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Remember the Millionaire's Amendment?  Basically, it says that if a candidate self-funds his House or Senate campaign beyond a certain level (and the math is complicated) and makes the race less competitive, the challenger can start raising funds at twice or even three times ($6900/election) the contribution limits otherwise applicable, and the self-funder becomes subject to various mandatory disclosure requirements regarding his use of his own funds.

Well, based on today's 5-4 Supreme Court decision authored by Justice Alito, it's just a memory now.  Since I can't imagine Congress acting anytime soon, in the 2008 cycle millionaire self-funding candidates can spend to their heart's content without there being any recourse for their opponents.

Essentially, what killed this law was that the raised contribution limits applied were only available to the challenger, and the Court found this to be unduly discriminatory:

In Buckley, we soundly rejected a cap on a candidate’s expenditure of personal funds to finance campaign speech. We held that a "candidate . . . has a First Amendment right to engage in the discussion of public issues and vigorously and tirelessly to advocate his own election" and that a cap on personal expenditures imposes "a substantial," "clea[r]" and "direc[t]" restraint on that right.  We found that the cap at issue was not justified by "[t]he primary governmental interest" proffered in its defense, i.e., "the prevention of actual and apparent corruption of the political process." Far from preventing these evils, "the use of personal funds," we observed, "reduces the candidate’s dependence on outside contributions and thereby counteracts the coercive pressures and attendant risks of abuse to which . . . contribution limitations are directed.". We also rejected the argument that the expenditure cap could be justified on the ground that it served "[t]he ancillary interest in equalizing the relative financial resources of candidates competing for elective office." This putative interest, we noted, was "clearly not sufficient to justify the . . . infringement of fundamental First Amendment rights."  Buckley’s emphasis on the fundamental nature of the right to spend personal funds for campaign speech is instructive. While BCRA does not impose a cap on a candidate’s expenditure of personal funds, it imposes an unprecedented penalty on any candidate who robustly exercises that First Amendment right. Section 319(a) requires a candidate to choose between the First Amendment right to engage in unfettered political speech and subjection to discriminatory fundraising limitations. Many candidates who can afford to make large personal expenditures to support their campaigns may choose to do so despite §319(a), but they must shoulder a special potentially significant burden if they make that choice.

The majority determined that "leveling the playing field" was not a legitimate reason to burden that First Amendment right:

The argument that a candidate’s speech may be restricted in order to "level electoral opportunities" has ominous implications because it would permit Congress to arrogate the voters’ authority to evaluate the strengths of candidates competing for office. See Bellotti, supra, at 791–792 ("[T]he people in our democracy are entrusted with the responsibility for judging and evaluating the relative merits of conflicting arguments" and "may consider, in making their judgment, the source and credibility of the advocate"). Different candidates have different strengths. Some are wealthy; others have wealthy supporters who are willing to make large contributions. Some are celebrities; some have the benefit of a well-known family name. Leveling electoral opportunities means making and implementing judgments about which strengths should be permitted to contribute to the outcome of an election. The Constitution, however, confers upon voters, not Congress, the power to choose the Members of the House of Representatives, Art. I, §2, and it is a dangerous business for Congress to use the election laws to influence the voters’ choices.

Justice Stevens writes for the four dissenters, who maintain that the Millionaire's Amendment reflected a reasonable choice for Congress to make:

The thrust of Davis’ First Amendment challenge is that by relaxing the contribution limits applicable to the opponent of a self-funding candidate, the Millionaire’s Amendment punishes the candidate who chooses to self-fund. Extrapolating from the zero-sum nature of a political race, Davis insists that any benefit conferred upon a self-funder’s opponent thereby works a detriment to the self-funding candidate. Accordingly, he argues, the scheme burdens the self-funding candidate’s First Amendment right to speak freely and to participate fully in the political process. But Davis cannot show that the Millionaire’s Amendment causes him -- or any other self-funding candidate -- any First Amendment injury whatsoever. The Millionaire’s Amendment quiets no speech at all. On the contrary, it does no more than assist the opponent of a self-funding candidate in his attempts to make his voice heard; this amplification in no way mutes the voice of the millionaire, who remains able to speak as loud and as long as he likes in support of his campaign. Enhancing the speech of the millionaire’s opponent, far from contravening the First Amendment, actually advances its core principles. If only one candidate can make himself heard, the voter’s ability to make an informed choice is impaired. And the self-funding candidate’s ability to engage meaningfully in the political process is in no way undermined by this provision.

