CITIZENS UNITED Supreme Court Ruling Re Unlimited Corporate Spending In Political Campaigns! Is It The US Supreme Court, Or, As ‘The Nation’ Magazine Calls it, ‘THE ONE PERCENT COURT’, Which Represents Only Those At The Top Of America’s Economic Pyramid!

Essay: The One Percent Court

September 13, 2012

by Bill Moyers and Bernard Weisberger


A version of this essay will appear in an upcoming issue of The Nation, focusing on the Supreme Court. It will be available on newsstands Sept. 20, 2012.



Why a special issue of The Nation devoted to the Supreme Court? Because with partisan gridlock paralyzing both the president and Congress, the Court has more than ever become “the decider” — the most powerful branch of government, and one at the center of a controversy whose outcome may shape the course of democracy for generations to come.


By a paradox both historical and constitutional, the political appointees on the Roberts Court will never have to answer for their decisions to voters like you and me. Nor to the president or Congress: once they are confirmed, the Supreme Court’s justices, like all federal judges, serve for life or “good behaviour.”


The Constitution’s framers meant to secure the Court against political pressure from the electorate and arbitrary dismissal of its members from on high by presidents dissatisfied with their decisions. As the third branch of the new national government — one whose powers were to be divided to block overreach by any one of them — the Court would be equal to the executive and legislative arms, even though the president appointed its members with the concurrence of the Senate.

TABACCO: No “Founding Fathers”, No Legislation & No Humans are ever Perfect. Corporatists, their Lobbyists & their High-Priced Lawyers will always find the LOOPHOLES. Today our Politicians deliberately insert the LOOPHOLES through which these Legal Eagles may squeeze! THERE IS NO DEMOCRACY!


Fourth Chief Justice of the

U.S. Supreme Court John Marshall.


That changed dramatically when John Marshall became the fourth chief justice in 1801, shortly before Thomas Jefferson took office. The two brilliant men were bitter rivals, members of opposing parties. Marshall was a Federalist, Jefferson a Republican (no kin to the present GOP). So the supposedly neutral Court has been thrown since its infancy onto the partisan battleground, where it remains to this day.


In a landmark case in 1803, Marshall refused to apply a 1789 law giving Congress a power not strictly authorized in the Constitution and therefore “unconstitutional.” With that decision, the Court was no longer merely equal to the other two branches. It had become superior — the last word on how the Constitution should be interpreted — and its lifelong members would never risk their jobs, no matter how much they fell out of step with changing times and values.


Marshall served for thirty-four years, exercising deft leadership and cementing two of his most cherished concerns into constitutional law. One was the supremacy of the national government over the states; the other, a hospitality to the interests of the manufacturing, commercial and financial corporations whose wealth swelled as the country expanded. Various decisions that he handed down sheltered them from state regulation, either by invoking the clause of the Constitution that forbade impairing the obligation of contracts, or by insisting on exclusive federal primacy in regulating interstate commerce.


During the Gilded Age the identity of the justices changed, but the Court’s romance with big business flourished.


Reformist efforts to reconcile democracy and industrialism were generally rebuffed. The Court endowed corporations with personhood under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments — which guaranteed the rights to life, liberty, and due process of law — and interpreted the commerce clause so as to strike down legislation that tried to inflict on capitalism such “socialistic” and un-American horrors as forbidding the employment of small children in factories. The Court also looked unfavorably on limiting work hours in especially grueling or dangerous and disease-causing jobs; on breaking up the powerful trusts that steamrollered small competitors out of existence; on taxing incomes progressively; and on the right of workers to organize and strike. The Court’s mantra became “Just say no” to anything that smacked of progressive reform — including efforts to ameliorate the real-life misery of everyday people. By the turn of the twentieth century, populist and progressive forces were calling in vain for constitutional amendments or new legislation to end judicial review, but the majority on the Court remained hostile to democracy.


Even the national emergency of the Great Depression did not budge the Court’s majority, which began to invalidate the building blocks of the New Deal. But fortune and a Democratic landslide in 1936 broke the Court’s blockade. After Roosevelt tried and failed to add six extra justices, a series of resignations and deaths created vacancies that he quickly exploited. Eventually, in his twelve years in office, Roosevelt named not six but eight new justices. After almost 130 years of shielding those whom Roosevelt dubbed “economic royalists” from the effects of human suffering and popular discontent, the Court swung left, where it more or less stayed for some four decades, including more than 20 years of Republican administrations.


Chief justice Earl Warren addresses

a national crime conference in 1967.

(AP Photo)


Under Chief Justice Earl Warren, an Eisenhower appointee, a shower of socially liberal decisions refreshed the roots of “liberty and justice for all”: Brown v. Board of Education, Baker v. Carr, Griswold v. Connecticut, Miranda v. Arizona, New York Times Co. v. Sullivan. These rulings in the aggregate ended segregation, decreed “one person, one vote” representation in state and federal election districts, guaranteed the right of couples to choose contraception, strengthened the rights of criminal suspects against governmental coercion, and shielded the freedom of the press from libel prosecutions. In the generally liberal atmosphere of the 1960s, frustrated conservatives could only grind their teeth and flaunt their opposition to changing values and mores with “Impeach Earl Warren” billboards and bumper stickers, but no attempt to do so ever made it to the floor of Congress.


But the days of dominant social liberalism were numbered. The last important victory scored by the shrinking number of progressive Democrats in the Senate was to defeat Ronald Reagan’s nomination of Robert Bork to the Court in 1987. In his confirmation hearings, Bork proved himself a vigorous and intellectually skilled opponent of almost every one of the Court’s rights-guaranteeing decisions for the preceding fifty years. His appointment would have pushed the Court toward a resurrection of the good old days when the captains of industry ruled politics and devout practitioners of the dominant Christian orthodoxy governed the lives of others.

Moyers & Company
» Full Show: The One Percent Court » Katrina vanden Heuvel and Jamie Raskin on the Pro-Corporate Supreme Court

‘Citizens United’ on the Corporate Court

September 14, 2012

by Jamie Raskin


Jamie Raskin is a state senator in Maryland representing Silver Spring and Takoma Park and a constitutional law professor at American University. He introduced SB 690, which became the first Benefit Corporation law in America last year. A version of this essay will appear in an upcoming issue of The Nation, focusing on The Supreme Court that hits newsstands on Sept. 20, 2012.


“And may the odds be ever in your favor.”
—Effie Trinket, announcer for the corporate state in The Hunger Games


We live in what will surely come to be called the Citizens United era, a period in which a runaway corporatist ideology has overtaken Supreme Court jurisprudence. No longer content just to pick a president, as five conservative Republicans on the Rehnquist Court did back in 2000, five conservative Republicans on the Roberts Court a decade later voted to tilt the nation’s entire political process toward the views of moneyed corporate power.


