Doug Hughes’ Airmail Letter Campaign To Overturn Citizens United.

by Jerry Alatalo

“Democracy is the recurrent suspicion that more than half of the people are right more than half of the time.”

– ELWYN BROOKS “E.B.” WHITE (1899-1985) American writer, editor

(wikipedia.org)
(wikipedia.org)

Doug Hughes deserves being honored and awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his effort on behalf of American democracy. Most people in America want Citizens United overturned. America’s top civilian honor goes to men and women who have made efforts “In especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.”

After considering what Florida U.S. Postal Service mail carrier Doug Hughes might have gone through before deciding to land with his gyrocopter on the lawn of the U.S. Capital Building, the idea of taking whatever steps necessary for the American people to honor the man took hold. The popular image of postal carriers is the rugged man or woman who delivers your letters through rain, snow, hail and thunderstorms come what may, but Mr. Hughes took that concept to an entirely higher-purpose, democracy-protecting other level.

One wonders how his experience at delivering the mail, in particular the evolving of political mailings through the years, figured into his decision to take non-violent, civil disobedience action. Mr. Hughes probably noticed the difference after the Citizens United ruling by the Supreme Court in 2011, when the number of election-time mailings going from his Jeep to his mailbag to people’s homes and businesses started to increase dramatically. Every one of those correspondences passed through his hands while scanning the addresses to determine the accurate destination, almost like reading a book about the consequences for the American people of the Supreme Court’s regretful decision.

So, he personally saw the great increase in mailings to citizens in his Florida region coming from super-pacs/organizations spending on behalf of candidates to get them elected, with good God-fearing names like “Americans for Freedom”, “Patriots for the U.S.A.”, “Founding Fathers of America”, or, to go all the way with ridiculous names for super-pacs, “Americans for America”. While Doug Hughes zeroed in on the correct mailing address on each piece of mail, he most likely also observed the deceptively named political groups on return addresses in the upper left-hand corners of the envelopes, and like seeds grow after being planted, the idea for taking “the mail” to the Capital came to life and took shape.

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The Real News Network produced a two-minute video which explains how the mainstream media put a spin on Mr. Hughes’ truly heroic act of political conscience, focusing on terrorism and fear while dreadfully failing to report on his noble intention: getting rid of Citizens United and its allowing those with the most money to literally buy up democracy in America. Media corporations, owned by the same wealthy people who became able to buy elections after Citizens United, once again intentionally dropped the ball and avoided the “elephant in the room” – a completely unacceptable situation of too much money killing the democratic process in elections across the United States.

(Thank you to TheRealNews at YouTube)

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Like most Americans, Mr. Hughes came to conclude that something is seriously wrong when money cancels democracy, and that strong collective action is necessary to correct that wrong. He deserves Americans’ profound thanks and appreciation for taking an action carrying with it a level of personal risk and sacrifice most would never seriously contemplate.

Doug Hughes delivered “the mail”, carrying out an amazing handoff of 535 letters addressed to America’s elected representatives calling for a constitutional amendment guaranteeing that true democracy is the law to observe in America for all time. An Article V Constitutional Convention or super-majority (two-thirds) vote in the U.S. Congress is necessary for an amendment overturning Citizens United to become reality.

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From wikipedia.org:

Amendments may be adopted and sent to the states for ratification in one of two ways:

  • Affirmative votes by two-thirds of both the Senate and House of Representatives of the U.S. Congress.

OR

  • A national convention assembled at the request of the legislatures of at least two-thirds (34) of the states.

To become part of the Constitution, an amendment must be ratified by either (as determined by Congress):

  • The request of legislatures of three-fourths (38) of the states.

OR

  • State ratifying conventions in three-fourths (38) of the states.

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Mr. Hughes’ self-sacrificial, honorable example is a profound one very worthy of emulation in ways which require little or no risk by comparison. Share the path of true democracy with Doug Hughes and an increasing number of determined, morally motivated men and women across the 50 states of America, then create and “deliver” your own personal message to elected representatives at both state and national levels.

The path begins at: thedemocracyclub.org

Mount Rainier - 1

 

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Casino Politics.

Wall Street’s Investments in Deregulation 

(Cross-posted from opensecrets.org on January 16, 2015)

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Wall Street did its part to make 2014 the most expensive midterm election ever, outpacing its 2010 total and once again putting the bulk of its financial muscle behind GOP candidates and groups.

