of controlling (bribing) politicians for your self-serving or even evil reasons? Go ahead! It’s OK with us!"

Bribery: Synonyms—–extortion, payoff, protection, slush fund, graft, hush money, enticement, payola, buyoff, corrupt money, influence peddling.

In a word, corruption. It’s now a government that can be bought by the highest bidder.

This is no joke. Educate yourselves about the result of these Supreme Court decisions, because they do affect everyone. The middle class has shrunk in huge proportions, in my opinion, because the wealthiest Americans have been able to BUY and therefore CONTROL the officials who are in power.

That’s not the Democracy we all want, or deserve. A Constitutional Amendment to reverse Citizen’s United could put our electoral system back to where it was, before Citizens United., where it should have remained.

Note: The views and opinions expressed on this web site are solely those of Morrin & Sands PLLC. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of any other individual or staff member of The Law Office of Morrin & Sands PLLC.

Citizens United: A major threat to democracy as we know it?

So I don’t usually talk about politics or give my opinion in this blog about non-legal issues not concerning my law practice. However, I am so concerned about something going on in this country, a country I love dearly, that I feel compelled to comment.

When this country was founded, democracy was established by the Constitution. All citizens had an equal right to be heard.

What the Constitution should not allow in a democratic society is this: Whoever has the most money, makes the decisions.

Citizen United vs. FEC was a decision by the Supreme Court stating that corporations (and unions) have the same “free speech” rights as people.

What this 2010 decision did, is to overturn decades of law that basically limited the amount of money a corporation or union could contribute to political candidates. Now, there is no limit.

Before Citizens United, the Supreme Court recognized in Austin v Michigan Chamber of Commerce that the government had a compelling interest in protecting our democracy from “the corrosive and distorting effects of immense aggregations of wealth that are accumulated with the help of the corporate form and that have little or no correlation to the public’s support for the corporation’s political ideas.” The Court that decided Austin was rightly worried that corporate wealth can dominate the political process and “unfairly influence elections.”

Well, Austin is now gone. With huge corporations and the richest 1% given free reign to dominate elections through unlimited spending, political equality suffers a huge setback. What’s ultimately at stake is how much say the average citizen has over the policies that govern his or  her life. The answer is clear: much less than before Citizens United.

I, for one, intend to back a nationwide movement to amend the Constitution and/or pass laws to abolish Citizens United.

In April, the U.S. Senate is expected to consider the Fair Elections Now Act, legislation that would create a voluntary system of small donations and limited public funding for congressional candidates. This citizen-funded election model would put all contributions on an equal playing field-corporate, union, PAC and your donations. Candidates opting into this system could accept contributions of no more than $100 and only from individual donors. In the current, money-driven political system, members of Congress and candidates spend countless hours each day raising money from the same lobbyists and special interests they’re supposed to oversee in Washington. The Fair Elections system would reduce members of Congress reliance on these special interest donors and encourage them to give more attention to their constituents.

You and me.

What can I do?

Please contact your member of Congress and ask them to keep big money out of politics by co-sponsoring the Fair Elections Now Act and similar proposals.  End the pay-to-play political system in Washington. To find out more information go to, among many others, www.commoncause.org/FairElectionsNowAct.

Attribution: Common Cause website

Note: The views and opinions expressed on this web site are soley those of Daniel M. Morrin. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of any other individual or staff member of The Law Office of Morrin & Sands PLLC.