In Citizens United (2010), the Court held that private corporations, which are nowhere mentioned in the Constitution and are not political membership organizations, enjoy the same political free speech rights as people under the First Amendment and may draw on the wealth of their treasuries to spend unlimited sums promoting or disparaging candidates for public office. The billions of dollars thus turned loose for campaign purposes at the direction of corporate managers not only can be, but —

under the terms of corporate law — must be spent to increase profits.


If businesses choose to exercise their newly minted political “money speech” rights, they must work to install officials who will act as 
corporate tools.

TABACCO: We The People must


A)   Redefine the requirements of INCORPORATION;



D)   And finally, We The People must NEVER VOTE REPUBLICAN because it is the Republican Party, which appoints these Business Judges to the High Court, which always vote to promote the Top 1% and Disenfranchise We The People! Democrats are far from perfect, but if we give the Presidency back to the Democrats, the majority of the House of Representatives and a 60+ majority in the Senate, Democrats will have no EXCUSE if they favor the 1% over We The People as they have now.


The Court, transformed by the addition of Chief Justice Roberts and Samuel Alito, who were nominated by that lucky winner in Bush v. Gore, took this giant step to the right of all prior Courts without even being asked to do so. The petitioner, Citizens United, sought only a ruling that the electioneering provisions of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (better known as McCain-Feingold) didn’t apply to its on-demand movie about Hillary Clinton. But the conservatives sent the parties back to brief and argue the paradigm-shifting constitutional question they were so keen to decide. As dissenting Justice John Paul Stevens observed, the justices in the majority “changed the case to give themselves an opportunity to change the law.”


Before Citizens United came down, corporations were already spending billions of dollars lobbying, running “issue ads,” launching political action committees and soliciting PAC contributions. Moreover, CEOs, top executives and board directors — the people whose income and wealth have soared over the past several decades in relation to the rest of America — have always contributed robustly to candidates. But there was one crucial thing that CEOs could not do before Citizens United: reach into their corporate treasuries to bankroll campaigns promoting or opposing the election of candidates for Congress or president. This prohibition essentially established a wall of separation — not especially thick or tall, but a wall nonetheless — between corporate treasury wealth and campaigns for federal office.


The Roberts Court’s 5-4 decision to demolish most of this wall also bulldozed the foundational understanding of the corporation that had governed American law for two centuries. The Court had always regarded the corporation not as a citizen with constitutional rights, but as an “artificial entity” chartered by the states and endowed with extraordinary privileges in order to serve society’s economic purposes. The great conservative Chief Justice John Marshall wrote in the Dartmouth College case (1819), “A corporation is an artificial being, invisible, intangible, and existing only in contemplation of law. Being the mere creature of law, it possesses only those properties which the charter of creation confers upon it, either expressly, or as incidental to its very existence.”


This “artificial entity” understanding of corporate law prevailed until Big Tobacco lawyer and corporate-state visionary Lewis Powell, of Richmond, Virginia, joined the Court. In First National Bank of Boston v. Bellotti (1978), the key forerunner to Citizens United, Powell assembled a bare majority to give corporations and banks the right to spend without limit to influence public opinion in ballot issue campaigns. The decision, which approved the desire of banks in Massachusetts to campaign against progressive tax measures, unveiled the key doctrinal move of what would later become the Citizens United era: “If the speakers here were not corporations, no one would suggest that the State could silence their proposed speech,” Justice Powell wrote. “The inherent worth of the speech in terms of its capacity for informing the public does not depend upon the identity of its source.”


The Bellotti decision cracked open the door of campaign finance law, and the Citizens United majority blew that door off its hinges. 


The Bellotti decision cracked open the door of campaign finance law, and the Citizens United majority blew that door off its hinges. The Court announced that, when it comes to campaign spending rights, the “identity of the speaker” is irrelevant and an impermissible basis upon which to repress the flow of money speech. What matters is the “speech” itself, never the speaker — a doctrine that would have come in handy for the public employees, public school students, whistleblowers, prisoners and minor-party candidates whose free-speech rights have been crushed by the conservative Court because of their identity as (disfavored) speakers.


Taken seriously, the Citizens United doctrine has astonishing implications for campaign finance. If it’s true that the “identity of the speaker” is irrelevant, the City of New York — a municipal corporation, after all — should have a right to spend money telling residents whom to vote for in mayoral races. Maryland could spend tax dollars urging citizens to vote for marriage equality in November, and President Obama could order the Government Printing Office to produce a book advocating his re-election. Surely the Supreme Court would never ban a book containing campaign speech!


Furthermore, under the new doctrine, churches — religious corporations — would have a First Amendment right not only to promote candidates from the pulpit but to spend freely on television ads advocating their election or trashing their opponents.

TABACCO: Those so-called ‘Right-Wingers’ are always invoking that phrase “Activist Liberal Judges”, when in fact, it’s actually those “ACTIVIST CONSERVATIVE JUDGES”, who make Legislation on their own and refute Constitutional Law. And those “ACTIVIST CONSERVATIVE JUDGES” have now disposed of that Constitutional Truth “SEPARATION OF CHURCH & STATE”! Damn the Republican Party and all its supporters! May these bastards all rot in HELL!


The claim that churches surrender their right to engage in electioneering when they accept 501(c)(3) status is obsolete after Citizens United, which rejected the view that groups can be divested of their right to participate in politics when they receive incorporated status and special legal and financial privileges. If the identity of the speaker is truly irrelevant, there should be nothing to stop the Church of Latter-Day Saints or Harvard University from bankrolling political campaigns.


In the real world, the claim that the identity of the speaker is irrelevant cannot be taken seriously, and it is already being disregarded by the justices who signed on to it. The Court has so far declined to strike down the ban on foreign corporate spending in American politics and the century-old ban on direct corporate contributions to candidates, laws that the new doctrine logically should invalidate. A total wipeout of campaign finance law appears to be just a step too far — at least right now — for a Court already facing plummeting public legitimacy.


Today there are 577 Super PACs and countless 501(c) vehicles; experts say untraceable billions will flood the 2012 election. 


But even if this incoherent doctrine goes no further, the surging stream of corporate and billionaire spending has already made a sweet difference for the Republican Party, which despairs of the nation’s demographic and cultural changes and depends on a mix of right-wing propaganda and voter suppression to confuse and shrink the electorate. Indeed, the potency of Citizens United became clear in the same year the decision was released.

‘Citizens United’ on the Corporate Court

September 14, 2012

by Jamie Raskin

« Previous 1 2

The 2010 election should have been framed by three recent corporate catastrophes: the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, which inflicted billions of dollars in damage; the Massey Energy’s collapsing coal mines in West Virginia, which cost twenty-nine people their lives and were enabled by the corporation’s aggressive lobbying and corruption of government; and the subprime mortgage meltdown brought on by the misconduct and power plays of AIG and Wall Street, which cost the American people trillions of dollars in lost homes and home values, ravaged pension and retirement funds, and destroyed stock equity.


