Friday, January 22, 2010

Did the US Supreme Court just murder democracy?

Today the US Supreme Court declared many of the country's campaign finance laws -- laws going all the way back to 1907 -- unconstitutional.  There are no longer to be any checks on the ability of corporations to spend money on elections.  WSJ:
The Supreme Court Thursday made it easier for entities to influence elections for Congress and the White House by stripping away rules that limited their ability to fund campaign advertisements.
In its sweeping 5-4 ruling, the court set the stage for a wave of likely repercussions -- from new pressures on lawmakers to heed special interest demands to increasingly boisterous campaigns featuring highly charged ads that drown out candidate voices.
Perhaps these newspapers understate the case. One of the dissenting Supreme Court justices, John Paul Stevens, said, "The court's ruling threatens to undermine the integrity of elected institutions around the nation."   Congressman Barney Frank points out, "No other functioning democracy allows unrestricted speech by corporations."

Related posts examine Justice Stevens' dissenting opinion: