The Blog

A Serious Danger to Effective Self-Government

This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.

As the U.S. Supreme Court opened a new session today, more than 50 leading lawyers--former Attorneys General, prosecutors, and constitutional scholars--issued a joint letter calling for the U.S. Congress to consider a Constitutional Amendment to roll back the Roberts Court's ill-advised ruling in the Citizens United case.
In the very first paragraph of the letter, these leading attorneys state: "...we share one thing: we believe the Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission was not only wrongly decided but presents a serious danger to effective self-government of, for and by the American people, a danger which must be addressed."
The letter from the legal scholars also contains this very clear line: "We write today because we believe that the Supreme Court's creation of corporate 'speech' rights on which the Citizens United decision rests is contrary to the First Amendment as we understand it."
Citizens United
, decided by a 5-4 vote last January, gave corporations the right to raid their treasuries directly to campaign against political opponents. By coincidence, the headline on a top story in the Washington Post today reads: "Interest Group Spending for Mid-Term Up Five-Fold Since 2006; Many Sources Secret." Exactly the result the Roberts Court intended, I would say.
The article notes that : "The $80 million spent so far by groups outside the Democratic and Republican parties dwarfs the $16 million spent at this point for the 2006 midterms...The trends amount to a spending frenzy conducted largely in the shadows...The bulk of the money is being spent by conservatives..."
We have got to close the big money floodgates, if we are to retain the vestiges of democracy we still had only ten years ago.
If you agree and you want to help, or if you want to learn more about this issue, you can go to the web site for Free Speech For People, led by activist attorneys John Bonifaz and Jeff Clements, who did much of the excellent work to put this letter together. (Note: I also work with Free Speech For People.)