Minimizing the effect of concentrated wealth on our political process, and the concomitant interest in addressing the dangers that attend the perception that political power can be purchased, are, therefore, sufficiently weighty objectives to justify significant congressional action. And, not only was Congress motivated by proper and weighty goals in crafting the Millionaire’s Amendment, the details of the scheme it devised are genuinely responsive to the problems it identified. The statute’s "Opposition Personal Funds Amount" formula permits a self-funding candidate to spend as much money as he wishes, while taking into account fundraising by the relevant campaigns; it thereby ensures that a candidate who happens to enjoy a significant fundraising advantage against a self-funding opponent does not reap a windfall as a result of the enhanced contribution limits. Rather, the self-funder’s opponent may avail himself of the enhanced contribution limits only until parity is achieved, at which point he becomes again ineligible for contributions above the normal maximum.

It seems uncontroversial that "there is no good reason to allow disparities in wealth to be translated into disparities in political power. A well-functioning democracy distinguishes between market processes of purchase and sale on the one hand and political processes of voting and reasongiving on the other." Sunstein, Political Equality and Unintended Consequences, 94 Colum. L. Rev. 1390 (1994). In light of that clear truth, Congress’ carefully crafted attempt to reduce the distinct advantages enjoyed by wealthy candidates for congressional office does not offend the First Amendment.

In addition, Justice Stevens offers thoughts of his own, thankfully shared by none of his fellow dissenting justices, beacuse this is just thoroughly repugnant to the First Amendment:

In my view, a number of purposes, both legitimate and substantial, may justify the imposition of reasonable limitations on the expenditures permitted during the course of any single campaign. For one, such limitations would "free candidates and their staffs from the interminable burden of fundraising." Moreover, the imposition of reasonable limitations would likely have the salutary effect of improving the quality of the exposition of ideas. After all, orderly debate is always more enlightening than a shouting match that awards points on the basis of decibels rather than reasons. Quantity limitations are commonplace in any number of other contexts in which high-value speech occurs. Litigants in this Court pressing issues of the utmost importance to the Nation are allowed only a fixed time for oral debate and a maximum number of pages for written argument. As listeners and as readers, judges need time to reflect on the merits of an issue; repetitious arguments are disfavored and are usually especially unpersuasive. Indeed, experts in the art of advocacy agree that "lawyers go on for too long, and when  they do it doesn’t help their case."   It seems to me that Congress is entitled to make the judgment that voters deserve the same courtesy and the same opportunity to reflect as judges; flooding the airwaves with slogans and sound-bites may well do more to obscure the issues than to enlighten listeners. At least in the context of elections, the notion that rules limiting the quantity of speech are just as offensive to the First Amendment as rules limiting the content of speech is plainly incorrect.

This may not have been a perfect law -- and it's certainly easy enough to raise the limits symmetrically instead -- but from a political perspective I worry about the implications of changing the rules with about four months to go before Election Day.   After all, part of how Barack Obama was able to remain competitive his 2004 Senate primary against Blair Hull -- who spent $28,000,000+ of his own money on the race -- is that Obama was able to secure larger checks from his supporters.   (It also, to be sure, aided Joe Lieberman in his race against Ned Lamont.) 2008's candidates will have to find other ways to remain competitive.

The more ominous implication is what this may mean for public financing systems, which after all are premised on government's ability to institute measures to level the electoral playing field.  Rick Hasen, Bob Bauer have more.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Thu Jun 26, 2008 at 09:30 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Freedom of speech. (15+ / 0-)

    "Freedom of the press belongs to those who own a press." -- old joke.
    The Supreme-Court majority has now ruled that your freedom of speech consists of how many dollars you have.

    "The three main issues in this campaign are Iraq, Iraq, and Iraq." -- Bill Foster

    by Frank Palmer on Thu Jun 26, 2008 at 09:32:35 AM PDT

    •  The Golden Rule is similar... (6+ / 0-)

      He who has the gold makes the rules.  We're now a nation by, for and of the millionaires.  So, America, as a concept, has one election left to see if we can survive, or whether we'll be an plutocracy.

