Happy as I am with the themes and execution of Norm Ornstein’s important new book and gratifyingly direct WaPo op-ed, there’s just no forgiving him for his long association with AEI. Nonetheless, here’s an excellent summation of how Citizens United absolutely screwed our already debilitated democracy on January 21, 2008:
By giving corporations free rein to meddle in politics without any accountability required, just like in the robber baron days, and by defining money as speech, the court dealt a body blow to American democracy. Candidates no longer can focus simply on raising money for their campaigns against other candidates. Because corporations have almost unlimited sums they can put in with no notice, candidates have to raise protection money in advance just in case such a campaign is waged against them.
And in many cases, as I have written before, they will pay for protection by quietly giving companies or other interests what they want legislatively to avoid a multimillion-dollar slime campaign against them. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, who wrote the majority opinion in Citizens United, said there could be no corruption in independent spending. What planet does he live on?
As for money being speech, imagine if your next-door neighbor puts up 50-foot speakers in his yard and blares music at ear-splitting levels and tells you that this is his speech; he is happy to let you listen to your own music on your iPod. The fact that you cannot hear your own music, much less share it with anyone else because you are drowned out is not material to Kennedy or Chief Justice John Roberts.