Letter: Overturn Citizens United


To the editor:

We know there has always been and probably always will be money in politics, affecting decisions from the budget, environment, civil rights, and this year especially, women's rights.

However, it appears we may have the opportunity to revisit the ridiculous Citizens United Supreme Court Decision, thanks to Montana.

It has been recently noted almost all of the funding for the primaries is coming from four or five people. Very wealthy people who will spend whatever it takes to get their particular candidate into office, and then their priorities will become the issues most fervently addressed.

It is outrageous the amount of money being spent, especially in times that are so difficult for the average person. Imagine just giving some of that money to pay off people's homes that are under water, or helping with medical bills, etc. I digress.

The Citizens United case, crazily, found corporations have a free speech right to spend unlimited sums of money influencing our elections, as if corporations were people. They aren’t.

Candidates who spend the most money win elections 94 percent of the time. That’s not an election, that’s an auction.

The U.S. Supreme Court has a chance now to fix the enormous mistake it made in the Citizens United decision. A Montana case challenging that Supreme Court decision has just been appealed back to the court (American Tradition Partnership v. Bullock).

Justices Ginsburg and Kennedy just issued an extraordinary statement, calling on their fellow justices "to consider whether, in light of the huge sums currently deployed to buy candidates’ allegiance, Citizens United should continue to hold sway."

Let's hope they reconsider and then maybe I'll feel like my $3 or $5 contribution actually helps support my candidate of choice rather than just opt out of the whole process.

I somehow doubt a constituent who contributes, say $20, will have any sway over the decision-making after the election results are in, but someone who backed you with millions probably will get their way on whatever their pet issue is.

Please, let's stay focused people.

Sarah Turpin

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Andrew Russo 5 years, 2 months ago

Corporations have MORE rights than people if you consider Justice Scalia's statement about executing a convicted person later proven innocent - “This court has never held that the Constitution forbids the execution of a convicted defendant who has had a full and fair trial but is later able to convince a habeas court that he is ‘actually’ innocent. Quite to the contrary, we have repeatedly left that question unresolved, while expressing considerable doubt that any claim based on alleged ‘actual innocence’ is constitutionally cognizable.” Corporations are NEVER tried for murder...and as former Attorney General Gonzales explained to the Senate Judiciary Committee, “The Constitution doesn’t say every individual in the United States or citizen is hereby granted or assured the right of habeas corpus. It doesn’t say that."


Jon Pfeifer 5 years, 2 months ago

I think there would be tremendous support for a constitutional amendment overturning Citizens United. I would certainly support it. I believe that it is a terrible decision that undermines democracy. How can an entity that has no right to exist be granted personal rights? How can we have a thriving democracy when laws are purchased by the highest bidder? (Note: we need to reform the lobbying process as well). I believe that it would take a constitutional amendment to reverse the case, however. I would be very surprised to see the Supreme Court reverse itself so soon after creating this campaign finance disaster. The justices are not really accustomed to admitting they were wrong.


BenDoubleCrossed 5 years, 2 months ago

A discussion of corporate influence in politics should not omit the corporate media:

From 1791 to 1886 1st Amendment freedoms applied only to citizens.

From 1886 to 1973 citizens and media corporations enjoyed equal freedoms.

From 1974 to present only commercial media enjoy unrestricted freedoms. Following Watergate and reports of serious financial abuses in the 1972 Presidential campaign, Congress amended the FECA in 1974 to set limits on contributions by individuals, political parties and PACs.

However corporate media were exempted to protect their 1st Amendment rights. 2 USC 431 (9) (B) (i) The term "expenditure" does not include any news story, commentary, or editorial distributed through the facilities of any broadcasting station, newspaper, magazine, or other periodical publication, unless such facilities are owned or controlled by any political party, political committee, or candidate;

The corporate media were exempted despite the fact newspapers coordinated with Richard Nixon’s campaign and bribed him with in kind donations of favorable editorials; the very kind of corruption the Federal Campaign Act was supposed to protect the public from.

Prior to President Nixon’s second term, some of our nation’s largest newspapers found themselves in federal court losing antitrust suits which accused them of purchasing financially troubled regional newspapers and then pretending to compete with them while rigging prices.

The Newspaper Preservation Act was working its way through congress and was designed to grant antitrust relief to the affected newspapers. Richard Nixon and his, Attorney General, were on record as strongly opposed to the passage of the Newspaper Preservation Act.

A newspaper executive wrote a letter to President Nixon as his re-election approached. The letter reminded President Nixon that the nation’s largest Newspaper chains published in those states that had the largest number of electoral votes. The carefully worded letter reminded President Nixon that it could be difficult to be re-elected without their editorial support.

Nixon reversed his position and convinced Congress to pass the Newspaper Preservation Act.

See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newspaper_Preservation_Act_of_1970

It is normal for all large businesses to make serious efforts to influence the news, to avoid embarrassing publicity, and to maximize sympathetic public opinion and government policies. Now they own most of the news media that they wish to influence. - Excerpt from the Media Monopoly by Ben H. Bagdikian

There is little difference between slanted news stories, editorial opinions and political ads? The press exemption is a restriction on participation by 99.9999% of the population and grants .0001% of the population immunity from campaign laws. ? I challenge the broadcast talking heads and print journalists to explain why their audiences should not enjoy the same exemption?