      •  Perfect, now the Republican millionaire (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Powered Grace, MikeTheLiberal

          running against Gillibrand NY15 House, will be able to blow out his accounts at will.  Great, so instead of having in imperfect moderate/conservative Democrat trying to hold on in a heavily Republican district, we'll have what we had before Gillibrand.  A Republican tool.  What a choice for us lucky NY 15ers. Of course, i will vote for Gillibrand.  If a progressive Dem. beats her in a primary, that candidate will have a helluva time trying to beat the Repub. millionaire (forgot his name- dont want to acknowledge him anyway)  grrr. need more caffeine.

      •  The amendment is misnamed, it should have been (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        MikeTheLiberal

        called the Billionaires amendment.

        Free political speech now is the exclusive province of the very wealthy, and certified to be so by the Supreme Court of the United States of America.

        The Dean/Obama method of public financing which enlists the small donations of millions of Americans now has the risk of being swamped by mega funders, who will now retain the power to buy elections and our politicians.

        For quite some time, money has been equated by the SCOTUS as speech, and this ruling only reinforces that view, we will soon see Republicans further pushing that boundary in this election, knowing full well that no potential penalty can come to either donor or recipient prior to the November election, and potentially never if the Republicans are elected this year.

        This is definitely a game changing rule just months before the election.  We liberals and progressives must draw the line and say that we will not be spent into submission in this election.  We need to set a goal of 5 million small donors and adapt tactics that expose the flanks of the mass funders who will now emerge from the shadows.

        This Supreme Court has demonstrated again and again that it is no friend of the First Amendment, and will continue to do so until America speaks loudly and clearly to this court that they have oversteped their own boundaries.  This pendulum has swung too far, and we must redirect its motion.

        •  Great... (0+ / 0-)

          ... Now I need to find benevolent billionaires to speak for me.

          This Supreme Court has demonstrated again and again that it is no friend of the First Amendment, and will continue to do so until America speaks loudly and clearly to this court that they have oversteped their own boundaries.

          Is there any way to impeach the justices?  I mean, ignoring the First Amendment should be just cause for a so-called Constitutional court.

          "People should not be afraid of their government; governments should be afraid of their people." --V

          by MikeTheLiberal on Thu Jun 26, 2008 at 10:58:30 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  help me out here (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            MikeTheLiberal

            Whose speech is being suppressed?

            •  Mine (0+ / 0-)

              Just try to get someone to speak for me in Congress.

              God forbid I try to actually campaign for Congress!

              "People should not be afraid of their government; governments should be afraid of their people." --V

              by MikeTheLiberal on Thu Jun 26, 2008 at 11:17:29 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Yours and mine. (0+ / 0-)

              Assume that you support a candidate for the US Senate in your state.  Assume that I support the same candidate.  Say that last four senate races in our state had expenditures of on average, $10 M per candidate.

              Consider that the candidate opposite your party's has a personal fortune of $800 million, and that this individual won his/her primary handily and will face the candidate we support in the fall.  Based upon history, our candidate knows he/she will need to raise $10-12 M to be competitive.

              The opposition candiate to whom $10-12 M is a meaningless number compared to the personal assets available decides to self-fund his/her campaign, and makes a determination that he will not be outspent under any circumstances, and in fact commits $25 M to the campaign and holds another $25 M in reserve, and if it is close is even willing to spend another $25 M.

              If our candidate really does well and raises $12.5 M by legal means, and his/her donors are completely tapped out with no chance of finding any more funds, then each dollar you or I donate to our candidate is already swamped to the extent that for each of our dollars of speech, our opponent has two dollars, and has in reserve as much as six dollars of political speech for every dollar of our speech.  Your political speech has not been suppressed, but it has been swamped.  Is there a difference?

              Do you think that this is the political system the founders and the framers of the Constitution intended when they risked their lives and fortune to found America?

