Thursday, January 21, 2010

Supreme Court eases restrictions on corporate campaign spending

From CNN: In a 5 to 4 ruling, the Supreme court just dealt a sever blow to those of us who contend that big business is running our elections.

In dissent, Justice John Paul Stevens wrote, "In a democratic society, the long-standing consensus on the need to limit corporate campaign spending should outweigh the wooden applications of judge-made rules."

He added, "The court's ruling threatens to undermine the integrity of elected institutions around the nation."

The case was the first one heard on the bench for newest Justice Sonia Sotomayor, and she voted in dissent with her three more liberal colleagues.

The issue hinged on whether corporations' ability to pour money into election campaigns could be strictly regulated, or whether corporations have free-speech rights to spend their cash to influence elections, just as individual donors do.

In this ruling, the justices also nullified earlier rulings upholding the core of a 6-year-old federal law aimed at curbing corporate campaign spending. Under current law, there are severe restrictions on campaign ads used by corporations for federal elections. They generally must be issue-focused -- talking about abortion or taxes, for instance -- and not expressly supporting or opposing a candidate. Those limits have now been generally removed.

The specific case grew out of a documentary on Hillary Clinton. Produced last year by the conservative Citizens United, "Hillary: The Movie" was a scorching attack on the then-presidential candidate. The filmmakers wanted to promote it during the heat of the 2008 primary season, but a federal court blocked any ads, as well as airings on cable television's video on demand.

On that specific question, the justices ruled against Citizens United, saying federal restrictions on broadcast ads are appropriate.

"Citizens United's narrower arguments are not sustainable under a fair reading of the statute," Kennedy wrote.

The Washington-based nonprofit corporation and advocacy organization balked at campaign finance rules that would have required disclosure of its financial backers, and restrictions on when the film could air. It was financed with a mix of corporate and individual donations.

Navigating the complex, ever-evolving landscape of election money rules has spurred a cottage industry of financial, political and legal armies, ready to do battle over the money and the message. The crux of this dispute, like others before it, is just how far the government may go to regulate campaign spending and campaign ads.

In his opinion, Kennedy acknowledged that, but said Americans should be trusted to decide competing election issues.

"The appearance of influence or access," he wrote, "will not cause the electorate to lose faith in our democracy."

"Our nation's speech dynamic is changing, and informative voices should not have to circumvent onerous restrictions to exercise their First Amendment rights," Kennedy said. "The censorship we now confront is vast in its reach."

But Stevens, who read part of his harsh dissent from the bench, said, "The court's opinion is thus a rejection of the common sense of the American people, who have recognized a need to prevent corporations from undermining self-government since the founding."

Our founding fathers are rolling around in their graves. Look for this move to make a huge difference in this years elections.

More cuts on the way

The days of wine and roses are long gone in these economic times. Towns like Natick are talking about laying off cops and in Framingham, the school budget for 2011 is 10 million dollars short. It's unclear if the reorganization of schools will help with the deficit, retirements may be slim help, but the overall problem lies in the lucrative contracts that the unions have gotten, with the help of the party loyalists who get their support from the very same people.

This year and perhaps for the next few years, a more reasonable approach should be reached by all parties, including all the teacher unions, cops and fireman in this State. Gone are the days when money just flowed into our coffers and it's way past time, the so called leaders of this Town, get with the program and stop giving in to the entitlement crowd. Lay offs should start with the assistant to the Town Manager, a few lieutenants from police and fire departments before any more time passes. I will not put up with reckless spending on law suits, police overtime for details, overstaffed fire houses and mismanaged road projects. And in case the ruling eleite try an overide or more tax increases, I say... forgetaboutit.

Edwards admits to what we already knew

The darling of the Democratic party and presidential hopeful John Edwards has finally come out and admitted that he is the farther of the child of his videographer.

This half man, who's wife was and still is suffering from cancer, the mother of his children, parading around the country denying any affair, much less the farther of the child of his hired videographer, should be taken to the cleaners by his wife.

What a nightmare this would have been for this country, to once again, watch another cheating President deny any wrong doing, until the facts eventually came out and forced him from office. How utterly destructive these people are to our moral fiber in this country.