In the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Citizens United federal campaign finance laws case, Ralph Nader’s group Public Citizen is promoting a constitutional amendment to curtail free speech in America. According to Public Citizen, for-profit corporations should not be entitled to protections under the first amendment with the exception of freedom of the press.
Public Citizen’s solution threatens a basic liberty guaranteed under the Constitution. When practically applied, the amendment creates a plethora of issues. Who decides which corporations are entitled to free speech? Does this include for-profit and non-profits? What about media companies which are for-profits, and theoretically provide fair and unbiased news to the populace? If the government controls free speech for corporations, would they not control the media as well?
While Nader’s group pursues a constitutionally legal remedy, political reaction from the Democrat Party should be disconcerting to Americans. Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) said:
“This activist and far reaching decision is even worse than we feared. This opens the floodgates and allows special interest money to overflow our elections and undermine our democracy. The bottom line is, the Supreme Court has just predetermined the winners of next November’s election. It won’t be the Republic or the Democrats and it won’t be the American people; it will be Corporate America.”
Schumer’s reaction, while typical, is a truly pathetic response from a big government, loose constructionist politician. First, our country is not a democracy it is a Constitutional Republic; which is why there was a ruling on the constitutionality of Congress’s act. If the country were a democracy there is no need for a Supreme Court as majority rules. Under a Constitutional Republic government powers are constrained by the laws proscribed in the Constitution. Conveniently, Senator Schumer operates as though the laws are instituted by man; in other words a democracy and, therefore, unconstrained in their legislative actions. Secondly, Congress’s remedy to real or perceived federal election abuses are within the enumerated powers for them to legislate. However, any remedy enacted by Congress and signed into law by the President cannot violate our rights and liberties as they are protected under the Constitution. In other words Senator Schumer, the Supreme Court is telling Congress the remedy is unconstitutional, therefore start anew and enact a new remedy that does not censor free speech.
However, Schumer’s primary concern is his own self-interest. Examiner columnist Timothy Carney reported that of the five most politically active industries, excluding retired people, Senator Schumer is the top recipient of campaign cash from three of those industries; real estate, securities/investments, and insurance. Carney said, “If corporations wanted to influence politics and policy, their ability so speak directly to politicians was limited by law.” Interject the political lobbyist. To circumvent the election law, political lobbyists are the middle men, the go-betweens for Senator Schumer to collect corporate cash and for corporations to access or influence Schumer.
Need further proof of Senator Schumer’s disingenuous reaction to the Supreme Court ruling. Carney also reported twelve of Senator Schumer’s former aides and staffers are now registered lobbyists. Three of which represent corporations such as Fannie Mae, Merrill Lynch, Western Union, Private Equity Council, Bank of America, General Dynamics, Oracle, Tyco, National Association of Broadcasters, Deutsche Bank, and Abyssian Development Corporation. Senator Schumer’s cash position is threatened by the Supreme Court ruling as corporations have other avenues of advertising now that corporate free speech is no longer censored.
Consider President Obama’s response to the ruling:
Under this ruling, the Supreme Court has given a green light to a new stampede of special interest money in our politics. It is a major victory for big oil, Wall Street banks, health insurance companies and the other powerful interests that marshal their power every day in Washington to drown out the voices of everyday Americans.
Obama’s statement is a contradiction. First, he references a new stampede of money but then goes on to say these same interests marshal their power every day in Washington. So, which one is it Mr. President; new money or those peddling influence today? Secondly, as evidenced by the contributions received by Senator Schumer, corporations already access politicians through lobbyists and fill politicians’ campaign coffers.
President Obama feigns concern regarding special interests influence in Washington. Look at the special interests involved in the health care legislation. Besides health care, insurance, and pharmaceutical companies, President Obama conveniently omits the influence of big unions and trial lawyers? Recently, it was the collective influence of several big unions that persuaded Obama and Congress to exempt union members from the tax on “Cadillac” health insurance policies. Mr. President, you have foolishly suggested that contributions by big unions have absolutely no influence on Democrat Party politics. Do you honestly expect the American people to believe you?
Any mention of tort reform was summarily dismissed by the Democrats. Malpractice law suits drive up the cost of malpractice insurance. Clearly, malpractice insurance is a substantial expense to practicing doctors and health care professionals. It’s not uncommon for an OB/GYN to pay $250,000 or more per year in malpractice insurance (depending on the state). Fair minded Americans understand why the Democrats avoided tort reform; because trial lawyers contribute significant sums of money to Democrats.
When President Obama referred to a “new stampede of special interest money” he was referring to money he and the Democrats don’t want in the political arena. In other words, he doesn’t want the non-democrat competition to gain by this ruling. The money Obama and the Democrats want is that of “powerful interests that marshal their power every day in Washington.” In other words, the Democrats want money in the political arena if it advances their agenda and ideology. The President is trying to have his cake and eat it too.
Both President Obama and Senator Schumer’s response to the ruling is frightening and disingenuous. Both responses focused on the possible political ramifications of the ruling, rather than why the Supreme Court considered the case. The constitutional issue is the censorship of free speech. Those people with a belief, a conviction for our Constitution would uphold and defend it. Those people that believe individual rights and liberty reigns supreme over government control and tyranny applaud the Court’s decision. One unfortunate outcome is the ruling should have been a 9-0 decision rather that a 5-4 decision.