              Since, according to the SCOTUS, money = speech, do you want one candidate to have unlimited speech when the other realistically can have 1/6 or 1/10 or even 1/25 of the amount of political speech as you do?  At some point swamping another's political speech becomes suppressing the other's.  If, by making attacks early in a campaign that must be defended against, whether the attack is true or not, and the campaign with limited resources runs out of money before the election, the campaign with effectively unlimited resources has all the speech it needs, and the other candidate no longer enjoys the ability to project his/her own political speech, i.e., it is suppressed, and if that is the candidate you support, your voice also winds up being suppressed.

              •  But here's the thing (0+ / 0-)

                Most self-funding millionare candidates lose.  Blair Hull lost.  Michael Huffington lost.  Ned Lamont lost.  Al Checchi, Katherine Harris, Richard Tarrant, Jim Pedersen, Pete Ricketts lost. Take a look.

                •  Sometimes they win (0+ / 0-)

                  Bloomberg is Mayor of NYC.  Romney was Gov of Massachusetts.

                  Suppose this gaping loophole is seen by the gasping McCain campaign as a means to $300 or $400 M in campaign funding by picking Romney or Bloomberg for VP and they chuck their massive personal fortunes into their own VP campaigns?  What is there to stop them from doing that, SCOTUS?

                  Suppose the Republicans decide that they are toast if McCain is the presidential candidate, and some Romney or Bloomberg supporters stage a revolt in the R Party, force McCain out and put Romney and Bloomberg on the R ticket together, and they use the self-funding apporach, say one chucks in $600 M, and the other $400 M.  With $1B to spend on their own campaign, and Obama, despite the millions of small donors cannot raise more than $1 B, plus the 527 swiftboaters on the R side, who's to say that the R's couldn't win under those circumstances.

                  I am on record here in Kos that nothing will keep the Republicans from doing ANYTHING to keep their hands on the purse strings of the $25 Trillion that will be spent in the Federal budget in the next 8 years.  Is there any reason to think that something like this scenario might not play out.  If a Republican sees an advantage, he will take it.

        •  Money is overated. (0+ / 0-)

          If you've got an original message, it'll go viral. Lowbudget candidates can't afford to run on the cookiecutter Party message.

          Obama still gets my vote, but my bumper belongs to Privacy '08.

          by ben masel on Thu Jun 26, 2008 at 11:59:18 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Proposed 28th Amendment to the Constitution (0+ / 0-)

      "Money is not speech"

      Did you know ever single dollar collected from the Income Tax goes to the Military? (Everything else is paid for by Borrowing and Corporate Taxes.)

      by NCJim on Thu Jun 26, 2008 at 12:03:20 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  5 rich right-wingers decided (12+ / 0-)

    to undermine campaign finance laws. Nothing new here.

    "Victory means exit strategy, and it's important for the president to explain to us what the exit strategy is." - George W Bush

    by jfern on Thu Jun 26, 2008 at 09:33:18 AM PDT

    •  You'd think so (0+ / 0-)

      But Hagel was the only Republican Senator to vote against the amendment:

      NAYs ---30
      Akaka (D-HI)
      Bayh (D-IN)
      Biden (D-DE)
      Bingaman (D-NM)
      Byrd (D-WV)
      Cantwell (D-WA)
      Carper (D-DE)
      Daschle (D-SD)
      Dayton (D-MN)
      Dodd (D-CT)
      Dorgan (D-ND)
      Edwards (D-NC)
      Fitzgerald (R-IL)
      Graham (D-FL)
      Hagel (R-NE)
      Inouye (D-HI)
      Johnson (D-SD)
      Kennedy (D-MA)
      Leahy (D-VT)
      Lieberman (D-CT)
      Lincoln (D-AR)
      Mikulski (D-MD)
      Murray (D-WA)
      Reed (D-RI)
      Reid (D-NV)
      Rockefeller (D-WV)
      Stabenow (D-MI)
      Thompson (R-TN)
      Wellstone (D-MN)
      Wyden (D-OR)

  •  Roberts SCOTUS = Time release GOP :-/ (9+ / 0-)

    5-4 decisions will project conservatarian opinion upon our country for years to come regardless of which party holds sway in Congress and the White House.

  •  And the reporting deadline is in 4 days (5+ / 0-)

    Let's see how much money is poured into this thing.

