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The Idea of Justice

The Idea of Justice

By Amartya Sen

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A Supreme Victory for Special Interests

Posted on Jan 21, 2010
Bossie at the Supreme Court
AP / Lauren Victoria Burke

Citizens United President David Bossie, right, meets with reporters outside the Supreme Court in Washington on Thursday after the top court ruled in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.

By John Dean

The conservative majority of the U.S. Supreme Court has given a monumental victory to special interests—i.e., the big money corporations, the folks who already dominate Washington politics—with its ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. Chief Justice John Roberts, along with Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Anthony Kennedy (who wrote the court’s opinion), have gone out of their way to further obliterate serious efforts to reform out-of-control campaign spending—spending that conspicuously distorts democracy in favor of those who can buy political influence. This ruling is of the same judical activism ilk that produced Bush v. Gore, not to mention the ensuing eight years of a disastrous Bush/Cheney presidency from which the nation has yet to recover. Understandably, President Obama is flummoxed

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This decision is long, at 183 pages. It includes a powerful dissent by the four centrist justices (there are no liberals on this court). And the ruling is chock full of nuanced information that spells out what Congress can and cannot do to reform our dysfunctional and money-hungry election system. This is not a ruling that lends itself to instant analysis. Those who follow this subject far closer than I do will be figuring it out for days, if not months. However, I would recommend the following sites for a quick take on the ruling: Slate (good overview), SCOTUSBLOG (which has followed the case closely), and, in particular, The Brennan Center (which filed an amicus brief in the case and will be leading the way in sorting out the full meaning). To understand what the court majority did, scroll down to about Page 88 of your .pdf reader and read the dissent written by Justice John Paul Stevens, and joined by Justices Ruth Ginsburg, Steven Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor. It is an eye-opener. 

Aside from the fact that the majority ruling reeks of conservative politics, what I find most striking about conservative judicial activism typified by this ruling is the fact that the justices involved are totally out of touch with reality. None of the men involved in this historic decision have been elected to anything, ever. They have no idea how difficult it is for elected officials to deal in the contemporary money-flooded milieu of Washington. The work experience of those who have further opened the floodgates for money in politics is restricted to the executive branch, high-priced law firms, or the chambers of the lower federal appellate courts. Not since the late Justice Hugo Black, a former U.S. senator who retired in 1971, has the court had a member of Congress on its bench, someone who can explain the real world to the other justices. These conservative justices live in a bubble, and they have little true understanding of what they have done, other than, of course, to know that they have taken care of conservatives, the so-called Citizens United who filed this lawsuit. (Yes, David N. Bossie, the president of Citizens United, is the same fellow who worked overtime to impeach President Bill Clinton.)

After I fully digest this decision and speak with friends in Washington who have long been concerned that the Bush/Cheney legacy that now controls the high court might do as they have in fact done, I will share further thoughts about the damage this ruling will bring, and what can and will be done. For this ruling has the potential of being even more pernicious than Bush v. Gore, since it reaches not merely the presidency but every elective office in the United States. Conservatives may not know how to govern when they are in power, but they sure know how to make certain that centrists, progressives and liberals are not given a sustained opportunity to work their will.

John Dean served as Richard M. Nixon’s White House lawyer for 1,000 days and is the author of several books, including “Worse Than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush” and ” Conservatives Without Conscience.”


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screamingpalm's avatar

By screamingpalm, January 23, 2010 at 7:49 am Link to this comment

A simple matter EXCEPT that a constitutional amendment has to be passed by Congress first. Call me a pessimist, but I don’t think that will happen.

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By Anarcissie, January 23, 2010 at 7:35 am Link to this comment

DaveZx3, January 23 at 3:37 am:
’“The conservative majority of the U.S. Supreme Court has given a monumental victory to special interests—i.e., the big money corporations, the folks who already dominate Washington politics”

It is amazing how easy it is to blot out basic constitutional principles with inflammatory rhetoric, as Dean has in this article.

To all that have criticized this decision, please tell me:

1. What types of legal entities or organizations should retain the right of free speech?

2. How much money should a legal entity be allowed to have before its freedom is curtailed?....’

It would be a simple matter to pass a Constitutional amendment stating that rights enumerated or implied by the Constitution applied only to natural persons, and not to entities created by governments.  Those entities would have only such rights and powers as the laws and regulations which created or chartered them specified.  In other words, they would have no inherent Constitutional rights whatever, which I think is the reasonable and correct situation, assuming we are going to permit the existence of corporate groups as legal persons at all.

I don’t think this would solve the problem of the rich employing flacks to shout everyone else down and getting the best legislatures that money can buy, but it would end the Constitutional anomaly the Supreme Court has created.

In our Constitutional theory, persons have rights.  Groups, organizations, races, religions, astrological signs, mobs, parties, quilting bees and so forth do not.

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By screamingpalm, January 23, 2010 at 7:12 am Link to this comment

Haha well said Dave, can’t find much to disagree with there. You’re right of course, all my bitching and moaning is simply just that… and from the comfort of my home. But when Boxer gets sent to the glue factory I expect some kicking and screaming at least.

I won’t use the term “progressive” as it seems nothing more than a trendy term with rare similarities between any of them… perhaps “independant forward thinkers”. At any rate, what chance is there against the very organized and entrenched status quo center-right anyway?

I’ve often metaphorically compared organizing the left to an Entmoot. Taking an age to come together and reach a concensus on anything. Bickering about minute details ad nauseum as situations grow more dire, ending in a “Last March of the Ents”.

My Mandarin sucks too. I guess they’ll let me know what I’m allowed to learn.

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By DaveZx3, January 23, 2010 at 6:29 am Link to this comment

By screamingpalm, January 23 at 6:57 am #

“How about this Dave… multinational corporations buying votes and influencing policy? Sound good to you? Don’t forget who owns most of our debt by the way. How’s your Mandarin?”

My mandarin sucks. 

As has been well know for decades, the powers that hate America had given up thinking that the Americans could be defeated by military action. 

Starting even before WWII, America started to fall prey to an assault on its way of life that would eventually tear down everything that the nation ever held to be dear and true.  Look at the declassified Venona files to understand the full impact of this assault. 

When China took over the operation of the Panama Canal years ago, I knew then that America was on the verge of total defeat.  Now the Chinese control not only the most important sea gate in the western hemisphere, but they are effectively our landlords as well.  Also, the Chinese have been providing big bucks to political campaigns for years.  Them and about a dozen others. 

So what’s new?  I am supposed to be surprised at the recent SCOTUS decision?  It is no big deal to me.  They basically legalized what has been going on all along anyway.

When the history of the United States of America is finished, it will be recorded that the nation went down like all great nations before it, from greed, corruption and self-indulgence of the citizenry.  Not in secret, but right out in the open.  Right in front of their eyes, day by day, piece by piece their nation was taken from them, while they talked about it endlessly from the comfort of their homes.

China will have a much easier time ruling the world, because they do not believe in individual rights.  They just run right over individuals.  I don’t suspect they will have any problem with health care rationing either.  I would suspect that one of your least problems would be the buying of votes.

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By Ouroborus, January 23, 2010 at 3:52 am Link to this comment

Actually, I may have mis-spoke; TAO Walker is talking
about another way “through or forward”, not “out”.
TAO, please correct me if I’m wrong. wink

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By Ouroborus, January 23, 2010 at 3:47 am Link to this comment

Well, how much more proof does one need to know who’s
in charge. They’re so confident they just say it
bluntly; your government is the best that money can
You’ve only got one option now; walk away. If I could
do it at the age of 57, without a pot to piss in;
then so can you. It’s not easy mentally; but oh so
easy physically.
I now have a pot to piss in. And a modest but
relatively easier life than I had in the U.S.
TAO Walker has been talking about a way out for
years. I chose to do it outside of the U.S., but he’s
talking about doing it there, in country. How
desperate does one need to get?