Donors from the securities and investment industry, otherwise known as Wall Street, contributed a total of $184 million to candidates, parties and outside spending groups during the 2014 midterms — a $75 million increase over the last comparable election.

That figure pales in comparison to 2012’s $288 million, but that was a presidential year in which one of the White House candidates came from the world of finance and the other had been critical of the industry’s role in triggering the Great Recession.

Despite the large overall spending discrepancy between 2012 and 2014, though, the difference in contributions to outside spending groups was only about $22 million. Donations to outside spending organizations accounted for 39 percent of Wall Street’s total in 2014, jumping from $7 million in the 2010 cycle to $93 million in 2012 and dropping just a bit to $71 million in this last cycle.

Wall Street spending favored Republicans 62 percent of the time in the 2014 cycle, the second highest rate in more than two decades and just behind 2012’s 69 percent level.

With the GOP in charge in both the House and Senate, Wall Street’s investments are likely to show good returns. Already the industry has begun to chip away at the main law passed in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis that curtailed some of its riskier activities.

Wall Street’s Darlings

Despite its right-leaning partisan split overall, though, the financial industry’s preference for the GOP didn’t reign across the board. Democratic senator took in more campaign cash from Wall Street than their GOP colleagues, totaling nearly $10 million.

It was a different story in the House, where Republican members raked in $16.5 million in campaign donations compared to $10.3 million for Democrats.

Wall Street’s favorite Senate candidate in the past cycle was Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.). Booker took in nearly $2 million from Wall Street in his pair of Senate races in the past two years. The former Newark mayor is considered a friend to the bankers across the Hudson.

The noted defender of private equity garnered support from multiple hedge funds. Wall Street is just $34,000 short of being Booker’s top donor group, just after lawyers and law firms.

Goldman Sachs is sixth on Booker’s list of career donors, having contributed $59,600 to his campaigns.

Freshly crowned Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell cashed Wall Street checks worth $1.6 million over the past two years. Fellow Republican Sen. Tom Cotton (Ark.) received $1 million and Democratic Sens. Mark Warner (Va.) and Charles Schumer (N.Y.) both took in more than $900,000.

Wall Street also favored leadership in its House giving, donating $1.2 million to Speaker John Boehner‘s (R-Ohio) campaign. Former Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) followed Boehner in Wall Street contributions with nearly $700,000 but failed to defeat upstart opponent Rep. Dave Brat (R-Va.) in the primary. (Cantor is still cashing checks from Wall Street, though now they come biweekly.)

Former vice presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) received $560,503 from Wall Street, and Goldman Sachs alum Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.) took in $485,788.

Power Players

The top of the list of Wall Street spending on the 2014 elections is dominated by a handful of mega-donors born out of Citizens United.

Wall Street’s highest spender in the 2014 cycle was Elliott Management. The hedge fund firm donated $12.3 million — the majority of which went to outside spending groups.

Elliott Management CEO Paul Singer accounted for nearly $10 million of that total, meaning he alone contributed more than any other Wall Street firm. Singer is a noted conservative donor who has given large sums to outside spending groups.

Paul Singer is Wall Street's biggest single donor.(Flickr/World Economic Forum)

Singer contributed nearly $3 million to American Unity PAC in 2014, a conservative gay rights group he helped found. He also made multiple seven-figure donations to Karl Rove’s American Crossroads super PAC. Singer was the top individual conservative donor in 2014; only liberal donors Tom Steyer and Michael Bloomberg spent more.

Renaissance Technologies, another hedge fund, ranked second in 2014-cycle donations with $8.8 million. As with Elliott Management, most of that total can be attributed to one individual, co-CEO Robert Mercer. Mercer and his wife combined to contribute $8.4 million to conservative candidates and causes this cycle.

Mercer personally donated $2.5 million to Freedom Partners Action Fund, a Koch brothers group founded for the 2014 midterms. David and Charles Koch each managed $2 million donations. Mercer also made $1 million dollar contributions to Club for Growth Action and Ending Spending Action Fund — the super PAC wing of the group started by Ameritrade founder Joe Ricketts.

TD Ameritrade, the Omaha-based online broker founded by Ricketts, came in third in contributions at $4.9 million.