But the infusion into the campaign of hundreds of millions of dollars from corporate and personal sources through secretive 501(c)(4) advocacy groups, 501(c)(6) trade associations and eighty-four new Super PACs completely changed the subject. The theme of the propaganda-soaked campaign became, remarkably, the urgent importance of deregulating corporations. The Republicans and the Koch Brothers–funded Tea Party captured control of the House, bringing near paralysis to the government.


Citizens United did not accomplish this feat alone; it had a junior partner in v. FEC. This decision came from the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit, which struck down limits on what individuals can give to independent expenditure campaigns, a ruling that turbo-charged the super PACs. While Citizens United freed the corporations, emancipated billionaires like Sheldon Adelson, the casino king who bets large on right-wing causes. Adelson’s millions kept the floundering Newt Gingrich afloat for the Dixie primaries. After Gingrich’s campaign went craps, it sent $10 million to a pro-Romney Super PAC and promised a hundred million more to defeat Obama as president.


Most amendments since the Bill of Rights have expanded political democracy or, like the 24th Amendment banning poll taxes, removed obstacles to democracy authorized by the Supreme Court.


Today there are 837 super PACs and countless 501(c) vehicles; experts say billions of dollars, much of it untraceable, will flood the 2012 election. We will never know for sure whose money is paying for the show, because the front groups easily conceal their donors, including foreign corporations. Moreover, right-wing lawyers are now challenging campaign finance disclosure requirements as unconstitutional compelled speech, like making Jehovah’s Witness schoolchildren pledge allegiance to the flag. They argue that corporations should be free to keep their political spending secret because they may face intimidation and even — God forbid — boycotts from consumers who dislike their politics. In other words, corporations have a right to speak because they are like people, but they should be completely insulated from the speech reactions of natural persons. This is some “marketplace of ideas” the champions of corporate power have in mind for us.


Support for a constitutional amendment to reverse Citizens United is growing because, as Justice Stevens objected, “A democracy cannot function effectively when its constituent members believe laws are being bought and sold.” An amendment to allow for reasonable regulation of campaign expenditures and contributions would empower Congress to return corporations to the economic sphere. It would also solidify the public’s interest in campaign disclosure and, as Harvard professor Laurence Tribe has observed, the much-eroded interest in building a public financing system that makes participating candidates at least minimally competitive with privately financed candidates. This is an interest that the Roberts Court has trashed, in cases like Davis v. FEC (2008) and Arizona Free Enterprise Club’s Freedom Club PAC v. Bennett (2011). In these decisions, the Court, in essence, ruled that privately financed candidates backed by wealthy interests not only have a right to spend to the heavens to win office but also a right, in states with public financing laws, to lock in their massive financial advantage over publicly financed candidates, whose campaign speech may not be even modestly amplified by public funding when they get outspent. Here, as distorted beyond recognition by the Roberts Court, the First Amendment becomes not the guardian of democratic discussion but the guarantee of unequal protection for well-born and wealth-backed politicians. Today corporations can saturate the airwaves and billionaires can spend to their hearts’ content, but government cannot create even a modest megaphone to help poorer candidates be heard.


A constitutional amendment to correct these distortions may seem impossible now, but all amendments seem impossible until they become inevitable. Most amendments since the Bill of Rights have expanded political democracy or, like the 24th Amendment banning poll taxes, removed obstacles to democracy authorized by the Supreme Court. President Obama’s recent statement of support for mobilizing a campaign to amend the Constitution suggests a coming surge of political engagement on the issue.


These arrangements operate on a simple return-on-investment basis: corporations devote millions to electing and lobbying politicians and then collect hundreds of millions in tax breaks, corporate welfare, sweetheart contracts, bailouts, deregulation and inside deals… A plutocratic state denies us both political justice and a fair economy.


Defenders of our new plutocracy point out that there are many thousands of corporations in America, most of them small, but this bit of faux small-business populism is an irrelevant distraction from how the corporate “wealth primary” works in the real world. Major industries that have an “extractive” character and a parasitic relationship with government — Wall Street, Big Oil, Big Pharma, the military-industrial complex — have cultivated a pervasive financial dependency in elected officials that permits them to continue the exploitative symbiosis that economists call “rent-seeking.” Avoiding the hazardous risks of innovation, investment and competition, many conglomerates prefer playing power politics in Washington. They don’t increase the pie; they just grab ever-larger slices of it.


These arrangements operate on a simple return-on-investment basis: corporations devote millions to electing and lobbying politicians and then collect hundreds of millions in tax breaks, corporate welfare, sweetheart contracts, bailouts, deregulation and inside deals. This squalid form of “public policy,” which even Republicans are calling “crony capitalism” (in the primaries anyway), works splendidly for those involved but dismally for everyone else, including businesses that lack the finance capital to invest in the political system. A plutocratic state denies us both political justice and a fair economy.


When a bristling Justice Antonin Scalia went on CNN in July and defended the Citizens United decision, which is rejected by more than 70 percent of Americans, he enlisted everyone’s favorite founder. “I think Thomas Jefferson would have said, ‘The more speech, the better,’” Scalia opined.


One must charitably assume Scalia’s utter ignorance of Jefferson’s political philosophy and how much the Sage of Monticello feared the rise of a “single and splendid government of an aristocracy, founded on banking institutions, and moneyed incorporations,” which he foresaw “riding and ruling over the plundered ploughmen and beggared yeomanry.” The Citizens United era bears a disturbing resemblance to Jefferson’s nightmare vision of what might happen if corporate power swallowed the government. But Justice Scalia and the other juriscorporatists managing our scales of justice know just what good wishes to offer the “plundered ploughmen and beggared yeomanry” of our day, and the rest of the people we call the 99 percent: “May the odds be ever in your favor.”

BILL MOYERS: This week on Moyers & Company…


JAMIE RASKIN: One person, one vote is the principle of democracy. But we’re moving into a “may the highest bidder wins” regime.


KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: This election could determine not only the future of the court for generations to come but the shape of our democracy.


BILL MOYERS: And the secret kingdom of Karl Rove.


CRAIG UNGER: Most people thought he was a creature of the Bush family. And I think he’s a force that’s more powerful than that.



When five conservative members of the Supreme Court handed corporations and the super-rich the right to overwhelm our elections with tsunamis of cash, they moved America further from representative government toward outright plutocracy, where political power derived from wealth is devoted to protecting wealth.


We saw it first in the mid-term elections of 2010, and we’re seeing it in spades in this year’s elections – organized money, much of it dark money, given secretly so it can’t be traced, enveloping the campaign for president, Congressional campaigns, and state legislative and judicial races. There’s never been anything like it in our history – not on this scale, and not this sinister. We’ll take a look at this radical threat to democracy in our next two broadcasts – how it’s happening, and what can be done about it.


