Corruption Galore: the Supreme Court Despises Democracy.

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I usually refrain from writing on political issues such as Campaign Finance Reform because of an admitted lack of knowledge of the wide, complex American Political Landscape.

However, the recent Supreme Court decision allowing corporations to donate as much as they please to the campaigns of their preferred political candidate is too important to pass up.

I did not read the entire case; I read the syllabus(a summary).

The Court’s opinion hinges upon the following statement:

this Court now concludes that independent expenditures, including those made by corporations, do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption. That speakers may have influence over or access to elected officials does not mean that those officials are corrupt. And the appearance of influence or access will not cause the electorate to lose faith in this democracy.
The Majority lauds the importance of not chilling the free speech of corporations. The government(FEC, here)  counters, claiming that money donated by large, for-profit corporations could very likely lead to corruption of public officials, or the appearance of corruption in the eyes of the voters.

Look closely at the quoted text. The Majority claims, with no accompanying evidence, that money contributed by Corporations to a candidate does not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption in the eyes of the electorate. This conclusory holding can be rebutted by common sense, and is probably undermined by substantial empirical evidence. (i.e. evidence collected in Congress’ implementation of Campaign Finance reform laws.)

Take me, a regular citizen who votes. Take Exxon-Mobil, a gargantuan corporation with pockets as deep as the deepest wells they dig into for their black gold.

Exxon-Mobil wants to drill for oil in the pristine Adirondack mountains of upstate NY.A central obstacle to this drilling is me, who with my large girth, is able to prevent Exxon’s construction crews from entering the mountains. I am not alone; I have a sizable amount of citizens supporting me, including a current Senator from NY, Mr. Pristine Forest. Mr. Forest faces an upcoming election against Senator Oiley.

Exxon donates $100 million to Oiley’s campaign, which allows the latter to send his pro-business message to an unprecedented amount of NY’s voters. Most of Oiley’s campaign advertisements contain crafty, convincing attacks on Mr. Forest suitability for office. This, in turn, creates a wave of anger amongst many N.Y. voters towards Mr. Forest. Most of Oiley’s campaign sticks to non-substantive, yet convincing, rabble-rousing. Oiley wins the election, I am put in Jail for trespassing, and, lo and behold, the Adirondack Mountains are soon transformed into a desolate wasteland.

Does the preceding hypothetical sound like corruption? It does to me. Although the donations of for-profit corporations to political candidates will not always lead to corruption in that candidate, it is at the very least a certainty that it could. The majority in the decision held, with its own subjective 100 % certainty, that unlimited donations from for-profit corporations CANNOT lead to corruption of the elected officials. Ridiculous.

The second part of the majority’s holding on dismissing concerns of corruption is even more preposterous because the Supreme Court has no means available, outside of mind reading, to determine what will lead to the appearance of corruption in the eyes of the electorate. Giant cash donations from a corporation to politicians, who already don’t have the best reputation, will probably tend to create the appearance of corruption.

In fact, many voters already believe that our politicians are as rotten as a log subjected to termites on steroids. It is no secret that in the recent past, in an election between two candidates, the candidate with more money to run their campaign prevailed victorious.(See Obama v. Hilary; Obama v. Mccain).

This decision creates more potential terrors. La Macha, at Vivirlatino, sums the terror up well:
…the idea that a corporation that is owned by shareholders (who are not all U.S. citizens) will have this unprecedented ability to influence elections is stunning to me

This is the age of the multi-national, behemoth corporation. Last time I checked, the U.S. does not patrol the world ensuring that foreign nationals are guaranteed their freedom of speech under the U.S. Constitution. Sure,  the U.S. does promote freedom of speech abroad, but it does so under the framework of International Human Rights, not our own constitution. Imagine the King of Saudi Arabia directly influencing who runs the U.S.

This is a bad decision that has the potential to undermine our democracy, even destroy it.

If one cares about democracy in the U.S., it would not be a bad idea to base your next presidential vote on the candidate who is more likely to put a decent justice on the bench.

You can read the decision, here.

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2 Responses to “Corruption Galore: the Supreme Court Despises Democracy.”

  1. la macha Says:

    good post. I’ve been reading commentary on it and made it through a big portion of the decision (not the whole thing)–and I fail to see anything good about it at all, even for those who are strict conservatives.

  2. bjohns15 Says:

    Thanks.

    The dissent by Stevens is a great chewing out of the Majority. Maybe one of the 5 of the majority here will be replaced by a justice with more integrity(i.e. using empirical evidence to support central premises of one’s holding instead of what was used here: nothing).

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