Thursday, February 4, 2010

OPINION: SCOTUS Decision Pours Fuel on Fire

The Pencil Warrior
By Dave Wheelock

For weeks the prospect hung over the land, like a shadow on an x-ray. We knew it was coming, or at least some of us did, yet when the Supreme Court of the United States went far out of its way on Jan. 21 to strike down limits on corporate spending in elections, a shock wave went through the nation. The Court’s 5-4 decision in Citizens United versus Federal Election Commission has brought forth a torrent of news stories and accompanying opinions from every quarter, alternately praising the ruling as a watershed upholding of free speech or condemning it as another step in an historical march toward absolute corporate rule. Following the latest legal battle pitting real people against vast accumulations of money, citizens once again find themselves on the defensive in an undeclared war to define themselves as the sole selectors of their government.
By ruling unconstitutional previous legal precedents banning unlimited political spending straight from corporate (or on a far smaller scale, union) treasuries the court's five-member majority has revealed its blatantly activist nature. Nominated for the Chief Justice position in 2005 by George W. Bush, John Roberts assured Congress during his confirmation hearing he would not be an "activist" jurist: "I do think that it is a jolt to the legal system when you overrule a precedent. Precedent plays an important role in promoting stability and evenhandedness." Yet in Citizens United versus FEC, a case originally argued on the narrow question of whether a standing law (McCain-Feingold) limiting corporate-funded "electioneering communications" should be applied to a movie critical of Hillary Clinton, Roberts and his clique on the Court chose to attack the very constitutionality of any such legal restrictions.
In light of Citizens United, the highest court in the country, formerly understood as being controlled by the votes of a narrow conservative majority, must now be seen as radically in favor of property over people. By allowing the amounts of money only major corporations can throw into elections to that already funneled by political action committees, election messages contrary to a corporate agenda will become undetectable.
The usual suspects comprise the chorus of apologists for the Court's action - the Republican Party, the Wall Street Journal, the American Enterprise Institute, a raft of media “experts” - and of course, all large corporations. In truly remarkable fashion, after decades of assault on subversive college professors, public funding for indecent art, and taxpayer-funded commie broadcasting, the various components of the right have simultaneously been born again into the light of the First Amendment. It’s nothing short of anti-American, the gymnasts of logic proclaim, to deny these people (meaning corporations) the right to express themselves as they choose. Other collaborators imply, a little more money in the process won’t do any harm. Right.
It was left to the dissenting justices, including Justices John Paul Stevens and the Court’s newest member, Sonia Sotomayor, to get to the fundamental principle. Their objection to the monumental boon to corporate power embodied in the majority opinion seemingly represented the only shred of common sense to creep into chambers. Opined Sotomayor: “there could be an argument made that that was the Court's error to start with, not Austin or McConnell (earlier limits on corporate influence), but the fact that the Court imbued a creature of State law with human characteristics.” Stevens, writing in the dissenting opinion: “they (corporations) are not themselves members of 'We the People' by whom and for whom our Constitution was established."
The key issue in Citizens United versus FEC is indeed corporate personhood, the legal fiction that endows these “creatures of State law” with constitutional rights. This moment offers a rare chance to right a fundamental wrong in our society, if we are willing to seize it. The website represents a coalition of citizens and groups, like, of people determined to take action by amending the Constitution to bring corporations to heel in their rightful function as limited tools for human use:
SECTION 1. The U.S. Constitution protects only the rights of living human beings.
SECTION 2. Corporations and other institutions granted the privilege to exist shall be subordinate to any and all laws enacted by citizens and their elected governments.
SECTION 3. Corporations and other for-profit institutions are prohibited from attempting to influence the outcome of elections, legislation or government policy through the use of aggregate resources or by rewarding or repaying employees or directors to exert such influence.
This is a dialog only real people should have the right to engage in. Ironically the stiffest test to taking back our government will come in resisting the existing power of corporations to marginalize, discredit, and intimidate those who carry the message. Yet as the destructive influence of corporate power is laid bare in the faltering health of our people, an economy too indebted to succeed, continual wars for empire, and a planet growing too hot to survive, we cannot afford not to try.

Dave Wheelock, a member of the Oneida Nation, is a former intern for Contact him at Mr. Wheelock’s views do not necessarily reflect those of the Mountain Mail.

1 comment:

  1. Corporationsผลบอล and other for-profit institutions are prohibited from attempting to influence the outcome of elections, legislation or government policy through the use of aggregate แทงบอลresources or by rewarding or repaying employees or directors to exert such influence