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By screamingpalm, January 23, 2010 at 2:57 am Link to this comment

“Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power.”—Benito Mussolini

An organized group absolutely should be able to express their opinions. Where the problem lies is when corporations use their wealth to gain political influence. The solution? Public financing.

How about this Dave… multinational corporations buying votes and influencing policy? Sound good to you? Don’t forget who owns most of our debt by the way. How’s your Mandarin?

Welcome to fascism… next stop communism. People’s Republic of America?

“Imperialism is the eve of the social revolution of the proletariat.”

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By GoyToy, January 23, 2010 at 2:46 am Link to this comment

Methinks too many Papists on the bench.

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By wildflower, January 23, 2010 at 2:38 am Link to this comment

Re DaveZx3: “The people of Charleston, WV retain their freedom.  Whether or not they will find happiness is yet to be determined.”

When your ground water is contaminated with toxic waste I think it’s more a matter of survival - if you’re human, that is.  Not being human, corporations like Massey Energy aren’t too concerned about their toxic waste getting into a region’s streams and groundwater. And if you’re an average American - without clout fighting a corporation with clout - you discover your elected officials are rather slow to do anything about your black toxic water:

BILL MOYERS: Massey Energy is the region’s largest coal company…

The Browns and their neighbors claim that a Massey Energy subsidiary - called Rawl Sales and Processing - has contaminated their water.

They have joined scores of Mingo County residents to sue both the subsidiary and Massey charging them with negligence ...allowing toxic slurry to leach into groundwater.

Over the years, Massey and its subsidiaries have paid out millions of dollars in environmental judgments and settlements. . . .

BILL MOYERS: Like the settlements resulting from this disaster - when some 300-million gallons of coal slurry buried creeks and streams, killing over a million fish. One coal official called it an “Act of God.” . . .

CARMELITA BROWN: “God didn’t destroy the earth. And, he doesn’t destroy the earth. The companies, the coal companies is the ones that’s destroying the earth. So, that’s my opinion on that.

BILL MOYERS: In taking on Massey the Browns and their neighbors are taking on Massey’s president and C.E.O., Don Blankenship. A local boy turned big time powerbroker, he laid out his philosophy early in his career.

DON BLANKENSHIP: Unions, communities, people, everybody’s gonna have to learn to accept that in the United States you have a capitalist society, and that capitalism, from a business viewpoint is survival of the most productive. . .

CARMELITA BROWN: I can see his house from my kitchen window. And it’s ironic that I can stand and do my dishes in black water and then, look out my window and see his house up on a hill that everyone can see. To me, it’s like he made a statement. You know? He’s God. God on the mountain. But, he’s as close to God as he’s gonna get up on that mountain.

BILL MOYERS: Blankenship has made news spending millions of his own dollars to finance campaigns and causes in state elections.

The people here don’t have that kind of clout. They’ve been trying for twelve years to get the government to provide them with the regular supply of clean water other citizens enjoy. Finally, new pipes are being laid that will eventually bring city water to the affected communities. In the meantime, church volunteers deliver water to the sick and elderly.

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By DaveZx3, January 23, 2010 at 2:35 am Link to this comment

By idarad, January 23 at 4:26 am #

You did not answer the questions which I had, other than to constantly say that corporations are not people and should not have freedom of speech.

I use legal entity as it is used in US law to mean “An individual or organization which is legally permitted to enter into a contract, and be sued if it fails to meet its contractual obligations.”

It is inferred that the rights of the individual entities, which organize together, retain the same rights as an organization that they had as individuals, and they are free to express their collective ideas through speech. 

Why do you feel an organized group should not be free to express their opinions?  What is the value of community organizing, if the organization cannot express itself freely?  And to spend whatever money it raises legally to pay for the methods of expression?

Planned Parenthood is a legal entity.  How would they fit in with regards to my original questions?  Are they free to promote their ideas through raising money and exercising free speech?

This is why I ask, who can speak freely, who can raise money to pay for it, and how much can they spend? 

The supreme court has held that individual speech and organizational speech is constitutionally guaranteed.  And legally raising money to pay for it cannot be restricted.

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By ron_woodward, January 23, 2010 at 2:29 am Link to this comment

Twenty-two years ago the Israeli Supreme Court decided to reward kidnappers, child abusers and slave traffickers by not punishing them. The decision implemented violated the human rights of tens of thousands of victims including me. Thousands of State of Israel employees became criminals who were only following orders.
Similarly, the recent US Supreme Court ruling to deregulate corporate campaign funding has underlined the voicelessness of the ordinary citizens. They have no way to combat massive voter fraud, stock market manipulation, toxic asset formation, media information control, environmental catastrophe, declining educational standards and cheapening of life without health reform.
How long will it take foreign entities to buy their way into the American system? Can China purchase California? Will New England join the British Commonwealth of Nations?
We lost our Republic to the Red scare tactics of the 1950’s. We have lost our nerve to attack human trafficking and genocide. We fight democratic movements in every part of the world. Overcome with fear we desert the battlefield before the fight has begun.
We have criminalized ourselves.

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By DaveZx3, January 23, 2010 at 1:58 am Link to this comment

By wildflower, January 23 at 5:16 am #

I don’t know the case personally, sorry.  I don’t know how far they have been able to bring their case to the authorities.  In my area, winning a water pollution case is almost automatic.  There is no allowance for polluting of the water supply here.

But, in any case, truth is what facilitates an informed decision.  What are all the alternative actions?  Without truth, one would not know what the alternatives really were. 

In the end, the ultimate freedom is to execute the last alternative - walk away. 

Freedom is not always cheap, nor does it always bring happiness.  I think people confuse freedom with happiness.  In many cases, our happiness is a type of bondage, where freedom can bring great misery. 

I never said, “know the truth and the truth shall make you happy”. 

The people of Charleston, WV retain their freedom.  Whether or not they will find happiness is yet to be determined.

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By screamingpalm, January 23, 2010 at 1:19 am Link to this comment

“know the truth, and the truth shall make you free”

In fascist America, truth knows you.

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By wildflower, January 23, 2010 at 1:16 am Link to this comment

Re DaveZx3: “know the truth, and the truth shall make you free”

Surely you must know that knowing the truth doesn’t always set you free - particularly when the truth involves the special interests of corporations.

In Charleston, West VA, the citizens know that waste products from the Patriot Coal Corporations Hobet 45 mountainton removal coal mine is contaminiating the streams and drinking water in their region, but knowing the truth has not set them free. And why hasn’t the truth set these citizens free?

“Sadly, the coal industry’s undue influence over decision-makers has traded people’s health, communities, and water for profit,” said Janet Keating, Executive Director of the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition. “We’re shooting ourselves in the future. After all the coal has been mined, what kind of economic development can happen when the water is unfit to drink and people have been driven away?”

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By idarad, January 23, 2010 at 12:26 am Link to this comment

DaveZ3? says
“The conservative majority of the U.S. Supreme Court has given a monumental victory to special interests—i.e., the big money corporations, the folks who already dominate Washington politics”

It is amazing how easy it is to blot out basic constitutional principles with inflammatory rhetoric, as Dean has in this article.

To all that have criticized this decision, please tell me:
1. What types of legal entities or organizations should retain the right of free speech?

Well DaveZ3?  The US Constitution provides for the establishment of a government for the people, and by the people - not for a quasi entity (legal or not). No where in the constitution is a corporation mentioned, let alone given a right to be a person.  When it said “We the People” no corporation was there to be “We”.  Maybe you need to read the document!  Legal entities are given, under laws and regulations a right to practice certain functions within the social fabric. Generally this is a right to invest and absorb capital, which is not an actual “thing” but an accepted abstract representation of a value that can be traded for other capital or goods and services. This is not a human right, a reserved right, it is an economic structure.

