The Supreme Court Ruling You’re Not Talking About
On June 27, 2012, 1:57 PM by Savannah Cox
Overshadowed by other rulings, SCOTUS’ recent decision on Montana’s ban on corporate spending in elections is more pressing.
This week’s United States Supreme Court rulings are Capitol Hill’s “Fifty Shades of Grey.” Provocative, contentious and filled with hyperbolic screed courtesy of the obviously aging Antonin Scalia, everyone’s been talking about what’s going on within their various parts. Arizona’s immigration ruling was all the rage on Monday as both sides of the political spectrum scrambled to claim a frankly meaningless “victory” over the other. Later this week, everyone’s attention will shift toward the Justices’ decision on the constitutionality of Obamacare’s individual mandate.
It’s true that both rulings are fine fodder for debate among those who still cling to the belief that real democracy is alive and well in America. But while said political junkies jaw about Congress’ regulation of interstate commerce or the validity of “Show Your Papers” legislation over iced coffee, another Supreme Court ruling—the one that’s essentially hammered the proverbial nails on the red, white and blue coffin we’ve come to know as American democracy—remains largely undiscussed: American Tradition Partnership, Inc. v. Bullock.
For around a century, Montana Attorney General Bullock’s state had legislation that banned corporations from “[making]…an expenditure in connection with a candidate or a political committee that supports or opposes a candidate or political party” by asserting that Montana’s own history with private “copper kings’” corrupt control of the state’s politics led to it having a compelling interest in limiting how much corporations could spend in political processes. But after the supposedly independent Supreme Court kowtowed to the big pockets of big business in 2010’s Citizens United case, the Big Sky Country’s days of elections being decided by the voices of the people—not the weight of a donation bin—were numbered.
Nevertheless, the state of Montana petitioned to maintain their law under the hope that, given the fact that many project that a staggering $1 billion will be spent by independent entities on the 2012 elections, this would give the Supreme Court an opportunity to re-evaluate the Citizens United decision and that conversations about meaningful campaign finance reform would finally re-enter the nation’s consciousness. But given the sharp partisan line that currently divides the US Supreme Court, the likelihood of that is about the same as Ron Paul ever calling 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue his home.
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