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Bill Moyers & Michael Winship: What Are We Bid For American Justice?

That famous definition of a cynic as someone who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing has come to define this present moment of American politics.

No wonder people have lost faith in politicians, parties and in our leadership. The power of money drives cynicism deep into the heart of every level of government. Everything – and everyone – comes with a price tag attached: from a seat at the table in the White House to a seat in Congress to the fate of health care reform, our environment and efforts to restrain Wall Street’s greed and prevent another financial catastrophe.

Our government is not broken; it’s been bought out from under us, and on the right and the left and smack across the vast middle more and more Americans doubt representative democracy can survive the corruption of money.

Last month, the Supreme Court carried cynicism to new heights with its decision in the Citizens United case. Spun from a legal dispute over the airing on a pay-per-view channel of a right-wing documentary attacking Hillary Clinton during the 2008 presidential primaries, the decision could have been made very narrowly. Instead, the conservative majority of five judges issued a sweeping opinion that greatly expands corporate power over our politics.

Never mind that in at least two separate polls an overwhelming majority of Americans from both political parties say they want no part of the Court’s decision; they want even more limits on the power of money in elections. But candidates and their campaign consultants are gearing up to exploit the Court’s gift in the fall elections.

Just this week, that indispensable journalistic Web site TALKING POINTS MEMO reported that K&L Gates, an influential Washington lobbying firm, is alerting corporate clients on how to use trade associations like the Chamber of Commerce as pass-throughs to dump unlimited amounts of cash directly into elections. They can advocate or oppose a candidate right up to Election Day, while keeping a low profile to prevent “public scrutiny” and bad press coverage. And media outlets already are licking their chops at the prospect of all that extra money to be spent buying airtime – as much as an additional $300 million dollars. That’s not even counting production and post-production costs of campaign ads, which are considerable. A bad situation just got worse.

If you want to know just how much worse, look to the decision’s potential impact on our court system, where integrity, independence and fair play count the most when it comes to preserving faith in our system. It’s as susceptible to the lure of corporate wealth as the executive and legislative branches are.

Ninety-eight percent of all the lawsuits in this country take place in the state courts. In 39 states, judges have to run for election – that's more than 80 percent of the state judges in America.

The Citizens United decision makes those judges who are elected even more susceptible to the corrupting influence of cash, for many of their decisions in civil cases directly affect corporate America, and a significant amount of the money judges raise for their campaigns comes from lobbyists and lawyers.

In the words of Charles W. Hall, a spokesman for the non-partisan, judicial watchdog group Justice at Stake, “Corporate bottom lines are not affected by whether a bank robber gets 10 or 20 years in prison. The bottom lines are affected however by whether a large scale lawsuit is upheld or overturned.”

During the 1990s, candidates for high court judgeships in states around the country and the parties that supported them raised $85 million dollars for their campaigns. Since the year 2000, the numbers have more than doubled to over $200 million.

The nine justices currently serving on the Texas Supreme Court have raised nearly $12 million in campaign contributions. The race for a seat on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court last year was the most expensive judicial race in the country, with more than $4.5 million spent by the Democrats and Republicans. Now, with the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, corporate money’s muscle just got a big hypodermic full of steroids.

As Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens wrote in his 90-page Citizens United dissent, “At a time when concerns about the conduct of judicial elections have reached a fever pitch… the Court today unleashes the floodgates of corporate and union general treasury spending in these races.”

States that elect their judges, he said, “after today, may no longer have the ability to place modest limits on corporate electioneering even if they believe such limits to be critical to maintaining the integrity of their judicial systems.”

No wonder that legal experts, including former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor (the only living current or former Supreme Court member to have been an elected state court judge), have called for states with judicial elections to switch to a system of merit selection. Judges would be appointed but possibly subject to “retention elections” in which voters can simply vote thumbs up or down as to whether jurists are qualified to remain on the bench.

Until such changes are made, the temptations of corporate cash mean that in those states where judicial elections still prevail there hangs a crooked sign on every courthouse reading, “Justice for Sale.”


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Comments

To get a better idea of how fast things are changing in society as a whole, when Justice Kennedy said, "This is a difficult world for a jurist, a scholarly, detached neutral person to operate within", the following recent New York Times article says that authors and artists now need to be "...entrepreneurial, self-promoting and charismatic.." if they don't want to end up in career oblivion.

Will the rewards in the 21st-century go to the salesmen, or to the hucksters?

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/21/books/21mash.html?pagewanted=all

I think that we should pull back are troops from the war in Afganistan.