2. How much money should a legal entity be allowed to have before its freedom is curtailed?

Okay Davez3?    A legal entity has only the rights provided by its charter and within the confines that the state has established which allow it to “exist”  Therefore it should not be alowed to participate in any activities, or to influence the same as it is in and of itself an abstract construct, it exists only through the allowance of legal structures.  These were in fact established by governments which only exist at the will of the people.  Until a corporation or as you frame it a legal entity can bleed, give birth, serve in the military, participate in a barn raising, provide a warm hand to a lost child, or sit with a parent suffering from alzhiemers, they really haven’t much of a claim to having rights.  Again legal entities did not “exist” until there was a government in place, formed and constituted by people, that allowed for the legal franework of your “legal entity”

3. If a legal entity has certain interests, is it free to promote those interests?  When does it become a “special” interest?  How much money can it spend promoting its interests?

NOw DaveZ3?  A legal entity by definition exists only as a result of the foundation of a legal provision.  Legal provisions are not a divine construct but a result of some statute that provides for ite existance.  That statute can only come from and through the government, and the government only has a right to exist if it is given that right by the people.

Argue it all you want, but it still comes down to the fact that we the people constitute the government.  All legal entities are allowed to be formed through a grant of the government.  Therefore corporation are not people, they have no rights as provided through the constitution, and they certainly cannot claim a right that the people reserved to themselves in establishing the government.

Hope this helps -
people bleed - corporations don’t
people starve - corporations don;‘t
people suffer - corporations don’t
people love - corporations don’t
and we the people will rejoice when the corporations don’t
good night

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By DaveZx3, January 22, 2010 at 11:37 pm Link to this comment

“The conservative majority of the U.S. Supreme Court has given a monumental victory to special interests—i.e., the big money corporations, the folks who already dominate Washington politics”

It is amazing how easy it is to blot out basic constitutional principles with inflammatory rhetoric, as Dean has in this article.

To all that have criticized this decision, please tell me:

1. What types of legal entities or organizations should retain the right of free speech? 

2. How much money should a legal entity be allowed to have before its freedom is curtailed?

3. If a legal entity has certain interests, is it free to promote those interests?  When does it become a “special” interest?  How much money can it spend promoting its interests? 

I think the Supreme Court decision was rendered because the previous legislation was inhibiting too much legitimate free speech and not doing a very good job doing what it was supposed to be doing. 

The message the Supreme Court is giving is that suppressing legitimate ideas based on legal entity types or wealth levels is not consitutional.  It is up to the legislature to come up with constitutional methods of campaign finance reform.  I think the supreme court made the correct decision. 

It is also my opinion that an educated electorate is the best remedy for unscrupulous campaigning.  People need to quit supporting the well-financed pretty face.  People need to be educated to the fact that most messages they hear via any media are probably total bullshit. 

It is probably one of the weaknesses of democracy that the vote of the extremely well informed is exactly equal to the vote of the totally uninformed.
Democracy really does require one to get off their butt and get involved and learn the issues. 

That is the constitutionally approved method of countering excessive misinformation campaigns.

As has been written, “know the truth, and the truth shall make you free”  Which implies that anyone who believes all the misinformation flowing around him is not only not free, but he is a danger to others of the democracy which he is a member of.

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By bEHOLD_tHE_mATRIX, January 22, 2010 at 10:42 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

For sure it has been a watermark of a week for the
country.  First we celebrate the life of Martin
Luther King who spoke truth to power and lost his
life for it.  Next the inane racist driven teabagger
movement foments the election of a pick-em-up drivin’
pretty boy of dubious intellect to the seat of the
Lion of the People in the Senate.  And finally an
activist, authoritarian, yea even fascist, group of
five at the fulcrum of our land’s scale of justice
crumples our constitution ere to wiping their
collective asses on it.  The third week of January in
2010 will be remembered by me as the week that the
Sun shone not so brightly on Fair Columbia anymore.

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By idarad, January 22, 2010 at 9:32 pm Link to this comment

For those who still don’t get it..

Exxon made $83 billion in profits last year alone.

If Exxon spent one tenth of its one year profit on getting its boys elected,  it would have out spent —- Obama - McCain and every candidate, winner and loser for every Senate and House seat in congress.  If you can’t see what this means to your voice, well it doesn’t really matter now, cause you have no freedom of speech, all you can do is scream as any semblance of democracy collapses at your feet.  This isn’t simply a bad opinion by the court, it is a death blow to free elections and representative democracy.  Don’t believe me…. just wait til this years mid terms to see who is buying who. Your ten buck donation on-line won’t get you much more than political spam in the e-mail can.

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By gerard, January 22, 2010 at 8:57 pm Link to this comment

It’s almost as if the American public is being tested to see just how far they can be imposed upon, weakaned, lied to and bamboozled before they organize and join together to stop the dominance of huge business interests who have seized political control.  How many offenses against citizens’ rights have there been in the last decade that have been seriously questioned but never really protested? Is it fear?  Confusion? Ignorance? Inexperience? Apathy? Lack of confidence?  Lack of organizational know-how?  Fatalism?

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By BR549, January 22, 2010 at 7:06 pm Link to this comment


First, let’s remember that the software written to undermine “might” have easily been able to manipulate the results data, whether Nader was a factor or not.

Second, all those individuals who make up those corporations already have a voice relative to the 1st Amendment, as “individuals”. What appears to be happening here is that corporations seem to feel that because they have to pay
taxes, they need a level of voice commensurate with taxes they pay. Ultimately it comes down to arguing whether any one person has more of a 1st Amendment right solely because he has more money than the next guy and, clearly, that was not what the founding fathers intended. It was that kind of
abuse that had people emigrating to the Americas from England in the first place.

What these traitors in the Supreme Court have done is subvert the very foundation of everything that soldiers have given their lives for, for over 200 years. Justice Kennedy, in particular, was either bought and paid for or had his family threatened. I mean how could anyone with that level of knowledge be so fucking stupid?

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By jackwbarnes1, January 22, 2010 at 6:43 pm Link to this comment


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By screamingpalm, January 22, 2010 at 6:33 pm Link to this comment

Add to my last…

For that matter what is Al Gore doing?

Thought so.

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By screamingpalm, January 22, 2010 at 6:27 pm Link to this comment

starfish, that is some twisted logic, but rather than revisit the same tired old argument, Public Citizen (an organization Nader formed) is trying to do something about it. What are you doing?

Russian Paul- you beat me to it… I was going to post the same thing seconds after you. ;—) Up to over 12k now and has been growing extremely fast. A ray of light in dark times.

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By Joe, January 22, 2010 at 4:43 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I don’t think the decision is wrong.

Someone explain to me the difference between a 527 group and any number of current media?  And What exactly is the difference between airing a television add and putting up a web page?

Isn’t Drudge an advocacy group for the GOP?  and isn’t huffington an advocacy group for the democrats? 

And beyond the net, couldn’t you claim the NYTimes, the countries largest newspaper to be an advocacy group for the democratic party? Isn’t fox news, the biggest cable news station an advocacy group for the republicans?
I realize they both claim they aren’t but we all know they are.  Should they all be illegal?  Should all journalism be monotoned voices just reading the headlines?
I don’t think so

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By Russian Paul, January 22, 2010 at 4:15 pm Link to this comment

Everyone concerned about this should sign the petition calling for a new
constitutional amendment to end corporate personhood and overturn this fascist

over 10,000 signatures so far, please add to this and spread it around!

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By starfish, January 22, 2010 at 3:52 pm Link to this comment

Okay, I’m going to say what is on my mind—Ralph Nader bears responsibility for this awful U.S. Supreme Court decision.

Let me explain.

When Ralph Nader was running for president, in 2000, and the candidates were Al Gore and George W. Bush, it was clear to all but the criminally insane that Nader would take more votes away from Al Gore than he would take away from GWBush.

To mollify his true-believers, Nader promised NOT to campaign in the final weeks of the campaign in any state where polls showed the two candidates in a tight race. Nader BROKE his promise and campaigned vigorously in Florida, where polls showed a very tight race between Gore and Bush.  Nader garnered 95,000 votes, MOST of which would have gone to Al Gore—and there would have been NO need for the recount of the Florida election, which was eventually decided by the U.S. Sup. Ct. in Bush’s favor.

