Supreme Court Decides That McDonald’s is a Person
June 27, 2012
Filed under Uncategorized
This Monday, the Supreme Court announced two important judgments, among others, but the most awaited, the ruling on Obama’s health care reform, will have to wait until Thursday. However, two significant decisions on controversial topics were made, one involving the landmark Citizens United case of 2010 and another concerning Arizona’s strict immigration law. This article will discuss the Citizens United decision, and another article will talk about the Arizona law.
In 2010, the infamous case Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission made a hugely controversial decision when it found that corporations are people, and therefore must be granted their First Amendment right of freedom of speech. Consequently, they can spend unlimited amounts of money on elections. This also applied to unions. This ruling led rise to Super Political Action Committees (PACs), which can also spend unlimited money affecting elections, though they must do it without coordinating directly with candidates or political parties. On Monday, the Supreme Court upheld their previous judgment in a 5-4 ruling, intensifying debates over the role of money in politics.
President Obama’s administration spokesman, Eric Schultz, commented, “Citizens United mistakenly overruled long-standing cases that protected the fairness and integrity of elections. Unfortunately, the court today missed an opportunity to correct that mistake.” This seems to be a key argument point for adversaries of the original Citizens United case, and they might have a point. Over $1 billion from a bevy of groups will be spent on the election this year, with massive amounts coming from billionaires and companies.
On the conservative side, Mitt Romney will be hosting a retreat in Utah with 700 of his biggest donators, including some large names (McCain, Rice, Rove, Ryan). In addition, billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch will host a convention in San Diego at the same time of the Romney retreat. This convention will be a fundraiser to raise money for conservative causes. On the liberal side, Obama is expected to continue raising colossal amounts of money, as he did in 2008 when he raised a whopping $750 million.
These numbers bring up the previous point, do these large numbers affect the “fairness and integrity” of elections? Well, let’s look at the numbers, starting in 2004. In that year, President Bush beat challenger John Kerry after spending $64.6 million more. In addition, 98% of House races and 88% of Senate races went to the candidate who spent the most money. In 2006, the numbers stayed around the same: 94% for the House and 73% for the Senate. The trend continued in 2008, with 93% of the bigger spenders winning a House seat and 94% winning a Senate seat. This could mean one of two things: the more money a candidate spends, the more likely he is to win (causation), or people are more likely to give money to better candidates (correlation). It seems to lean towards causation, however, because in races for Congress, there is not as much donated money.
These statistics point to the fact that money does in fact influence elections. Why should corporations be allowed to decide an election so that the victor will share their same interests? Elections are about what is right for the people and helping the working man get back on track, not about boosting corporate profits by another billion.
Buddy Roemer, a Republican candidate this year, had the right idea. In an interview with Jon Stewart last year, he discussed what was wrong with the system. “You can’t tackle the jobs problem, the budget problem, the tax problem… until you tackle the first problem – money and politics. It is corrupt. It is institutionally corrupt. They [politicians] spend their time getting big checks from big special interests. It’s the special interests, Jon, that write the tax code. It doesn’t work for America, it hurts jobs. We give them away, they’re being stolen by unfair trade, and nobody does anything. You know why? Corporations have never made more money than they are right now, they wrote the tax code, and they really don’t give a damn about rest of America.” These words could not fit our present situation more perfectly, yet Roemer had no chance at being the GOP nominee, as he would not accept more than $100 from his donors. He was doing his part to try to make the system fair, and it screwed him over. Nice guys never win.
This situation will not be resolved anytime soon, as this Supreme Court decision put the nail in the coffin, at least for a while. Until then, corporations will continue to run our politics, and America will potentially get nowhere. The common man is an after-thought, the billionaire is the focus.