22 States Join Fight Against Citizens UnitedFri Jun 1, 2012 13:0184.108.40.206Fighting back against Citizens United - YouTube
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22 States Join Fight Against Citizens United
Posted by: Linda Carbonell on May 20, 2012
Montana Citizens United Battle Heats Upwww.huffingtonpost.com/.../montana-citizens-united-campaign-finan...Cached
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May 20, 2012 – A clarification of Citizens United is needed to make clear that states can block ... Montana in its fight to prevent the U.S. Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United ... Montana vs Citizens United: 22 states now against unlimited ...
The Virginia-based American Tradition Partnership sued the State of Montana to force the state abandon their campaign financing laws and allow unrestricted corporate money to do the same kind of damage in Montana elections as it is doing in national ones. The state courts ruled for the State, so ATP took the case to the Federal level. They have asked the Supreme Court, which created this mess with its Citizens United ruling to overturn the state court decisions. The Supremes have blocked Montana’s law until they can “look at the case.”
In Supreme Court cases, it is possible for “interested parties” to file briefs in support of one side or the other. In this case, 22 state’s attorneys and the district of Columbia have filed such briefs. The states’ briefs say that the Montana law is different from the issues in the Citizens United case and the ruling should not apply to Montana.
Citizens United is one of the most controversial and unpopular rulings not related to social issues to ever come out of the Supreme Court. It wiped out decades of attempts to regulate the money spent in elections. It allows the creation of political action committees who can collect and spend unlimited amounts of money and keep the sources from public view. While campaign finance control has been the will of the people, Citizens United is the will of the very wealthy who seek to gain control over our government and install elected officials who will turn the law to their benefit.
Montana’s citizens in 1912 passed strict campaign finance laws because of rampant corruption in their state government. Bribery and vote buying were the manner in which the battling owners of copper mines fought for power. One copper baron, William A. Clark, literally bought a seat in the United States Senate in 1899. His selection led to the passage of the 17th Amendment, direct election of senators. The voters rose up against the way very wealthy men were buying their government, and in a voter initiative, banned all corporate contributions to political campaigns.
In Citizens United, the Roberts Court ruled that no one should have their freedom of speech limited, and declared that corporations were people with the right of free speech, and independent political action committees should be free to spend as much money as they wish on campaigns, so long as they are not advocating for a specific candidate. They can crucify a candidate, as was planned with the Joe Ricketts anti-Obama ad campaign centering on Rev. Jeremiah Wright, but they cannot support one.
Legal experts do not expect the Supreme Court to rule in favor of Montana. At best, they might tweak the Montana law. The Roberts Court has four devout Republicans who have consistently ruled for their party. There are four liberal justices and one swing voter, Justice Anthony Kennedy, who has voted with the conservatives 87% of the time.
The Montana case is unique. We have argued that the citizens of a state should not determine social issues by popular referendum since those are the issues where the popular vote will frequently limit the rights of a minority, and I have argued that the state of California should limit referendums in their governance. But in Montana, in 1912, the populace rose up to stop criminal and quasi-criminal behavior that was denying them their constitutional rights. This referendum did not limit anyone’s rights or screw up the state’s government. The law the people of Montana passed a hundred years ago reinforced the rights of the people and ended the sale of their government to the highest bidder.
The group that brought the suit to void Montana’s law is based in Virginia. They are not Montanans. It’s none of their freaking business what the people of Montana do. Like most of these conservative groups trying to bend the American people to their will, they have a nice, patriotic sounding name. But the true American tradition has always been that buying elections is wrong, no matter how one sugar-coats it.
Senators John McCain, Republican of Arizona, and Sheldon Whitehouse, Democrat of Rhode Island, also support Montana. They have cited evidence that the Citizens United ruling was wrong in saying that unlimited corporate spending would not lead to corruption, because it has, and not just at the federal election level. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker was caught on tape promising a wealthy donor that after destroying the public sector unions, he would go after the private sector unions for the sake of his donors.
The states who filed the brief supporting Montana are New York, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia and the District of Columbia. The balance in that list between conservative and liberal states says a lot about how Americans are reacting to Citizens United and a Supreme Court that has forgotten who and what they are supposed to be working for.
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