As president, Bush appointed Alito and Roberts to the Sup.Ct. with Alito replacing Sandra Day O’Connor who, in 2003, had voted against the concept that corporations had First Amendment rights just as people do. That ONE switch in justices from O’Connor to Alito will make certain that the Sup.Ct. (perhaps for years to come) will rule in ACTIVIST ways to overturn laws that protect the rights of the American PEOPLE, and will instead decide in favor of the corporate interests every time.

So, this IS all Ralph Nader’s fault—actions have consequences, and Nader’s campaigning in Florida (after promising NOT to) cost Al Gore the presidency.

Al Gore would never have appointed such a fool as Sam Alito to the U.S. Sup.Ct.

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By starfish, January 22, 2010 at 3:47 pm Link to this comment

If corporations are to be considered to have the same First Amendment rights as people, can the death penalty also be applied to corporations (as it can be to people?)

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By ocjim, January 22, 2010 at 2:45 pm Link to this comment

Conservative presidents have saddled us with bitter and reactive-thinking ideologues who would give our country to the plutocrats. Thomas showed long ago that his thinking is ruled by resentment, bitterness, reverse racism and animosity against progressives and progressive thinking. Roberts is a liar who would not admit his intention to dismantle empathy in decisionmaking and impart politics. The other conservatives have no concept of what justice is. They saddled us with an incompetent and inane president in W and we continue to suffer from his idiocy.

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By BeanerECMO, January 22, 2010 at 2:33 pm Link to this comment

Let’s see; are there more instances for which we can blame Bush. The ruling was indeed radical; it was about the overturning a law that prohibited free speech. Of course, the public, in general, has been indoctrinated to respond to the phrase ‘special interest’ negatively by thinking of finincial institutions, corporations (which include small businesses), etc. But, what of those other special interest groups; e.g., WWF, UAW, Teamsters, SEIU, ACORN, NEA, NBPP,, etc.? Oh, those are ok, because they are good special interests. SCOTUS finally got it right.

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By mrfreeze, January 22, 2010 at 2:32 pm Link to this comment

As is usually the case when NPR wants to piss me off, they interviews Newt Gingrich about this ruling. Oh what a great surprise it was when he claimed that:

“this ruling will now make it possible for middle class Americans to achieve fairness in campaigns”

Of course, the journalist just let him yammer on in his condescending, sophistic tone…..unchallenged.

The amazing thing is that most Americans aren’t smart enough to understand the true impact of this ruling. They would rather believe the likes of Gingrich.

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By JDmysticDJ, January 22, 2010 at 2:29 pm Link to this comment


“Here come the judge…here come the judge…here come the conservative appointed judges {sic}”

The best way to combat this new corporate power is with a resurgence of the union movement, which won’t happen. The only other option is to save your bucks, in order to make political contributions.

Grass roots political action could be helpful, as long as its real political action and not virtual political action, as in posting comments on left wing web sites.

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By remoran, January 22, 2010 at 2:13 pm Link to this comment

I wrote about this in, the title of which is: This sentence
is False, or the Liar’s Paradox, something the surpremes have done with great elan and style. This egregious ruling, to me, could be the start point for a
violent revolution akin to the French Revolution as there are eerie parallels to both whereby
our middle class is being violated by the rich and powerful just as the French
bourgeois were being violated by the monarchy back in the 1780’s. Go to BRT and check out what
was written as this echoes many of the well crafted posts I see here. Terrific
article BTW, a piece all Americans should read with a great sense of foreboding.

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By idarad, January 22, 2010 at 2:07 pm Link to this comment

I wasn’t going to give blackshere the time of day, glad you did - you hit the nail on the head Thanks for the post!!

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By wildflower, January 22, 2010 at 1:43 pm Link to this comment

RE John Dean: “The justices involved are totally out of touch with reality. None. . . have been elected to anything. . .They have no idea how difficult it is for elected officials to deal in the contemporary money-flooded milieu of Washington.”

BUT the justices are citizens and any citizen with even a little common sense – especially educated citizens who are Supreme Court justices – should realize that giving corporations unlimted power to influence our Nation’s elections will create an undue burden on the ability of ordinary Americans to maintain our right of self-governance and sovereignty as a Nation.

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By gerard, January 22, 2010 at 1:34 pm Link to this comment

Political advocacy paid for by corporations is in no way free speech.  It is PAID speech.  The “supreme” court carefully avoided this obvious fact, and in doing so denied ordinary people rights equal to corporations simply becaus ordinary people cannot afford to pay for expensive media coverage.

Thus the democratic “playing field” is made legally unequal—a great betrayal, a crime against the Constitution and democracy. This is a double bind because, being a Court proceding, there is no way for the people to sue the Court for their equal rights.

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By de profundis clamavi, January 22, 2010 at 12:53 pm Link to this comment

Barack Obama is not the kind of leader who can face down a ruthless, entrenched, parasitic Ruling Class like the one that governs America today.

Citizens Robespierre and Saint-Just would know what to do with the “plain reading”, never-say-activist, “conservative” judges who have just handed over the rights of citizens to immortal living dead blood-sucking corporations.

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By c-post, January 22, 2010 at 12:51 pm Link to this comment

Wildflower said:

“Since TV Networks like ABC are owned by corporations I can only assume they considered it a “conflict of interest” to advise the public.”


What are TV networks and high powered media but the richest 1/100th “talking” to the other 99.999 percent? And by definition, not listening. And it’s all very soft sell.

And much like Google’s row with China, it’s the power of omission of information that is the most offensive and threatening.

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By garyrose66, January 22, 2010 at 12:33 pm Link to this comment

The experiment called the democratic republic of the united states of america that started in 1776 just ended yesterday.  The coup d’etat is complete and corporations now own the country. It seems simple to understand (unless you are a politically motivated supreme court justice that pretends to “not make law from the bench”) that if you can pull the lever in the voting booth, you are a person entitled to free political speech.  Corporations cannot pull a lever in a voting booth and therefore they are not persons enititled to free political speech.  They can, however, now buy millions of votes whenever they want for whatever they want.  This country is over.  The citizens of the country are no longer free citizens but are now serfs, owned by corporate masters who will now split the serfs up into convenient blocs according to how much money each the masters want to make.

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By wildflower, January 22, 2010 at 12:20 pm Link to this comment

RE c-post: This issue supercedes all others because it is pivotal to all other issues in political life. This should be the lead story on every TV network every day, but it didn’t even merit the opening . . .  teaser on ABC NEWS last night”

Since TV Networks like ABC are owned by corporations I can only assume they considered it a “conflict of interest” to advise the public.

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By c-post, January 22, 2010 at 11:57 am Link to this comment

This issue supercedes all others because it is pivotal to all other issues in political life. This should be the lead story on every TV network every day, but it didn’t even merit the opening program teaser on ABC NEWS last night, while 6 other stories did.

At every turn, I find myself puzzled by the definitions and words being used. If “conservatives” are those who wish to keep things the way they are, and “liberals” are those who seek change, then it was in fact the liberal wing of the Supreme Court that made this dreadful decision. 

George W. was a liberal President, because he wrought change. Bad change, but change.

How can we think and reason when the very words imbedded in our language block our understanding? We need to throw out the old file cabinet of labels and definitions, and resist those who are too eager to categorize anything.

Other Orwellian words imbedded in the language that block intelligent discussion: CREDIT, (a credit report is not a credit report it is a debt report); DETAINEE (a detainee is a prisoner); CONSUMER (a consumer is not a consumer he is a citizen).

You see, in an authoritarian society, whether capitalist or socialist or whatever, the idea is to always use language which gives the illusion of possession.

That’s why the weatherman always says it’s YOUR weather forecast, not my weather forecast, not our weather forecast, YOUR weather forecast. Always use language which gives the illusion of possession. Just as Napoleon and Snowball did in Animal Farm. That’s why a citizen who pays a 10 percent down on a house is called a “homeowner”.