We’ll begin with this current issue of “The Nation” magazine, “The One Percent Court,” devoted entirely to the United States Supreme Court. It’s one you’ll not want to miss – and not because it opens with an article jointly written by me and the historian, Bernard Weisberger. Our mission was simply to remind the reader of what’s obvious: that because of the partisan gridlock paralyzing both president and Congress, more than ever the court has become the most powerful branch of government, and the center of a controversy which may shape the fate of democracy for generations to come.


With me to talk about this is “The Nation” magazine’s editor and publisher, Katrina vanden Heuvel. She’s a frequent presence on the talk news shows and a familiar byline in major publications. She has been one of those out in front, calling the president to task for orphaning his values and promises, as can be seen in her most recent book, “The Change I Believe In: Fighting for Progress in the Age of Obama.”


The prolific Jamie Raskin also joins us. One of the country’s leading scholars on constitutional law, he teaches at American University and is a Maryland State Senator, where in his first legislative session alone he managed to see more than a dozen of his bills pass into law. He’s been described as “one of the nation’s most talented state legislators.” His many writings include a centerpiece article in this special issue of “The Nation.”


Welcome to you both.


JAMIE RASKIN: Thanks so much.


BILL MOYERS: Okay, let’s play the numbers. What comes to mind when I call out 79, 76, 75, and 73?


KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: The age of the four oldest justices on the court. And one of the reasons we did this issue is that as we enter this election season, this election could determine not only the future of the court for generations to come but the shape of our democracy for generations to come.


BILL MOYERS: You’ve devoted whole editions of the magazine, in the past, to the Supreme Court. What makes this one different?


KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: I think we’re at a moment, Bill, where we are witnessing the unprecedented concentration of power, wealth, and income. It is reminiscent not just of The Gilded Age, but of the New Deal period, when you had a Supreme Court, which wanted to invalidate and dismantle the New Deal legislation that President Roosevelt was putting forward.


There’s always been a threat. The court has always been important. But now we’ve seen a spate of 5-4 cases, 5-4, 5-4, 5-4, on the core issues that this magazine grapples with. The A.C.A. health care decision, in my mind, Jamie I’m sure has–


BILL MOYERS: Obamacare decision?




BILL MOYERS: Judge Roberts voting with the majority?

TABACCO: I previously posted on that fact – Roberts voted with the Liberals because that’s what the Medical Insurers wanted: The Dog & Pony Show, in which they feign opposition to ObamaCare, when in reality their primary goal is Highest Profits, which ObamaCare will facilitate! Only GOP politicians, who want to defeat Obama at all costs, actually oppose ObamaCare!


KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: I think at that point partly because Citizens United has awakened Americans to the understanding that this court favors corporate interests. It’s burgeoning. It’s latent, but it’s there. And I think Judge Roberts decided to be an institutionalist and wanted to save the court to come back to a next session and perhaps do some damage on voting rights, affirmative action, and other issues.


BILL MOYERS: You could have chosen any subject to write for Katrina, in this issue. But you chose Citizens United. Why?


JAMIE RASKIN: The way I look at it is, we’d had a decade of right-wing derailment of the Supreme Court and the politics of the country. In Bush vs. Gore in 2000, we had a 5-4 decision which took victory away from Vice President Gore, who had more than a half million votes more than Bush did and gave it to George W. Bush by intervening to stop the counting of ballots, for the first time in American history. And the history all of us know with the Iraq War and Afghan War and the corruption and so on.


That was the last decade. Now in 2010, a decade later a 5-4 coalition on the court, the right-wing block gets together and says, “Corporations, for the first time in American history, are declared to have the political free speech rights of the people, such that they can take money directly out of the corporate treasury and put it into politics.”


Well, that threatens a total capsizing of democratic relationships that we’ve known before. And it completely upends what the Supreme Court has always said about what a corporation is. Because you can go back to Chief Justice John Marshall in the Dartmouth College case, who said, “A corporation is an artificial entity. It’s an instrument set up by the state legislatures for economic purposes.” He said, “It’s invisible. It’s intangible. It exists only in contemplation of law. And it has all of these rights and benefits conferred upon it. But it must remain under the control of the government, essentially.”


And that has been standard conservative doctrine on the Supreme Court all the way through Chief Justice Rehnquist. Justice White who said, “We give them limited liability. We give them perpetual life. But in return, we ask them to stay out of politics.” And there’s a beautiful sentence from Justice White dissenting in a case called First National Bank of Boston vs. Bellotti, where he said, “The state need not permit its own creature to consume it.” And yet, this court is saying that, “We must permit the creation of the state legislatures to consume our politics.” And so to me, the Citizens United case is the emblem for the whole era we’re in. We’re living in the Citizens United Era, I think.


BILL MOYERS: But before Citizens United, wealthy people were funneling money into politics, corporations were forming political action committees. And CEOs of those corporations were lavishing money on selected favored political candidates.


JAMIE RASKIN: Absolutely right, the corporate voice was never missing. And that’s something, you know, Justice Stevens has pointed out. He said, “There were many faults to American politics. But nobody thought that a lack or a dearth of corporate voices was among the vices.” But there was still a radical change effectuated by the majority–


BILL MOYERS: How so? Radical?


JAMIE RASKIN: –in Citizens United.


BILL MOYERS: What do you mean?


JAMIE RASKIN: Because before corporations could have issue ads. They could take out an ad in the New York Times on something. Before the CEOs and executives, as you say, could put their own money into campaigns. They could spend to the heavens of their own money. And they could contribute directly to candidates. But the one thing that couldn’t happen was the CEOs could not take money directly out of the treasury and funnel it into campaigns,

ExxonMobil for example! I mean, in 2008, ExxonMobil had a political action committee. And that was money that was given directly by executives. People wrote checks for it. And they raised about a million dollars, which is not chump change. And they were able to spread it around.


But if ExxonMobil had been able to take money directly out of the corporate treasury, their profits in that year were $45 billion. If they had taken a modest 10 percent of their profits to spend in politics, it would have been more than the Obama campaign, the McCain campaign, the DNC, and the RNC, and every congressional campaign in the country. One corporation in the Fortune 500!


KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: What Jamie is describing is the reason we have unprecedented inequality today and why we don’t hear people’s voices. We’re hearing the voices of money. Money is the realm, the coin of power in this country. But, you know, one of the reasons we did this issue was because of the trajectory of this court. Because it is true that this is a radical shift. But we could see more dismantling of the frail structures of campaign finance reform that remain.


BILL MOYERS: There’s hardly anything–


KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: There’s hardly anything left. But it has been a terrible downward spiral. But the clean money legislation in states like Arizona, the ban on corporate spending in Montana. These are other steps that this court could take if it moved to not a 5-4, but if you had more right-wing justices on this court. But it–


KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: There’s no question that the arc, as Jamie said, from Bush v. Gore, which in so many ways was a right-wing coup. When you talk to people outside this country, they saw it as that. I mean, you had the brother of the governor overseeing the decision and the justices shutting down democratic votes to this decision.