Bill, would you invite some lawyers onto your program to ask them to interpret the role of the judicial canons in governing the judicial process? It seems to me that in an effort to protect the courts' independence, we have a system unaccountable to the citizenry and to the other two branches of government. The "appearances" of impropriety abound among our judges. The founders warned us about the potential for judicial tyranny without proper restraint. Well, we are past that point now.

I have become completely disgusted with our government. I will not be voting again, in any election. I just do not have enough money to be considered important. The gov. lets me vote to make me think I have some sort of say in the process. Yea right.

Wonder what would happen if no one bothered to vote?

By what twisted venal logic can:-
a) an inamimate corporate entity speak. It does not need a voice, it is composed of Directors employees and shareholders. those are the people with free speech rights in Representative or Senatorial appointments or appointments to the Judiciary.
As busines you work and operate within the laws passed democratically elected officials not bought or bribed indirectly funded or supported by the views of a board of directors or committee of a union or special interest group, as whats best for them separately.
Paying lobbyists or the chamber of commerce to influence laws in process of discussion by all of the above simply abrogates my or anyone elses personal rights of free speech to something that cannot actually speak, and I mifgt disagree with what the board or committee on each issue or politician or judge etc might be but how do we know??
I think the house and Senate should completely abrogate the Citizens Unite decision by Legislative authority 80 % of Americans disagree with SCOTUS.Now that would be real democracy!!
Regards,
Hodgson.

Sen. Bill Nelson, Dem. FL spoke up softly when the DNC & Candidate Hope determined the D. FL Primary vote should not be allowed.
Sen. Nelson, former astronaut, traded The Right Stuff for political power favors!

President Apology WAS liked by foreign govts., but, seems to hold our Covert Operations in disdain & prosecutes Navy Seals due to a terriorist they captured told on them for hitting him, but not until 3 days after being turned over to another agency.

President Change does not want to look at what happened leading up to the Financial Crisis---neither does Congress-as it all lays at its feet.

The Health Care is about democrats winning AND NOT about our citizens!

We need health care reform---cut out govt. fraud, waste, incompetent management, and Congressional Loopholes for Unions, Ins. Cos., the rich & famous!

Why isn't the entire USA one pool?

Why are some allowed $12,000 of company provided health benifits and do NOT declare it as ordinary income? Congressional Loopholes!

FIX CONGRESS!!! Many good people are sent to Washington not to be heard from until they are beaten into Washington form--that is they get SENIORITY & it is then their turn at the trough to pig out!

FIX CONGRESS!!

THIRD party may be a bad idea, but it is superior to what the Dunniecrats & Rip-ya-off-plicans have done for US!

Billy Bob Florida

Corrected link to Move to Amend: http://www.movetoamend.org/

WALK ACROSS THE UNITED STATES TO ABOLISH CORPORATE PERSONHOOD

We are organizing a walk from San Francisco CA to Washington D.C. to raise the awareness of the public and their legislative representatives of the need to amend the Constitution of the United States to wrest the control of government from corporate money and restore it to human citizens.

We are working in concert with http://www.movetoamend.org/ for media outreach to help raise the voices of the people across the nation.

We will walk in one hour shifts, 24/7, rain or shine, starting at Golden Gate Park, in San Francisco, on May 16th and complete the walk at the Lincoln Memorial on August 1st. We will camp in state parks and recreation areas along the way and move camp every few days as the walk progresses.

We represent no political agenda save to restore the inalienable and Constitutional rights of human beings and the dominion of human citizens over corporations.

We believe that legislation and honest philosophical debate, of the people, by the people and for the people, can only begin when people control the government.

We believe that no true benefit to human citizens can issue from a government controlled by corporate purse strings. Unless and until corporations loose the claim of Personhood as opined by a Supreme Court in the 1880’s, no limit of the expenditure of money as speech can be legislated.

We hold no bias or prejudice of any human being based on: choices in their own lifestyle, their culture, biological heritage, or personal, religious or political, beliefs. We welcome diversity in this group and celebrate our common purpose. We must amend the Constitution.

If you would like to join in all, or any part of this political exercise, please respond to this post and we will be glad to answer any questions and fill in details.

Thank you,

George L. Monahan
glmonahan@bredband.net

P.S.
Anna D.,
Our constitution has been amended 27 times. Not all amendments have worked out for the best, and have been repealed by subsequent amendments. Our Constitution, the framework of a venerable and noble experiment in the history of human existence, is still a work in progress. The idea that inalienable rights could be protected is one of it's unique properties.

