01.21.10

Comment On The Supreme Court’s Decision In Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission

[The Supreme Court Thursday issued its ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.  In a 5-4 decision, the Court reversed long-standing precedent and declared government restrictions on corporate independent expenditures on elections to be unconstitutional in violation of the First Amendment.  The majority did find disclaimer and disclosure requirements provided by the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 constitutional, as applied to these independent corporate expenditures.]

“The Supreme Court’s divided opinion is likely to change the course of our democracy and could threaten the public’s confidence in the Court’s impartiality.  As Justice Stevens noted in his dissent, the ‘Court's ruling threatens to undermine the integrity of elected institutions across the nation.  The path it has taken to reach its outcome will, I fear, do damage to this institution.’ 

“Without any basis in the plain text or history of the Constitution, five Justices overturned precedent to grant corporations the same power as any individual citizen to influence elections.  For these five Justices to reach their broad ruling, they overturned precedent, as well as the statute.  As the dissenting Justices noted, ‘the final principle of judicial process that the majority violates is the most transparent: stare decisis.... But if this principle is to do any meaningful work in supporting the rule of law, it must at least demand a significant justification, beyond the preferences of five justices, for overturning settled doctrine.’ 

“There is clear reason for ordinary citizens to be concerned that this divisive ruling will, in reality, allow powerful corporations to drown out the voices of everyday Americans in future campaigns.  This ruling is no doubt yet another victory for Wall Street, at the expense of Main Street America.  Our founding document begins, ‘We the People,’ and throughout its articles and amendments, the Constitution enshrines the power of our government in the people, not in corporations and powerful special interests.”

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