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By lastdaywatchers, January 22, 2010 at 11:54 am Link to this comment

This A Supreme Victory for Special Interests is
just more proof of the 100% accuracy of the May 15th
which declared this would happen back in

And for the latest updated on where this will lead read
the post titled “The Forward Actions of Obama”

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By wildflower, January 22, 2010 at 11:50 am Link to this comment

Re Blacksphere: “every comment. . . is. . . against the Supreme Court decision”

And for obvious reasons, Blacksphere:

Corporations are not human, do not think independently, and do not die
Corporations are not citizens of any Nation and do not take oaths of citizenship
Corporations do not vote in elections and do not serve on any Jury
Corporations do not register with the Selective Service or serve in the military
Corporations cannot be arrested and serve time for crimes committed
Corporations are not classified as citizens under the Internal Revenue Code

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By Ernest Zeller, January 22, 2010 at 11:47 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Freedom of speech? Nonsense. Corruption will be the effect of the decision. Any legislator who refuses to be intimidated or fails to meekly yield to Big Business will see huge financing deployed on behalf of his opponent at the next election. Could Sen. Joe Lieberman’s opposition to Health care be related to the insurance companies based in his home state?

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By Cole..., January 22, 2010 at 11:08 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

It is really stange that the so called five conservative judges need to be put out into the real world—the four nonconservative judges can get it right and they came from and live in the same bubble away from the common folk.
It was also very strange that the Nazi courts called a political assasination a “suicide”—the suicider had five bullets in his head, can we be far behind?

I can find some, or actually a lot, of onus with the comment by Black at 1:41 “—First, free speech is free speech whether for individuals or business or organization—-”. Little do I know but even at that I cannot recall any “business or organization” doing what we call ‘speeking’. But the think that gave ‘personhood’ to corporations is the same think that eminates from the five mentioned above. I don’t know why geroge w did not appoint his dog to the court, kind of like a modern day Calligula would.

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By Dominick J., January 22, 2010 at 10:46 am Link to this comment

The most naked act of judicial activism in our history. The court reached out to decide an issue that had not even been raised by the parties challenging the law, and reversed a decision that even the conservatives Rehnquist and White had joined 20 years ago and which had been recently affirmed. And Scalia’s so-called originalism is revealed to be a farce since the dissent shows how inconsistent the majority’s ruling is with the views of the Framers. Don’t ever let me hear another peep from conservatives about how “liberal” judges are activist. The Roberts court is more “activist”—in overturning acts of our democratic branches of government and overturning longstanding precedent—than even the Warren Court. And if people complain that Congress is dominated by moneyed interests, you know now the reason.

This is exactly the time we need a revolution!!

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By thebeerdoctor, January 22, 2010 at 10:43 am Link to this comment

re: de profundis clamvai

Then perhaps it should be: after further review, the player did not step out of bounds to stop the clock; game over.

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By de profundis clamavi, January 22, 2010 at 10:26 am Link to this comment

By thebeerdoctor, January 22 at 12:12 pm #

“. . . To put into super bowl football lingo, the ruling on the field has been challenged. But after further review: the play stands. Corporations first down!”

Beerdoctor, I’m sorry to be the one to tell you this, but this Supreme Court decision was the final touchdown for the Corporations, and the game is over.

Final score:

Corporations: $720,000,000,000,000.00

People: Zero? Don’t be naively optimistic.

No, leaving the People with nothing would be too generous. The actual, final score is that the People are adjudged to owe everything they have ever owned or might ever earn or their children, grandchildren and remoter issue might ever own or ever earn, to the Corporations in perpetuity. This judgment on future generations is considered just because Corporations, unlike People, exist forever in their legally sanctified un-dead state, but they need an endless supply of living flesh and blood to feed upon. 

Want to play a new game? Check out the Corporate Team. Their players, whose name is “Our Troops”, are young, sleek, strong, handsome, royally paid, rigorously coached, and pumped up on the finest steroids; the rule book has been re-written, edited, footnoted and embellished with insightful commentary by the Corporation’s lawyers and judges; and the play of the game will be decided by the Corporations’ referees.

The People’s team will be let out of their secret black CIA prison just before the game, never having met each other before and not even knowing they are there to play a game, what its rules are or why it is being held in a stadium before a horde of howling bloodthirsty mob. The People’s team, whose name is always “The Terrorists” despite the daily replacement of its players/victims, will be delirious from sleep deprivation, incoherent from extended isolation and psychological abuse, physically crippled by torture, starvation and extremes of heat and cold. All there is left for the people to do is to pay, pay and pay more (with borrowed money) for a seat in a stadium paid for with municipal funds raised by taxes on the People (but owned by a private Corporation) where the People can look up in awe from their rough, dirty, rodent-infested seats to the bullet-proof glass facade of the Corporate Executive Suites.

The Corporations’ team (excuse me, I meant to say “Our Troops”) always wins. Oh, and by the way, they play with the fanciest gadgets the Military Industrial Complex can supply (at taxpayer expense). At the end of the game, the bloody pulpy remains of the People’s team will be scrubbed from the field, leaving the astro-turf pristine and shiny for tomorrow’s public massacre. 

Periodically, a lucky member of the unwashed masses who holds the ticket with today’s winning number will be invited to join the CEOs in the Executive Suite for a glass of champagne.

Even more lucky will be the junior manager peasant whose son or daughter is selected for possessing superior looks, intelligence, ambition and (most importantly) a relentless motivation to earn the approval of those in authority and a wish to join them. These lucky peasants will see their offspring sent to Princeton, Harvard or Yale to be educated and groomed, to join and ultimately to be matched and bred with the self-satisfied spawn of the Corporate elite. This way, the continuing genetic strength and vitality of the Corporate oligarchy will be ensured, and they can point to these rising stars and call themselves a “democratic meritocracy”.

You think you’re still free because you can say whatever you want? That’s only true so long as your voice is drowned out by louder, more pricey Corporate “free speech”, and watch your back if, through some miracle, people start listening to you and acting upon what you say, if what you are saying threatens the Corporate Ruling Class.

Black prisons, indefinite detention, torture, in America. It’s coming, if it’s not here already.

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By tropicgirl, January 22, 2010 at 10:11 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I have always had the utmost respect for Dean, still do. He is totally amazing.

However, things have changed so much in the last 10 years. Many of us are
coming to the conclusion that fascism is coming to us dressed AS a group of
former liberals who have merged some of the worst of conservatism, into a
Hope-Change agenda that no one can recognize. Like a stranger in the dark
you can’t quite see. You think you remember the form, but quickly realize it is
someone else.

I suggest some of the desire to re-iterate free speech is the fear created by
people like Cass Sunstein, a possible Super-Judge nominee and TECHNOLOGY
advisor of Obama’s. Even as a liberal, it makes me cringe. This is from

““Sunstein co-authored a 2008 paper with Adrian Vermeule, titled Conspiracy
Theories, in which they wrote, “The existence of both domestic and foreign
conspiracy theories, we suggest, is no trivial matter, posing real risks to the
government’s antiterrorism policies, whatever the latter may be.” They go on to
propose that, “the best response consists in cognitive infiltration of extremist
groups”, where they suggest, among other tactics, “Government agents (and
their allies) might enter chat rooms, online social networks, or even real-space
groups and attempt to undermine percolating conspiracy theories by raising
doubts about their factual premises, causal logic or implications for political

Sunstein… also advocate the practice of secret government payments to
outside commentators, who are then held out as independent experts; they
suggest that “government can supply these independent experts with
information and perhaps prod them into action from behind the scenes,”
further warning that “too close a connection will be self-defeating if it is

...the practice of enlisting non-government officials, “might ensure that
credible independent experts offer the rebuttal, rather than government
officials themselves. There is a tradeoff between credibility and control,
however. The price of credibility is that government cannot be seen to control
the independent experts.” This position has been criticized by some
commentators, who argue that it would violate prohibitions on government
propaganda aimed at domestic citizens…”“

I don’t know about you, but time after time, recently, we have been told that
this is ALREADY going on… with Hopey’s approval. Hillary Clinton should be a
little more honest with China.

