Politics: Representative Democracy and the Power of Corporations

In a video announcing the launch of FreeSpeechForPeople.org, a new group that plans to organize against the U.S. Supreme Court's 5 to 4 decision on January 21, 2010 to remove limitations on corporations' election spending, Jamie Raskin, professor of constitutional law and the First Amendment at American University, Rep. Donna Edwards, and others discuss the meaning of the case for our democracy.
Here's Prof. Raskin on Democracy Now! and C-Span.

Among the many problems with the decision is the fact that the majority over-reached, deciding to throw out campaign financing laws merely because such restrictions offend the conservatives' ideological sensibilities. As Justice John Paul Stevens wrote in dissent, "The only relevant thing that has changed since [previous decisions limiting corporate speech] is the composition of this Court. Today’s ruling thus strikes at the vitals of stare decisis, the means by which we ensure that the law will not merely change erratically, but will develop in a principled and intelligible fashion" that "permits society to presume that bedrock principles are founded in the law rather than in the proclivities of individuals." This is judicial activism at its most transparent and most virulent, and gives the lie to the fiction that it is the right wing justices who respect the Constitution and the rule of law.

Our democracy, already at risk because of the wealth and power of corporations, is further undermined by the court's action. Justice Stevens: "Although they make enormous contributions to our society, corporations are not actually members of it. They cannot vote or run for office. Because they may be managed and controlled by nonresidents, their interests may conflict in fundamental respects with the interests of eligible voters. The financial resources, legal structure, and instrumental orientation of corporations raise legitimate concerns about their role in the electoral process. Our lawmakers have a compelling constitutional basis, if not also a democratic duty, to take measures designed to guard against the potentially deleterious effects of corporate spending in local and national races."

Action was needed before this decision to make our society more democratic. We have pushed for many of them, from changes in electoral procedures to campaign finance reform. David Swanson outlines many of the needed actions on AfterDowningStreet, "including public financing of elections, free media for elections, shareholder control of corporations, public control of corporations, a variety of constitutional amendments including one to undo corporate personhood entirely, and an array of legislative steps, including Congressman Alan Grayson's bills to tax corporate political spending, to require public reporting of corporate spending on influencing public opinion, and to apply antitrust laws and other regulations to political committees. But ultimately we're going to have to build a popular movement around an amendment to the Constitution that we can force through Congress and the states."

In the long run, the action of the five ideologically driven members of the Supreme Court may provide the spark that ignites genuine reform. If it catches fire, a movement to democratize this nation will be hard to extinguish. FreeSpeechForPeople.org is organizing to do this. Partners include Voter Action, Public Citizen, The Center for Corporate Policy and the American Independent Business Alliance.

Action: Join FreeSpeechForPeople.org and sign the resolution to amend the Constitution to guarantee the first amendment rights of people.

See, also: Citizen Goldman-Sachs, Psychopath by Matt Osborne (Huffington Post 2010-01-24)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

you have to be kidding, there are more lefty organizations than their are lefties. do you think we can win just by spamming the internet to death? a constitutional amendment? oh, yeah, that's gonna work. start a party. do some organizing. stop talking to people who agree with you. if everybody with a .org joined every other .org, they'd all have lots of members, but what difference would it make?

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