This opinion by Jarrett Terrill appeared in the The Florida Agenda newspaper on February 4, 2010.
On January 21, The Supreme Court of the United States did something unthinkable. (Well, at least the 5 who had been appointed by one of the Bush's did...) They overturned campaign finance laws in a decision known as "Citizens United V. Federal Elections Commission".
When a Supreme Court decision is reached, it sets a precedent, which becomes "the law" as we know it. The plaintiffs in this case, Citizens United, were a rag-tag group of Republican propaganda artists who wanted to make a negative documentary about Hillary Clinton and play it on TV before the primary election in 2008. They said the US Government had denied them their "freedom of speech" by not allowing their corporation to fund their smear film without forming a political action committee, known as a PAC.
PACs are necessary to fund campaign ads because they ensure that only those members of a corporation who wish to donate will do so and that the general funds of a corporation or publicly traded company are not used against the wishes of the stockholders, employees or union members. Citizens United wanted to fund the film and its broadcast out of pocket, ignoring maximum donations allowed to a political campaign.
Here's what's wrong with the way the Supreme Court handled this case:
Citizens United was not even trying to overturn campaign finance laws, they were only trying to claim that the laws did not apply to their propaganda film which they were referring to as a "documentary" instead of a campaign ad. This means that the conservative members of the Supreme Court used the case of Citizens United as a catalyst to legislate campaign financing from the bench, which is not in the enumerated powers of the judicial branch of government.
Secondly, the ruling and opinions of the conservative justices who blatantly thumbed their noses at the Constitution did not even match up with the subject at hand. For instance, Clarence Thomas gave a lengthy opinion in which was arguing for the rights of anti-gay marriage petitioners to to sheild their names from public record in order to avoid social outcasting and retribution. The transparency of state legislative initiatives has nothing to do with campaign finance laws at all, and Clarence Thomas clearly has no business sitting on the Supreme Court of the USA if he is unable to tell the difference.
Thirdly, the case is not a "freedom of speech" issue, as the conservative justices claim. The First Amendment only applies to citizens of the United States; corporations are not people. By allowing a corporation the right of unlimited campaign financing and not placing the limits of maximum allowed donations on the corporation, the Supremes are trying to ensure that Blackwater, Halliburton, Wal-Mart and MSNBC can stock all 3 branches of Government with their own appointees because independently funded persons cannot afford to compete in terms of campaign spending.
But at last, the most disturbing and glaringly obvious problem with this new law that the Supreme Court has audaciously written from the Bench is that it allows foreigners to have more influence over the candidates who run for office in America than her own citizens do. Because the largest, wealthiest corporations are multi-national conglomerates, the Supreme Court is trying to ensure that China, India, Iran and Saudi Arabia all get a vote in our government.
This Supreme Court decision goes against the very concept of Democracy, against the Constitution and obliterates any chances of an elected official being a voice for anyone except the corporation which hired them.