Monday, January 25, 2010

US Supreme Court Green Lights Special Interest Money

From a report by by Lawday:

WASHINGTON – President Obama in his weekly radio address strongly criticized the decision of the US Supreme Court last Thursday that removed long-standing campaign finance limits on corporate spending. The President noted that “this decision is giving a green light to a new stampede of special interest money in our politics”. In the 5-4 ruling that divided the court along conservative and liberal lines, the court ruled that the Constitution protects the free speech rights of corporations.

Justice Anthony Kennedy writing for the majority said, “the government may regulate corporate political speech through disclaimer and disclosure requirements but it may not suppress that speech altogether”. In a sharply worded dissent Justice Paul Stevens wrote, “the Court’s ruling threatens to undermine the integrity of elected institutions across the nation.” The ruling by the Court overturned Supreme Court decisions between 2003 and 1990 that upheld federal and state limits on expenditures by corporations supporting or opposing particular candidates. In the 2008 elections almost $6 billion was spent in federal campaigns including more than $1 billion from corporations and trade associations. The ruling will likely allow unions to spend more freely in political campaigns as well. Chief Justice John Roberts in a concurring opinion wrote, “ the First Amendment protects more than just individuals on a soapbox and the lonely past pamphleteer.” Justice Anthony Kennedy who cast the swing vote wrote the majority opinion which overturned his own decision in 1990 in Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce. The 175 page decision included a sharply worded 90 page dissent by Justice John Paul Stevens that blasted the legal logic of majority and questioned the grasp of the cardinal principles of the judicial process.

The President said he will immediately work with Congress to enact legislation that would overturn the decision.



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