Thursday, January 21, 2010
U.S. Supreme Court screws small voters
By a 5-4 vote, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a 20-year-old ruling that said corporations can be prohibited from using money from their general treasuries to pay for campaign ads. The decision, which almost certainly will also allow labor unions to participate more freely in campaigns, threatens similar limits imposed by 24 states.
The ruling is a blow to activists who have tried to limit the role of special interests in American politics.
Dissenting were Justices John Paul Stevens, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayer. Stevens said, "The court's ruling threatens to undermine the integrity of elected institutions around the nation."
The justices also struck down part of the landmark McCain-Feingold campaign finance bill that barred union- and corporate-paid issue ads in the closing days of election campaigns.
Advocates of strong campaign finance regulations have predicted that a court ruling against the limits would lead to a flood of corporate and union money in federal campaigns as early as November's congressional elections.
The decision removes limits on independent expenditures that are not coordinated with candidates' campaigns.
The case does not affect political action committees, which mushroomed after post-Watergate laws set the first limits on contributions by individuals to candidates.