High Court Rolls Back Campaign Spending Limits

As if money didn’t already have an undue influence on elections, now this Supreme Court ruling “endangers federal limits on corporate and union contributions to candidates, as well as other measures that restrict how political ads are regulated. Depending on how the ruling is interpreted, it also could potentially unleash a flow of new corporate cash into the political realm.”

Read more here.



Filed under Elections, U. S. Supreme Court

42 responses to “High Court Rolls Back Campaign Spending Limits

  1. Court rulings — one of the consequences of elections, one of the more important ones in my opinion. The current make up of our nation’s highest Court favors business, favors the Corporate Masters.

  2. wicked

    Ah, yes. The continued rape of the American people.

  3. Yeah. I think the bush 43 legacy will be his two SCOTUS appointments.

    Two wars, and the crippling of the world’s finances weren’t enough benefit for the haves and have mores…

  4. itolduso

    I have not read the opinion yet, but on the surface, it seems I would disagree with the ruling.

  5. Someone with lots of knowledge explain to me how it is supported that we shall be a country of, by and for ‘the money.’ Is this addressed in the Constitution those justices swear to uphold?

    • Some wise words from Abraham Lincoln:

      “We may congratulate ourselves that this cruel war is nearing its end.
      It has cost a vast amount of treasure and blood. . . .
      It has indeed been a trying hour for the Republic; but
      I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes
      me to tremble for the safety of my country. As a result of the war,
      corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places
      will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong
      its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth
      is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed.
      I feel at this moment more anxiety for the safety
      of my country than ever before, even in the midst of war.
      God grant that my suspicions may prove groundless.”
      The passage appears in a letter from Lincoln to (Col.) William F. Elkins, Nov. 21, 1864.

  6. Zippy

    Haven’t seen, already know the split: 5-4, Kennedy in the majority.

    In answer to your question, Smart, yes, corporations have been declared as people, and money declared as speech, and sometime back. Two SCOTUS conclusions that rival Dred Scott in their destruction.

    See Buckley v. Valeo.

  7. Zippy

    Never mind. Related, not exactly on-point cite.

  8. Zippy

    Well, fascinating. This presumption of corporate personhood has often been indulged, but immediate info I’m finding suggests the only source for this idea–that bluntly–was summary of an 1886 Supreme Court case that wasn’t even part of the opinion.

    Yet the presumption creeped into the law.

    May need to look further when I have time.

  9. tosmarttobegop

    Is a corporation a person?

    If not how can it have an opinion?

    And how can it’s opinion be thought of being equal status as the single voter?

    They might as well given the opinion of the fry machine at Mc D’s sway in an election!

  10. G-stir

    USSI- United States of Special Interests.


  11. If, as most people believe probable, President Obama is a one-term president, the make-up of the SCOTUS will probably become more ‘conservative.’ (Whatever the word conservative means.) I see in this instance conservative meaning pro-business. Pro business to an extreme that I can’t even imagine. We may as well hang up the towel, there will be no way of the people having any influence.

  12. Zippy

    “The business of America is business” Calvin Coolidge

    No, Cal, business is a means to an end, the mutual survival and happiness of the people therein. Government exists, as Tom Paine noted long ago, as a mediator and regulator.

  13. Santa Clara v. Southern Pacific is the case to which Zippy refers. 1886 case. Over the years, corporation “personhood” has been extended to other Bill of Rights protections.

    The presumption, as Zippy refers to it, has indeed crept into the law to the point where, frankly, unless the Santa Clara case (and other, subsequent cases decided in the 1970s to my recollection) is overturned or distinguished, corporations will indeed have all the benefits without many of the burdens of being a “person”.

    I’ve wondered from time to time about the instant matter discussed in the header. I thought the potential for SCOTUS finding for Citizens United was strong, but did not contemplate the evisceration of statutes that occurred.

    • lillacluvr

      This is my complaint about all this corporatism.