Renaissance Technologies’ founder James Simons is also a major donor, although along with wife Marilyn he favors liberal groups and candidates. No longer running Renaissance, Simons’ 2014 donations are not included in the hedge fund’s total.

Simons’ biggest 2014 contributions of $5 and $2 million went to the Senate Majority PAC and House Majority PAC respectively. The pair of super PACs have close ties to now Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

Ricketts and his wife Marlene donated $6.7 million to conservative groups and candidates during the 2014 cycle. The pair combined to contribute nearly $6 million to Ending Spending Action Fund.

Goldman Sachs contributed more to candidates than any other firm — $2.1 million. Goldman’s employees and PAC contributed an additional $1.3 million to the parties, nearly $900,000 of which went to the three major Republican bodies. McConnell received more money from Goldman than any other candidate, taking home a shade less than $100,000. Goldman Sachs ranked sixth in total contributions among Wall Street firms.

UBS and Blackstone Group were also among the biggest donors to candidates, donating more than $1.5 million directly to campaigns.

Lobbying

Wall Street’s lobbying total for 2014 is again headed toward the $100 million range. Fourth quarter reports are due to be filed next week, but through the third quarter, Wall Street firms had spent $74 million on more than 700 guns for hire. In 2013 Wall Street’s lobbying total fell just short of nine figures, coming in at $99.1 million. Lobbying by the securities and investment industry peaked in 2010 (as it did for many industries) at $105.6 million.

Industry trade groups Security Industry and Financial Markets Association and the Investment Company Institute combined to spend nearly $10 million on lobbying in the first three quarters of this year.

Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs spent more on lobbying than any other Wall Street firms, shelling out $3.2 and $2.9 million respectively through Sept. 30.

The common thread in Wall Street lobbying reports for 2014 was overwhelmingly Dodd-Frank, the 2010 law passed in response to the financial crisis. It has remained a hotly debated topic for bankers, politicians and regulators since its passage.

And in that sense, Wall Street’s GOP spending spree makes perfect sense; Republicans have made it clear that they oppose much of Dodd-Frank, favoring a return to the deregulation that led to record profits for financial firms and bankers — despite at least some consensus that those freewheeling days contributed to the financial meltdown.

Wall Street and its lobbyists claimed a victory against the law late last year when one of Dodd-Frank’s provisions was repealed in an eleventh-hour spending bill using language written by Citigroup lobbyists themselves.

Known as section 716, the provision required banks to conduct certain types of derivatives trading separately from the portions of their operations that are federally insured. Wall Street critics argue this provision — and much of Dodd-Frank — is needed because bankers will risk more when they know the federal government will rescue them should their wagers go bad.

Another bill often listed on Wall Street lobbying filings was Sen. Sherrod Brown‘s (D-Ohio) Terminating Bailouts for Taxpayer Fairness Act (TBTF for short, an abbreviation which most commonly refers to “too big to fail”). The bill, which is opposed by the financial houses, would set new capital requirements for banks, mandating they keep more cash on hand.

Citizens United: John Paul Stevens’ Dissent.

Posted April 10, 2014

by Jerry Alatalo

“Our Constitution is in actual operation; everything appears to promise that it will last; but nothing in this world is certain but death and taxes.”

– Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)

cropped-suits-22.jpgAfter watching a woman on Move to Amend’s YouTube channel speak the words of retired Supreme Court Justice John Stevens’ dissenting opinion on the Citizens United case, then hearing the suggestion that Mr. Stevens dissent would offer the best argument for state lawmakers to pass resolutions for an amendment to the United States constitution to overturn it, it seemed obvious to include a segment of his opinion here.

The following is from the United States Supreme Court website. Justice Stevens’ dissenting opinion is much longer than what is presented here, this is the last portion of it. Honestly, I had never read any of his opinion till today. So, in an effort to follow the suggestion of making Justice Stevens dissent on Citizens United the basis for overturning it by amendment, perhaps reading his argument will motivate men and women to disseminate his opinion as well.

Some 16 states have adopted resolutions to overturn Citizens United, and that number may have grown since the McCutcheon decision. This means states have requested Congress to start the amendment process. The amendment is drafted – when the house and senate pass it with a super-majority (2/3) it goes to the states for ratification. When 3/4 of the states ratify the amendment, it becomes part of the constitution.