To invoke the names of a couple of history's most nefarious tyrants, suggests to me that you might think that amending our Constitution is not a good thing. Am I misintrepting that statement?

Indeed, because of the supremacy of corporations over human citizens, "the two party system" is incompetent to serve the ignorant and servile, kept in their place by a corrupted media.

We are not going to just lie down and take it. We are not giving up. We are not the ignorant and servile that corporations would have us be. We are fighting with the weapons that we have, (and that are still legal) to do what we can to improve our lot.

Thank you for your support.
George

Good luck, George L Monahan, with your march.

Just want to point out that Stalin and Hitler

ALSO

"amended" their
"constitutions"...

and after ALL of us witnessing the TRASHING of US Constitution in the name of "terror" protection

exactly WHAT are you "amending"...?

The "constitution" or all the LAWS that trashed the "constitution"?

And how about the INCOMPETANCE of "institutions" enforcing any "subtle" laws that protect the rights of a HUMAN BEING...?

We are organizing a walk from San Francisco CA to Washington D.C. to raise the awareness of the public and their legislative representatives of the need to amend the Constitution of the United States to wrest the control of government from corporate money and restore it to human citizens.

We are working in concert with http://www.movetoamend.org/we-corporations for media outreach to help raise the voices of the people across the nation.

We will walk in one hour shifts, 24/7, rain or shine, starting at Golden Gate Park, in San Francisco, on May 16th and complete the walk at the Lincoln Memorial on August 1st. We will camp in state parks and recreation areas along the way and move camp every few days as the walk progresses.

We represent no political agenda save to restore the unalienable and Constitutional rights of human beings and the dominion of human citizens over corporations. We must amend the Constitution to abolish corporate personhood.

We believe that legislation and honest philosophical debate, of the people, by the people and for the people, can only begin when people control the government. We must amend the Constitution to abolish corporate personhood.

We believe that no true benefit to human citizens can issue from a government controlled by corporate purse strings. Unless and until corporations loose the claim of Personhood as opined by a Supreme Court in the 1880’s, no limit of the expenditure of money as speech can be legislated.

We hold no biases or prejudices of any human being based on: choices in their own lifestyle, their culture, biological heritage, or personal, religious or political, beliefs. We welcome diversity in this group and celebrate our common purpose. We must amend the Constitution.

If you would like to join in all, or any part of this political exercise, please respond to this e-mail and we will be glad to answer any questions and fill in details.

Thank you,

George L. Monahan
glmonahan@bredband.net


Are not individual free speech rights infringed upon when groups pool money to buy a larger megaphone to drown out individual voices?

Only a fool would believe that groups with money, particularly corporations whose sole purpose is to accumulate money, do not have an unfair advantage over individuals in electioneering. The simple solution would be publicly financed elections

All these people that talk so badly about the gay community, they are not christians, we are not enemies, and they can't love us.
Look the previous vice-president, he is the best patron of the conservative community, but he never had a hard word about the gay community, of course his daughter is gay, and he loves her.

Two aspects:
I am gay as the way God created me. If they have any complain let them call God for an explanation.
Why we have the Supreme Court? Let them decide what is just. Not by election that are manipulated by money.
I would like some good psychologist to study St. Paul: was he gay? and like many others they distroy the gay community to cover themselves.♠

Bill,every week you make my stomach churn because I fully believe you are right in what you say. What I would like to have you add to your segments is what we should be doing to correct these problems. Leadership is needed to correct the sins of both parties.
When I vote I try to feel that I am selecting a team of surgeons that I am sending to DC to make things better. Instead what we wind up is creating two football teams that see their job is to beat each other into the ground.
This country is ready for a revolution if the right leader rises to the task. How about you Bill?

I think the biggest obstacle to solving these problems are people that really can't admit the reality that this nation is on the brink of collapse. Constitutional changes used to be pretty normal and people talked about them regularly. Now people think this is far fetched. They tend to think we've formed a perfect union and everything will work out. They think that because we've had big problems in the past and they worked themselves out somehow, that this time is no different. Well, they're in for a big shock. It is much harder to fight the enemy within than the enemy over there.

Unfortunately, it really takes quite a bit of historical knowledge to realize just how different it is this time. Most people don't take the time to read history so they don't understand the context of our current situation. They don't understand that this situation is already on a course that is probably like a run away freight train, it cannot be stopped without derailing it.