    Send this Turn Maine Blue blogger to Denver! Click here to donate.

    by Eddie in ME on Thu Jun 26, 2008 at 09:35:15 AM PDT

  •  Any question now of who not only owns (4+ / 0-)

    the Presidency, Congress, and the Supreme Court too?

    If we're not willing to boldly refute the lies, the lies will stand as truth. (-6.75, -6.72)

    by cn4st4datrees on Thu Jun 26, 2008 at 09:35:37 AM PDT

  •  What's ironic is (5+ / 0-)

    That is a Democrat that caused this lawsuit.  Sigh...

    At least you guys can restrict campaign finance somewhat, in OR we can't even do that.  The Supreme Court has ruled that doing so infringes on OR's very broad free speech amendment.

    "Polls are like crack, political activists know they're bad for them but they read them anyways."-Unknown

    by skywaker9 on Thu Jun 26, 2008 at 09:37:32 AM PDT

    •  Alas. Obviously the old saw (4+ / 0-)

      "Money talks, everything else walks" is holding truer than ever.

      If we're not willing to boldly refute the lies, the lies will stand as truth. (-6.75, -6.72)

      by cn4st4datrees on Thu Jun 26, 2008 at 09:40:42 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Wrong. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      skywaker9, NYBri, MikeTheLiberal

      Jack Davis is NOT A DEMOCRAT.  He is a disaffected Republican, personally wronged by Dick Cheney (or at least he perceived he was slighted by Cheney in some fashion), and as a result he filed to run for Congress as a Democrat.  He is not liberal, progressive or even moderately to the left of center.  He feigns positions that appease Democrats in a couple areas, but for the most part he is just a vile person seeking to buy a seat in Congress.

      His past campaigns were 99% media buys, he hates to campaign and be "among people" and is generally not someone who would even make consideration for something like O2B.

      Don't smear the party by id'ing him as a Democrat, and while you are at it, go give 5 or 10$ to one of his progressive opponents in the Primary.

      NY-26 on Racetracker

      This space for rent

      by mp on Thu Jun 26, 2008 at 10:23:46 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Fair enough (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        MikeTheLiberal

        Thanks for the correction.

        "Polls are like crack, political activists know they're bad for them but they read them anyways."-Unknown

        by skywaker9 on Thu Jun 26, 2008 at 10:24:45 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  MP is correct.... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          skywaker9

          ...We have to remember that Davis has lost this race twice after dumping a fortune into both losing efforts....

          He had no stomach for doing campaigning...he just ran ads and that was it. So much for grassroots efforts....

          Powers couldn't be more different in his approach.

          He is out knocking on doors and meeting the people of the district and raising funds the old fashioned way...small donation at a time.

      •  just for the record ... (0+ / 0-)

        you are repeating republican talking points about davis being driven by personal animus against cheney.

        I caution against rejecting anyone including [former] republicans whose distaste for bush and cheney policies drove them to oppose republicans.

        the last I checked, Jim Webb was once a republican and worked for who was it, oh right, ronald reagan.  guess he's not a real dem either.

        say what you want, davis though far from an ideal campaigner stepped up and ran against reynolds when no one else would and not only proved that reynolds could be taken out, greased the skids for reynolds' retirement.

        and that, my friend, opened the way for golden boy jon powers to enter the race.

        btw, jon powers until recently was a republican, and was pro-life, unlike jack davis who has always been pro-choice.

        •  I have no horse in this race... (0+ / 0-)

          ...I only know what I have read, seen and researched in the FEC reports.

          Video of Mr. Davis speaking on Immigration clearly revealed him to be in no way progressive/liberal/Democratic/decent.

          I've only seen a small sample of the commercials he has run, but those that I saw were not at all helpful to the progressive cause.

          I'm not here, or anywhere else, touting Jim Webb in any way.  I have vigorously argued with people who have suggested he should be Obama's running mate.

          You could make an argument for Davis "stepping up" if he was the only candidate in the race, but there are multiple other candidates in the race, more progressive and more active than he.

          I don't care if you are a Republican, Democrat, Libertarian or Socialist - you have to campaign.  If you wont spend time with the people before you are elected, why should anyone expect you to represent them in Congress?  It is not an option, self-financing or not.

