B After The Fact

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Not True!

“The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases ... to Controversies ..." U.S. Constitution -- Article III Section 2

"They support me. I never said I supported them." -- Ronald Reagan, refusing to give back a controversial campaign contribution.

Some observations on Citizens United. -- The Supreme Court's campaign finance ruling.

It upset me more than anything that the Supreme Court drastically expanded the scope of the original complaint from the producers who wanted a narrow exception to McCain-Feingold to show their anti-Hillary movie in the days leading up to the election. The Supremes called a special argument on short notice to find a way to overturn as much of the campaign finance ruling as possible. They stretched the "cases and controversies" provision of the Constitution beyond all recognition. The Supreme Court is not supposed to be a 9-person Congress. This time they acted as one.

The Supreme Court, in my opinion, gave a very limited holding. It said that a corporation is allowed to contribute directly to Federal campaigns. The Court said a lot of other things about what states can and cannot do in regulating corporate contributions to campaigns, and indirectly, what states can do in regulating corporations.

I find it hard to believe that the Supreme Court is going to take on the full implications of its ruling and nationalize the corporations laws of the 50 states. For example, say as a matter of state law, a corporation is defined as an organization that may not make contributions to state Governor's campaigns. I cannot imagine that the Supreme Court will attempt to overturn that law on 14th Amendment grounds. Nationalizing state corporation law can have a negative impact on corporations. For example, the Federal government will never be in a position to give corporations the sorts of protections they get in states like Delaware and Nevada.

I'm not sure what Justice Alito was talking about when he said "not true". I guess the Justice was referring to the statement that Citizens United means that foreign corporations would influence United States elections.

Obama is right in the sense that American corporations are awash with foreign investors. So when American corporations invest in individual candidates, it is unclear what the source of the money is.

Justice Alito is probably right in contesting the implication that having foreign corporations directly invest in Federal campaigns will make life too much different from what it is today. It's the same money. It's just going to be channeled differently. Or maybe not. Does the Bin Laden Corporation really want to advertise what candidates it supports?

The opinion overturned sections of the McCain-Feingold law. After watching the Senator from Arizona in action over the last 30 years, and especially over the last years, I can imagine what even the most Republican Supreme Court justice must have been thinking. Any piece of legislation with John McCain's name on it has to be unconstitutional.