Thank god for Moyers, he's one of the only people that is able to tell the real story. The people watching the entertainment news think they are informed, but they haven't a clue what is about to happen. If we could just get everyone informed, this could be stopped, but I've tried and frankly, people don't want to be informed. We've had it so easy for so long that people don't understand what a struggle for country even looks like. I wonder if they'll be asking themselves, "how did we all miss this coming" or will they recognize that we've been trying to tell them. I suspect the former.

Can Canada handle the deluge of immigrants that are going to attempt to cross over within the next couple of decades to avoid the tyranny? Or will the trouble here swallow up Canada also?

The emminent domain case SCOTUS got wrong, but this one, they are spot on about, though sadly it was a 5-4 decision.

Posted by: TheEngineer

Posted by: Engineer Also

Since when do Engineers not understand that for things to work properly they need to be designed and built to meet specifications and that there must be sufficient funds to finish the project.
Business should not be mixed with politics because you end up with products that are inferior and down right dangerous.
Products need to be consistent with people's needs. The demand side of economics is the side of economics that has to have sufficient funds to buy the products so that the products can be produced. Reasonable wages and reasonable profits are both required to support a viable economy.
Corporations are undermining their own survival with their greed and money manipulation of our society.
We do not want a mechanical government not concerned about the quality of life and only concerned with mega-profits for corporations.
Lobbyists and bribing politicians have to go if we are to survive as a Democratic Society.

Doug, thanks for the link Citizens United and the First Amendment. It's amazing how everything today can be found a First Amendment issue without thinking.


As the light seems to dim, as money becomes the only talk in town, what hope do we have? What change can be made when change seems to be dim? What are we to do?

My name is Mir Ibrahim Rahman, from Pakistan, I am student at Harvard getting a masters in Public Administration.

I just saw the recent program of Bill Moyers on USA Justice System. Transcript link is below.

http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/02192010/transcript4.html

I was appalled and sad to know that majority of the State’s Justices in USA have to go through judicial elections process- where judges run for office and in order to so have to raise money for the campaigns from the very lawyers and businesses that are facing to implement their judgments on? There were specific examples that were given where judges changed their policy stances and decisions in order to get patronage and support from the business lobby or whoever would fund their campaigns.

This sounds unbelievable from a country I have come to, to learn about the design of democracy and civilization. I can’t help but think one of the reasons why we don’t see so much corruption here compared to other developing countries is because we have legalized so much of it in the USA.

Why isn’t the mainstream USA media pick this up? I don’t understand why Bill Moyers isn't hired CNN to counter balance Bill O’Riley and Glen Bleck. Wouldn’t it make ratings sense as well?


MIR

BILL MOYERS IS A GEM, if only one could clone him!

The outrage of Justice being bought and sold is, (simply stated), because the U.S. has the WRONG FORM of government.

Ben Franklin warned the Founders "a republic, if you can keep it."

The Constitution was written BY ELITES, FOR ELITES, and corporatists have learned that they have deeper "pockets" than anyone else and can BUY all 3 branches of government.

And, they HAVE!

This nation is on a collision course with a NEW REVOLUTION that is about to occur. In a high tech/nuclear age, those same politicians in D.C., and corporatists on Wall Street will NOT have any immunity from THAT REVOLUTION of the 21st Century.

If anyone doubts the intense ANGER throughout the U.S. today, just recall the "McVeigh-like" anger of Oklahoma City; the recent "Stack-like" anger in Austin; Americans revulsion against the thugs of the FBI at Waco and at Ruby Ridge, and one gets the understanding that the U.S. Government has become this nation's ENEMY.

Just ask Americans about their views of the U.S. Government.

What needs to be done now is a NEW Constitutional Convention without any elected officials participating (Mr. Moyers should CHAIR it!).

A new parliamentary system should be emplaced with publicly financed elections.

The U.S. should be divided into SIX (50 million person) nation-states with a common military and perhaps currency.

Washington, D.C. should become a museum as a reminder of the filth that it has become while its corporate propagandists have advertised it as the example of "freedom" by the corporatist-dominated governments (now controlled at all levels today).

One can only speculate what is about to occur. But given history, the U.S. and those who have infested this nation, and have sold out its citizens are about to become targeted for exclusion BY the very persons who have been intentionally harmed BY those in government and the Wall Streeters/Banksters.

The Judiciary today is a bad joke. The Supreme Court is a laughing-stock since Roberts became Chief Justice No one believes in the U.S. Supreme Court any longer as it is comprised of the same "toadies" as those across the street doing the bidding of the corporatists who own all 3 branches of the U.S. Government and who have infested the bureaucracy and the rule making agencies.