Sounds like, at least, with the supreme court decision, we got a level playing
field from types like this… At least we could go back to other media if needed,
on both sides. We could all be in the streets with the teabaggers soon. Just

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By Anarcissie, January 22, 2010 at 9:55 am Link to this comment

JohnMcD—I agree that things probably haven’t changed very much.  The money from the rich will simply flow a little more directly into their propaganda machinery.

I don’t think the problem is merely the corporation, however.  As long as there are people who are much more powerful, richer, and of higher status than most others, they can be expected to combine to further their interests and desires by any means available.  As long as the others accept, condone, and even worship this behavior, we will have some version of the problem.

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By Ray Duray, January 22, 2010 at 9:49 am Link to this comment

Hi Donald Nygaard,

You wrote: “It seems to me we are at a critical point in our nation’s history.”

I’ve been mulling this over and I cannot agree. I believe that we were at a critical point in our history thirty years ago when the nation decided to hire an actor to play the president. And what an act.

How cursed we are that we fell for the line Ronald Reagan used on us: “There seems to be an increasing awareness of something we Americans have known for some time: that the 10 most dangerous words in the English language are, ‘Hi, I’m from the Government, and I’m here to help.’”

This… from a President?

The line got a laugh at a Future Farmers of America meeting.

Reagan helped ruin a rapidly degenerating and intensifyingly ignorant breed of no-nothing nativists who have finally fully bloomed into the Tea Party phenomenon of today. 

We’ve been on a slippery slope for a long time. We’ve now entered the realm of grand national delusion. But you are more optimistic that me. I agitated mightily in the run-up to the Iraq War, leading street protests agains the illegal aggression. I’ve tried using documentary films shown on our local college campus to educate the masses. It turns out they’d rather not learn that our Federal Government is a crackpot and criminal operation. They’d rather read their Bibles and get ready for their hitch in the military. So, what can we do? It’s probably over for this nation as a democratically minded Republic. We’re an Empire now. Might as well make the most of it. At least until the promised 2012 end of the world, eh? wink

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By JohnMcD, January 22, 2010 at 9:47 am Link to this comment

I’ve heard some people who work directly with political marketing who say this doesn’t change a whole lot.  If the organizations want to, they can now fund things directly with their name on it.  Or, they could just keep doing what they did before:  Hiding their names behind various 527s and PACs. 

My solution is simple:  We need to stop treating corporations as people and quit using “freedom” as an excuse to give the powerful more power.  Of course, “the law forbids rich and poor alike from sleeping under bridges or begging for food…”

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By Joe the Green-Dog Democrat, January 22, 2010 at 9:41 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

There’s a really good compilation of thoughtful and informed commentaries about what the Court’s ruling means—written in September, 2009—in the Sept. 25 issue of my modest op-ed e-zine.  It’s posted on MyTown at  The crux of what’s wrong with the Court’s ruling yesterday is in Justice Hugo Black’s dissenting opinion in Connecticut General v. Johnson, 1938, which is the Sept. 25 issue’s postscript. (Be sure to pay attention to the quote that’s part of the flag at the top.)

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By Blackspeare, January 22, 2010 at 9:41 am Link to this comment

WOW——every comment here is totally against the Supreme Court decision.  Please let me be the first to be for this decision.  First, free speech is free speech whether for individuals or business or organizations which are made up of individuals!  All the decision did was to level the playing field as they say.  You may claim that money matters, but what really matters is resonance and you don’t need a lot of money to create resonance.  What we have now in terms of politicking is a “free for all”——2010 will be quite an interesting election year.

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By c-post, January 22, 2010 at 9:37 am Link to this comment

This is a knife at the throat of our democracy. If there is any bright side to this, it is the Supreme Court’s lousy timing. What if they had made this decision when the economy was good and with conservatives in firm control in Congress and a conservative president? That would be even worse. At least there is some hope of rapid legislative action from both the Congress and the President.

Because stock in corporations can be owned by anyone, even foreign citizens, it seems to me that corporations are inherently subversive entities, capable of any kind of allegiance that ownership makes possible.

As a footnote, this has been the worst week for the left since 1968. Maybe ever. Three bad news stories. 1) the Scott Brown election 2) the Supreme Court decision, and 3) the Haiti earthquake and relief effort, which puts the military-industrial complex and it’s shiny planes, pretty boats, and aircraft carriers in a heroic light. Aaaargh!

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By skmacksk, January 22, 2010 at 9:10 am Link to this comment

John Dean,thank you for your thoughtful insightful post.I look forward to your next post regarding this subject.
Ray Duray, thanks for your post and the statement by Russ Feingold.I would have missed it.
Best regards to both gentleman,
Stephen Mack

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By bozh, January 22, 2010 at 8:31 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Defeat of the ‘lower’ classes appears to be part of the Greatness of America and God Bless America! Election of people who solely or largely represent a minority of people [?10%]is part of the system.
Thus it is not an anomaly, but an intented regularity and which US constitution [the basic US laws or lack of laws]demands.

I cld be wrong. Maybe, even if US constitution wld demand-command each member of lower class must have equal representation in congress as that of any member of the high[er] class, perhaps constitution cld be nevertheless countermended. tnx

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By Donald Nygaard, January 22, 2010 at 8:31 am Link to this comment

Dear Mr. Dean,

There was a time during my naive political youth when I considered you a traitor for telling the truth about corruption in the Nixon White House. Those days are long past and I have since come to highly respect you.

In your article, you mention taking time to digest the full impact of the recent Supreme Court ruling that legitimizes what I’ll call “protected corporate speech.” You go on to say that you “will share further thoughts about the damage this ruling will bring, and what can and will be done.” Your thoughts are welcome.

From my perspective, the ruling is the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. It represents yet another clear usurpation of the public prerogative to government of, by, and for the people (that is, living, breathing, sentient entities).

Have we not suffered in silence too long a litany of insults to justice, fairness, and equality through unprincipled exploitation of government institutions? Have we not experienced a “long train of abuses and usurpations” equal to those of revolutionary days which prompted the founders to state “it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security.”

Most would agree the basic form of our democracy is pure, and ought to be preserved. Still, there are many aspects of this democracy in actual practice that deeply offend the sensibilities of our people. 

It seems to me we are at a critical point in our nation’s history. The “course of human events” and “a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires” that we now rededicate ourselves to the founding principles using a clear, effective communication.

Please consider how we might make a new declaration of independence, one that honors all that is proven good in our heritage of liberty, while clearly stating facts that show wherein current practice of democracy is destructive to our “certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

Never since our founding have we had more cause to demand change to the status quo than now. We must act before much worse consequences overtake the course of human events. Nothing good can come of inaction.


Donald Nygaard

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By ProfBob, January 22, 2010 at 8:27 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Let us hope that the majority of one on the Court is wiser than the majority of legislators and the President. That one person majority must be awfully heavy to actually ‘balance the powers.’

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By Ray Duray, January 22, 2010 at 8:24 am Link to this comment

The following Statement can be found at C-SPAN which has a nice block of info on their home page under “Recent Programs”

Statement of U.S. Senator Russ Feingold:

In Response to the Supreme Court’s Decision in Citizens United v. FEC

“It is important to note that the decision does not affect McCain-Feingold’s soft money ban, which will continue to prevent corporate contributions to the political parties from corrupting the political process. But this decision was a terrible mistake. Presented with a relatively narrow legal issue, the Supreme Court chose to roll back laws that have limited the role of corporate money in federal elections since Teddy Roosevelt was president. Ignoring important principles of judicial restraint and respect for precedent, the Court has given corporate money a breathtaking new role in federal campaigns. Just six years ago, the Court said that the prohibition on corporations and unions dipping into their treasuries to influence campaigns was ‘firmly embedded in our law.’ Yet this Court has just upended that prohibition, and a century’s worth of campaign finance law designed to stem corruption in government. The American people will pay dearly for this decision when, more than ever, their voices are drowned out by corporate spending in our federal elections. In the coming weeks, I will work with my colleagues to pass legislation restoring as many of the critical restraints on corporate control of our elections as possible.”

