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Court's campaign-financing decision endangers democracy (Alan Garfield)

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struggle4progress Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 05:40 AM
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Court's campaign-financing decision endangers democracy (Alan Garfield)
... The court's five conservative justices -- the ones who claim not to be judicial activists -- decided that our interest in controlling the corrupting influence of corporate money is not compelling. The fact that most Americans think corporate money is undermining democracy was irrelevant. The fact that campaign-finance laws had bipartisan support was inconsequential. For these justices, there was only one constitutional value at stake: the "free speech" rights of corporations to spend other people's money -- that is, shareholders' money -- to influence elections ...

Corporations are artificial legal entities created for earning profits, not funding political campaigns. Shareholders invest for dividends and stock appreciation, and not to give corporate managers funds to support their preferred candidates.

Yet, as Justice Stevens noted, when managers use corporate money to support a candidate, it is shareholders "who are effectively footing the bill."

Corporations are also different because large ones have vast accumulations of wealth. The New York Times reported, for instance, that political parties spent $1.5 billion during the 2008 election cycle and federal political action committees spent $1.2 billion. During this same period, Fortune 100 companies alone generated $605 billion in profits. If just a fraction of these profits were used to influence elections, it would overwhelm all other expenditures ...
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