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 79 Cite as: 558 U. S. ____ (2010) Opinion of STEVENS, J.

In short, regulations such as §203 and the statute upheld in Austin impose only a limited burden on First Amendment freedoms not only because they target a narrow subset of expenditures and leave untouched the broader “public dialogue,” ante, at 25, but also because they leave untouched the speech of natural persons. Recognizing the weakness of a speaker-based critique of Austin, the Court places primary emphasis not on the corporation’s right to electioneer, but rather on the listener’s interest in hearing what every possible speaker may have to say. The Court’s central argument is that laws such as §203 have “‘deprived [the electorate] of information, knowledge and opinion vital to its function,’” ante, at 38 (quoting CIO, 335 U. S., at 144 (Rutledge, J., concurring in judgment)), and this, in turn, “interferes with the ‘open marketplace’ of ideas protected by the First Amendment,” ante, at 38 (quoting New York State Bd. of Elections v. Lopez Torres, 552 U. S. 196, 208 (2008)).

There are many flaws in this argument. If the overriding concern depends on the interests of the audience, surely the public’s perception of the value of corporate speech should be given important weight. That perception today is the same as it was a century ago when Theodore Roosevelt delivered the speeches to Congress that, in time, led to the limited prohibition on corporate campaign expenditures that is overruled today. See WRTL, 551 U. S., at 509–510 (Souter, J., dissenting) (summarizing President —————— owners may speak in their own names, rather than the business’, if they wish to evade §203 altogether. Nonprofit corporations that want to make unrestricted electioneering expenditures may do so if they refuse donations from businesses and unions and permit members to disassociate without economic penalty. See MCFL, 479 U. S. 238, 264 (1986). Making it plain that their decision is not motivated by a concern about BCRA’s coverage of nonprofits that have ideological missions but lack MCFL status, our colleagues refuse to apply the Snowe-Jeffords Amendment or the lower courts’ de minimis exception to MCFL. See ante, at 10–12. 80

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Roosevelt’s remarks). The distinctive threat to democratic integrity posed by corporate domination of politics was recognized at “the inception of the republic” and “has been a persistent theme in American political life” ever since. Regan 302. It is only certain Members of this Court, not the listeners themselves, who have agitated for more corporate electioneering.

Austin recognized that there are substantial reasons why a legislature might conclude that unregulated general treasury expenditures will give corporations “unfai[r] influence” in the electoral process, 494 U. S., at 660, and distort public debate in ways that undermine rather than advance the interests of listeners. The legal structure of corporations allows them to amass and deploy financial resources on a scale few natural persons can match. The structure of a business corporation, furthermore, draws a line between the corporation’s economic interests and the political preferences of the individuals associated with the corporation; the corporation must engage the electoral process with the aim “to enhance the profitability of the company, no matter how persuasive the arguments for a broader or conflicting set of priorities,” Brief for American Independent Business Alliance as Amicus Curiae 11; see also ALI, Principles of Corporate Governance: Analysis and Recommendations §2.01(a), p. 55 (1992) (“[A] corporation . . . should have as its objective the conduct of business activities with a view to enhancing corporate profit and shareholder gain”). In a state election such as the one at issue in Austin, the interests of nonresident corporations may be fundamentally adverse to the interests of local voters. Consequently, when corporations grab up the prime broadcasting slots on the eve of an election, they can flood the market with advocacy that bears “little or no correlation” to the ideas of natural persons or to any broader notion of the public good, 494 U. S., at 660. The opinions of real people may be marginalized. “The expen-

Opinion of STEVENS, J.

diture restrictions of [2 U. S. C.] §441b are thus meant to ensure that competition among actors in the political arena is truly competition among ideas.” MCFL, 479

