Thursday, June 21, 2012
Today's Supreme Court would astonish the Founders.
Although I haven't spoken to any of the Founders, in a seance or otherwise, I suspect they'd at least furrow their brows. You have Chief Justice Roberts saying in his nomination hearings that judges are merely umpires, and aren't, themselves, players in the game... and then expanding the scope of the Citizens United case beyond what was being argued and into the territory of overruling long-held judicial positions. And you have Scalia, coming out with a book indicating that he'd like a decision from the 1940's overturned (a decision which supports the public mandate, mind you). To say nothing of the Ledbetter case which said that the clock on the statute of limitations started ticking with the first instance of wage discrimination, and was not re-set with each subsequent commission.
Today's 5-4 decision that Union dues for political purposes have to be "opt in" rather than "opt out" is an obvious strike against political fund raising. Now, I'm not a lawyer, don't play one on TV, and actually prefer "opt in" when it comes to getting put on mailing lists. But this decision, in the context of Citizens United, raises some pretty serious questions about the neutrality of the Court regarding who they want to have a voice. If "opt in" is the preferred modus, will shareholders of corporations be entitled to the information which would allow them to "opt in" to campaign spending with their investments?
What makes me think the answer to that question is the same to whether or not the Pope poops in the woods?
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(DISCLOSURE: I work for Abt SRBI. My company does polling. My opinions should not be construed as representing those of my employer.)