Jun 25, 2007

Victory for Big Money in Campaign Ads Case

Left: Who's your daddy?

(Washington, DC) The U.S. Supreme Court today loosened restrictions on corporate- and union-funded television ads that air close to elections, thus watering down a key provision of the 2002 campaign finance law. Corporations, labor unions, and special interest groups will now have more power to run broadcast ads before elections, contrary to the spirit of campaign finance reform.

I suppose that I should not be surprised by the 5-4 verdict, given that I am cynical about the state of affairs that I like to describe as an American corporatocracy. Still, when even the tepid reforms passed in 2002 - often referred to as the McCain-Feingold Act - cannot withstand a Supreme Court challenge, one begins to wonder whether campaign reform is worth the fight anymore.

Associate Justice David Souter, writing for the minority opinion, reminded us that not everyone in Washington is a money-sucking sleazebag.

"After today, the ban on contributions by corporations and unions and the limitation on their corrosive spending when they enter the political arena are open to easy circumvention," he wrote, being joined in taking the high moral road by Justices John Paul Stevens, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer.

This ruling should be proof positive to any politically-minded person about the role of big money in politics, and people who yet hold onto romantic notions about the sanctity of American democracy just received a two-by-four upside the head.

Folks: today's verdict was a slap in the face to grassroots activism of all stripes, and a victory for those supply the money that buys American elections. I will remove my cordless phone battery, bury my head in my pillow, and may
the wholesale buying and selling of the American political process resume!


Anonymous said...

Why, do you have a problem with buying politicians Mike? If I had the money I would buy me ten or twenty to have around in case I needed them.


Stephanie said...

Ow! That hurt!

Here and I disliked that particular bill because it wasn't stringent enough.


historymike said...


Maybe I should just stick out my hand and grab that cash, just like everyone else.

Then I could buy a personal staff of sycophants to make me feel better...

historymike said...

Agreed, Steph: McCain-Feingold was a pretty lame bill in terms of reform, but at least it got people talking.

Now it is slowly being gutted, and we lazy Americans just yawn and go back to watching reruns.

Timothy said...

In all fairness though this provision of McCain-Feingold was broadly accepted of DOA the minute it was enacted. When it comes down to the idea of infringing free speech, it is different than limiting campaign contributions. Limiting the money one can give to a politico does not infringe upon free speech.

This provision, however, sought to limit what can be expressed in a paid television ad. It did not limit the amount of money that can be contributed to television advertising. Instead, this provision limited the subject matter of a paid advertisement. Limiting subject matter is considered an infringement on free speech.

HumboldtsClio said...

When was the last time something decisive was passed in congress?

Not being sarcastic, I just can't think of anything myself.

SensorG said...

Can anyone explain the difference between political contributions and bribes?

Stephanie said...


"Can anyone explain the difference between political contributions and bribes?"


Mr. Schwartz said...

They passed McCain-Feingold knowing it was going to be overturned by a court.

And what's the difference between political contributions and bribes? Good question.

And this Immigration Bill that has been brought back up. There is no easy solution to that problem that Americans are willing to do.

The Screaming Nutcase said...

I'm actually glad...there had to be something wrong with the McCain-Feingold bill when NOW, ACLU, and NRA were all lined up against it.

Don't forget, the plaintiffs in the suit which actually overturned the law was the NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATION Wisconsin Right to Life.

The exemption allows people to run ads about a particular candidate. Isn't the First Amendment first and foremost about the political type of speech?