End Statement

Ray again. I have no doubt that this issue will be raised in the Congress, but whether or not they will have the spine to take up any legislation to defy the court’s obvious over-reach seems questionable. 

When we are looking for relief from the Court’s onerous decision, I hardly need to disguise my contempt for the Democratic Party’s so-called leadership. This is pathetic:

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By thebeerdoctor, January 22, 2010 at 8:12 am Link to this comment

Another point to consider is that by allowing corporations to be granted rights normally accorded to actual human beings, is that such a decision cuts across all political (and often quite artificial) political lines. Much of this of course has been facilitated by the actions of the U.S. Supreme Court, who time and time again have sided with the ownership class (the Dred Scott Decision is not out of line here) where property and the money power that it implies takes precedent over any citizen’s right to freedom.
Just go back two or three decades and you soon discover that the individual citizen’s right to freedom (which by the way, is the true description of what freedom actually should mean) has been violated and subsequently destroyed.
One good example of this is when SCOTUS ruled that a farmer could not sue in federal court when a corporation was poisoning his water from up stream. Another example is when SCOTUS ruled that municipalities have the right to eminent domain even if that eviction is for turning the land over for private commercial development, whether it is for a shopping mall or a casino.
This latest ruling reveals that there is no longer a need for a veil or curtain to disguise the iron ruling fist of the ownership class. To put into super bowl football lingo, the ruling on the field has been challenged. But after further review: the play stands. Corporations first down!

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By Super Lou, January 22, 2010 at 8:09 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

This is what happens when spineless, craven, pathetic Dummocrats refuse to filibuster extreme Right Wing justices.  A vigorous filibuster may, I stress “may” have thwarted efforts to put these Federalist Society Right Wing bigots on the bench.  I vigorous fight might have provoked GWB to withdrew the extremists in favor of a so-called moderate in order to get them sworn in. 

Compare the GOP, once again, to the Dummocratic wimps:  Obama puts forth Sotomayor, a “blue dog” jurists to please the Right Wing mob in the Senate whereas the GOP puts forth rabid right wingers whom the Dummocrats wimpishly support.

F***k the Dummocrats, now and forever.  They are incapable of producing anything, perhaps because of their secret desires to be Rethugs.

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By jonathonk99, January 22, 2010 at 7:46 am Link to this comment

I am so infuriated by this that I don’t even know where to begin…

Should we even be surprised?  How does this kind of thing happen while Obama, a
supposedly progressive president is in office?!?  Isn’t there anything he can
do/say?  And Supreme Court Justice Sonya Sotomayor didn’t have much to say I

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By elisalouisa, January 22, 2010 at 7:32 am Link to this comment

I hope this is not but a prelude of what this Supreme Court does in time to come. 
As we continually discuss the importance of our vote(this is especially for you
Ardee) can’t you really see what is going on?  The world power/elite now control
our government through their multi-national corporations and the real shocker is
that it is legal. They are also successful through their control of the news media to
make you think that you really are in control. As the beerdoctor doctor said
quoting Bob Dylan. “Money doesn’t talk, it swears.” One of the first steps in the
selling of America was the transfer of our power base, namely jobs, to other
countries. This is continuing while our President speaks with a forked tongue as
to how unemployment will decline. Now the Supreme Court has allowed the same
corporations whose main base may be in another country to control our government lawfully.
Not to worry, the Superbowl is a few weeks away.

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By ron_woodward, January 22, 2010 at 6:49 am Link to this comment

Whenever I read of a new atrocity committed by Americans against other US citizens, I wonder who will they blame now? The USA is the land of the faultless. Everyone claims the other guy did the dirty deed. FOX News has made an industry out of it. The accusing headline tops the news every hour 24/7 until it runs out of traction. There are whining follow-ups from msnbc and Media Matters to alert the sleeping left of the latest betrayal. The citizens are slow off the mark, if they get off it at all. One would think they would catch onto the stream of five to four decisions from the Supremacists. Isn’t it strange nothing has been done for the people since the 1960’s. After two generations of kicks in the pants, the mind wanders. We used to take showers and change our shirts twice a day. Now, we are lucky to get through the day without losing our shirts.

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By Kendrick Keeton, January 22, 2010 at 6:47 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I guess this is the last nail in the coffin. Our elected officials have been influenced by corporations more and more over the decades… now they just skip the back room deals and can now elect their own leaders.  Leaders at the beck and call of corporations.  LOL.  Its either laugh or cry.

The U.S. has now been handed completely over.  A government by the corporation and for the corporation.  Where can I go to escape, where can I go to hide from what is coming?

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By nickmammano, January 22, 2010 at 6:44 am Link to this comment

I believe it was Benito Mussolini who wrote: “Fascism is the perfect marriage between the Corporation and the State.”  This Supreme Court decision brings us a step closer.

In another sense it also removes some of the reverent glow of the U.S. Constitution.  Can this document be so seriously impaired that it leaves room for such decisions as this ludicrous one?

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By Gloria Picchetti, January 22, 2010 at 6:35 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

New US citizen requirement; must be a shareholder.

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By Trailing Begonia, January 22, 2010 at 6:27 am Link to this comment

In case there were any doubts, now, we can truly have the best damn president that money can buy and the best thing is that they don’t even have to pretend to care or try to hide it anymore.

Gotta love demokracy and the Amerikan way!

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By altara, January 22, 2010 at 6:19 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Although misuse of the filibuster (helped by the supineness of the Democrats) is a big problem, the major impediment to effective legislation and governance is the financing of campaigns and thus the careers of politicians. This decision is a blow to finance reform.On top of Massachusetts election, a really bad week for our country.


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By ACE Teacher, January 22, 2010 at 6:05 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

We have been studying life of slaves in the South, and it seems to me that that is where we are all headed, at least to the level of sharecroppers.  The Big House, the corporations, just took away our vote.  What power do we have against them? We could quit buying from corporations, but that would be about as easy as not getting goods from the company store. We are now in a fascist state, which means not that Hitler is alive, but that our government and big business are indistinquishable.  If you think Big Business cares about your welfare, look at slavery in the South.

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By idarad, January 22, 2010 at 5:53 am Link to this comment

Ray Duray
That is the correct link…. problem is you are not a corporation so you have no
rights to view suckpreme court delusions.

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By FiftyGigs, January 22, 2010 at 5:49 am Link to this comment

After 20 years of subjugation, liberals still don’t understand conservatives.

“Aside from the fact that the majority ruling reeks of conservative politics, what I find most striking about conservative judicial activism typified by this ruling is the fact that the justices involved are totally out of touch with reality.”

Not at all.

Conservatives believe in arbitrary supremacy. The Constitution is not the foremost driving doctrine. The Bible is. What does the Bible mean? It means whatever the authority du joir says it means.

There’s a news article today about a defense contractor putting Bible verses on the scopes of weapons! (Was that really part of the specs?) The point being that God trumps the military chain of command too.

This isn’t activism by conservatives, and it certainly isn’t abberant for them. It’s par for the course. For conservatives, the people answer to institutions, which are supreme. Power derives from the consent of the governed only to the extent that the privilege citenzry (i.e. the federal employees on the Court, or “the few” in other words) are given a divine right to decide what’s best for all.

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By Ray Duray, January 22, 2010 at 5:42 am Link to this comment

The link to the decision appears to be broken:

Has anyone got a link to the decision that works?

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By borntobewild., January 22, 2010 at 3:41 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)


It say’s much, if not all, when the supreme legislative body of a nation establishes a de-humanizing law on the basis of the de-humanised law-principle wich states that a corpo-rate entity, i.e. a corporation, is a ‘dé-facto’ person, as in a person of flesh and blood, and as such should have the rights and priveleges as put forward in the ‘We The People’ Constitution and its amendments.