Most Americans, given the choice, would choose an other form of government if for no other reason than self-defense from those criminals posing themselves as lawyers, judges, electeds at all levels.

This American who was on the staff of the leadership of both houses of Congress; as a director for the leadership of the U.S. Hosue; as a director for the nation's governors, as a director for a regional practice of law and as a professor of the discipline; has 35 years of experience to document that corruption and to REPORT it.

If one were an M.D. to provide a prognosis for the "patient," called the U.S., one would determine that the U.S. does not have long to exist in its current form, if at all, given its self-destructive behavior.

The 2nd Revolution has already commenced as Americans now hate the government for its sell-out of every citizen of what used to be called the "land of the free."

Mr. Moyers is right, but only to a point. The "cancer on the body politic" of the U.S. is terminal as history demonstrates.

I ask that you look at the the hypocrisy of the SCOTUS dissenters in Citizens United wanting to not give the corporations a voice, but were more than willing to take a persons land from them via emminent domain in the Kelo case. Both cases as judged by the liberal activist judges granted more power to the government while taking it away from the private sector. The emminent domain case SCOTUS got wrong, but this one, they are spot on about, though sadly it was a 5-4 decision.

The thing with Citizens United is that it was not a First Amendment issue at all. See here what I am talking about: Citizens United and the First Amendment

thank you Bill for telling it like it is in the supreme court...If george bush didn't want his court appointees to not legislate, he would have nominated liberal judges.

Justice for sale, kind of like Obama's Chicago. A judge fixed a murder case for several thousand dollars.

Americans do not decide what to think until the talking heads on corporate TV tell them. I wonder what tea they drink.
“If those in charge of our society—politicians, corporate executives, and owners of press and television—can dominate our ideas, they will be secure in their power. They will not need soldiers patrolling the streets. We will control ourselves.” Howard Zinn, historian and author
One can now understand what the FCC has done to us by allowing large viewing areas to be controlled by the mighty and the few. Total control of the sheep !
We will miss you Mr. Zinn

The one and only goal of a Corporation is to make money, if the population as a whole suffers for this goal they could not care less. From some of these comments it looks like some of the tea baggers have change the channel from FOX and suddenly discovered PBS.

Why do some people automatically assume that large corporations are interested in the outcome of an election? Because some corporations are heavily regulated by the government. The companies that are free of regulations would not benefit from trying to influence an election, it would be a complete waste of money. The solution? Smaller government equals fewer lobbying dollars.

Moyers is afraid that conservatives will get money to equal the money given to liberals by unions.

The decision in Citizen's United is unadulterated winger garbage for a simple reason. The First Amendment only gives free speech protection from government infringement to two things: the People and the Press. Note that only one of those is a group/organization: the Press. The fact that an organization is specifically called out indicates to me that the authors of the bill of rights understood that a particular kind of organization would need protection, while protection (or not) of rights of other organizations would be left to government to decide.

That means non-persons ARE NOT PROTECTED. This doesn't take being a legal scholar to understand.

Now is a corporation a person? Do they have a right to vote, can they be drafted, can they be imprisoned for crimes? Does the constitution somehow read on this question? No, it's just a stupid precedent arising out of common law treatment of corporations as persons in order to give them the ability to engage in contracts.

Yes, SCOTUS can revisit prior precedents. The problem in Citizen's United is that these activist right-wing judges picked the wrong precedent to overturn. If they were in line with where the American people are at, they would have overturned the 1886 Supreme Court Case, Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad, and severely curtailed the extent of rights under the constitution granted to corporations.

Corporations are a legal fiction created by the government. They are not a creature of the constitution. The government should be able to regulate them and be given great deference in this by the courts. Instead we get this bizarre situation where a legal fiction is granted civil rights. It is absolutely insane.

"Merit selection" is nothing more than a euphamism for judges selected by panels comprised primarily of lawyers who are members of Democratic-dominated bar associations.

I trust the people much more than I trust groups of lawyers.

We would have a substantially better appellate bench in my home state if its members were accountable to the people like our trial judges.

Merit selection is just another ruse to keep the people on the plantation.

Sorry, Bill, but I don't want to pick anymore cotton.

I suppose if one cuts through all the babble that Moyers typically puts out, they will find that he is bascially saying that there simply is not an honest attorney/judge out there. His claim that "anyone can be bought for a price" is probably more applicable to Moyers and his cabal than this countries judges.

What neither Ms. Youn or Ms. Teachout seemed able to articulate is a really pretty simple principle: Conflict of interest.

