Friday, January 22, 2010

The Supreme Court Affirms the Myth of U.S. Democracy

Dahlia Lithwick at Slate details the arguments behind the Supreme Court's shocking overruling of limits on corporate campaign financing.

Anthony Kennedy, speaking for the majority on the decision, attributes this absurd, completely ungrounded decision to a respect for the first amendment (what?!) and a dislike of censorship (again, what?!), rather than as what it is: a blatant endorsement of and alignment with corporate power.

Here, she details John Paul Stevens dissenting argument:

While Stevens is reading the portion of his concurrence about the "cautious view of corporate power" held by the framers, I see Justice Thomas chuckle softly. (Scalia takes on this argument in his concurrence.) Stevens hammers, more than once this morning from the bench on the principle that corporations "are not human beings" and "corporations have no consciences, no beliefs, no feelings, no thoughts, no desires." He insists that "they are not themselves members of 'We the People' by whom and for whom our Constitution was established."

But you can plainly see the weariness in Stevens eyes and hear it in his voice today as he is forced to contend with a legal fiction that has come to life today, a sort of constitutional Frankenstein moment when corporate speech becomes even more compelling than the "voices of the real people" who will be drowned out.
How it is that simply remarking that corporations are not citizens seems such a radical (dissenting) statement at this juncture simply boggles my mind. But clearly it is. Corporations apparently have first amendment rights. And in the end, they have more say over elections than I do. It's not as if this ruling has caused this. Of course, it's been that way for a long time. But I simply can't believe that the Supreme Court of the United States has so blatantly affirmed their supposed rights.

1 comment:

T said...

I have the suspicion that Harold Ford, Jr. is going to be a big beneficiary of this awful change in the law.

Ford's biggest selling point for himself is that cutting taxes for business is the first thing that needs to be done (at a time when public institutions all over the country are struggling to hold down the fort financially). Just imagine the legion of capitalist assholes who'd love to contribute to a campaign like that.