BenDoubleCrossed 5 years, 2 months ago

1907 Tillman Act The first federal law in this arena, passed in 1907, was also a ban on corporate contributions to campaigns. The law was dubbed the Tillman Act, after its sponsor, South Carolina senator "Pitchfork Ben" Tillman. Tillman wrote and said little of his motives for sponsoring the ban on corporate contributions, but he hated President ¬Theodore Roosevelt and appears to have wanted to embarrass the president (who had relied heavily on corporate funding in his 1904 election campaign). Tillman's racial politics also clearly contributed to his interest in controlling corporate spending: Many corporations opposed the racial segregation that was at the core of Tillman's political agenda. Corporations did not want to pay for two sets of rail cars, double up on restrooms and fountains, or build separate entrances for customers of different races. They also wanted to take advantage of inexpensive black labor, while Tillman sought to keep blacks out of the work force.

Corporations supported Republicans, and Tillman — a Democrat, like most post-war Southern whites — often bragged of his role in perpetrating voter fraud and intimidation in the presidential election of 1876 in order to overthrow South Carolina's Republican reconstruction government. It is clear, then, that Tillman was no "good government" reformer; and far from being born of lofty ideals, federal campaign-finance regulations were, from their inception, tied to questionable efforts to gain partisan advantage.


BenDoubleCrossed 5 years, 2 months ago

The 1st Amendment is not a loophole in campaign laws. Campaign laws are corruption of the 1st Amendment. To restore equal protection under law the press exemption must be extended to citizens and groups!

The NRA bought a radio station to level the playing field and compete effectively in the market place of ideas. But should citizens have to buy a radio station to speak freely to the masses? Is freedom of the press only for those who practice the trade or the right of all to use a device for mass communication?

Colorado Constitution: Section 10. Freedom of speech and press. No law shall be passed impairing the freedom of speech; every person shall be free to speak, write or publish whatever he will on any subject, being responsible for all abuse of that liberty; and in all suits and prosecutions for libel the truth thereof may be given in evidence, and the jury, under the direction of the court, shall determine the law and the fact.

Lovell v. City of Griffin SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES 303 U.S. 444 Argued February 4, 1938 Decided March 28, 1938

  The liberty of the press is not confined to newspapers and periodicals. It necessarily embraces pamphlets and leaflets. These indeed have been historic weapons in the defense of liberty, as the pamphlets of Thomas Paine and others in our own history abundantly attest. The press in its historic connotation comprehends every sort of publication which affords a vehicle of information and opinion. What we have had recent occasion to say with respect to the vital importance of protecting this essential liberty from every sort of infringement need not be repeated. Near v. Minnesota, supra; Grosjean v. American Press Co., supra; De Jonge v. Oregon, supra.[note 2]

  Whatever differences may exist about interpretations of the First Amendment, there is practically universal agreement that a major purpose of that Amendment was to protect the free discussion of governmental affairs. This of course includes discussions of candidates, structures and forms of government, the manner in which government is operated or should be operated, and all such [384 U.S. 214, 219] matters relating to political processes. The Constitution specifically selected the press, which includes not only newspapers, books, and magazines, but also humble leaflets and circulars, see Lovell v. Griffin, 303 U.S. 444 , to play an important role in the discussion of public affairs.

Andrew Russo 5 years, 2 months ago

("I think there would be tremendous support for a constitutional amendment overturning Citizens United.")

Actually, I'd like to see a Constitutional Amendment that both gives every citizen of voting age the right to vote and every citizen a grant to habeas corpus...


parrothead338 5 years, 2 months ago

It is critical to point out one typo in this article. It was Justices Ginsburg and Breyer (not Kennedy) who issued this extraordinary statement. It would be GREAT if Justice Kennedy had issued this statement! If it were Justice Kennedy (author of majority opinion in Citizens United), that would be a wonderful sign that Citizens United could be overturned. Unfortunately, it was not, and it is unlikely that the Supreme Court as currently constituted will reverse its track in regard to Citizens United.


Cole White 5 years, 2 months ago

Harry Truman was a different kind of President. He probably made as many, or more important decisions regarding our nation's history as any of the other 42 Presidents preceding him. However, a measure of his greatness may rest on what he did after he left the White House.

The only asset he had when he died was the house he lived in, which was in Independence Missouri . His wife had inherited the house from her mother and father and other than their years in the White House, they lived their entire lives there.

When he retired from office in 1952, his income was a U.S. Army pension reported to have been $13,507.72 a year. Congress, noting that he was paying for his stamps and personally licking them, granted him an 'allowance' and, later, a retroactive pension of $25,000 per year.

After President Eisenhower was inaugurated, Harry and Bess drove home to Missouri by themselves. There was no Secret Service following them.

When offered corporate positions at large salaries, he declined, stating, "You don't want me. You want the office of the President, and that doesn't belong to me. It belongs to the American people and it's not for sale."

Even later, on May 6, 1971, when Congress was preparing to award him the Medal of Honor on his 87th birthday, he refused to accept it, writing, "I don't consider that I have done anything which should be the reason for any award, Congressional or otherwise."

As president he paid for all of his own travel expenses and food.

Modern politicians have found a new level of success in cashing in on the Presidency, resulting in untold wealth. Today, many in Congress also have found a way to become quite wealthy while enjoying the fruits of their offices. Political offices are now for sale. (sic. Illinois )

Good old Harry Truman was correct when he observed, "My choices in life were either to be a piano player in a whore house or a politician. And to tell the truth, there's hardly any difference!

I say dig him up and clone him!!


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