DE-HUMAN-I-SATION, of course, was and is, the very foundation on wich the elites, of all times, established and secured their power-status-quo.


This supreme court dicision is just one more ‘logical’ step in a series of steps towards an inevitable end of the ‘socalled, free-society’.


We are living the very interesting times.

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By E.F., January 22, 2010 at 2:08 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Here comes the steamroller called: The United States of America Incorporated.

Pretty soon we’ll see corporations have voting rights, and not just a single one, but millions ( depending on their outstanding share count or number of shareholders, whichever grants them a higher turnout ) to combat the single vote each living person has.

Here comes lower wages and higher taxes for workers / slaves / peasants.

Where is this generation’s Napoleon ( before the power went to his head )?

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By doublestandards/glasshouses, January 22, 2010 at 1:46 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

This is a good thing.  It is the beginning of the end
of corporate status as persons.  People are fed up with
corporate dominance of our lives and this will make it
worse.  When people see that this means more power for
wall street, they will demand change.  Wall street is
not popular right now.

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By wildflower, January 22, 2010 at 12:33 am Link to this comment

FROM:  JUSTICE STEVENS, with whom JUSTICE GINSBURG, JUSTICE BREYER, and JUSTICE SOTOMAYOR join, concurring in part and dissenting in part.

“Essentially, five Justices were unhappy with the limited nature of the case before us, so they changed the case to give themselves an opportunity to change the law.”

“Congress crafted BCRA [Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act] in response to a virtual mountain of research on the corruption that previous legislation had failed to avert. The Court now negates Congress’ efforts without a shred of evidence on how §203 or its state-law counterparts have been affecting any entity other than Citizens United.5”

“Today’s ruling thus strikes at the vitals of stare decisis, “the means by which we ensure that the law will not merely change erratically, but will develop in a principled and intelligible fashion” that “permits society to presume that bedrock principles are founded in the law rather than in the proclivities of individuals.”

“A century of more recent history puts to rest any notion that today’s ruling is faithful to our First Amendment tradition. At the federal level, the express distinction between corporate and individual political spending on elections stretches back to 1907, when Congress passed the Tillman Act, ch. 420, 34
Stat. 864, banning all corpo­ rate contributions to candidates. The Senate Report on the legislation observed that “[t]he evils of the use of [corporate] money in connection with political elections are so generally recognized that the committee deems it un­ necessary to make any argument in favor of the general
purpose of this measure. It is in the interest of good gov­ ernment and calculated to promote purity in the selection of public officials.” S. Rep. No. 3056, 59th Cong., 1st Sess., 2 (1906). “

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By Dave, January 22, 2010 at 12:14 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

from what Ive read of the majority argument (which isnt much) they seem to be saying that corporations have just as much right to write a book or create a movie about Hillary Clinton, for example, as any citizen does.

Heres the problem…Corporations cannot write books.  Corporations cannot think.  corporations cannot do anything.  Its the humans that run the corporation that do everything and those humans already receive the same quantity of speech and other rights as I have.

This decision has turned me into a ‘less than’ citizen.

This is an un Godly decision.  (I really think it is)

hmmm…CAPTCHA asks me if Im human…interesting

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de profundis clamavi's avatar

By de profundis clamavi, January 21, 2010 at 11:55 pm Link to this comment

John Roberts
Antonin Scalia
Clarence Thomas
Samuel Alito
Anthony Kennedy

We appeal to God to cleanse and purify our country from vile putrid corporate excrescence, beginning with the above-named filth, vermin, scum, whores and traitors.

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By rollzone, January 21, 2010 at 11:49 pm Link to this comment

hello. the money-flooded milieu of Washington? Mr. Dean, we have a general understanding of what happens. we want to know exactly what you are talking about. from your experience, expound on this milieu. tell us exactly what happens. this capitalism influencing politics is wrong. it does not belong. explain the entire process. what does it involve? cash, bank accounts, perks, bonuses, checks, stocks, bonds, Cuban cigars?

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By idarad, January 21, 2010 at 9:59 pm Link to this comment

When corporations and government merge to protect each other from the people and to steal from the commons, folks you have fascism.  That is the definition. The supremacist court has simply ratified the point.

Everyone commenting here (with the exception of one) knows the bill of rights were the platitudes thrown to the people only to pacify their angst - knowing full well that the powered would through time, by swindle and obfuscation dismantle those tidbits of hope.

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By Timmay, January 21, 2010 at 9:29 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I’m with you, Commune115. There was a time when a corporation was recognized by the people and the government for what it was: an unfettered machine that puts profit first, consequently undermining the welfare of others. We were duped into giving them the rights of individuals, so I’m not suprised that this has happened.

Its not conflict of interest if your interests are protected by the first amendment. I’d love to see them stripped of their immortal copyright/trademark laws, and put back on a charter system.

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By rico, suave, January 21, 2010 at 9:12 pm Link to this comment

And the icing on the cake…...

Air America is tits up.

You progs have had a great week I must say.

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By wildflower, January 21, 2010 at 9:07 pm Link to this comment

Re Mike789: “What are the implications of how foreign policy might be inevitably influenced by multi-national corporations”

Just read “Citizens United for Subservience to Tyrants.” It’s interesting:

“One aspect of the ruling that hasn’t gathered much attention:  as far as I can tell, the analysis doesn’t distinguish between domestic and foreign corporations.  Not that it would matter much, since a foreign corporation can always establish a domestic subsidiary, or buy an American company:  Cities Service, for example, is a unit of PDVSA, the Venezuelan state oil company.  So the ruling allows Hugo Chavez to spend as much money as he wants to helping and harming American politicians.  If the Russian, Saudi, and Chinese governments don’t currently have appropriate vehicles for doing so, you can count on it:  they soon will.”

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By Inherit The Wind, January 21, 2010 at 8:09 pm Link to this comment

Yup.  Nader was right.  Not a dime’s worth of difference between Republicans and Democrats.

That’s why Alito and Roberts voted to allow our elections to be sold and Sotamayor voted to prevent it.

Because there’s no difference between them.

According to Ralph and his supporters.

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By thebeerdoctor, January 21, 2010 at 8:01 pm Link to this comment

Although the destruction of democracy by corporations has been proceeding for decades, the real shocker here is that injustice has now been codified into actual federal law. Thus, like the Dred Scott Decision and Plessy v. Ferguson, it will go down in history as proof that there are unjust laws as there are unjust men.
What is also remarkable how codifying Gresham’s Law also helps to restore that bankrupt idea of separate but equal.
“Money doesn’t talk, it swears.”
Bob Dylan
Financial tyranny it seems, has become protected free speech.

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By wildflower, January 21, 2010 at 7:44 pm Link to this comment

So what can we the people do to get rid of justices who undermine our Nation by issuing rulings based on blatant incorrect statements of the law?

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By Mike789, January 21, 2010 at 7:25 pm Link to this comment

What are the implications of how foreign policy might be inevitably influenced by multi-national corporations who may not have the best interests of our country?

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By Commune115, January 21, 2010 at 7:05 pm Link to this comment

Why is there such shock over this? This country has been run by corporate interests for DECADES, this was simply the next predictable step. If we had any self-respect we’d explode in revolution, but the age of idealism is sadly over, consumed and castrated by consumerism.

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By ThatDeborahGirl, January 21, 2010 at 7:04 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The Supreme Court, despite dispensing the law of the land, is still often wrong. This ruling is definitively one of those that is wrong.

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By David Eason, January 21, 2010 at 6:59 pm Link to this comment

Is anyone surprised that a Supreme Court majority comprised of Catholic reactionaries has issued an opinion designed to further deliver the people into corporate bondage?  These men are nothing but bootlicking power worshipers.  As William O. Douglas might have said (with credit to Jack Palance): I crap bigger than them!

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