U. S., at 259.

In addition to this immediate drowning out of noncorporate voices, there may be deleterious effects that follow soon thereafter. Corporate “domination” of electioneering, Austin, 494 U. S., at 659, can generate the impression that corporations dominate our democracy. When citizens turn on their televisions and radios before an election and hear only corporate electioneering, they may lose faith in their capacity, as citizens, to influence public policy. A Government captured by corporate interests, they may come to believe, will be neither responsive to their needs nor willing to give their views a fair hearing. The predictable result is cynicism and disenchantment: an increased perception that large spenders “‘call the tune’” and a reduced “‘willingness of voters to take part in democratic governance.’” McConnell, 540 U. S., at 144 (quoting Shrink Missouri, 528 U. S., at 390). To the extent that corporations are allowed to exert undue influence in electoral races, the speech of the eventual winners of those races may also be chilled. Politicians who fear that a certain corporation can make or break their reelection chances may be cowed into silence about that corporation. On a variety of levels, unregulated corporate electioneering might diminish the ability of citizens to “hold officials accountable to the people,” ante, at 23, and disserve the goal of a public debate that is “uninhibited, robust, and wide-open,” New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, 376 U. S. 254, 270 (1964). At the least, I stress again, a legislature is entitled to credit these concerns and to take tailored measures in response.

The majority’s unwillingness to distinguish between corporations and humans similarly blinds it to the possibility that corporations’ “war chests” and their special 82

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“advantages” in the legal realm, Austin, 494 U. S., at 659, may translate into special advantages in the market for legislation. When large numbers of citizens have a common stake in a measure that is under consideration, it may be very difficult for them to coordinate resources on behalf of their position. The corporate form, by contrast, “provides a simple way to channel rents to only those who have paid their dues, as it were. If you do not own stock, you do not benefit from the larger dividends or appreciation in the stock price caused by the passage of private interest legislation.” Sitkoff, Corporate Political Speech, Political Extortion, and the Competition for Corporate Charters, 69 U. Chi. L. Rev. 1103, 1113 (2002). Corporations, that is, are uniquely equipped to seek laws that favor their owners, not simply because they have a lot of money but because of their legal and organizational structure. Remove all restrictions on their electioneering, and the door may be opened to a type of rent seeking that is “far more destructive” than what noncorporations are capable of. Ibid. It is for reasons such as these that our campaign finance jurisprudence has long appreciated that “the ‘differing structures and purposes’ of different entities ‘may require different forms of regulation in order to protect the integrity of the electoral process.’” NRWC, 459

U. S., at 210 (quoting California Medical Assn., 453 U. S., at 201).

The Court’s facile depiction of corporate electioneering assumes away all of these complexities. Our colleagues ridicule the idea of regulating expenditures based on “nothing more” than a fear that corporations have a special “ability to persuade,” ante, at 11 (opinion of ROBERTS,

C. J.), as if corporations were our society’s ablest debaters and viewpoint-neutral laws such as §203 were created to suppress their best arguments. In their haste to knock down yet another straw man, our colleagues simply ignore the fundamental concerns of the Austin Court and the 83 Cite as: 558 U. S. ____ (2010)

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legislatures that have passed laws like §203: to safeguard the integrity, competitiveness, and democratic responsiveness of the electoral process. All of the majority’s theoretical arguments turn on a proposition with undeniable surface appeal but little grounding in evidence or experience, “that there is no such thing as too much speech,” Austin, 494 U. S., at 695 (SCALIA, J., dissenting)).74 If individuals in our society had infinite free time to listen to and contemplate every last bit of speech uttered by anyone, anywhere; and if broadcast advertisements had no special ability to influence elections apart from the merits of their arguments (to the extent they make any); and if legislators always operated with nothing less than perfect virtue; then I suppose the majority’s premise would be sound. In the real world, we have seen, corporate domination of the airwaves prior to an election may decrease the average listener’s exposure to relevant viewpoints, and it may diminish citizens’ willingness and capacity to participate in the democratic process.

None of this is to suggest that corporations can or should be denied an opportunity to participate in election campaigns or in any other public forum (much less that a work of art such as Mr. Smith Goes to Washington may be banned), or to deny that some corporate speech may contribute significantly to public debate. What it shows, however, is that Austin’s “concern about corporate domination of the political process,” 494 U. S., at 659, reflects more than a concern to protect governmental interests outside of the First Amendment. It also reflects a concern to facilitate First Amendment values by preserving some breathing room around the electoral “marketplace” of ideas, ante, at 19, 34, 38, 52, 54, the marketplace in which the actual people of this Nation determine how they will

—————— 74Of course, no presiding person in a courtroom, legislature, classroom, polling place, or family dinner would take this hyperbole literally. 84

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govern themselves. The majority seems oblivious to the simple truth that laws such as §203 do not merely pit the anticorruption interest against the First Amendment, but also pit competing First Amendment values against each other. There are, to be sure, serious concerns with any effort to balance the First Amendment rights of speakers against the First Amendment rights of listeners. But when the speakers in question are not real people and when the appeal to “First Amendment principles” depends almost entirely on the listeners’ perspective, ante, at 1, 48, it becomes necessary to consider how listeners will actually be affected.

