In his final remarks before leaving the Senate, Arlen Spector said:
"Congress should act to try to stop the Supreme Court from further eroding the Constitutional mandate of separation of power. The Court has been eating Congress’s lunch by invalidating legislation with judicial activism after nominees commit under oath in confirmation proceedings to respect Congressional fact finding and precedents. The recent decision in Citizens United is illustrative. Ignoring a massive Congressional record and reversing recent decisions, Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito repudiated their confirmation testimony and provided the key votes to permit corporations and unions to secretly pay for political advertising - effectively undermining the basic democratic principle of the power of one person/one vote. Roberts promised to just call balls and strikes and then moved the bases."
Associate Supreme Court Justice (and then- Solicitor General) Elena Kagen, argued on behalf of the Obama Administration and in favor of the constitutionality of limiting the amount of money corporations can spend in elections. She noted that injecting unlimited corporate profits into elections is:
- "inherently likely to corrode the political system, both by actually corrupting public office holders and by creating the appearance of corruption."
- Senator Russell Feingold observed:
- "Ignoring important principles of judicial restraint and respect for precedent, the Court has given corporate money a breathtaking new role in federal campaigns. Just six years ago, the Court said that the prohibition on corporations and unions dipping into their treasuries to influence campaigns was ‘firmly embedded in our law.’ Yet this Court has just upended that prohibition, and a century’s worth of campaign finance law designed to stem corruption in government."
- Senator Christopher Dodd of Connecticut stated:
- "What a terrible day for American democracy. With this 5-4 decision, a deeply divided Supreme Court has essentially given corporations free rein to drown out the voices of the American people, rejecting the sacred democratic principle of ‘one person, one vote.'"
- In an earlier era, confronted with rising corporate power, an American president noted:
- "Corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money powers of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until the wealth is aggregate in the hands of a few, and the Republic is destroyed.” --Abraham Lincoln
Why Shouldn't Corporations Have Unlimited Rights?
- Well, if you just look at the numbers here you are dealing with a world we just have never seen in elections. Exxon Mobil has a political action committee, which means voluntary contributions given by shareholders and executives, about 900 thousand dollars in the last cycle. It made last year 85 billion dollars.
- Now, there's just a world of difference in the resources available if you say to a corporation, "You can spend money to defeat global-- candidates who are in favor of global warming legislation." If coal companies can go out and say, "If you don't sign our pledge to support coal we're going to defeat you. We're going to spend money against you." You take those enormous economic resources and you use them for something that we've never seen before. That I think is the radical nature.
(Potter is the founding president and general counsel of the Campaign Legal Center, and he is a former Chairman of the Federal Election Commission, which was created to regulate election campaigns.)
Ed. note. The figure above was developed prior to the Supreme Court's decision which will cause billions more dollars will flow into elections and undermine our democracy.
President Obama Addresses Issue in State of the Union Address
- "With all due deference to separation of powers, last week the Supreme Court reversed a century of law that I believe will open the floodgates for special interests –- including foreign corporations –- to spend without limit in our elections. I don't think American elections should be bankrolled by America's most powerful interests, or worse, by foreign entities. They should be decided by the American people."
From the text of Obama's State of the Union address; full text at The New York Times