Friday, April 04, 2014

Green Party Responses To McCutcheon Vs. FEC Decision

A couple of days ago the Supreme Court made another terrible decision regarding campaign law. Still holding that money is speech (as they did in Citizens United vs. FEC), they ruled in McCutcheon vs. FEC that it was unconstitutional to put an overall limit on the amount of money someone could give toward campaigns in any two-year electoral period. This further opens our electoral process to being controlled by the rich. The only limit left is in how much money an individual can give to a single candidate -- and it would not surprise me at all to see the Supreme Court do away with that limit (as soon as some candidate files suit), using the same "money is speech" argument.

The Green Party has always been opposed to the big money flowing into our electoral process, and five members of the Green Party Shadow Cabinet have written responses to the atrocious McCutcheon vs. FEC decision. Here are those responses:

The 99% are ill-served by the current Supreme Court, which now counts a majority of justices that believe money is speech, that corporations are people, and that five judges can decide a presidential election rather than having a recount of the vote in a contested state.
It brings back dismal memories of the Court that sat when FDR was trying to legislate this country out of the Great Depression. Their rejection of New Deal laws to restore the public welfare led Roosevelt to try to pack the Court with more liberal justices, a move that Congress prevented. Fortunately it became unnecessary when one judge shifted, others retired, and there was a majority on the Court to support the New Deal legislation enacted to reverse the catastrophic consequences of the depression.
Congress can override this Court by passing an amendment to the Constitution that corporations are not people. It can enact legislation to provide that all campaigns be publicly funded and that our public airwaves be available to candidates at no cost during elections.
But first the people must buy back the Congress to get them to do our bidding!  With over 315 million people in the United States, if the 99% contributed only $1 each to a campaign focused on:
- restoring corporations to their prior status as creatures of the state upon which corporatcide can be committed for criminal acts
- permanently denying corporate ‘personhood’
- passing a law for public financing of candidates with caps on campaign expenditure
- publicly regulated, evenly distributed, air-time for candidates to explain policies before elections
We would then have the financing to restore our democracy!!  There’s lots, lots more of us than them!! I pledge the first dollar! Is there a second?
Once again the Supreme Court has made its loyalties clear, and they do not lie not with the American people. The wealthiest individuals already have the power to finance campaigns and now the Court has made that even easier.
We reject the Supreme Court's ruling in McCutcheon vs. FEC and call on the American people to build a movement to force Congress to overrule the Court through an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to make clear that corporations do not have Constitutional rights and money is not speech and campaign spending at all levels can be regulated.
When the Court turns a political question like how to protect the integrity of elections into a Constitutional law question, it turns ‘We the People’ from active participants to simply spectators in our so-called democracy.
The only solution is to overrule the Court through a Constitutional amendment. Any attempt to solve the issue of money in elections through a regulatory or legislative fix is at the mercy of a Supreme Court and legal system only interested in protecting the interests of the monied few. It is time for Americans to Move to Amend. Washington DC can not be trusted to fix this problem for us - it is in our hands.
This week the Supreme Court did something that makes our democracy look like a farce, a mangled wreck, a Super Bowl halftime show, a drug test in the hands of Lance Armstrong, an interview in the hands of David Gregory! In the case of McCutcheon vs. the FEC, the Supreme Court struck down the few remaining caps on campaign spending. Apparently one of the 25 floodgates for money in politics was still halfway closed, and this was upsetting the filthy rich who want to consolidate their ownership of our society. Don’t you hate when you’re trying to purchase a dozen Congress people and stupid laws only let you buy ten of ‘em?! It’s the worst! I mean, what’s the point of having a democracy if only 90% of it is for sale?!
That’s right, the House of Representatives candidate who spends the most money on his or her campaign wins over 90% of the time, and in the Senate it’s over 80%. This means you could have a million people who all really believe in an amazing would-be senator, a person who actually stands up for the people, fights for justice, and flosses his teeth as least four times a week, sometimes five if he’s eaten something like corn on the cob or a poppy seed bagel. And on the other side, you have a ruthless, soulless billionaire, a borderline sociopath who's less gregarious than a hairy ass and who has practically no real support, looks like a heavy-breathing bulldog in a top hat, and hardly ever flosses his teeth even after a poppy seed bagel! But he has all the money he could ever want. That billionaire is almost definitely going to win.