In critiquing Austin’s antidistortion rationale and campaign finance regulation more generally, our colleagues place tremendous weight on the example of media corporations. See ante, at 35–38, 46; ante, at 1, 11 (opinion of ROBERTS, C. J.); ante, at 6 (opinion of SCALIA, J.). Yet it is not at all clear that Austin would permit §203 to be applied to them. The press plays a unique role not only in the text, history, and structure of the First Amendment but also in facilitating public discourse; as the Austin Court explained, “media corporations differ significantly from other corporations in that their resources are devoted to the collection of information and its dissemination to the public,” 494 U. S., at 667. Our colleagues have raised some interesting and difficult questions about Congress’ authority to regulate electioneering by the press, and about how to define what constitutes the press. But that is not the case before us. Section 203 does not apply to media corporations, and even if it did, Citizens United isnot a media corporation. There would be absolutely no reason to consider the issue of media corporations if the majority did not, first, transform Citizens United’s as applied challenge into a facial challenge and, second, invent the theory that legislatures must eschew all “identity”-based distinctions and treat a local nonprofit news 85 Cite as: 558 U. S. ____ (2010)

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outlet exactly the same as General Motors.75 This calls to mind George Berkeley’s description of philosophers: “[W]e have first raised a dust and then complain we cannot see.” Principles of Human Knowledge/Three Dialogues 38, ¶3

(R. Woolhouse ed. 1988).

It would be perfectly understandable if our colleagues feared that a campaign finance regulation such as §203may be counterproductive or self-interested, and therefore attended carefully to the choices the Legislature has made. But the majority does not bother to consider such practical matters, or even to consult a record; it simply stipulates that “enlightened self-government” can arise only in the absence of regulation. Ante, at 23. In light of the distinctive features of corporations identified in Austin, there is no valid basis for this assumption. The marketplace of ideas is not actually a place where items—or laws—are meant to be bought and sold, and when we move from the realm of economics to the realm of corporate electioneering, there may be no “reason to think the market ordering is intrinsically good at all,” Strauss 1386.

The Court’s blinkered and aphoristic approach to the First Amendment may well promote corporate power at the cost of the individual and collective self-expression the Amendment was meant to serve. It will undoubtedly cripple the ability of ordinary citizens, Congress, and the States to adopt even limited measures to protect against corporate domination of the electoral process. Americans may be forgiven if they do not feel the Court has advanced

—————— 75Under the majority’s view, the legislature is thus damned if it does and damned if it doesn’t. If the legislature gives media corporations an exemption from electioneering regulations that apply to other corporations, it violates the newly minted First Amendment rule against identity-based distinctions. If the legislature does not give media corporations an exemption, it violates the First Amendment rights of the press. The only way out of this invented bind: no regulations whatsoever. 86

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the cause of self-government today.

2. Shareholder Protection There is yet another way in which laws such as §203 can serve First Amendment values. Interwoven with Austin’s concern to protect the integrity of the electoral process is a concern to protect the rights of shareholders from a kind of coerced speech: electioneering expenditures that do not “reflec[t] [their] support.” 494 U. S., at 660–661. When corporations use general treasury funds to praise or attack a particular candidate for office, it is the shareholders, as the residual claimants, who are effectively footing the bill. Those shareholders who disagree with the corporation’s electoral message may find their financial investments being used to undermine their political convictions. The PAC mechanism, by contrast, helps assure that those who pay for an electioneering communication actually support its content and that managers do not use general treasuries to advance personal agendas. Ibid. It “‘allows corporate political participation without the temptation to use corporate funds for political influence, quite possibly at odds with the sentiments of some shareholders or members.’” McConnell, 540 U. S., at 204 (quoting Beaumont, 539 U. S., at 163). A rule that privileges the use of PACs thus does more than facilitate the political speech of like-minded shareholders; it also curbs the rent seeking behavior of executives and respects the views of dissenters. Austin’s acceptance of restrictions on general treasury spending “simply allows people who have invested in the business corporation for purely economic reasons”—the vast majority of investors, one assumes—”to avoid being taken advantage of, without sacrificing their economic objectives.” Winkler, Beyond Bellotti, 32 Loyola(LA) L. Rev. 133, 201 (1998).

