The Supreme Court reaffirmed its controversial Citizens United decision this week, ruling 5–4 that Montana’s century-old restriction on political spending by corporations cannot stand. The Montana Supreme Court had maintained that the state’s history of rampant political corruption by mining companies justified the law. But a majority of justices disagreed, saying “there can be no serious doubt” that the state had to conform to the Supreme Court’s 2010 decision allowing corporations and unions to spend unlimited sums to support or oppose political candidates.
The Supreme Court has just “piled cowardice atop confusion,” said Bloomberg.com in an editorial. It is simply “not possible to credibly argue, as the Citizens United opinion does, that huge corporate expenditures to aid select political candidates do not give rise to corruption.” But the court’s majority “slinked away” from that reality. With Republicans blocking legislation requiring more disclosure on campaign contributions, powerful interests remain free not only to “influence elections, but to do so secretly.”
Montana gave the Supreme Court no choice, said Bradley Smith in NationalReview.com. The state held that it is “so uniquely corrupt” that it can ignore free speech. That’s like a state arguing that its crime rates are so bad that police can conduct unreasonable searches without a warrant. “The argument is absurd on its face.” And while there’s more money in politics now, “that’s a good thing,” because it “increases voter knowledge and interest.”
If you want to see the “perfect illustration of the squalid state of political money,” just look at casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, said The New York Times. He has already pledged at least $60 million to defeating President Obama. His checks may even buy his way out of a federal corruption investigation, which he “undoubtedly hopes will go away in a Romney administration.” As long as we have “no legal or moral limits to the purchase of influence,” the super-rich will buy politicians the same way they buy fancy cars and oceanfront mansions.