          More, Better Democrats.  BOTH, not just more, gotta be better too.

          This space for rent

          by mp on Thu Jun 26, 2008 at 11:59:46 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Good gods... (8+ / 0-)

    ...what is this, Bad SCOTUS Decision Day?

    In a mad world, only the mad are sane. -Akira Kurosawa

    by Andrew M on Thu Jun 26, 2008 at 09:37:46 AM PDT

  •  Clearing Brush before a new SCOTUS appointment by (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    oceanview

    ... President Obama.

    These decisions are the scratch marks caused by the GOP's last grasp on power.

    I Hope!!!!!!!!

  •  Ugh, Adam (0+ / 0-)

    I'm hoping you respond to my comment in your last diary.

    I'm really disappointed in Barack Obama on the death penalty case.  I would have thought he should know better.  Please help explain to me why he's far different from that opportunistic Bill Clinton.  I need my spirits lifted.

    The doctor said I wouldn't have so many nose bleeds if I kept my finger outta there. - Ralph Wiggum

    by jim bow on Thu Jun 26, 2008 at 09:38:31 AM PDT

  •  FUCKSHIT. (3+ / 0-)

    We heavily relied on its effect during the 2006 election against super-rich silver-spoon moron Bush cousin Tom Kean, Jr.  FUCK.

    Pragmatic progressivism is the future.

    by Pragmaticus on Thu Jun 26, 2008 at 09:39:19 AM PDT

  •  why would we... (6+ / 0-)

    ...expect anything less than this in the plutocracy that the united states has become?

  •  Election Finance is broken. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Agent Orange

    Can we just throw the whole damn thing out and start over?

    /snarkishness

  •  It means that millionaires need only apply for (5+ / 0-)

    political office.

    We've been going in this direction for some time now.  Even Lamont's self-funding was offensive to me.  The Lords and Ladies of the Manors are the only candidates who can compete which is a pretty ugly prospect considering the ideals upon which this democracy was founded.  Of course, the Constitutional originalists will argue that this was what it was always supposed to be, but I think the Founders did intend for this democracy to gradually and naturally evolve into a more populist entity as societal and cultural norms came to more enlightened positions.

    •  Lamont (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      oceanview, brein

      It is what it is. Lamont had to spend large amounts to remain competitive. If he hadn't the resources he would not have defeated Lieberman in the primary.

      Here we are now Entertain us I feel stupid and contagious

      by Scarce on Thu Jun 26, 2008 at 09:45:49 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I understand that. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        brein

        The issue is that only a multi-millionaire could take on an incumbent Senator.  That is a problem imo.  Further, you could have a perfectly fabulous candidate who is not a multi-millionaire - the real deal as a public servant, but for practical purposes have to abandon that candidate for some multi-millionaire all because the challenger is a multi-millionaire.  That is a big problem because you aren't picking a candidate first for his or her skills, talent, policies, ideals etc. - instead you're checking their bank account to qualify them first.  I think that it has been proved beyond a reasonable doubt during the Bush Presidency that being a multi-millionaire doesn't necessarily mean you are going to be a good public servant.

        Things get really ugly in smaller and poorer Congressional districts especially.  The richest guy in town now has even more special access to political power which is pretty unsavory.

        •  This is not a new phenomenon (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          heliosfootball

          It's just not a Bush presidency problem. Going back hundreds of years the well-financed have always had a huge advantage.

          The richest guys buy Senate seats or try to become Governor, or in someone like Bloomberg's case Mayor of New York.

          I'll also take the contrary view that when people here extol the virtues of a candidate who has no money versus a well-financed incumbent who has all those benefits plus the additional resources they're just not being realistic.

          Here we are now Entertain us I feel stupid and contagious

          by Scarce on Thu Jun 26, 2008 at 10:12:28 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I understand that this is not new. (0+ / 0-)

            I think I made that clear in my first comment.

            However, the notion that the levers of power are only accessible to the richest amongst us - especially in a time when the gap between rich and poor is widening more and more - does not bode well for egalitarianism in our country or for the integrity of the democracy.

