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The Little-Known Court Case that Helped Give Rise to Super PACs

 

By Ryan G. Shaw

 

While Citizens United v. FEC has been given the most coverage in the media when it comes to money in politics, there is another case which is perhaps even more egregious and which hasn't gotten the attention it deserves. 

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Supreme Court Throws Out Citizens United II Without Debate

Supreme Court JusticesThe Supreme Court just summarily reversed American Tradition v. Montana, essentially throwing out all state level campaign finance laws and any legislative attempts to handle Citizens United without even hearing an argument. This confirms that there is no way to reverse Citizens United through the courts or the legislators. The only way is through a constitutional amendment.

The case, billed as Citizens United II, was appealed from the Supreme Court of the State of Montana. The majority in Montana, sharply criticizing Citizens United, upheld state campaign finance regulations. They argued that their history of the corrupting influence of money demonstrated a particular need that undermined the premise of Citizens United and thus their state should be able to make a factual determination about whether that decision applies to their state campaign finance laws or not. The dissenting Justices agreed that Citizens United was wrongly decided but felt that it applied to their state regardless of any distinguishing facts.

The decision today was on Certiori. That is a petition to ask the Court to hear the case. Almost always, a Certiori petition is either granted or refused. James Bopp, the lawyer behind Citizens United and the principal architect behind the plans to use the court to throw out campaign finance law, wrote a brief arguing that the court should issue a summary reversal. Summary reversal is a rare move, usually reserved for basic questions where the lower court made an obvious error. In a summary reversal, the court will agree to hear the case, but overturn the lower court ruling without hearing argument.

In a single paragraph written by an anonymous Justice without debate, the Supreme Court reversed American Tradition and the State of Montana, and every other state in this nation, lost. The majority has not presented so little analysis in a summary reversal with four dissenting Justices since 1968. Justice Breyer, joined by Justices Ginsburg, Sotomayor and Kagan, dissented. They, like the entire Montana Court, criticized Citizens United, pointing out that the case of Montana and other recent examples seriously call into question the premise that independent expenditures do not having a corrupting influence or an appearance of a corrupting influence. They stated that since the majority was going to reverse, they would prefer not to hear the case at all.

 

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NO CORPORATE TAKEOVER: A Night Of Music & Motion for Wolf-Pac

 

July 20th

@ The TIKI BAR: 1700 Placentia Ave, Costa Mesa, CA 92627

A portion of the proceeds will go to Wolf PAC

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Cherishing Democracy

People voting

By Rob Icsezen

 

A comment to my post “Pay Attention to Buddy Roemer; and a Few Thoughts on Voter ID Laws” eloquently stated a frustration that I think is rather common among Americans, that we have “a “stake” [in government] in the same way that flotsam has a stake in the ocean currents.”  This vivid metaphor strikes a chord with me because it embodies the sort of cynicism that can cancerously eat away at democracy.

By contrast, consider the following quote from the New York Times, covering the historic free elections held in Egypt this week, ‘”It is like honey to my heart,” said Mohamed Mustafa Seif, 36, an accountant voting in downtown Cairo. “For the first time in my life, I feel like I have a role to play. My vote could possibly make a difference.”’

Why is it that we Americans, who enjoy historically unprecedented freedom and quality of life, feel like flotsam in the ocean, whereas Mr. Seif, whose freedom is nascent and fragile, feels like Winnie the Poo?  Is Mr. Seif simply tied to an irrational hope, a child not yet burned by the embers of reality?  Or do we have something to learn from him?

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Will California’s Lawmakers Choose to Support Corporations or College Students?

 

By Ella Arnold

 

California’s state legislators have an important choice to make: will they side with major out-of-state corporations or will they stand with California’s middle class families?

Earlier this year, California State Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez introduced legislation called the Middle Class Scholarship Act, which aims to make a public higher education more affordable for California’s middle class college students and their families. Recently, the major out-of-state corporations opposed to the Middle Class Scholarship Act have voiced their opposition publicly. 

