The Supreme Court Took Political Power Away from All and Gave It to 644 Wealthy Americans

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Democracy is a form of government in which all citizens participate equally either directly or indirectly through elected representatives in government. Democracy contrasts with forms of government where power is either held by one person, as in a monarchy, or where power is held by a small number of individuals, as in America’s burgeoning oligarchy. Several variants of democracy exist, but of the two basic forms which concern how the whole body of all citizens executes its will, America’s form is representative democracy where the whole body of all eligible citizens remains the sovereign power, but political power is exercised indirectly through elected representatives. Yesterday, the Koch-Adelson conservative’s on the Supreme Court made an important ruling that was yet another step toward taking political power away from the “whole body of all citizens” and giving a great advantage to a very, very tiny percentage of the population to exercise direct political power by granting them a greater degree of free speech than nearly the entirety of the population.

America’s democracy has been bludgeoned over the past four years whether it was the Supreme Court striking down the Voting Rights Act, Republicans enacting voter suppression laws in states they control, or the Supreme Court giving corporations a “voice” to spend unlimited amounts on campaigns in the Koch brothers’ Citizens United ruling. Yesterday the conservative Court issued another “free speech ruling” striking down limits on individual campaign donations as a gift to the extremely wealthy and Republican Party that was part of the McCutcheon v. Federal Elections Commission case. The Koch-Adelson conservatives felt the overall federal limit on individuals’ contributions of $123,200 was a violation of the wealthy’s free speech and unconstitutional, and concluded that to be fair and constitutional, the wealthy should be limited to spending $3.6 million on individual donations. For perspective, the old limit of $123,200 is about two-and-a-half times the $49,900 median family income and although millions of Americans donate to individual political campaigns in America, it is incomprehensible that the Court ruling benefitted any American that is not filthy rich. In fact, only 644 wealthy elite donors contributed the maximum amount to candidates in the last election cycle, so the Court’s decision benefitted an infinitesimal percentage of the American population; the very, very, very richest percentage of over 316 million Americans.

It was a ruling that benefits 0.000002% of the population and no man, woman, child, Republican, or wild beast can say this particular group of conservative SCOTUS Justices is not ruling solely for the extremely wealthy. John Roberts certainly was looking out for the people in the richest micro-percentage of the population because he wrote that “The overall limits intrude without justification on a citizen’s ability to exercise ‘the most fundamental First Amendment activities.” Roberts may as well have been speaking about “a citizen,” and if he was referring to freedom of speech of the very rich, the High Court already granted corporations owned by the richest Americans “free speech” in elections in Citizens United four years ago; freedom of speech was not an issue in McCutcheon. Allowing the rich to speak with a louder voice was the issue and the conservative Court gave the top two-one-millionths of one percent of the population a much, much louder voice than the bottom 99.99998% of the population to sway elections with typical conservative lies, misinformation, and propaganda.

Justice Stephen Breyer, in writing for the dissenting opinion, said that the court’s conservatives “eviscerated our nation’s campaign finance laws” with yesterday’s ruling and that “If the court in Citizens United opened a door, today’s decision we fear will open a floodgate. It understates the importance of protecting the political integrity of our governmental institution and creates a loophole that will allow a single individual to contribute millions of dollars to a political party or to a candidate’s campaign.” Breyer is right, the court’s conservatives are eviscerating campaign finance laws and with the Citizens United ruling, yesterday’s decision sets a very dangerous precedent Republicans are certain to take to heart and completely eliminate campaign finance laws, the Federal Elections Commission, and voting laws that do not favor Republican candidates for political office. It is important to note that in Citizens United v FEC, McCutcheon v FEC, and Shelby County v. Holder (Voting Rights Act), Republicans simply went to the Supreme Court and asked the conservatives to strike down longstanding voting rights or campaign finance laws and the conservatives granted their request per their orders from the Koch brothers.

In McCutcheon v. FEC, a wealthy Republican did not like the FECs limitation on individual campaign donations and filed suit complaining that being limited to spending $123,200 on individual candidates just was not fair and violated his 1st Amendment right of free speech. The conservatives on the High Court agreed wholeheartedly and gave McCutcheon more free speech than over 99% of the population to financially support Republican candidates.  How long before the Koch brothers or Sheldon Adelson convince another uber-wealthy donor to file suit against the federal government because they think the Federal Elections Commission is an unconstitutional violation of their free speech or that all campaign finance laws are unconstitutional? Republicans have already slashed FEC funding below levels from before 2010 that the elections commission complains restricts them from doing their jobs of policing violators.

It is true that one wealthy individual spending $3.6 million dollars on Republican candidates is not going to buy one American’s vote, but that proposition is likely in the offing. But it does unfairly give the 644 wealthy donors a greater voice in buying television ads, billboards, campaign flyers, and radio spots to spread lies and misinformation about Democrats while extolling the virtues of Republicans and teabaggers. The High Court’s ruling for McCutcheon is not the end of America’s democracy yet, but as Senator Charles Schumer said, “This in itself is a small step, but another step on the road to ruination. It could lead to interpretations of the law that would result in the end of any fairness in the political system as we know it.” Schumer is right and it is but a short matter of time before tax-exempt evangelical churches go crying to the conservatives on the Supreme Court that their obligation to not campaign from the pulpit at the expense of the American taxpayer is a violation of their 1st Amendment right of free speech and unconstitutional; everyone with a brain knows exactly how the Court will rule on that abomination.

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20 Replies to “The Supreme Court Took Political Power Away from All and Gave It to 644 Wealthy Americans”

  1. Is there any way to overturn these disastrous decisions at all?

    Why I ask? It has to be done. The rich have too much power and that’s not what a democracy is about.

