Monday, February 01, 2010

The Supremes Sang Their Song

In 1941, Franklin Roosevelt called the day that Japan bombed Pearl Harbor “a Day of Infamy.” January 21 of this year may be viewed in the history books as the day this country was transformed from a democracy into a corpocrasy. Yes, that is a real word defined as “a society in which corporations have much economic and political power.” We may find ourselves revising our country’s name into “The United States of American Corporations.” This radical and unprecedented mutation can be attributed to the actions of just one individual –– The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, John Roberts, abetted by four of his colleagues.

In essence, the Supreme Court, in the case of United Citizens vs. Federal Election Commission, decided that under the First Amendment to the Constitution, corporations had far reaching entitlements to spend as much money as they wished in order to influence elections of candidates. Politicians, recognizing that unfettered amounts of money could now be spent either for or against their candidacy, will now be predisposed to vote in favor of corporate interests. Obviously, as a consequence, legislation factors would be equally influenced.

Proponents of this court action maintain that this upholds the right of free speech for corporations. They endorse the concept of “corporate personhood,” equating a corporation’s prerogatives with that of individuals; this, despite the fact that nowhere in the Constitution is the word “corporation” mentioned. Did the constitutional “originalists” on the court ignore this fact?

The possibility of this development was envisaged three months ago in the November 2009 issue of Viewpointe under the headline “Are the Supremes Singing From the Wrong Songbook.” At that time, very little attention was paid by the media to what was deemed to be a low profile, relatively inconsequential case. Justice Roberts, instead of declaring a narrowly based decision on the merits of the case itself, broadened the issue to incorporate the question of whether the First Amendment rights of free speech for corporations countermanded over 100 years of precedent.

Paraphrasing what was written in that article, “100 years of Supreme Court precedents [have now been overturned, a step that] could be viewed as an act of radical judicial activism, a practice considered anathema by many –– ironically, including the very Conservative Supremes who [have voted] for the change.” The article continued, stating that should the Court vote the way it did, “the floodgates will open for an unrestricted tsunami of corporate money not only influencing, but directing who is elected and what legislation should prevail.” All we can do now is watch the tsunami of money overwhelm and corrupt our electoral process more so than ever, and pray that a corpocracy does not crush our democracy.