As you may have noticed our democratic republic - or what remains of it - is being stripped down, cut up, mashed up, beat up, and sold for scraps. It looks like a marshmallow Peep in the microwave. One way the rich have done this is by claiming money is free speech and therefore the Koch Brothers or George Soros can spend as much as they want on a candidate. Another step is having the Supreme Court declare corporations are people and therefore THEY can spend as much as they want. And yet another way is via trade deals such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, which are a lot of VERY boring words all in a row! They’re trade deals being written in secret that will take away our country’s sovereignty and give it to corporations, thereby superseding our laws.
But there is a grassroots way to stop this. We need a Constitutional amendment saying money is not free speech and corporations are not people and speed walking is NOT an Olympic sport! …Maybe we don’t have time for the last one, but you mark my words speed walking – I’m coming for you! ...And you won't be hard to catch you either!
A Constitutional amendment will make it so corporations like Monsanto, BP, Halliburton, and Girls Gone Wild will not have a million times the political power of average Americans. And it’s not as hard as it sounds – The last amendment had to do with Congressional salary and was passed in 1992. And let’s be honest, if they were able to accomplish it THEN despite the distraction of Sir Mixx-A-Lot’s “Baby Got Back,” then we can do it too!
Lee Camp 
The Supreme Court ruling to allow more freedom for the rich to buy political influence is merely the latest in the profoundly reactionary steps taken increasingly by leading official bodies in this country. The effect of these steps is to subordinate politics to the control of the major corporations and the richest 1 per cent.
The latter are those who mostly own the shares and/or sit on the boards of directors of those corporations. We are literally becoming a society subject to the best (or worst) government their money can buy. The people know and detest the power of a tiny minority to buy the political system. The abyss between governors and governed deepens in ominous ways.
The Green Shadow Cabinet proudly affirms its total opposition to today's ruling by the Supreme Court. The Shadow Cabinet also maintains our position that we must dismantle both the mechanisms that subordinate politics to unequally distributed financial resources, and the mechanisms that generate those unequally distributed financial resources in the first place.
The ‘rule of money’ grew much stronger with the 5-4 ruling by the US Supreme court in McCutcheon v. FEC. The Supreme Court overturned another foundational building block of the meager campaign finance rules that exist.
The Court struck down critical limits on the amount a wealthy individual can give to candidates, parties, and committees. Prior to McCutcheon v. FEC, a wealthy donor was limited to a cap of $123,200. Now, an individual donor can give whatever the can afford, for some that means millions.
For the 2013-2014 election cycle, Federal Election Commission rules stated that a donor can give no more than $123,200 to all political committees, with two sub-limits of $48,600 to candidates and $74,600 to political parties and political action committees. Those limits are no more.
Chief Justice Roberts, who wrote the majority opinion, makes clear in his opinion that the ruling and the case brought before the court in no way challenges the base contribution limits, which currently limit individual contributions to $2,600 per candidate, per election; to $32,400 to political party committees per year; and to $5,000 per PAC, per year. Justice Thomas, who wrote a separate opinion, urged the court to do away with those limits as well. The dissenting opinion was signed by Justice Stephen Breyer and joined by Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
It is evident that it is going to take a constitutional amendment to correct the mistaken campaign finance decisions of the US Supreme Court. We support the agenda of Move to Amend on this issue. On April 1 they reported some good news writing:
“Wisconsinites voted by huge majorities in thirteen communities in favor of instructing Wisconsin’s Congressional delegation to propose and support — and the Wisconsin state legislature ratify — an amendment to the United States Constitution that clarifies three issues:
“1) that money is not speech;
2) that corporations are not entitled to the same rights as natural persons; and
3) that Congress and the states can limit election-related spending to ensure that all citizens, regardless of wealth, can express their views to one another and their government on a level playing field.”
We think that is the direction the country needs to go to end the rule of money and transfer power to the people.
Protest broke out at the US Supreme Court on the day of the decision. Rapid response actions were planned in advance by Money Out/Voters In. They wrote before today’s decision:
“Never before has our political campaign system been as corrupted as now with unlimited corporate spending and dark money. Our democracy is eroding before us. But all over the country people are also fighting back and demanding change. 16 states called for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United and related cases and the movement is growing.”
The Green Shadow Cabinet support Move to AmendMoney Out/Voters In and others fighting for democratic reforms which are desperately needed to safeguard the American people from continued and further exploitation of our labor, environment, privacy and other freedoms from a corporate elite which has purchased undue control and influence over our government.

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