Ms. Diana Thorn is quite upset that President Obama was guilty of an “unprecedented breach of decorum” when he criticized a decision of the Supreme Court in his State of the Union Address [Letters, “Of the People,” 2/4/2010, independent.com/supremelove]. Yet, when Representative Joseph Wilson (R-SC) shouted, “You lie!” during a previous speech before a joint session of Congress, she applauded this childish outburst. Decorum, indeed. As to the specific case in question, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, Ms. Thorn accuses President Obama of not being truthful when he said “the Supreme Court reversed a century of law.”
Fact: On June 26, 1907, Congress passed a law prohibiting corporations from making “money contribution(s) in connection with any election to any political office.” The historical and legal reference by President Obama was, therefore, accurate.
In the cases cited by Ms. Thorn, Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce (1990) and the McCain-Feingold reform bill (2002), the court overturned very specific parts of that decision and bill. The Roberts court, in a blatant display of judicial activism, decided the entire concept of restraint on the electoral influence of large corporations was the equivalent of denial of free speech. In a previous time, conservatives would have derided such rulings as legislating from the bench.
“The court decision did not allow corporations to contribute directly to a campaign,” Ms. Thorn informs us. The operative word is “directly.” Is she not familiar with the acronym PAC (Political Action Committee)? The AT&T PAC, to cite just one example, contributed $3.1 million to federal candidates during the 2007-2008 election cycle. With annual revenues of $124 billion (and no restrictions), this will seem like pocket change. Finally, although foreign corporations may be prohibited from donating to U.S. campaigns, there are corporations based in this country that are controlled by foreign interests. The Roberts court has declared they are entitled to unlimited access to manipulate and corrupt U.S. elections. Yet, there are those who favor this auction of America to the highest bidders. Outrageous. — Robert Baruch, Goleta