      The fact that these corporations see nothing wrong with the US taxpayers giving them tax breaks and/or subsidies to further their healthy profits but yet corporations do not seem to think they owe anything to the US taxpayers.

      What a sweet deal – take and take some more!

      If you doubt that, look at the bailed out Wall Streeters. They are all laughing all the way to their foreign bank accounts!

      • lillacluvr

        And then to make matters worse, they have their cute cheerleader Rush to sit and blither on day after day that these Wall Streeters actually deserve all their pay and bonuses.

        Now what Rush’s spiel again – these are the people who produce all the jobs for Americans.

        Dont’ look now Rushie, but the unemployment rate is 10.7% – Looks to me like these Wall Streeters are not exactly holding up their part of the bargain.

    • I would argue that to allow a corporation “personhood” with the same rights and privileges as any other citizen is actually prejudicial to real citizens (natural persons)because a corporation does not bear the same responsibilities as natural persons in this country do.

      They don’t vote. They have more money. They don’t have a common interest with the rest of the citizens, they have only their own best interest to consider because their duty is to the shareholders. They can’t be drafted into the military. Because of the make up and operation of a corporation, they are soulless and mindless–bureaucracy reigns.

      How can a group of people with no common needs or interest with the natural persons of this country have the same rights as the natural persons of this country?

      It is a perversion of justice.

      • I could respond, Paula, by arguing that corporations, as an entity, are owned by natural persons (in whole or in part) and, as such, have interests common to natural persons; but I won’t.

        The case I cited above was decided in 1886 (applies to First Amendment rights), and as such long standing precedent, will be hard to overrule. The application of the Fourth Amendment prohibition on unreasonable search and seizure was extended in the 1970s, with reference to OSHA, IIRC. Not nearly as long-standing, but (again, IIRC) finds its foundations for the proposition that corporations are persons in the 1886 decision.

        Then, there is the period in SCOTUS jurisprudence known as ‘substantive due process’ which ran from the early 1900s to the mid-1930s limiting the right of the federal and state governments to regulate private business conduct. While this line of cases has been discredited over time, there are subsequent decisions which apply many of the same principles under a different name, including but not limited to ‘right to privacy’. I believe an argument may be made that the opinion in Griswold v. Connecticut which first announced said right as a Constitutional one can be analyzed as a substantive due process case with the same result reached.

        Not intending this as a treatise on Constitutional Law, but rather a feeble attempt to state my opinion that eliminating Constitutional ‘personhood’ for corporations will be very difficult, if not impossible whether within the Courts or by Constitutional Amendment. That said, I agree with you; only ‘natural persons’ are persons under the Constitution and its Amendments.

  14. Didn’t the highest court of our land just change what is Constitutional? And because of their powers doesn’t this become the law of the land unless, and until, a future SCOTUS decision overturns the one made by this bunch?

    • 6176746f6c6c65

      The answer to your first question is “no”. The decision is, as as otherwise been pointed out, a natural extension of prior precedent. The answer to your second question is “yes”, to be cured, if at all, by either a subsequent decision overruling it, or by Constitutional Amendment clarifying who are “persons”.

  15. itolduso

    I can not tell if it really changed what is Consitutional. It appears to be in line with several rulings as decribed in the Wikipedia (yeah, I know) article I looked at. Anyway, to answer your second question. Yeah, pretty much. Unless they are reversed by a future court, or Congress finds some other method of controlling the question. That goes the same for all Supreme Court decisions, whether we agree with them or not.

    • Makes those judicial appointments ever so much more important, doesn’t it?

      And, I think a balance on the highest Court is probably equally or more important as a balance in the Executive and Legislative branches.

      • Probably applies to District Courts, ALL courts.

        But when it gets to SCOTUS the buck really does stop there for a very very long time. Most especially since those justices serve longer and longer terms nowadays.

