Editorial…Justices’ decision hurts democracy

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The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 last week that the government may not restrict political spending by corporations in candidate elections.

The ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission allows corporations, labor unions and advocacy groups to buy ads that explicitly try to sway voters. The ruling allows corporations to spend freely to support or oppose candidates.

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The majority said restrictions on corporate spending violated the Constitution’s free speech guarantee.

The Supreme Court got it wrong. Their decision will hurt democracy.

The ruling lifts limits that had been in place in decades to prevent corporations from unduly influencing elections.

There have been rules on corporate election spending since 1907, when President Theodore Roosevelt signed the first law barring corporations from contributing money to federal campaigns.

By allowing unlimited and unrestricted corporate money to flood political campaigns, the ruling would allow for the further corruption of Democracy.

President Barack Obama was right when he called the decision “a major victory for big oil, Wall Street banks, health insurance companies and the other powerful interests that marshal their power every day in Washington to drown out the voices of everyday Americans.”

The ruling gives lobbyists enormous new power.

Lobbyists can tell elected officials if you vote or take a position on an issue in a way that we don’t like, we can spend unlimited sums explicitly advertising against your re-election.

“We have got millions we can spend advertising for you or against you—whichever one you want,” lobbyists can tell lawmakers, said Lawrence N. Noble, a lawyer at Skadden Arps in Washington and former general counsel of the Federal Election Commission.

The ruling is expected to unleash a stampede of negative advertisements from outside groups aimed at persuading voters, without candidates having to take the criticism of dirty campaigning.

The ruling is also expected to help well-entrenched incumbents whose favor companies and interest groups are eager to court.

Policy decisions are already manipulated by corporate money. The Supreme Court ruling will only increase the incredible influence of corporations on U.S. politics.

(Reprinted from the Philadelphia Tribune.)

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