Thursday, January 21, 2010

Supreme Court's 'seismic' decision on campaign contributions

The head of a North Carolina non-profit organization that aims to educate voters about elections and the election process says a U.S. Supreme Court decision this morning will have a seismic effect on Tar Heel politics. That's saying a lot, given how N.C. politics has often been at the center of trends shaping how candidates and campaigns go about their work -- from the bruising campaign between Frank Porter Graham and Willis Smith for the U.S. Senate 60s years ago, to the transformation of national politics with the fund-raising and advertising campaigns by the National Congressional Club to help Jesse Helms, to the redistricting battles here that have shaped campaigns as well as legislatures and Congress.

The Supreme Court's ruling in Citizens United vs. FEC struck down restrictions on corporate giving in elections, freeing up corporations including powerful labor unions to spend unlimited amounts in elections. Damon Circosta, executive director of the N.C. Center for Voter Education, said in a news release that the decision makes North Carolina's experiment with public funding of elections even more important as a way to avoid the impact of huge financial contributions on our elections. Here's what Circosta had to say:

"We are disappointed in today's ruling that essentially grants moneyed interests an outsized role in our democracy. When corporations are left unfettered to influence the political process, everyday citizens get left out. If politics is about a level playing field where ideas compete to be heard, the Supreme Court just handed an amplifier to the very folks who already had a megaphone.

"Although there is a great degree of concern among reform advocates that this decision will only exacerbate the 'pay-to-play' system of campaign contributions in exchange for preferential treatment, this decision creates even more urgency around alternative campaign funding models such as public campaign financing.

"We know that public campaign financing works to curb special interest influence and we also know that courts have repeatedly deemed such systems to be constitutionally sound. North Carolina has been a national leader in establishing a public financing alternative. In the wake of this latest decision by the Supreme Court, we expect more support for programs that empower citizens to participate in their democracy."


Anonymous said...

Isn't it sad - and frightening - that not a single mention of this, including a link to this blog, appears on the home page of today's Observer?

Anonymous said...

This ruling only applies to advertising dollars. I can't believe the Democrats are hollering about "special interests" when their own "special interests", namely the major news media, have been mouthpieces for their candidates for years. This just levels the playing field. They hate it when things get more fair.

Mike Licht said...

A landmark Supreme Court decision -- and you can take that to the bank.

Of course, now you'll have to ....


Anonymous said...

Now "foreign" interests can easily control USA elections. All Bin Laden has to do is buy into a USA corporation and run advertisements against candidates he doesn't like.

True conservatives would not be giving foreigners the ability to use money to dominate USA internal affairs.

This maybe the worst Supreme Court decision in a generation or more!

Anonymous said...

If your vote can be decided by what a corporation says in an ad, then have I got some real estate for you to buy.

Anonymous said...

This is what judicial activism truly is and the last thirty years of Republican propaganda brought it to you. The tea-baggers and right wing-nuts are more than happy to sell this country out to any foreign interest with money under the guise of 'personal' liberty. And our democratic leaders did the same by bying into the propaganda of corporate expansionism with NAFTA anc CAFTA. Every time a politician opens his mouth it is to say whatever the lobbyists told him to say and now they can get rid of all that lobby expense by buying their candiate outright. A corporation as a 'person'? The greatest fraud ever perpetrated against Americans.

Anonymous said...

NOTE TO BETTS: Lose the tie dude. You look like Wally Cox. And you are old enough like me to know who that is.

Anonymous said...

And the house recognizes the honourable member of Al Qaeda, TATA, Dubai,The US has just given wealthier foreign interests the green light to legally take control of your democracy.You need to worry less about bombers and more about your politicians and judiciary.The door is open...let us see who walks through.

Anonymous said...

What is sad is that it was not fairly written by McCain Feingold, allowing left leaning oraganizations also Corporations to give millions from Unions organizations such as ACORN, SEIU, Apollo, other front organizations playing the game. Both large corporations and large socialist Union corporations should equally be limited in their influence. Didn't hear the left scream about the left leaning supreme court justices pass eminent domain laws allowing corporations to take private land under the guise of eminent domain in 2005???? You didn't scream about foreign money through P.A.C.'s already existing the left gives money to? Monstrous Hypocrisy!

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Emil said...

well, I think every country needs to have reliable justice for the sake of their citizens. it has bee written last year but the effect will be felt till there is a change on the court. hope someday there will be a person who have string heart and will to stand for the voiceless people which reminds me of 90s youth who give voice to the voiceless at that time is Afro American against their discrimination, miss that day.