Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Terrible Reach of Citizens United

America's advance as a true corporatist state was given a huge boost by the USSC's decision in Citizens United.   That decision launched the United States into its first $6-billion election.

Money talks and it talks loud and clear in America's "bought and paid for" Congress.   When then Republican House leader John Boehner can stroll the floor distributing tobacco lobby cheques just prior to a vote on tobacco subsidies, the situation goes far beyond lousy optics.

American business, it seems, is discovering that buying political allegiance is a game that can be played elsewhere.   Once you've got legislators in your pocket, why not add a few grateful judges to round out your stable?

Big money flowed into judicial elections this year.   Fortunately, according to American voters didn't bite, not this time.

This year’s court-related campaigns also featured interesting side-stories, including spending by super PACs, entry by the Koch brothers into judicial elections, national politicians seeking to unseat an Iowa justice, and a viral video with TV stars that helped elect a high court candidate.

“The arms race around our courts is growing worse, but voters are seeing through campaigns to make courts more political and less impartial,” said Bert Brandenburg, executive director of Justice at Stake.

The line held, this year, but the independence of America's judiciary remains in very real peril.

“Judicial elections this year were characterized by attack ads, record-breaking spending, and outsized influence by special interests,” said Alicia Bannon, Counsel in the Brennan Center’s Democracy Program. “As judges face increased pressure to act like politicians, the integrity of our courts is at risk.”

Political parties and independent groups dominated this year’s races, in many cases relying on secret money that does not appear in campaign finance disclosure filings. More than 50% of all TV ads came from non-candidate groups, compared with roughly 30% in 2010.

Corporatists spent big in the election and, by all appearances, weren't terribly effective.   Unfortunately there is enough at stake that they'll be back again next time, probably with different approaches.  This is a trial and error exercise.

1 comment:

Owen Gray said...

The courts are the last bastion of a defense in any democracy, Mound.

Let's hope voters continue to see who is doing the buying and who is being bought.