Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Strongest Voting Block In The United States Is The Group That Doesn’t Vote.

There is no leader in any endeavor, whether public or private, who can move the institution forward without the support of the public. No leader can be effective against public apathy.
The strongest voting block in the United States is the group that doesn’t vote. That group of non-voters is much larger than the group of voters who do vote. When you don’t vote, your vote in reality goes in as a “no” vote or as a vote that is pleased with the “status quo”.
When I vent my anger and frustration on how this country is solving its problems, I do so not at the President, the paralyzed U.S. Congress or state government officials. The fault is not theirs. The fault is the Americans who do not vote and the ones who do vote having little or no understanding of the issues. I am not concerned that the Citizens United case will turn over all power to the rich unless the American voter continues to fail to participate in and learn the substance of the issues and vote with some level of understanding. The rich will never gain control of this country if the voter will simply vote.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

“Super PACs”

Since the Citizens United ruling, political interests and candidate related organizations have developed “Super PACs” (Political Action Committees). A New York Times editorial has noted that the PACs can “collect unlimited amounts and they plan to.” Romney’s “Make Us Great Again” plans to collect $55 million. President Obama’s PAC “Priorities USA” hopes to raise more than $100 million. The editorial states that since Citizens United “the campaign finance system has become polluted with ideological groups collecting unlimited donations from corporations, unions and wealthy individuals.” None of us are so naive as to believe these funds, now used for attack ads or supporting party candidates, will not be a major factor in elections and that large contributors will not be accorded attention materially beyond that given to ordinary citizens or small businesses who will be directly affected by legislation or executive action.

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Citizens United Case -There Are Two Major Questions

The Citizens United case has caused a real stir among constitutional law academics, the President of the United States and many minority groups who conclude that money and money alone, will destroy the power of the electorate and will now and forever set the agenda for this country’s future. It is their belief that corporations, with their boundless wealth, will be able to buy any politician and destroy every freedom in this country.
There are two major questions – Is the decision legally correct? One must examine the Constitution and the history of all decisions made by the Supreme Court that relate to the voting process in the United States. The second question, assuming the decision is legally sound, is what are the remedies for curing the bad results the decision will bring?
I am not a constitutional lawyer but my reading of the case, in spite of my very liberal leanings, indicates to me the decision by the majority of the court is reasonable, logical and legally sustainable.
The decision is really not the problem. Even though the wealth is concentrated (the Koch brothers say they will spend 400 million dollars of their own money to defeat Obama), all the money in the world cannot overcome the power of the voter unless the voter gives up his or her power by not understanding the issues and voting intelligently on those issues.

Friday, November 25, 2011

"Justices Who Dissented From The Citizens United Majority Opinion"

Justices who dissented from the Citizens United majority opinion (declaring unconstitutional certain statutory prohibitions upon corporate expenditures for political advertising) made strong arguments favoring Congress’ right to limit corporate and union campaign advertising expenditures. Dissenting Justice Stevens said that the court’s opinion was a “rejection of the common sense of the American people, who have recognized a need to prevent corporations from undermining self-government.” Commentators have noted that Congress and the public should be allowed to express their concerns about the possibility of powerful special interests using their wealth to undermine legitimate public goals. They argue that restricting corporation and union expenditures by legislation designed to promote political equality is in the public interest and should not be prohibited. Eliminating the ban on unlimited corporate funding of political advertising supports the growing popular complaints concerning the maldistribution of our country’s wealth and provides some justification to those who wish to “Occupy Wall Street”.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission / Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act

In 2002, the United States Congress adopted the “Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act” (McCain-Feingold Act) which provided, among other things, that profit and non-profit corporations and labor unions were prohibited from funding advertising regarding candidates for public office within specified time periods before a general or primary election. These provisions were regarded by many to constitute an infringement upon free speech as guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. The Citizens United case ultimately reached the United States Supreme Court which addressed this issue and, in a 5-4 decision (specifically overruling prior cases) declared a major portion of the act unconstitutional. The earlier cases adopted a view that a legislative ban on the capability of corporations to spend substantial sums to influence elections was a sufficiently important government interest to restrict speech, saying that corporate wealth can unfairly influence elections when it is distributed through political contributions. While the court split 5-4 on the issue of corporate funding of political advertising, the justices decided 8-1 to permit disclosure requirements contained in McCain-Feingold to stand.

Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission

The purpose of this Twitter and those that immediately follow is to briefly explain the holdings and effect of a decision of the United States Supreme Court in a case captioned Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 130 S. Ct. 876 (decided in 2010). The decision dealt with the serious constitutional question of whether the First Amendment, which guarantees freedom of speech, prohibits the government from placing limits on political broadcasting ads in candidate elections when the broadcast ads are funded by corporations or unions. The case has been discussed in detail by legal scholars, academics, politicians and journalists. I am attempting only to acquaint you with the nature of the 5-4 decision and some of its broader effects. Those interested in detailed and scholarly analysis of the decision and its effects will have little trouble locating countless articles and comments which have followed the decision.