BILL MOYERS: Do you agree with Jamie that Citizens United is a game changer?




JAMIE RASKIN: But it’s also emblematic of what’s going on in the court. If you look at the 2011, last year’s Supreme Court term, the court wiped out a very important class action suit brought by women in the Wal-Mart stores. A million and a half women brought a class action, again, a 5-4 decision saying that they didn’t have enough in common with each other. They had not alleged a sufficiently common element to their complaint. The sex discrimination wasn’t enough.


They didn’t have the same supervisor, for example.

Of course, they were all over the country. We saw another major blowout decision against consumers in– AT&T Mobile versus Concepcion, where a family responded to an ad saying, “Get a free phone.” And then after they got a free phone, they got a bill for $30, which was to go for taxes. They brought a suit. It was consolidated with a class-action suit. And AT&T said, “Well, you’ve signed our boilerplate adhesion contract which says you’ve got to go to independent arbitration.”


That was appealed. And the Ninth Circuit said that you can’t do that to people. This is unconscionable to steer them away from the ability to get judicial relief. Well, 5-4 decision reverses that in AT&T versus Concepcion. And the court said it was preempted by the Federal Arbitration Act.


KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: And also the court siding with management against labor. Basically invalidating the National Labor Relations Act. And we saw in this decision, which was underreported, because it was just on the eve of the ObamaCare health care decision, Knox vs. S.E.I.U., Service Employee International Union.


Some called that the Scott Walker decision, because it placed such an undue burden on public employees that it has made collective bargaining more difficult. Dahlia Lithwick, has a piece in the issue, builds on what Jamie was saying, which is that in some ways the move to arbitration has closed off the possibilities of class action. Which has been an avenue for ordinary citizens to challenge corporate power, corporations, their malfeasance. And that is a trend, which I believe we need to bring more attention to. It may seem dry, but again, it affects everyday lives.


BILL MOYERS: You open your article with a quote from the announcer in The Hunger Games. “And may the odds be ever in your favor.” What are you trying to tell us?


JAMIE RASKIN: Well, in the Citizens United era, we’re moving dangerously close into a kind of corporate state mentality, where the corporations operate with impunity in the Supreme Court. And they’re now endowed not with personhood rights, as some people think, but super personhood rights. Because they have all kinds of protections that ordinary human beings don’t have, like limited liability and perpetual life. And they continue to, you know, accrue wealth through the generations.


But now they’re given political free speech rights that people theoretically have. But of course, most American citizens don’t have millions of dollars to spend in politics. But the corporations do. And it’s, you know, a matter of chump change for them to put several million dollars into a campaign that could, you know, very much affect the direction of public policy.


BILL MOYERS: You live in New York, Katrina, if you were explaining to another straphanger on a moving subway the impact on that person’s life of Citizens United, what would you tell her before the next stop?


KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: What’s misunderstood is that money is not an abstraction. Money will decide how people live, how their children are raised and treated, and how you’re treated by corporations. I mean, if you’re defrauded by AT&T and you don’t have access to a fair legal system, you’re not living in a fair democracy.


JAMIE RASKIN: And it’s a fundamental distortion of a fair market, too. That’s the other thing. It’s not just an offense to Thomas Jefferson. It’s an offense to Adam Smith.


BILL MOYERS: And by the way, this is why some conservatives I’ve talked to are distressed by Citizens United. They do not see it as a boon to–


JAMIE RASKIN: Corporations should compete based on the ingenuity of their engineers, their ability to come up with better products, not based on an army of lobbyists that they send to Washington or the amount of money they can put into politics to get their guy elected to office.


KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: You know, what I really dislike about the current campaign is this idea if you raise a question of corporate power that you’re antibusiness.


We’re not antibusiness. We’re simply saying that you need to have labor. You need to have organized citizens given the same rights as corporations are now being given. The rights of free association are being limited while the rights of corporations are being enhanced. So that countervailing power, which was at the heart of an American politics and system, is being diminished and dismantled.


So the fact that the federal district and appellate courts are deciding so much, and those have been so seriously already reshaped by Bush, by the right. It’s a long game that the right has played. And that it’s not too late but it’s almost too late–



BILL MOYERS: You’ve been publishing about this. You’ve been writing about this for some time now. You both have seen this coming. You’ve written about how the court has been taking the side of corporations against regulators. And as you said a moment ago, the corporations against citizens. So wasn’t Citizens United the logical next step to this trend that has–


JAMIE RASKIN: Oh, it absolutely was. I mean, Justice Powell was a key figure here. He wrote this memorandum as a private lawyer for the Chamber of Commerce in 1971 saying, “We need a counter-attack against the environmentalists and the labor unions and so on.” And developed a whole strategy for kind of a corporate takeover of the judiciary and politic.


BILL MOYERS: By the way, you said something very important. Justice Lewis Powell, then a lawyer in Virginia, wrote this for the Chamber of Commerce, later became appointed by Richard Nixon to the Supreme Court.


JAMIE RASKIN: Just several months later.


BILL MOYERS: Many people look at the Powell Memo as the charter–


KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: The foundational, the foundational document.


JAMIE RASKIN: And the first big case in this direction was the First National Bank of Boston vs. Bellotti case, which he wrote the decision on. And what it said was corporations — the identity of the speaker is irrelevant, which becomes the key–


BILL MOYERS: What does that mean?


JAMIE RASKIN: What it means is you can’t tell corporations that they can’t put their money into politics just because they’re a corporation. Which has, I guess, a surface plausibility to it. But then would you say that, for example, the City of New York can put money into an election–


KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: That could be the next step.


JAMIE RASKIN: –to tell people how to vote?


BILL MOYERS: If we had any money. City of New York is broke.


JAMIE RASKIN: Can churches put their money in? I mean, if the identity of the speaker is really irrelevant. And even the court itself has not gone with that notion, because the next step was the right-wing lawyers who are pushing this today like James Bopp said, “Well, then we should have a right to give money directly to campaigns.” Corporate contributions are next. And the court, at least at this point, is unwilling to go that far. So it doesn’t totally buy the rhetoric of the identity of the speaker is irrelevant. But the First Amendment is being used today the way that the Lochner Court in the attack on the New Deal used due process.


BILL MOYERS: Back in the ’30s.


JAMIE RASKIN: Which is you get everything through the First Amendment. For example, this outrageous case from 2011 from Vermont, Sorrell’s decision, which struck down a patient and physician confidentiality law, which said that pharmacies and insurance companies could not sell– information about patients being prescribed particular drugs by doctors directly to pharmaceutical companies. And the Supreme Court struck that down as a violation of the First Amendment, which is incredible that the data that’s being collected by physicians somehow is free speech. And the pharmaceuticals have a right to it.