The concern to protect dissenting shareholders and union members has a long history in campaign finance 87 Cite as: 558 U. S. ____ (2010) Opinion of STEVENS, J.

reform. It provided a central motivation for the TillmanAct in 1907 and subsequent legislation, see Pipefitters v. United States, 407 U. S. 385, 414–415 (1972); Winkler, 92Geo. L. J., at 887–900, and it has been endorsed in a long line of our cases, see, e.g., McConnell, 540 U. S., at 204– 205; Beaumont, 539 U. S., at 152–154; MCFL, 479 U. S., at 258; NRWC, 459 U. S., at 207–208; Pipefitters, 407 U. S., at 414–416; see also n. 60, supra. Indeed, we have unanimously recognized the governmental interest in “protect[ing] the individuals who have paid money into acorporation or union for purposes other than the support of candidates from having that money used to support political candidates to whom they may be opposed.” NRWC, 459 U. S., at 207–208.

The Court dismisses this interest on the ground that abuses of shareholder money can be corrected “through the procedures of corporate democracy,” ante, at 46 (internal quotation marks omitted), and, it seems, through Internet-based disclosures, ante, at 55.76 I fail to understand how this addresses the concerns of dissenting union members, who will also be affected by today’s ruling, and I fail to understand why the Court is so confident in these mechanisms. By “corporate democracy,” presumably the Court means the rights of shareholders to vote and to bring derivative suits for breach of fiduciary duty. In practice, however, many corporate lawyers will tell you that “these rights are so limited as to be almost nonexis

—————— 76I note that, among the many other regulatory possibilities it has left open, ranging from new versions of §203 supported by additional evidence of quid pro quo corruption or its appearance to any number of tax incentive or public financing schemes, today’s decision does not require that a legislature rely solely on these mechanisms to protect shareholders. Legislatures remain free in their incorporation and tax laws to condition the types of activity in which corporations may engage, including electioneering activity, on specific disclosure requirements or on prior express approval by shareholders or members. 88

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tent,” given the internal authority wielded by boards and managers and the expansive protections afforded by the business judgment rule. Blair & Stout 320; see also id., at 298–315; Winkler, 32 Loyola (LA) L. Rev., at 165–166, 199–200. Modern technology may help make it easier to track corporate activity, including electoral advocacy, but it is utopian to believe that it solves the problem. Most American households that own stock do so through intermediaries such as mutual funds and pension plans, see Evans, A Requiem for the Retail Investor? 95 Va. L. Rev.1105 (2009), which makes it more difficult both to monitor and to alter particular holdings. Studies show that a majority of individual investors make no trades at all during a given year. Id., at 1117. Moreover, if the corporation in question operates a PAC, an investor who sees the company’s ads may not know whether they are being funded through the PAC or through the general treasury.

If and when shareholders learn that a corporation has been spending general treasury money on objectionable electioneering, they can divest. Even assuming that they reliably learn as much, however, this solution is only partial. The injury to the shareholders’ expressive rights has already occurred; they might have preferred to keep that corporation’s stock in their portfolio for any number of economic reasons; and they may incur a capital gains tax or other penalty from selling their shares, changing their pension plan, or the like. The shareholder protection rationale has been criticized as under inclusive, in that corporations also spend money on lobbying and charitable contributions in ways that any particular shareholder might disapprove. But those expenditures do not implicate the selection of public officials, an area in which “the interests of unwilling . . . corporate shareholders [in not being] forced to subsidize that speech” “are at their zenith.” Austin, 494 U. S., at 677 (Brennan, J., concurring).And in any event, the question is whether shareholder 89 Cite as: 558 U. S. ____ (2010)

Opinion of STEVENS, J.

protection provides a basis for regulating expenditures in the weeks before an election, not whether additional types of corporate communications might similarly be conditioned on voluntariness.

