How do you like your democracy now, Mr. Scalia?

Only one year ago, the Supreme Court handed down it’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. But I wonder how Mr. Justice Scalia, whose concurrence outlined the most radical defense of Corporate speech, must be feeling as he surveys the wreckage of American Democracy in the wake of his decision?

Justice Stevens, in his eloquent dissent had stated that the court’s decision would be a disaster for our democracy.

At bottom, the Court’s opinion is thus a rejection of the common sense of the American people, who have recognized a need to prevent corporations from undermining self government since the founding, and who have fought against the distinctive corrupting potential of corporate electioneering since the days of Theodore Roosevelt. It is a strange time to repudiate that common sense. While American democracy is imperfect, few outside the majority of this Court would have thought its flaws included a dearth of corporate money in politics.

But Scalia pushed back hard against Justice Stevens, writing, “to exclude or impede corporate speech is to muzzle the principal agents of the modern free economy. We should celebrate rather than condemn the addition of this speech to the public debate.” Defenders of corporate speech like Scalia say that full disclosure will solve any objections to the possibly corrupting influence of the Supreme Court decision. They note that on Friday the donors to Super Pacs will have to disclose. But don’t hold your breath.

Some donors will never be known because some super PACs have established not-for-profit arms that can shield contributors’ identities. Those arms can spend more than roughly half of their money on so-called advocacy, although campaign-finance reformers have urged the Internal Revenue Service to reduce that share.

Ironically, Chief Justice Roberts, writing for the majority justified overturning precedent (stare decisis) in the Citizens United case. He wrote, “Stare decisis is a doctrine of preservation, not transformation. It counsels deference to past mistakes, but provides no justification for making new ones.” He should heed his own words and make up for the egregious mistake of the January 2010 decision.

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8 Responses to How do you like your democracy now, Mr. Scalia?

  1. len says:

    Good article, Jon. One might believe regards stare decisis that those exercising superior jurisdiction would be more careful to acknowledge that without peers it must exercise greater caution in making decisions that are forward-leaning and be firm in expressing past wrongs redressed by such. This is a decision where the conservative court has issued opinions that violate principles of not writing law for future issues, the clearest example of social engineering by judicial activists.

    Reversing this decision is a high priority in most circles in which I converse.

  2. Martin Pitts says:

    Hopefully someday soon Citizens United will be looked upon as the Plessy vs. Ferguson of it’s day. Corporations are not people. It is patently absurd that the American legal system has kept the lie of corporate citizenship as truth. Both Thomas and Scalia appear to have bias in both the Citizen’s United and the looming Affordable Health Care cases. No other Justices as far as I can find have attended political events sponsored by financiers like the Koch Brothers. The operative word here is “Appearanc­­e” of bias. Thomas and Scalia “appear” to have bias because of their close associatio­­n with parties advocating a particular side of a question before the court. Last winter Thomas visited with the Koch Brothers in Rancho Mirage Palm Springs, California and Scalia went to another session in Colorado. The Koch Brothers finance dozens of radical right wing causes including paying for the pitiful Huckabee ads on cable TV to abolish the ACA. Appearance of Bias. Go look it up on the ABA (American Bar Associatio­n) site under Judicial and Legal Ethics: “Canon 9 of the ABA Model Code concerning the appearance of profession­­­al impropriet­­­y.” Then look up Judicial and Legal Ethics at Cornell University­­. Finally, where does Chief Justice Roberts get his promised-at-confirmation “Stare Decisis” (legal precedents) for the Citizen’s United … Fox News or the Council of Orange? Our nation’s legal system has been transformed into a theocracy with the highest grace bestowed on the corporation because the individual is warped by original sin.

  3. Alex Bowles says:

    Far be it from me to suggest any Supreme Court Justice is a lightweight, but how can anyone think that this kind of political involvement by “the agents of the modern free economy” can do anything but undermine the freedom of said economy?

    That’s like saying “we need more involvement from the players in calls made by the ref, because after all, they players are the ones playing the game.” Never mind that the sport will decline as soon as the rigging becomes clear (e.g. boxing, or worse, wrestling).

    Beyond that, where on does Scalia get the idea that Corporations – not Customers – are the “principal agents of the modern free economy”? A more lucid assessment recognizes that the principle agent of any “free economy” is the person (or organization) spending money. After all, this decision to hand a dollar to party A and not party B is the essential mechanism of a free economy. In a country where direct consumer spending accounts for 70% of the economy, the “principle agents” are NOT Corporations.

    In other words, it’s not his reasoning that’s at fault so much as his basic comprehension of the economy. That extends to his inability to understand the economy of influence.

  4. Morgan Warstler says:

    alex, the problem is the REF became a biased agent with its own agenda, not worried about the real players, but worried about its own status.

    I’d LOVE it if our gvt. just played ref, and made rules only when both side agreed on them.

    A free market requires a gvt. without bias… without agenda. Until you give me that, I’d rather have the players spend unlimited amounts of money to scare the refs.

    And since you want the govt. to have an agenda (yours), I’m tickled pink billions flow in to suppress it.

  5. len says:

    A problem of bullying, Morgan. Under your plan, the richest bullies buy the meanest bullies and put them to their tasks. The Blazing Saddles of Citizens United Inc, yes? Under Alex’s plan, the citizens get their own sheriff and, well, you know the rest.

    Without election finance reform and more ethics rules about the revolving door, the best the citizens can do is hire a …. a…. a….. well, you know.

    Beggars have a way of becoming choosers

  6. Martin Pitts says:

    The more I think about our present day SCOTUS, the more I think of the old Southern expression to describe extreme wealth: “He’s as rich as a crooked judge.”

  7. len says:

    So much ugly.

    Here’s something fun for the guys. :)


    link broken to stop embedding

  8. len says:

    Yanno, the temptation for Obama must be to keep making promises he knows he doesn’t have to keep because the Republicans won’t pass any of them.

    Or they might.

    The diagonal is across the perception of weakness vs obstruction. The advantage is people want to cheer up and get on with it and right now for whatever money is left, they want to know how much they will get in services or reduced costs.

    Whoever has the best plan in October wins.

    Rest in peace, Don Cornelius. God love you and so do we. You brought style, class, chops, sex and the best damm musicians there were. FunkMaster, the dancers say thank you and vaya con dios on the Soul Train.

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