24 July, 2010

Citizens United - How to Handle a Pernicious Ruling

For those of you who aren't familiar, a quick synopsis:

On January 21, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. The 5-justice majority, over a stirring dissent by Justice John Paul Stevens, used the case to overturn two prior court decisions that limited the role of corporate money in politics and to issue a sweeping new rule: For-profit corporations have a constitutional right to spend unlimited amounts of money to influence federal and state elections. Litigation Group attorney Scott Nelson was co-counsel for the key congressional sponsors of the McCain-Feingold law, who filed amicus briefs in the Supreme Court.
The decision is likely to be enormously harmful. Corporations already dominate our political process-through political action committees, fundraisers, high-paid lobbyists, personal contributions by corporate insiders, and more. On the dominant issues of the day-climate change, health care, financial regulation-corporate interests are leveraging their political investments to sidetrack vital measures to protect the planet and its people. Citizens United offers them new tools to influence and intimidate lawmakers.

So where does that leave us?  We are going to see a lot more corporate money in politics.  If they choose to, they can completely overwhelm the process - it will mostly be done through front groups like the Chamber or Commerce.  It's going to have a huge chilling effect on people in office as well as the people who may choose to go into politics.

Corporations don't eat or breathe and they live forever.  That means they don't care about clean food or air, and they don't care about the risk of death.  Bottom line, except for their mandate to maximize shareholder profits, they don't care.   About anything.  They should not be put on equal footing, legislatively, to "natural" people.

The only way to undo this is to overturn it.  It can be done through another court ruling or through a constitutional amendment.  It will be a difficult slog, but it's the right thing to do.  We cannot afford in this country to have elected officials afraid to stand up for their constituents.  Get educated on this decision, get educated on our options, take action before it's too late for humans to maintain our democracy - by, for, and of the people.  Human people.