The Story of Citizens United v. FEC

The latest addition to the Teach-In Page is the excellent resource found on The Story of Stuff website telling the story of the Citizen’s United v FEC decision, the abysmal decision reached about two years ago by the activist Roberts Supreme Court, the most activist Supreme Court in decades. Joining the movement to overturn this disasterous decision begins with understanding what the problem is. Efforts to pass local and state resolutions, and Constitutional amendments to win back control of our government are under way. This primer gives a great description of the problem all of the efforts being taken are meant to address.

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What We Have Become…

                                                               Pavel Constantin, Cagle Cartoons, Romania

 

What does it say about democracy in the US when this cartoon coming out of a former communist country in Eastern Europe so clearly describes our corporatist state where an elite political class enjoys the benefits of police state protections against the people? Stay in line, and nobody will get hurt…

As If Citizens United Isn’t Enough: The Republican National Committee Wants the Whole Enchilada

Corporate contributions directly to the campaign coffers of candidates running for office is the intent of the brief filed with the Fourth Circuit federal appeals court on January 10, 2012. This filing claims that the ban enacted in 1908 is unconstitutional by virtue of recently upheld Free Speech rights relying on the Citizens United decision. Part of this strategy is to make the face of the corporate donor not that of Exxon/Mobile, Halliburton, or GE, but mom-and-pop-sized small business:

“Most corporations are not large entities waiting to flood the political system with contributions to curry influence. Most corporations are small businesses. As the Court noted in Citizens United, “more than 75% of corporations whose income is taxed under federal law have less than $1 million in receipts per year,” while “96% of the 3 million businesses that belong to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have fewer than 100 employees.” While the concept of corporate contributions evokes images of organizations like Exxon or Halliburton, with large numbers of shareholders and large corporate treasuries, the reality is that most corporations in the United States are small businesses more akin to a neighborhood store…”

Lawyers representing the Republican National Committee contend that the ban on direct corporate contributions to candidates now is based on the argument that such a ban only prevents an end-run around individual donors, folks like you or me, and that is simply not a good enough reason to maintain the ban.

The efforts to disenfranchise millions of voters through the ALEC-inspired legislation introduced in 34 states in 2011 seems all part and parcel with this effort to make the individual contributions of non-corporate donors less important than those of corporate donors. It is a bald-faced endorsement of the hypothesis that corporations are persons, and as such, are more important than the individual, natural persons that eat, drink, breathe, enable corporations to exist through the agency of laws natural persons enact, to the detriment of those natural persons.

How Strained a Construction It Is of the Fourteenth Amendment…

[H]ow strained a construction it is of the Fourteenth Amendment so to hold…. It requires distortion to read ‘person’ as meaning one thing, then another within the same clause and from clause to clause…. Wheeling Steel Corporation v. Glander , 337 U.S. 562 (1949): Mr. Justice DOUGLAS, with whom Mr. Justice BLACK concurs, dissenting.

Brad DeLong offers a meeting of great minds to parse the illogic leading to so strained a construction of the Fourteenth Amendment that corporations thereafter obtained many of the rights and protections of “personhood” previously accorded human persons. With the activist Roberts court and the Citizens United decision, freedom of speech is another protected right of the corporations, prompting Justice Stevens to dissent:

“At bottom, the Court’s opinion is thus a rejection of the common sense of the American people, who have recognized a need to prevent corporations from undermining self government since the founding, and who have fought against the distinctive corrupting potential of corporate electioneering since the days of Theodore Roosevelt. It is a strange time to repudiate that common sense. While American democracy is imperfect, few outside the majority of this Court would have thought its flaws included a dearth of corporate money in politics.”

He further wondered, only half jokingly, when corporations would be seeking constitutionally protected gun ownership rights.

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