In a landmark ruling in the case Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission, a "bitterly divided" U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday struck down a century-old campaign finance law banning corporations from using their profits to support or oppose political candidates. The 5-4 decision allows businesses and labor unions to spend unlimited amounts of money to run their own campaign advertisements — a change that many observers believe will benefit Republicans, which historically have enjoyed stronger support from big business. In an official White House statement, President Obama said the Court "has given a green light to a new stampede of special interest money." Is the Court's ruling good for democracy — or just good for Republicans?
The Court's decision hurts Democrats — and democracy: With a single, "disastrous" blow, "the Supreme Court has thrust politics back to the robber-baron era of the 19th century," says The New York Times in an editorial. The Court's "conservative majority" — which "is deeply wrong on the law" — intentionally "distorted the political system to ensure that Republican candidates will be at an enormous advantage in future elections." The only way to "rescue democracy" is to overturn the decision.
"The Court's blow to democracy"
The ruling enhances our freedom of speech: Contrary to what liberals want you to believe, "the First Amendment is neither right nor left," says Investors Business Daily in an editorial. Rather than simply benefiting Republicans, the Court's ruling "protects all sides of every argument" — a necessary ingredient for "a vibrant, enlightened and open society." Remember, "the more information we have, the better off we are."
"The gag is removed"
More free speech is the last thing anybody — Republican or Democrat — needs: "The idea that more speech is always better" is simply "ridiculous," says University of Pennsylvania law professor Kermit Roosevelt III in The Christian Science Monitor. Our politics is already saturated with an incessant repetition of "misleading" campaign mantras from both sides of the aisle that "effectively drowns out competing voices." And this ruling only exacerbates the problem. More disturbing, however, is that "the justices in the majority seemed to be driven by" a belief "that we should trust corporations" more than our government. The ruling "is a sad comment on our democracy."
"Supreme Court ruling: Do we really trust corporations more than elected officials?"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Stop making fun of philosophy and read some philosophy
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- The real lesson of the looming Martha Coakley disaster
- Beware of Splenda: The backlash against artificial sugars
- Sorry, we will not all be having sex with robots in the future
- How the brides of ISIS are attracting Western women
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- How to live a long life, according to science
- 6 things the happiest families all have in common
- For Democrats, the right lesson from 2014 is to be more liberal
Subscribe to the Week