Corporations exist to make money; they are not interested in judicial or political fairness, or the welfare of the populace as a whole. The mixing of money with our judicial and political systems is a conflict of interest. It is a gross, blatant and foolish conflict of interest.

This was asserted well in other sections of the program, but I'd like to see it repeated every time the issue is presented. It's a concept just about anyone can wrap their hands around.

I remember a time when judges were appointed rather than elected in my state. I wonder how and when that changed.

We don't need to be angry at corporations, but we do need to keep them where they belong - driving our economy.

Has he read the decision? Would he understand it if he did? As, usual, Moyers is spouting off nonsensical liberal hearsay.

The fatal flaw in the Moyers and Winship article is that the supreme court, which made the decision, is appointed for life. Perhaps there would have been a different result if they were elected.

Personally I think the Constitution is a load of crapola. Obama should declare a state of emergency, arrest the Supreme Court, arrest the Senators and Congress Persons (at least the Republicans) and announce that HE is in charge and will remain in charge so that the poor people can finally get the wealth of the rich people.

Moyers may want to carefully remember that he is attacking my right to free speech, while he lives off of my tax money getting to say whatever he wants on PBS.

Now that's irony.

The hypocrisy of liberals never ceases to amaze me.

Of course, labor unions are never discussed as a "big money interest" yet such organizations (which are corporations) have tremendous influence over our politics - to wit, the recent shameless, unconstitutional payoff to labor unions in the Senate health care bill, and the $50B bailout of auto workers.

So, liberals want labor union corporations to have a voice in politics but want absolutely no other collection of people who have come together for the purpose of advancing a political cause to be able to do so.

I suppose this is not so much hypocrisy as unabashed, self-serving favoritism. Whichever it is, the Supreme Court has had the courage to apply the Constitution equally to all -- and not just to the liberals favored few.

People all over are calling for someone to fix government. Fine, there are tweaks here and there that could (if the people force the issue) and should be implemented, but in the end will it make our democracy all that much stronger if voters remain as passive and indifferent afterwards as they were before? Is it going to prevent someone else from eventually gaming the system or taking advantage of an “out-to-lunch” citizenry? Nope.
Posted by: Chris

Posted by: D. Eddy
Yup; this country has been of, for, and by the few at the expense of the many since day one. Trickle down economics has assured that the rich and powerful get all of the advantages while the working people get the crumbs from the table.
It is necessary to adjust the demand side of the economy so that the rich pay the price for people's labor and are taxed to limit their profits so that we have an Equitable and Just Society.

The "Greatest Generation" built a great country with hard work, education and good government. The following generations have consumed that greatness and continued spending on credit. In the end we will get the form of government we deserve.

Bill Moyers wants a world where only the New York Times influences elections.

Kiss MA.

Well, Bill, if what you write is correct then there can be no greater or more cynical corporate enemy of the American political processes than BIG CORPORATE MEDIA. Your reasoning leads to the conclusion that the Supreme Court should have simply struck down the "media company exclusion" from federal campaign finance laws, and stopped those evil BIG CORPORATE MEDIA outlets from running editorials or even news commentary on elections for 60 days before the vote. And, of course, no election advocacy BOOKS could be published by those BIG CORPORATE MEDIA outlets, either.

Yep, Bill, you sure do have a grasp on those democratic processes! Unfortuneately, your grasp is firmly around their necks.

D.C Eddy - I’ll just follow up this last time, then say adios. In the end, in a Democracy, you attempt to get “qualified” people by electing them. There’s no guarantee they’ll meet some magic criteria. You can support candidates you believe approximate your views, but, aside from simply handing power over to some virtuous someone to impose “the right solution,” what’s left is the democratic process of people voting and then (something not enough do) staying in the faces of their representatives with the issues.
I’m not sure what you want to have happen to create “functional Government.” I think the root of DYSfunctional government is lack of citizen involvement. People all over are calling for someone to fix government. Fine, there are tweaks here and there that could (if the people force the issue) and should be implemented, but in the end will it make our democracy all that much stronger if voters remain as passive and indifferent afterwards as they were before? Is it going to prevent someone else from eventually gaming the system or taking advantage of an “out-to-lunch” citizenry? Nope.

Transparency is the key to this issue and has been from the beginning. If voters know who individually and what entities are contributing to any given candidate, that speaks to his/her qualities, loyalties, concerns, et al. This can be projected out like what Moyers did in his article: What if anyone or any company could give whatever they wanted to any candidate or issue - all declared and made public? Maybe the media would actually do their jobs in covering candidates and report on these donors... you know, follow the money? Ah, but media, including Mr. Moyers, has been too busy lately expounding their own political viewpoints instead of reporting actual facts and verified information.


