This week the Supreme Court voted 5 to 4 (Rep. Nominated v. Dem Nominated) to abolish a long tradition of capping corporate bribing of political candidates. I mean corporate funding of political campaigns. No, I guess i did mean bribing...
(Read the whole story here.)
The Majority Opinion:
But Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the majority in a 57-page opinion, said the effort to divide corporate political spending into legal and illegal forms chilled political speech.
"When government seeks to use its full power, including the criminal law, to command where a person may get his or her information or what distrusted source he or she may not hear, it uses censorship to control thought," he wrote.
Justice Kennedy wrote that, taken to its extreme, the restriction on corporate spending could silence media organizations or even allow banning such political-themed movies as "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington."
He rejected the view that government had an interest in preventing corporations or unions from "distorting" political debate by funding ads. To the contrary, "corporations may possess valuable expertise, leaving them the best equipped to point out errors of fallacies in speech of all sorts," he wrote.
The Minority Opinion:
In dissent, Justice John Paul Stevens—part of the majority in the two previous opinions that were overruled—called the majority opinion "a rejection of the common sense of the American people, who have…fought against the distinctive corrupting potential of corporate electioneering since the days of Theodore Roosevelt." To underscore his distress, Justice Stevens took the unusual step of reading much of his 90-page dissent from the bench.
Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor joined the dissent, which accused the majority of seizing on a minor case dealing with the application of McCain-Feingold to upend a long history of statutes and judicial opinions.
The majority's rationale "comes down to nothing more than its disagreement" with precedent, Justice Stevens wrote, and its opinion "is essentially an amalgamation of resuscitated dissents" from those cases.
And you thought only Democrats could legislate from the bench... Actually, with new and improved political funding you'll probably continue to think that for a long long time.
(Majority and Minority Opinions were quoted from The Wall Street Journal Online.)