  2. Publicly financed elections. No private investments in candidates

    The people to be elected now will be the ones who will remove your rights at work, at home and in school

  3. There is a petition now to investigate Clarence Thomas now for ethics violations, http://www.pfaw.org/ThomasEthics. Hopefully it won’t stop there. They need to seriously look into him, Scalia, and Kennedy. I am betting if you look into their finances there is dirt.

    All we can do is try to make anyone and everyone aware of the what these repugnants want to do. The other thing is vote, and get anyone and everyone to vote. I have a friend in Louisiana and she was telling me that they are going around the neighborhood making sure people are registered to vote and have ID. Their plan is to flood the polls early. Be there when they open and make sure the lines are long.

    If we can win in 2014, and take the presidency in 2016 things could go in a vastly different direction. They are pretty much conceding 2016 already if Clinton runs. They are counting on having Congress and the Senate. Let’s not let that happen.

  4. It proves that allowing politicians to nominate supreme court judges is a grave error for it is tantamount to stacking the court with the same fools that derelict politicians voted by big money wish to have there for sometimes as many as 40 years.

    This system is the absolute necessity to continue to maintain the GOOD OLD BOY SYSTEM!

    There is no other way it can be done.

    The supreme court should coincide with the constitutional court and should not be nominated by be filled with the best and the brightest mind that the legal profession can bring forth not the biggest fools that the political system can muster.

    The constitutional court should examine all constitutional matters and not just the 70 to 100 rough cases it wishes to tackle.

    Our problem is that we start with the precept that WE HAVE A PERFECT SYSTEM AND NEED NOT CHANGE ANYTHING… we simply tinker here and there just to keep the GOOD OLD BOYS IN POWER FOR EVER!

    That is what we do! When will it end?

  5. I signed that. We definitely need an FDR back in the presidency to undo all the damage that the oligarchs have done to our democracy since the late 19th century.

    Since Ulysses S Grant’s time, the GOP has seen the US treasury as a license to steal and the American public as an inconvenient to their aristocratic ambitions.

  6. I would sure like a list of those 644 Americans. Just got into a heated debate where a con argues that the 1% we always refer to doesn’t really exist. This is a good article, but that list would really help. The decison made by the SCOTUS yesterday assures us all that our democracy is in a downard spiral and their decision was just one more nail in the coffin. There must be some way to remove Scalia and Thomas, the two most aligned with corporations and the Koch brothers. They have no shame, nor moral compass when they openly attend meetings with the Koch brothers and other corporate CEO’s, and then turn around and decide in favor of Citizens United, and now yesterday’s ruling that allows unlimited contributions to political parties, and candidates. If people cannot see how American is being ruled by the wealthy, how our politicians are being purchased by the highest bidder, and the SCOTUS is the catalyst that allows this to happen, we are indeed in very deep trouble.

  7. Thank you for the petition link Phil. I will share everywhere. Good for the people of Louisiana who are doing their part. It needs to happen EVERYWHERE.

  8. Yet another example of a corrupt Republican SCOTUS.

    Drowning out a person’s speech is a direct and obvious violation of the 1st Amendment.

  9. “The historian Plutarch warned us long ago of what happens when there is no brake on the power of great wealth to subvert the electorate. “The abuse of buying and selling votes,” he wrote of Rome, “crept in and money began to play an important part in determining elections. Later on, this process of corruption spread in the law courts and to the army, and finally, when even the sword became enslaved by the power of gold, the republic was subjected to the rule of emperors.”

    We don’t have emperors yet, but we do have the Roberts Court that consistently privileges the donor class”.

    http://billmoyers.com/2013/12/13/the-great-american-class-war-plutocracy-versus-democracy/

  10. Too many Americans have no-clue of what’s coming down re: Roberts Court.
    Write to your Newspaper…we must wake-up all fellow Americans.

    Join your local Dem Party. Sign-up to work at the polls on Election Day.
    If you’re able…Run For Office! Get your foot in the door, even run for Dog Catcher.

    When Hillary runs in 2016…there’s going to be so many things we can do.
    I imagine: Just like Pray Groups, we could have Progress Groups, Picnics for Progress…the possibilities are endless!

    I keep thinking:
    The Democrats have something very valuable the Republicans don’t have:
    *WOMEN*

    Don’t underestimate the power of many many Women! While informed, empathetic Men…are the frosting on the Cake! Let’s put our heads-together and bring the change we want for the future!

    Who are the Koch Brothers?
    http://www.polluterwatch.com/koch-industries

  11. My ques. is, where’s ‘Code Pink, 99er’s, unions, Moms Against Guns, Unions, Progressive Left’?

    They’re quick to tell how the Pres. is doing this or that wrong or how he’s not doing enough. But, when it’s count, their MIA.

  12. That’s not going to happen. We need 2/3 of States to ratify an Amendment.

    What we need to do is GOTV and ensure that we have a Democratic president in the WH and keep Democratic control of the Senate until Kennedy and Scalia either keel over in their posh, corporate-bought-and-paid for seats or retire.

    Then we can replace them with left-of-center – or just FAIR – Justices who actually believe in the U.S. Constitution and who will, collectively, neuter corporate lackey Chief Justice Roberts’ influence.

    Then our side can launch lawsuits to overturn the disastrous, anti-democratic CU and McCutcheon, and take the power away from the fascists who are growing stronger under this SCOTUS.

    It’s the only way.

  13. Having another FDR in the WH won’t change how *this* Congress works. The Legislative branch has the power to draft, pass, and fund laws. With Teabaggers and Republitarians in the People’s House, there’s nothing a FDR on steroids can do to change the catastrophic course we’re on.

    Only voting OUT ALL Republicans will change our path and bring us back closer to a democracy, rather than the corporatocracy we’re now headed for.

    GOTV in 2014! Vote Democratic Party in each and every election.

    It’s the only way.

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