C'mon, Bill. Your column lacks any substantive critique of what's wrong with Justice Kennedy's reasoning. Your only quote from the case is from the dissent. How about some Constitutional analysis from your razor-sharp legal mind? Tell us exactly how Chief Justice Roberts' concurrence, which addresses why the Court couldn't rule narrowly, is off base.

And while you're at it, show us the empirical evidence that supports your position. So far, all you've done is imagine what MIGHT happen. And you've haven't written anything about why the other side of the argument (i.e., unlimited spending on political advertising does not result in increased corruption) is wrong.

So please spend some quality time in analysis--that's what you're supposed to be good at. Otherwise you come off as nothing more than a party-line hack.

"The Constitution provides all the power we the people require to overcome
the threats posed by the big money interests. The question is, will we people
use that power?
Posted by: Chris | February 19, 2010 6:23 PM"
The Constitution does not "provide all the power to overcome the threats by the big money!"
"To overcome the threats posed by the big money," it will be accomplish only when
the Constitution is amended to "EMPOWER the PEOPLE to express their
" WILL on all ISSUES!" The OLIGARCHY that were and are empowered now to protect
the constitution, did "swamp the country to the bottom!"
It is the "FALL of an EMPIRE!"

If voters aren’t willing to sacrifice a portion of their time NOW to stay informed about and active in the governing process, then as sad as it sounds, they deserve what they get.
Posted by: Chris

Right Chris; unfortunately, when you have a Representative Government all you can do is elect People that are trustworthy and have a viable agenda that will sustain the nation.
Our nation is too populated and too extensive to allow everyone a say in government other than elected representatives.
We have the best possible social system but it is necessary that the representatives are qualified for the job and will do what is necessary to maintain a functional society.
At present; the government is dysfunctional and needs to be corrected to meet all of the people's needs.
We need the right solution to our problems and the people that will make it so. Those who do not meet these criteria need to be replaced by those who do meet the criteria.
A functional Government is essential to our survival; this is not a choice, it is a dire necessity.

D.C. Eddy – I take your point, to a point. However, if, as you say, the system is so corrupt, what is creating a “new” party going to do to fix it? Once that party gets enough power, it will be susceptible to the same big money interests. There is nothing to guarantee a new party (itching for power) would be any more ethical or accountable than any other.
In Moyer’s piece from 1999 (if I recall the facts correctly – apologies if I don’t), the Judge who changed his view on Rule XX did so because he understood the voting public to be ignorant, indifferent, or both, to the implications of reversing Rule XX. He was willing to sacrifice his principles in order to guarantee funding that would be used to create messaging to support his candidacy (VOTER-facing messaging). If he had thought, on the other hand, that the voters were smarter than that, and that they recognized the adverse implications of reversing Rule XX, he might have resisted the big money pressure for fear of being booted. If the voters in that state overall had been sufficiently engaged on the issue, even the Governor at the time, who applied immense pressure, might likely have been rebuked for so blatantly advocating a reduction in voter freedoms.
Voter “anger,” applied every few years, will not change things. Kicking the bums out and then looking the other way will not change things either. If voters aren’t willing to sacrifice a portion of their time NOW to stay informed about and active in the governing process, then as sad as it sounds, they deserve what they get.

It does just keep getting uglier, not only as The Journal documented tonight, but also the late Friday news from the Obama Justice Department that Bush Justice Department lawyers showed ''poor judgment,'' but did not commit professional misconduct, when they authorized CIA interrogators to use water boarding and other harsh tactics at the height of the U.S. war on terrorism.

So Yoo and Bybee used only “poor judgment.”

Why is the Obama administration not upholding the rule of law? Why have they embraced so many of the Bush/Cheney policies in terrorism and civil liberties?