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Harvard Article V Conference (video)

A number of citizens and experts having knowledge of the U.S. Constitution provide comment following the Harvard conference featuring Mark Meckler and Lawrence Lessig.

Bill Walkers point that we have allowed congress to evade constitutional performance by not going after our states legislation to enforce the constitution, Article V and a convention is very valid. - Chris Brown

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13 Senators and 25 Congressmen Have Bought Into the Risky Investment Culture of JPMorgan


By Ryan G Shaw

 

 

I’ve always liked the phrase “vicious cycle.”  In fact, vicious is a damn good word. The first definition of the word “vicious” that I could find was “addicted to or characterized by vice; grossly immoral.  Vicious is the perfect word to describe the effect of money in politics.  Unfortunately for us, the cycle of corruption is hard to break. 

We’ve all heard of the amount of money that flows into the campaigns of Democrats and Republicans in Washington from unions and corporations.  There is a clear quid pro quo exchange of campaign contributions for favorable legislation, and it’s undeniable.  When we hear about corruption in politics, this is the type most commonly referred to. 

There is another type of conflict of interest, however, that is not talked about as much, and it may be even more dangerous -- if not subtle. While corporations are investing in legislators through campaign contributions and TV ads, politicians are investing in corporations, creating a vicious cycle of sound judgment being traded for wealth.   

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Wisconsin Lost: The Test Case for a Post-Citizens United Political Landscape

Scott Walker

By Josh Sager

 

 

In the face of the results from the recent Wisconsin recall election, several congratulations are in order: Congratulations to Governor Scott Walker for retaining his position of power, even in the face of a massive populist rejection of his policies. Congratulations to Walker for proving that, with enough money, even the most disliked and obviously corrupt politicians can remain in power. Congratulations to Walker for becoming the living example of why money must be removed from politics.

Governor Walker’s attack on public sector union collective bargaining during the creation of the 2011 Wisconsin budget caused a virtual firestorm in the Wisconsin political landscape. Huge protests, including a massive sit-in at the statehouse, demonstrated just how controversial the union-busting amendment was to the general population.  The reaction to the union-busting measures pushed by Walker became so extreme that numerous Democratic legislators actually fled the state in an attempt to block cloture (preventing a vote) on the budget. Unfortunately, the removal of collective bargaining rights eventually passed through the legislature -- through the use of a highly controversial procedural loophole -- and was signed by Walker.

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The Effects of Corporate Lobbying, Pt. 3: Take Action

By Josh Sager

 

Should citizens work towards getting money out of politics?

In a word, yes. The American people must fight against money in politics if we wish to have any influence in our government and, by extension, public policy.

The US government was originally intended to be a constitutional republic, where voters decide upon representatives who represent their interests. Unfortunately, lobbying and the extreme increase of money in politics have perverted the integrity of our government to the point where policy is tailored to the rich. While it may be possible for some citizens to recapture control over their elected officials, lobbyist money will still control the government in aggregate. The only way that the USA will return to a country where the will of the population controls policy is a complete reform of lobbying and campaign finance reform. 

But how do we do this?

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The Effects of Corporate Lobbying, Pt. 2

By Josh Sager

 

Virtually nothing in society or politics happens in a vacuum -- policies which regulate or tax one group have a ripple effect which impacts the lives of many other members of society. Since lobbying has such a pronounced effect on policy aimed towards the welfare of those with lobbyists, it stands to reason that there will also be a significant impact on the rest of society.

Lobbying affects those who lack the resources to lobby as well as those who voluntarily abstain from lobbying in several negative ways: As tax revenue from those who lobby decreases, services are cut, taxes are increased on everybody else, or the national deficit increases; regulations which could benefit society are not passed, causing people to needlessly suffer from avoidable injuries such as toxic chemical exposure; our government eventually moves away from a system which respects the will of the people, and becomes a society where only the rich have a say in the public policy which is created.

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