I’m nearly finished listening to the oral arguments from the U.S. Supreme Court case Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.   In thinking over the weekend about last week’s ruling and in listening to the arguments, I have these observations:

  • I find the ruling an abomination.   The political system is already drowning in corporate money, and this ruling will likely make our democracy progress (digress?) further toward a corporate state.   Furthermore, individuals’ contributions will be further choked by corporate contributions.
  • That said, given the plain text of the First Amendment, I can’t see how the ruling could have gone any other way.   Constitutionally, the ruling had to be made.   The amendment says “Congress shall make no law… abridging the freedom of speech.”   If campaign contributions amount to political speech, then corporations should be allowed to contribute as much as they want.   I, of course, don’t agree (as stated above), but the Constitution is the owner’s manual we have to follow.   To me, this was a clear case from the start, and I’m surprised the ban wasn’t struck-down earlier.
  • So now that this precedent has been established, can I as an individual petition the court to strike down the limits on individual campaign contributions?   If I have $6 million, why can’t I contribute it to whomever I please?   Why must I be limited to only contributing $2,400?   Based on Citizens United v. FEC, aren’t the individual limits unconstitutional, too?   I can’t see how any limits on political speech can be upheld now.
  • Seems to me the only way to really solve this issue is a complete ban on private money in elections via a constitutional amendment establishing robust public financing.

If the political/news/blog world weren’t so wrapped up in the special election in Massachusetts, we might actually be talking about this.   But we aren’t.