Compare the above moral failings to Helmuth von Moltke, the German jurist who opposed Hitler and the Nazis and the environment in which the law was constantly subverted to political expedience. Read Scott Horton’s “When Lawyers Are War Criminals” marking the anniversary of the Nuremberg Tribunals:

“I come to the example of Moltke…namely that he very properly puts the emphasis not on the simple soldiers who invariably operate the weaponry of war, but on those who make the policies that drive their conduct. And in that process, his stern gaze falls first on the lawyers. In a proper society, the lawyers are the guardians of law, and in times of war, their role becomes solemn. Moltke challenges us to test the conduct of the lawyers. Do they show fidelity to the law? Do they recognize that the law of armed conflict, with its protections for disarmed combatants, for civilians and for detainees, reflects a particularly powerful type of law – as Jackson said “the basic building blocks of civilization”? Do they appreciate that in this area of law, above all others, the usual lawyerly tricks of dicing and splicing, of sophist subversion, cannot be tolerated? These are questions Moltke asked. They are questions that the US-led prosecution team in Nuremberg asked. They are questions that Americans should be asking today about the conduct of government lawyers who have seriously wounded, if not destroyed, the Geneva system.”

Instead of facing prison, Yoo and Bybee have been the recipients of a whitewash by the Obama administration. Shameful!

“Should any American soldier be so base and infamous as to injure any prisoner. . . I do most earnestly enjoin you to bring him to such severe and exemplary punishment as the enormity of the crime may require. Should it extend to death itself, it will not be disproportional to its guilt at such a time and in such a cause… for by such conduct they bring shame, disgrace and ruin to themselves and their country.”
- George Washington, charge to the Northern Expeditionary Force, Sept. 14, 1775

Not today. Not the lawyers.

BROKEN Congress Is!
Is it the sword that cuts the head off OR the arm that swings it?

Is it the money that corrupts OR the SYSTEM that has been devised to work around The Constitution?

Reid is 1\50th of the Senate & yet he determines how the Senate functions!
How is that democracy?

Nancy is 1\435th of the house membership & yet she determines how the House functions!
How is that democracy?

The SENIORITY System is un-American! Those that support it are treasonist!
TREASON!

Billy Bob Florida

PS RECALL Greenspan's metal Bush hung around our necks!


The Constitution provides all the power we the people require to overcome the threats posed by the big money interests. The question is, will we people use that power?
Posted by: Chris

Chris; what is there you do not understand about a representative government...

It is the government that is accepting bribes and is bending to the will of big business.
The people are the ones who are being ignored by their representatives. They do not like what is happening. We the people elected the Democrats to straighten out the mess and now we are going to have to vote back in the Republicants who caused the mess we need to fix.
There is no government accountability and there is gross incompetence.
The only option left is to form a new party that is willing to do what is right for Jill and Joe Citizen not what is right for sociopathic corporations.
The only other choice is another revolution which would bring about much death and destruction which will happen anyway if the economy fails and chaos ensues.


Disregard my request for the name of the web site mentioned I found it.

Thanks

Justice is NOT blind, as lady liberty would have us believe.

It's all about who's got the cash. There are so many for sale or already bought and paid for elected officials in this country that today that corruption is the norm....

I did not get the name of the website that was mentioned in the last 2 minutes of the 19Feb10 show. Anyone know? Thanks

It makes me sick to my stomach to think that corps will now be allowed to wield unrestricted power in the election process. We need to make our legislatures aware of how we feel and encourage others to do the same. This will be our tea party movement.

The Supreme Court's decision in the Citizens United case may be succinctly characterized in a paraphrase of an observation by Anatole France:

With majestic impartiality, the Supreme Court rules that the poor as well as the wealthy are permitted to spend unlimited amounts of money to influence the outcome of elections. This brilliant triumph of casuistry over long-standing precedence and common sense will be inscribed into the annals of the history of human stupidity.

Program is right on target! Probably the best hope is legislation like the Fair Elections campaign bill being pushed in Congress by Common Cause and other groups. This is crisis time and we all need to support it before the corporate intrests are even stronger and are in better position to defeat it.

I don't know what the origin of electing judges is, but it does seem to be a contradiction when integrity and objectivity are what we need most from our judicial system.
Sandra Day O'Connor also, in addition to expressing concern over the election of judges, speaks of getting our public schools back in the business of teaching our young people American Civics. In addition to the 3 R's, she says, public schools were intended to teach our kids how to be good citizens. I personally believe that, while granting corporations more power to influence our politics is a questionable move, the outcry over the Court’s decision is a reflection of the fact that American voters are not sufficiently engaged, from local government on up, to counter this expanded threat. If we truly want to "get our democracy back" and "take back our country," Constitutional amendments and legislative patches will not suffice in this case. In the absence of true mass participation by voters, such measures to help "fix" the problem are essentially concessions to the need to protect the American public from its own indifference. In short, such measures amount to idiot proofing the system.
The Constitution provides all the power we the people require to overcome the threats posed by the big money interests. The question is, will we people use that power?

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