Apparently "legalized bribery" is fine with the Roberts Supreme Court. As you can see by my previous post Billionaires and Supreme Court undermine our "1st Amendment right not to be drowned out", this appalling decision makes me furious and more than a little worried. In the post I wrote:
Think it was bad before? You ain't seen nothin' yet. You thought Sheldon Adelson and the ass-kissing at Jewish Mingle were obscene? Billionaires like him are just getting started. Super PACs are morphing into Super Duper PACs, Mingles will become orgies, and the kajillions of TV ads will turn into mini-series sponsored by Deep Pockets, Inc.
Despite the TV "news" media's skimpy reporting on this very important topic-- instead running wall-to-wall speculation about the horrific Fort Hood killer-- the Los Angeles Times gave ample coverage to the legalized bribery that is now law. Here are a few takes on what came down yesterday, or as I like to call it, The Supreme Thwart of democracy as we knew it.
First, excerpts from the L.A. Times front pager:
The decision, McCutcheon vs. Federal Election Commission, also shows again the impact of President George W. Bush's two appointees: Roberts and Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr.
Or to put it another way, elections matter. Continuing...
Fred Wertheimer, a veteran champion of campaign finance reform, said the court was on a "march to destroy the nation's campaign finance laws enacted to prevent corruption."
The decision "re-created the system of legalized bribery today that existed during the Watergate days," said Wertheimer, president of the nonprofit group Democracy 21.
Michael Waldman, president of the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School, said neither the Founding Fathers nor most Americans "want government beholden to narrow elite interests."
Republicans call that hand-wringing.
Moving on to an editorial titled, "Really, justices? Even more money in politics?"
The campaign reform group Democracy 21 notes that after Wednesday's decision, a presidential nominee could form a joint fundraising committee and solicit a contribution of as much as $1,199,600 from a single donor for the election cycle. Does anyone doubt that the person who signed that check would expect special consideration from the candidate who solicited it?
Roberts was untroubled by the idea that mega-donors would receive special treatment in exchange for their largesse.
How nice for Roberts that he can sleep well at night knowing that the imbalance of power in this country is causing democracy to go the way of Chris Christie's political career.
Finally, there was an op-ed written by Jessica A. Levinson, an associate clinical professor at Loyola Law School-Los Angeles and vice president of the Los Angeles Ethics Commission:
And how many people were handcuffed by these limits? Well, fewer than 600 donors, or 0.0000019% of Americans, gave the maximum amount under those oh-so-restrictive limits, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. [...]
Disclosure may be the only way we can regulate the political money trail in the near future. [...]
Where does McCutcheon leave us? It leaves people like me who believe it is both legal and good policy to limit the influence of money in politics in an existential crisis. [...]
Our current system essentially limits only direct contributions from donors to candidates and political committees. But independent organizations receive and dispense vast sums related to candidate campaigns, and many do not have to disclose the donors of this dark money.
The base contribution limits could be the next restriction on the chopping block.
And then she called for more transparency. And how about more justice... and different Justices?