The Chief, John Roberts, took a very narrow view of what was at stake to justify this ruling:
"The government has a strong interest, no less critical to our democratic system, in combatting corruption and its appearance," Roberts wrote. "We have, however, held that this interest must be limited to a specific kind of corruption — quid pro quo corruption — in order to ensure that the government's efforts do not have the effect of restricting the First Amendment right of citizens to choose who shall govern them."The story also notes that, per the SCOTUS' post-ruling stance on Citizens United, this could also invalidate state laws that have in-state caps on total campaign donations.
Ahh, Citizens' United. The case that brought the flood of money, and the idea that money = democracy, and that money = speech, to a new low. Citizens United — the case that most cleanly and clearly ripped the mask off Glenn Greenwald in his claim that he's a liberal and not a libertarian.
Speaking of libertarians, and Greenwald's claim that he's never influenced by his current employer, I will head over to The Intercept later, and see what he has written, and if he's interviewed Pierre Omidyar about this or not. I'll also see if anybody else there has written — or not written — anything. (Twenty-four hours and counting, and bupkis. And I have now tweeted two of the better known non-Greenwald writers there, Marcy Wheeler and Dan Froomkin, to ask if anybody at The Intercept is going to write about this, at all. And, yes, in a week or so, I'll do a separate blog post about the silence. I'll also rhetorically ask if this doesn't affect Greenwald's claim to not be subservient to his employers, since by a loophole, he's simply found one that congenial to him.)
That said, so far, Glenn and friends, contrary to what it says in its "about" section:
Our long-term mission is to produce fearless, adversarial journalism across a wide range of issues. The editorial independence of our journalists will be guaranteed. They will be encouraged to pursue their passions, cultivate a unique voice, and publish stories without regard to whom they might anger or alienate. We believe the prime value of journalism is its power to impose transparency, and thus accountability, on the most powerful governmental and corporate bodies, and our journalists will be provided the full resources and support required to do this.Has written about nothing other than NSA-related issues and snarking on Obama. My emphasis added on the block quote. The Intercept's parent body, First Read, promises:
Coming SoonWe'll cover the world, from sports and entertainment to politics and business.
For background, Greenwald embraced Citizens United and the "money = speech" idea behind it. He also showed his usual high level of disingenuousness when he claimed that we should always separate legal rulings from their outcomes, no matter how likely said outcomes will be. More on how that idea is wrong, here. That includes the wrongness of his statements that because this also frees up union and advocacy nonprofits, Citizens United was a level playing field. Bull. Unions don't have as much money as Apple, and Glenn's beloved board-gagging ACLU certainly doesn't. And he knows that.
Contra one Twitter correspondent, this isn't an obsession, at least not on my part. Glenn has, in the opinion of many people beyond me, shown himself to be more libertarian than liberal, as I have blogged, even a second time, and issues like this illustrate it. (Glenn knows this, and if he wants to prove me wrong, next time he's at a youth socialism conference, he can talk about things like a living wage, higher minimum wage, strengthening the NLRB, and similar issues, not just privacy rights.)
The New York Times, again, tries to find a "bright side" on an issue where there really is none. It notes that this could divert more donations away from the super PACs that Citizens United helped and toward donations to individual candidates. Money in politics is highly fungible; the "no linkage" rules on campaign ad details between super PACs and candidates are already regularly ignored and twisted.
Related? After all the talk about tweaking its rules about Internet neutrality, in response to a plea by Netflix to, well, to actually follow through, the Federal Communications Commission officially said pay-for-access issues aren't part of Net neutrality.
Well, then, what the hell is?
So, rich people can contribute even more to adulterate our election process, and telecommunications companies can then charge extra for anybody wanting to discuss what's bad about that, among other things. As in eXXXon, which has indicated that possible future climate change regulations should be damned to hell. McCutcheon makes it a lot easier to buy Congresscritters who will do their bidding.
As this MSNBC review of Thomas Piketty's "Capital in the Twenty-First Century" makes clear, rising income inequality threatens democracy. And, ever-more-unfettered campaign contributions is likely to only increase income inequality. Especially since, per the NYT, this could be the start of even more, and since, arguably (contra Glenn elsewhere), this kicked stare decisis in the ass on Buckley v Valero:
The next case may arrive soon. At their private conference on Friday, the justices are scheduled to consider whether to hear Iowa Right to Life Committee v. Tooker, No. 13-407, a petition from James Bopp Jr., one of the lawyers on the winning side in the McCutcheon case. It challenges an Iowa law that bans contributions from corporations but allows them from unions.There you go.
Mr. Bopp said he had scoured Chief Justice Roberts’s controlling opinion in the McCutcheon case for hints and clues. “I didn’t see any real blatant signals about what they would entertain in the future,” he said. “On the other side, this is the latest in a series of cases from a five-member majority that is very friendly to the First Amendment.”
Add in that the Federal Election Commission is already deliberately gridlocked by its GOP members, who will now only dig in further, and the story is complete.
And, hence, Greenwald's idea that we should segregate likely, even highly likely, legal outcomes from actual legal rulings is a crock of shit. Apply that logic to, oh, say Plessy v Ferguson. Or keep living in Brazil while continuing to ignore the favelas.
At the least, have the balls to try to defend McCutcheon.