How Chief Justice John Roberts orchestrated the Citizens United decision
-by Jeffrey Toobin
May 21, 2012- When Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission was first argued before the Supreme Court, on March 24, 2009, it seemed like a case of modest importance. The issue before the Justices was a narrow one. The McCain-Feingold campaign-finance law prohibited corporations from running television commercials for or against Presidential candidates for thirty days before primaries. During that period, Citizens United, a nonprofit corporation, had wanted to run a documentary, as a cable video on demand, called “Hillary: The Movie,” which was critical of Hillary Clinton. The F.E.C. had prohibited the broadcast under McCain-Feingold, and Citizens United had challenged the decision. There did not seem to be a lot riding on the outcome. After all, how many nonprofits wanted to run documentaries about Presidential candidates, using relatively obscure technologies, just before elections?
-By Eliza Newlin Carney
May 18, 2012- A stream of amicus briefs to the Supreme Court on a closely watched political spending case turned to a flood by the end the week, as Members of Congress, attorneys general and advocacy groups weighed in.
The big surprise was a bipartisan brief from Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) urging justices to let stand a Montana law that bans corporate political expenditures. The court is weighing whether to take up a constitutional challenge to the law, and today marked the deadline for friend of the court briefs in that decision.
“Evidence from the 2010 and 2012 electoral cycles has demonstrated that so-called independent expenditures create a strong potential for corruption and the perception thereof,” the two Senators wrote in their brief. “The news confirms daily that existing campaign finance rules purporting to provide for ‘independence’ and ‘disclosure’ in fact provide neither.”
-By Sarah Blaskey and Steve Horn
May 16, 2012- Taxpayer-subsidized stealth lobbyists: Lobbyists who circumvent normal lobbying regulations and procedures to advance the corporate agenda in statehouses nationwide on the taxpayer dime.
If Washington DC is the new Versailles, run by corporate overlords and their lobbyist-hired guns, then the 50 statehouses are its paternal twins. That is, while they look different in form, they share the same genetic function as avenues for the fulfillment of the corporate agenda.
-By Greg Stohr
May 15, 2012- In January, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia accused the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency of “high-handedness.” He was just getting warmed up.
Over the next 3 1/2 months, Scalia asked whether federal immigration policy was designed to “please Mexico,” fired off 12 questions and comments in 15 minutes at a government lawyer in a case involving overtime pay, and dismissed part of Solicitor General Donald Verrilli’s defense of President Barack Obama’s health-care law as “extraordinary.”
Scalia’s tone this year, particularly in cases involving the Obama administration, is raising new criticism over the temperament of a justice who has always relished the give-and- take of the Supreme Court’s public sessions. Some lawyers say Scalia, a 1986 appointee of Republican President Ronald Reagan, is crossing the line that separates tough scrutiny from advocacy.
-By Katy Hall
May 15, 2012- A wave of Republican-sponsored laws restricting who can and cannot vote may mean that fewer Democrats, especially those who are low-income or minorities, vote in the 2012 presidential election.
Since the beginning of 2011, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Wisconsin, and West Virginia have passed, or have plans to pass, restrictive voting laws. More than 70 percent of the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency will come from these states, the Brennan Center reported in March. Republican lawmakers argue that the laws are necessary to prevent voter fraud, but fewer than 100 people have been charged with voter fraud in the past five years, according to the Washington Post.
-by Julián Aguilar
May 7, 2012- The Texas attorney general’s office issued a statement in response to today’s court order and scheduling guidelines in the state’s lawsuit against the Department of Justice over the voter ID bill.
In the response, Attorney General Greg Abbott’s office said it is not relenting in its defense. Instead, it alleges that the department, not the state, is responsible for dragging out the proceedings by requesting millions of documents that have “nothing to do” with the case. It also said the department itself has twice extended the deadline to preclear or block the bill. Below is the statement from Jerry Strickland, Abbott's communications director.
-By Sarah Jones
May 9, 2012- It turns out that Joel Arends, the Chairman of Swiftboating 2012 style’s “Veterans for a Strong America” and creator of the viral “Obama spiked the bin Laden football” video, is exactly what he accuses the President of being. He has politicized the Navy SEALS and exploited those who actually were on the bin Laden mission, even though not one of them are currently involved in his organization.
You know Joel, he’s the “non-partsian” (wink wink) Iraq War vet acting as the front man for the super-secret, stealthy corporate cowards who Swiftboat Democrats every election cycle because they can’t win on the issues.