BILL MOYERS: So you could tell the straphanger on the subway that the data she gives her physician about her health could be sold by him to some corporate cause–


JAMIE RASKIN: Absolutely.


BILL MOYERS: –to some corporate subscriber.


JAMIE RASKIN: Now her name wouldn’t be in it, at least in this variation.


BILL MOYERS: But it does change the relationship.


JAMIE RASKIN: It changes the relationship. And the point is that the First Amendment is being used by corporations to get everything that they want, including the right, basically, to own campaigns.


BILL MOYERS: Is your position that corporations do not have quote “free speech” under the First Amendment?


JAMIE RASKIN: They have commercial speech rights. And this is a point that Justice Breyer makes very effectively in the Vermont decision. He says, “What’s happening is the majority is confusing the political speech, free speech rights of the citizenry with the commercial speech rights of businesses.”

And those rights are constricted. For example, we say that states can punish businesses for lying and defrauding people. But we don’t say that in politics. Politicians get up and say almost anything. And you can’t sue them for fraud, basically. But commercial speech is a much lesser notion, because corporations are instrumentalities of the state. And they’re endowed with all of these great rights and privileges that have made them fantastic accumulators of wealth and investors of money. But everybody from Chief Justice Marshall to Rehnquist to Justice White said, “You don’t let them convert their economic power into political power.”


And that is the fateful step that’s been taken by the Roberts Court.


BILL MOYERS: Justice Scalia would disagree with you. I want to show you Justice Scalia earlier this summer on CNN.


PIERS MORGAN: At that moment, under your interpretation, I believe, of the Constitution, you should be allowed to raise money for a political party. The problem, as I see it and many critics see it, is that it has no limitation to it. So what you’ve now got are these super PACS funded by billionaires effectively trying to buy elections. And that cannot be what the Founding Fathers intended. Thomas Jefferson didn’t sit there constructing something, which was going to be abused in that kind of way. And I do think it’s been abused, don’t you?


ANTONIN SCALIA: No. I think Thomas Jefferson would have said the more speech, the better. That’s what the First Amendment is all about. So long as the people know where the speech is coming from.


PIERS MORGAN: But it’s not speech when it’s…




PIERS MORGAN: — it’s ultimately about money to back up the speech.


ANTONIN SCALIA: You can’t separate speech from the money that facilitates the speech.


PIERS MORGAN: Can’t you?


ANTONIN SCALIA: It’s utterly impossible.

Could you tell newspaper publishers you can only spend so much money in the publication of your newspaper? Would they not say this is abridging my speech?


PIERS MORGAN: Yes, but newspaper publishers aren’t buying elections. I mean to — you know, the election of a president, as you know better than anybody else, you’ve served under many of them…




PIERS MORGAN: — is an incredibly important thing.




PIERS MORGAN: And it shouldn’t be susceptible to the highest bidder, should it?


ANTONIN SCALIA: Newspapers endorse political candidates all the time. What do you mean — they’re almost in the business of doing that.




ANTONIN SCALIA: And are you going to limit the amount of money they can spend on it?


PIERS MORGAN: Do you think the…




PIERS MORGAN: Do you think, perhaps, they should be?


ANTONIN SCALIA: Oh, I certainly think not. I think, as I think the framers thought, that the more speech, the better.


JAMIE RASKIN: Well first of all, the freedom of the press is just an irrelevant distraction from this. And that’s an easy question, not that difficult a question. The good justice betrays either an ignorance of what Thomas Jefferson’s position was or a willful defiance of it. Because Jefferson wrote several times about how afraid he was about an encroaching corporate tyranny and corporations who already, with their charters would bid fair to the laws of the land, in attempt to go off in their own direction.


BILL MOYERS: You actually quote Jefferson on the rise of a quote “single and splendid government of an aristocracy founded on banking institutions and incorporations.” He said they would ride and rule over the plundered ploughman and beggared yeomanry. The ordinary citizen, right?


JAMIE RASKIN: Well, look, our founders understood power. And one thing that Jefferson really believed in, he invented the phrase “the wall of separation between Church and State,” was dividing power up. And one way we’ve divided power up over the last century is building a kind of wall of separation between corporate treasury, wealth, and public elections.


That wall has been bulldozed by the Roberts Court. And now they’re letting the corporate money flow in. And everybody knows, I think, across the country, what that means, from Montana to Florida. You know, what that means to have corporations directly involved in politics. And look, we should want corporations out competing and prospering and thriving and profiting. But we shouldn’t want corporations to govern, because that inverts the proper democratic relationship.


KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: Part of what Scalia and these originalist judges have done, and the right, is appropriate the language, is take the language. And we haven’t found a narrative and a language to explain the importance of the court. They use terms like “freedom” and “liberty” and “activist judges.” And the importance of talking about the fairness and the balance and how these kinds of decisions infringe on the individual liberty of people!


It seems to me an important mission, as well as working with those in Congress to hold accountable State Senators, to hold accountable a president, to appoint and deepen the bench of those who understand the fairness and balance. And the values of freedom, of opportunity, of equality, that are at the core of our country’s purpose and constitution.


BILL MOYERS: You include in here some very specific, concrete examples. I was especially taken with a particular case that you make in your centerpiece, where you say that the 2010 election should have been framed by three major events. They were?


JAMIE RASKIN: Corporate catastrophes.


BILL MOYERS: They were?


JAMIE RASKIN: The BP oil spill, which destroyed an entire ecosystem and created billions of dollars worth of damage. The Massey Corporation’s collapsing coal mines, which caused the deaths of 29 people and–


BILL MOYERS: In West Virginia.


JAMIE RASKIN: –suffering in West Virginia. And then, of course, the biggest of them all, which was the subprime mortgage meltdown, which destroyed trillions of dollars of wealth for the American people, in terms of people’s retirement incomes, their home values, and so on. That should have been what the campaign was about.


BILL MOYERS: But they weren’t–




BILL MOYERS: –what the campaign was about, because?


JAMIE RASKIN: Well, we saw, because of Citizens United and an infusion of hundreds of millions of dollars, an unprecedented amount of corporate money coming in, not just through Super PACs, but as The Nation pointed out, through 501c4′s and c6′s, what we saw was a complete reframing of the issue to the big culprit being regulation. And so the theme of the campaign was corporate deregulation being the solution to all of our problems. It was like a parallel universe.


BILL MOYERS: And it worked because the Republicans, funded by many of these corporations and billionaires, took control of the House. Sixty-three votes, I think they won then. And fulfilled the wishes of their funders for deregulation.


JAMIE RASKIN: And the corporate-funded Tea Party caucus in the Republican Party, in the House has basically been driving the train of government, which is why we’ve had near, you know, financial collapses again through these various debt controversies that have been taking place.


KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: But let me broaden it. I agree with Jamie that those are the three disasters, which should have been at the focus of our attention. But it is the case that across disasters, which moment, the idea that we need austerity in this country, that jobs aren’t the great crisis of our– you know, the joblessness isn’t the great crisis of our time, but debt and deficits. That’s also a function of the .01 percent, who are the big players, who have the money, Democrat and Republican, who are funding these elections.


Because if it wasn’t that kind of money in our system, you would hear more of the people’s voices and those who lost their wealth through the terrible subprime mortgage disaster, those who are seeking jobs, 26 million people in this country either underemployed or unemployed. Those voices aren’t heard, because of the din of money in the system. You know the story, what is it, seven lobbyists for every representative. It may be ten, at this stage.


And one thing that isn’t paid as much attention to. You have the lobbyists. But this National Chamber Litigation Center, the N.C.L.C., started by the Chamber of Commerce, again an outgrowth of the Powell Memo. Its record is better than the solicitor general. And if you want to track the court–


BILL MOYERS: They’ve won more cases before the court.


KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: They’ve won more cases before the court. And a nonpartisan group, The Constitutional Accountability Center documented this. And in the last, I think it was 2010-2011, their record was unblemished, meaning they won all the cases brought before the court. And this is the Chamber’s specialized litigation bar. Now there are good environmental consumer civil rights, civil liberties groups working.


But you don’t have that coherence. And you certainly don’t have foundations and individuals in this country supporting those groups in the way that the right has supported the Chamber of Commerce and this kind of bar. That distorts justice. It’s about money. And what’s always shocking, and not to diminish the amount of this money in the system, is for some of these people this is chump change that they’re putting into the system, in terms of investment on return, because they will buy the deregulation, the low taxes, the ability to pollute, the ability literally to kill, as was the case in the Massey mine disaster, 29 miners killed because of the deregulation and the lax oversight. Why is that? Partly because of the starving of government, but also because the money in the system gives them the power.


JAMIE RASKIN: Well, and the Massey Company’s exactly what Thomas Jefferson was talking about, a company that defied the law, had hundreds of violations written up–




JAMIE RASKIN: –against it. Constantly litigated and gone against the government. Put millions of dollars into politics, in order to have its way, and continues to be a major political actor, despite its being essentially a criminal corporation, in terms of its disregard of human life and its defiance of the law.


BILL MOYERS: I talked to a well-known, a leading, and a very thoughtful conservative yesterday about the magazine. And he said, “Katrina is hyperbolic about this. We’ve only taken a small step to the right, trying to reverse the pendulum that swung so far, not only under Roosevelt, but under Lyndon Johnson and that period of the ’60s when the conservatives had to grit their teeth and the only thing they could do was say, ‘Let’s impeach Earl Warren,’ because all of what he called the social liberal causes that the court was trying to push down our throats.” He says, “We’re just correcting history.” That was what he said.


KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: No, first of all, what’s interesting about this issue in my mind is we’re not dealing with some of the important cultural issues, which often rile up the right and rile up so many. Abortion–




KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: The schools, guns.


BILL MOYERS: Guns. Gay rights.


KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: The whole– but I think on the corporate front, this is an extremist court. A court that has shifted so far to the right that it is beyond just the backlash to the Warren and Berger courts, and moving in a direction that has very little check on it. And I don’t believe it’s hyperbolic.


In fact, you know, very sober commentators in commenting on the Roberts Court on the eve of the health care decision, noted how extremist, how radical the four or five– I won’t call them conservative, the right-wing justices on the court were in terms of literally– one thing Jamie hasn’t talked about is Citizens United, and he will express this far better than I do, they literally called back the case in order to open a jurisprudence–


JAMIE RASKIN: You talk about judicial activists.


KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: Activism, that’s right.


JAMIE RASKIN: Well, judicial– I mean, for one thing, the masterpiece of judicial activism was, of course, Bush vs. Gore, where the Supreme Court intervened in democratic politics to stop the counting of ballots. Then a decade later, we get Citizens United, where the court says, “You know, we don’t like the questions presented, even by this conservative group, Citizens United.”


All they were saying was, “Don’t treat our made for TV pay-per-view movie like a TV ad.” And I think anybody could have gone along with that. They said, “That’s not quite sweeping enough for us. We want to know, does every corporation in America have political free speech rights, such that they can take money out of the treasury and put it into politics. Go brief that.” They briefed it. They came back. They reargued it. And what do you know, five justices say, “Yeah, they’ve got that right.”


BILL MOYERS: Alito and Roberts both come out of a corporate background, either serving corporations as lawyers or teaching corporate law.


KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: Well, this is an– I mean, in the issue, there’s a piece by Sherrilyn Ifill which is interesting, because on the face of it, the court looks diverse. But when you look at their actual professional backgrounds, I believe that eight come out of the appellate court system. Elena Kagan, solicitor general. But you don’t have a Thurgood Marshall, who had experience in civil rights or practical–


BILL MOYERS: Real life experience.


KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: –experience and real life experience that could connect to ordinary citizens. And so I think that diversity is something we’ve lost and has been an–


JAMIE RASKIN: And what’s interesting–


KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: –important part of the court.


JAMIE RASKIN: –is that it’s not a partisan question that Katrina is raising here. I mean, my two favorite justices were Republican appointees, Justice Souter and Justice Stevens. They were incredible. They were evenhanded. They were serious and sober. They never would have gone along with this and didn’t go along with this idea that somehow corporations should be treated like citizens for the purposes of political free speech–


BILL MOYERS: So what’s happened?


JAMIE RASKIN: Well, part of it is this story of the extremism of the Republican Party today. Because after Justice Souter was named to the court, the slogan, the mantra within the Republican Party was “No more Souters.” They really are imposing a very strict litmus test, not just on the right to privacy and abortion but also on these corporate questions.

They want to see that you’re going to be, down the line, just voting with corporate, you know, big corporations regardless of what it is that they’re saying. And that’s not justice. We don’t want justices who are pro-corporate or anti-corporate. We want people who are going to–




JAMIE RASKIN: –enforce the rule of law.




JAMIE RASKIN: And here, what we’ve got is a complete derailment of the rule of law, just like we have a derailment of democracy. Because we have one part of society that’s gotten too much power. And, you know, the economists, conservative economists talk about the difference between societies where the economy is closed and you have extractive industries that are taking money for themselves. And they end up closing politics at the same time. Versus societies that are open, that have open free markets and open politics. And we’re moving to a closed kind of economy and a closed kind of society.


KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: And I would say, you know, Jamie talks about the extremism of the Republican Party, yes. But go back 40 years, because it was the revolt of the plutocrats, which was part of the Powell Memo and the reason for the Powell Memo. And that revolt is winning now. It was class war waged from the top down. And I think we’re seeing the culmination of the Powell doctrine so to speak, which is that corporations should not be checked, should not be fettered, and that they have free reign of the land. And that–


BILL MOYERS: What puzzles me, Katrina, is that that’s not a conservative position necessarily.


KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: No, it’s an extremist. I don’t– I believe in conservatism. I believe that there is a role for conservatives. I believe that there’s a role for a conservative Republican Party in this country. And we can talk about Edmund Burke and all of that. But at the moment, we’re witnessing an extremist Republican Party willing to ravage and savage the freedoms and liberties in the name of– they want to say greater good, but it essentially is a corporate good.


And I would argue that we’re now going to witness a court next session, and Jamie follows this more closely that there is a well-funded, right-wing intellectual and corporate campaign now to try and really gut the Voting Rights Act, which I see linked to this, because I think more voices, more diversity in our political system can counter some of this corporate power. And if that’s gutted, we are at great risk of a monotone political system.


JAMIE RASKIN: And that’s why I invoke The Hunger Games. Because I think it doesn’t have anything to do with conservatism. It has to do with corporatism. And that’s a completely different philosophy of government.


KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: Or Jamie has this great term, “jurist corporatists.”


JAMIE RASKIN: Jurist corporatists.


KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: Jurist corporatists. Jurist corporatists.


BILL MOYERS: So The Hunger Games announcer is, in effect, speaking for the corporate state, right?


JAMIE RASKIN: Yeah, I mean, she’s basically saying, “May the odds be ever in your favor,” wink, wink. “But everything is stacked against you once you arrive here.”


BILL MOYERS: And are the odds now in the favor of corporations on the Supreme Court?


JAMIE RASKIN: You know, if you check out the People for the American Way website, where I follow the Supreme Court decisions, you will see case after case, where the court is throwing out tort verdicts against large corporations, jury verdicts for plaintiffs, throwing them out, because it’s preempted by this federal law or that federal law or “You messed up the class-action mechanism below.” There’s always a reason why the little guy’s got to lose.


BILL MOYERS: Well, you have written that over history the people have turned against the court and amended the Constitution 16-17 times when the enemies of democracy were slaveholders or people trying to prevent a minimum wage or stop women from voting and right on down. Is it feasible to expect that another amendment could reverse Citizens United?


JAMIE RASKIN: You know, we’ve had 17 amendments since the Bill of Rights. Most of them have been suffrage expanding, democracy enlarging amendments, where in a number of cases the people had to confront the court. So the court says in the Dred Scott decision that African Americans can never be citizens and persons within the meaning of the Constitution.


And it took a civil war and a whole bunch of constitutional amendments to reverse that. The Supreme Court said, “Women don’t have the right to vote.” In Minor vs. Happersett, despite the 14th Amendment. That got reversed by the 19th Amendment. The Supreme Court upheld poll taxes and that got reversed by the 24th Amendment.

So there are a whole bunch of cases where the people have said, “You know what? The court is a fundamentally conservative institution, often times reactionary. And we’ve got to confront their power and tell them what the Constitution really means. Because the first three words of the Constitution are ‘We the people,’ not ‘We the court’ not ‘We the corporations’ but the people.”


KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: I mean, the struggle in the country today is between “of, by, and for the people” and “of, by, and for the one percent,” speaking about the corporate powers. And I think the importance of framing the debate about the future of the court, as this issue tries to do, between those who would roll back the civilizing advances of this country, economically, politically, socially against those who want to build a more just, fair, and diverse country.


And in the future of this country, the demographic shifts, for example, I do think the right looks out at this country, doesn’t like what it sees, which is why you see the influx of money and the voting right suppression. And those two fused may give them a last hurrah, but there is a struggle moving forward in a different country that they may not be able to win.


BILL MOYERS: One of my colleagues asked me to tweet to her the essence of your magazine. Would this be an accurate expression of the essence of what you’ve done here? “The Supreme Court is now a corporate court that by giving big business the advantage is shrinking access to justice for everyday citizens.”


KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: Most beautiful 140 characters I’ve heard.


BILL MOYERS: Right out of your magazine, too. Jamie Raskin, Katrina vanden Heuvel, thank you very much for being with me.


JAMIE RASKIN: Thanks for having us.

Tabacco: I consider myself both a funnel and a filter. I funnel information, not readily available on the Mass Media, which is ignored and/or suppressed. I filter out the irrelevancies and trivialities to save both the time and effort of my Readers and bring consternation to the enemies of Truth & Fairness! When you read Tabacco, if you don’t learn something NEW, I’ve wasted your time.


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2 Responses to CITIZENS UNITED Supreme Court Ruling Re Unlimited Corporate Spending In Political Campaigns! Is It The US Supreme Court, Or, As ‘The Nation’ Magazine Calls it, ‘THE ONE PERCENT COURT’, Which Represents Only Those At The Top Of America’s Economic Pyramid!

  1. admin says:

    Some Are More Equal Than Others!

    Presidents stand for reelection every 4 years. Congressmen stand for reelection every 2 years. Senators stand for reelection every 6 years. Supreme Court Justices do not stand for reelection ever and their term is life unless and until they decide to resign.

    Presidents and Congressmen should not have any vote on who gets to serve on the Supreme Court. This guarantees that Judicial Appointments are POLITICAL – and you thought the Founding Fathers were perfect? These same guys permitted the Institution of SLAVERY! So how could you ever have thought they were perfect!

    But also, Supreme Court Justices should not be guaranteed a lifetime term. If we wanted to change the Process, we would need a Constitutional Amendment. But even that must NOT be left to Congress! Congress is under the Lobbyists’ thumbs!

    Sorry, folks, but we have let this ?System? get so OUT OF CONTROL that CORRECTIONS are impossible or damn near impossible. There is one option: mimic the Founding Fathers and START OVER (WITH NEW CONSTITUTION) FROM SCRATCH!


  2. admin says:


    The Bellotti decision cracked open the door of campaign finance law, and the Citizens United majority blew that door off its hinges. The Court announced that, when it comes to campaign spending rights, the “identity of the speaker” is irrelevant and an impermissible basis upon which to repress the flow of money speech. What matters is the “speech” itself, never the speaker — a doctrine that would have come in handy for the public employees, public school students, whistleblowers, prisoners and minor-party candidates whose free-speech rights have been crushed by the conservative Court because of their identity as (disfavored) speakers.

    Taken seriously, the Citizens United doctrine has astonishing implications for campaign finance. If it’s true that the “identity of the speaker” is irrelevant, the City of New York — a municipal corporation, after all — should have a right to spend money telling residents whom to vote for in mayoral races. Maryland could spend tax dollars urging citizens to vote for marriage equality in November, and President Obama could order the Government Printing Office to produce a book advocating his re-election. Surely the Supreme Court would never ban a book containing campaign speech!


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