Recognizing the limits of the shareholder protection rationale, the Austin Court did not hold it out as an adequate and independent ground for sustaining the statute in question. Rather, the Court applied it to reinforce the antidistortion rationale, in two main ways. First, the problem of dissenting shareholders shows that even if electioneering expenditures can advance the political views of some members of a corporation, they will often compromise the views of others. See, e.g., id., at 663 (discussing risk that corporation’s “members may be . . . reluctant to withdraw as members even if they disagree with [its] political expression”). Second, it provides an additional reason, beyond the distinctive legal attributes of the corporate form, for doubting that these “expenditures reflect actual public support for the political ideas espoused,” id., at 660. The shareholder protection rationale, in other words, bolsters the conclusion that restrictions on corporate electioneering can serve both speakers’ and listeners’ interests, as well as the anticorruption interest. And it supplies yet another reason why corporate expenditures merit less protection than individual expenditures.

V  Today’s decision is backwards in many senses. It elevates the majority’s agenda over the litigants’ submissions, facial attacks over as-applied claims, broad constitutional theories over narrow statutory grounds, individual dissenting opinions over precedential holdings, assertion over tradition, absolutism over empiricism, rhetoric over reality. Our colleagues have arrived at the conclusion that Austin must be overruled and that §203 is facially unconstitutional only after mischaracterizing both the reach and 90

CITIZENS UNITED v. FEDERAL ELECTION COMM’N Opinion of STEVENS, J.

rationale of those authorities, and after bypassing or ignoring rules of judicial restraint used to cabin the Court’s lawmaking power. Their conclusion that the societal interest in avoiding corruption and the appearance of corruption does not provide an adequate justification for regulating corporate expenditures on candidate elections relies on an incorrect description of that interest, along with a failure to acknowledge the relevance of established facts and the considered judgments of state and federal legislatures over many decades.

In a democratic society, the longstanding consensus on the need to limit corporate campaign spending should outweigh the wooden application of judge-made rules. The majority’s rejection of this principle “elevate[s] corporations to a level of deference which has not been seen at least since the days when substantive due process was regularly used to invalidate regulatory legislation thought to unfairly impinge upon established economic interests.” Bellotti, 435 U. S., at 817, n. 13 (White, J., dissenting). At bottom, the Court’s opinion is thus a rejection of the common sense of the American people, who have recognized a need to prevent corporations from undermining self-government since the founding, and who have fought against the distinctive corrupting potential of corporate electioneering since the days of Theodore Roosevelt. It is a strange time to repudiate that common sense. While American democracy is imperfect, few outside the majority of this Court would have thought its flaws included a dearth of corporate money in politics.

I would affirm the judgment of the District Court.

 

Enough Money In Political Campaigns Is Enough.

Posted April 5, 2014

by Jerry Alatalo

lake superior 444After 400 posts on this blog it seems proper to make #401 about overturning Citizens United. Perhaps no issue in recent American history – in all of American history – has been so close to unanimously agreed upon by the people in the United States. Polls have consistently shown that 70-80% of Americans oppose Citizens United and want it to go away. When enough state legislatures agree that a constitutional convention to remove the highly controversial Supreme Court ruling is needed, the U.S. Congress has no choice but to allow it to happen.

At that time, the people’s demands will come forward, a sufficient number of states will approve of what the people have demanded, and Citizens United will find itself on the ash heap of history’s errors.

Other democratic nations around the world are far ahead of the United States with regard to taking money out of political campaigns and allowing their people to move closer to true democracy. Allowing money to determine winners and losers places America in an unenviable position in the league of nations.

“In our day, certain economic proofs have been accepted as self-evident. The second Bill of Rights, under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all regardless of station, race, or creed. Among these are the rights to a useful and remunerative job, the right to earn enough for adequate food, clothing, and recreation. The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living. The right of every businessman both large and small to trade in an atmosphere of freedom – freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies home and abroad.”

“The right of every family to a decent home. The right to adequate medical care and an opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health. A right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, debt, and unemployment. The right to a good education. All of these rights spell security and, after this war is won, we must be prepared to move forward in the implementation of these rights, goals of happiness, and well-being. For unless there is security here at home there cannot be lasting peace in the world.”

– President Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Overturning Citizens United is all about a whole new way of practicing democracy – in America and around the world. Americans agree that something about our political system is not right and – that it doesn’t have to be this way.

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(Thank you to Move to Amend at YouTube)

Please visit movetoamend.org