On Thursday, by a significantly split 5-4 decision, The United States Supreme Court overturned more than a century of campaign finance reform enacted to preserve the independence of the electoral process (and the sanctity of the one-man, one-vote rule) from the domination of financial empires such as those that produced the infamous Teapot Dome Scandal and other nineteenth-century excesses. Oil has always been a handy lubricant for all sorts of things.
Anthony Kennedy’s vote is simply inexplicable. But Justices Scalia and Alito, who tout themselves as originalists, should certainly be alert to the obvious fact that First Amendment “freedom of speech” pertains to speech, not financial contributions from giant corporations, and was devised to protect the rights of citizens, not industries and unions that did not even exist when the Bill of Rights was drawn up. I wonder what Peter Zenger and Tom Paine would say? Teddy Roosevelt and other reformers inaugurated regulations against the buying and selling of votes in Congress to prevent the kind of wholesaling of democracy that our esteemed Republican-appointed justices have now reinstituted. Is there no shame? (Consider that a rhetorical question.)
It must be great relief to the CEOs of phenomenally rich and powerful multinational companies such as Bechtel, Exxon-Mobil, Halliburton, and Pfizer that they can now more openly suborn members of Congress, not to say presidential candidates, rather than just dealing under the table as they have done for a good many years. Or will they even need to? It’s perhaps even more likely that the hopeful pols will come looking for them.