Sweeping aside a century-old understanding and overruling two important precedents, a bitterly divided Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that the government may not ban political spending by corporations in candidate elections.
Before we start lamenting the obvious, what are the arguments that advocates of campaign finance regulation will make to combat the right-wing logic that corporations should be treated the same as citizens. Its an idea that is very popular in America. In no other western country is the disproportionate economic power of a few so easily tolerated as in the United States.
Sen. Russ Feingold, one of the chief authors of current campaign finance regulations, shared a predictable response with the Times:
“Ignoring important principles of judicial restraint and respect for precedent, the Court has given corporate money a breathtaking new role in federal campaigns,” said Mr. Feingold, a Democrat.
The consequences of the ruling –– that corporations and other monied interests will pervert the political process more than they already do –– are important. But there needs to be a constitutional argument that accompanies the appeals to our sense of fairness. Feingold and others need to explain why corporations to not deserve the same rights that the constitution affords individuals.
Republicans are not the only ones who welcome this decision. They may be the only ones who celebrate it publicly, but I know of at least one top member of the state Democratic Party who opposes campaign finance regulation because he believes it hurts Democrats’ ability to raise money from unions.