  16. Thunderchild

    This is the worst Supreme court decision in history. And I don’t know of ANYONE who posts here or on “TBTSNBN”? that can benefit from it.

    I often post that the current state of America approaches feudalism. THIS decision puts us VERY shortly into America as a plutocracy for a short period preceding a monarchy or dictatorship.

    Sarah Palin is being carefully groomed by the very wealthy Rupert Murdoch at Fox “news”. With three years to clean her up for the moderates, and with the power and wealth of the church, we could be looking at a plutotheocracy as early as the next election.

    • wicked

      Maybe. Maybe not. I still have faith in the people of this country.

      “Predictions” for 2010 that I’ve heard include a ’60s type atmosphere starting around June. Anti-war, anti-government, protests, the works.

      You know, the terms ‘civil war’ and ‘revolution’ have been not only whispered, but bandied around by some, not just lately, but for several years, started during Dubya’s second term. Predictions or not, people can only be pushed around and disappointed for so long. Going jobless for over a year, especially when unemployment runs out, more homes and jobs are lost, and the economy continues to sink, more people die because of lack of health care, something could happen. A quiet rumble at first, but it could grow quickly. And it could be without a shot fired.

      Yes, I’m a dreamer. 🙂

    • 6176746f6c6c65

      I don’t think this is the worst decision in history. Dred Scott, Plessy v. Ferguson come to mind.

  17. Thunderchild

    I bring this from the other blog.

    Remember Paul F Rosell? Well he is back.

    “As for me?

    McCain Feingold was an ABOMINATION!



    No person who truly loves liberty can argue with this ruling!”

    The con victory in Massachusetts has put the lunatics through the looking glass. They are back and they have a television network grooming a moron Sarah Palin to capitalize on the damage THEY made.

    Please. I need your help. They use my own disadvantage against me and your absence as proof that you have quit the fight. Now the worst informed and evil have the supreme court on their side. And if you take a look, it did not take long for the worst to come out.

    I don’t HAVE anything to lose. And while that is liberating, it guarantees that no one WITH something to lose will pay any attention to me.

    • 6176746f6c6c65

      Rosell is right. Whether one agrees with corporations being “persons”, in the current political arena, money is speech. In order for speech to occur, there must be a way to fund campaign appearances, fund the campaign itself, ads, etc. The major difference between now and then is that the funding needed is so great now that individuals cannot give enough, imho. We forget that in the past, somene had to pay for the posters, broadsides, etc., and moving to a time a bit closer, the bumper stickers, yard signs, and pamphlets.

      The days of campaigning for President from the front porch are long over. The candidate can no longer isolate him or herself at home; we demand public appearances in the several states (and sulk pettily when our state is not selected), tv time, and other personal appearances that must be funded in some way. It is naive to think that money does not equate to speech in this environment.

  18. itolduso

    I would have to add Kelo vs City of New London

  19. lillacluvr

    Just as corporations are now allowed free speech through their money, I assume all labor unions are free to spread their speech, as well?

    So, will we have a contest as to who has the most money?

    Or will the public be turned off so much by both sides, that all this money will be wasted on the particular groups preaching to their own particular choirs?

    • 6176746f6c6c65

      Yes, lilac, this ruling also applies to labor unions.

      • lillacluvr

        Do you think the majority of voters, which I personally believe to be moderates, will get so turned off by both sides trying to one-up each other in the free speech money race that both sides will themselves fighting for their politial life with each election just on the basis of them being an incumbent? (since incumbents tend to get the blame when the voters are mad – and the voters are mad as hell).

      • Maybe. It is always an interesting thing to watch the machinations as an election draws near, especially when there is a ‘get rid of incumbents’ sentiment in the body electorate. Of course, there is usually an implied exception there (get rid of incumbents except the one representing me) which plays out every time.

  20. This New York Times editorial says this decision ushers us back to the “Robber Baron” era:


    So much for Roberts calling “balls and strikes”.

    • In light of Santa Clara v. Southern Pacific, 1886, it could be submitted that Roberts indeed was just “calling balls and strikes”.

      Judicial overreaching lies in the eye of the beholder. A similar argument was made, as I recall, about Brown v. Board of Education, Miranda v. Arizona, and other cases decided by the Warren Court.

      I don’t like the opinion; I hope I’ve made that clear. The case that ‘threatens democracy’ was decided in 1886, not 2010.

      BTW, reading the Constitution as originally ratified makes it quite clear the Founders had little use for democracy. A representative Republic was their goal. I suspect, but do not know, that there were many who had read and agreed with Plato’s Republic, which inter alia proffered the concept that governance should be reserved to a ruling, well-educated elite, who would act in the best interests of the Republic. The work was also one which posited the idea that every human had worth; that the garbage collector, to use a modern term, was to be valued for his work, not denigrated therefor.

      While our form of governance has, indeed, moved closer to the idea of a Democracy, it is naive, I believe, to assert that this was what the Founders intended. For example, only the members of the House of Representatives were to be directly elected, to a term of two years. The members of the Senate were to be chosen by the legislators of the Several States (changed in 1912), and in recognition of their more exalted position, granted a term of six years. The President, as we all know, is not directly elected, but is elected by electors chosen by the voters in each state; the term limited to four years, on purpose, in my opinion.

      While much can be made of the decision, most of which is negative IMHO, it will take a Constitutional amendment to change the effects of the Santa Clara case and the cases thereafter which have solidified the concept of a corporation as a ‘person’ for purposes of the Constitution. I don’t see that happening any time soon.

      • Zippy

        I understand what you’re saying, 6, stare decisis (“let it stand,” for the unitiated) and all, and, yes, I acknowledge you don’t like the opnion (good thing). But honestly: has it really been declared so bluntly before, and we are truly looking at unbroken precedent?

        I understand the rationale for avoiding wild swings in the law. But as recall, Katz v. United States explicitly overruled the unwarranted car search in Olmstead v. US in part by declaring that succeeding precedents had mostly made the decision irrelevant to current times.

        Have there been no howls of protest–or even whimpers–for 134 years?

        That’s scary.

  21. Zippy

    P.S. What I’ve read suggested that the Reporter of Decisions said so bluntly, but none of the justices did. Is that wrong? If it’s at Findlaw, I’ll gladly give it a look.

  22. 6176746f6c6c65


    Give that a look, Zippy. The entire decision is set out below the introduction that indicates how the proposition of corporate personhood arose.

    As to howls of protest; I seem to recall from law school that there have been a few dissents noting disagreement with the case over time, but don’t recall anything that rose to ‘howls of protest’.

    There is a link to findlaw included. To my eye, the contents of the opinion are identical at both sites.

  23. tosmarttobegop

    The decision does open some doors that the propionates did not have in mind.
    NRA, Unions and others who will oppose some laws and candidates that is true.

    I am not too big a fan of PACs, but I see how they are different.
    A PAC is more like we all would ban together on a commonly held opinion.
    One voice saying exactly what each individual would say.

    But a Corporation is a different matter and the decision makes me wonder in what frame of mind would it be that an inanimate object could be thought of as a person (Talking sex robots excluded).

    Unlike a PAC, the organization is not formed to express opinion or speak as a single voice about concerns of the citizenry. It formation is that of producing a product or service independent of the citizenry or concern of Politics and governing the country.

  24. lillacluvr

    If a CEO decides to pour money into some politicians pockets, does that CEO have to bring that decision to a vote of their corporate board or can they simply pick and choose which politician to buy that week?

    And what about the shareholders? Do they not get a say in this matter?

    If the Corporation is indeed seen as a person now – exactly who will speak for this person made up of numerous voices?

    And, can that Corporation pass on the costs of all this free speech to their customers?

    And how will the customers know about all this free speech money being given to which politicians?

    Will it be made public or shall we see some more backroom deals being made?