            I don't reject rich candidates outright just because they are rich - but I do reject the notion that personal wealth should be a requirement for running for office.  I don't like the idea that Bloomberg could buy the White House for himself.  Oddly, I'd be a lot more comfortable if someone bought it for him and much happier if small groups of people couldn't buy political offices at all.  But the notion that Mitt Romney could buy the White House for him and his family without being beholden to anyone, that I find most offensive out of the options.

            Truth be told - if we aren't going to go to straight public financing - I'm starting to agree with my Father's position that we should do away will all of the limitations on donations - keep tracking the donor lists - but make the donations unlimited again and go from there - but I'd still probably limit the amount a candidate and his or her family could donate under that scenario - at least then they'd be beholden to someone other than themselves.

    •  It actually doesn't mean that (0+ / 0-)

      see comments below, and look for a diary by me, maybe Sunday

  •  Worst. Court. EVER (5+ / 0-)

    My god, these last two days have proven how horrid this SCOTUS is.  Three of the worst decisions I've ever seen since Bush v Gore.  How do these creatures sleep at night, knowing that Con law classes for the next century will be reading these Frankenstein opinions and tearing them apart?

    It will take time, a lot of time, but like Chimpy McCokeSpoon's presidency, this too shall pass and be cleansed from our nation.

  •  even the conservative SC regrets Lieberman (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Samer, Alfonso Nevarez

    well, I'll admit there are other explanations, but I like mine.

  •  Lieberman outraised Lamont too (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Samer

    ..for much of the race, largely through this law and the huge amounts he was able to raise from republican donors. Lamont would spend nearly $16mil of his own money in what I term to be a heroic effort to rid of us Lieberman.

    Lieberman $19,026,689

    Lamont $20,580,703

    Here we are now Entertain us I feel stupid and contagious

    by Scarce on Thu Jun 26, 2008 at 09:41:40 AM PDT

  •  Pretty simple math here: If you have found a way (6+ / 0-)

    to make yourself really wealthy, you can use your money to let people know what you think.

    In a society that nods its collective head at, "If you're so smart, why aren't you rich?" this all makes logical sense.

    After all, how many members of Congress are not millionaires?  What percentage of members of State legislatures are not millionaires?

    Eh, what do I know?  I'm just a teacher.

    No, we cannot tolerate even a one-term McCain presidency.

    by algebrateacher on Thu Jun 26, 2008 at 09:41:43 AM PDT

  •  From what I've heard (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Samer, mcfly

    it was a Democrat that brought the suit in the first place.

    All the more reason to support Jon Powers.

    Check out The Albany Project for the latest in NY state political news.

    by Team Slacker on Thu Jun 26, 2008 at 09:41:49 AM PDT

  •  Plutocracy replaces democracy with this... (0+ / 0-)

    ruling. We are pretty much there anyway, but now the rich have an easy edge and the rest are handicapped more than ever from seeking office.

    "A revolution without dancing is a revolution not worth having." --V

    by moondancing on Thu Jun 26, 2008 at 09:42:57 AM PDT

  •  Any potential defectors to McCain have any (8+ / 0-)

    questions why Obama needs to be the next President?

    The thought of McCain having the opportunity to appoint 1 or 2 more justices like Roberts/Scalia/Alito/Thomas is just blood-chilling.

    •  indeed (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      oceanview, Samer, Ammo Hauler

      the S.Ct's performance over the past week should be more than enought to cure the purity outbreak around here.

      I am aware of all internet traditions

      by mcfly on Thu Jun 26, 2008 at 09:44:46 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  And to encourage a bill for filing 1/21/09. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Ammo Hauler

        "An Act to expand the size of the Supreme Court to 11 Justices."

        Unless, of course, two or three of the Injustices are willing to submit their resignations to President Obama the previous afternoon.

        Or would they rather wait for someone to really lose their cool against these piles of judicial excretement?   I neither advocate nor condone that action, but it wouldn't shock me to see it occur.

        •  FDR tried that, and people screamed. (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Adam B, mcfly, Ammo Hauler, spyguy999

          What makes you think they won't scream when Obama tries it? And the right-wing media's a lot more powerful these days then it was in FDR's time.

          In a mad world, only the mad are sane. -Akira Kurosawa

          by Andrew M on Thu Jun 26, 2008 at 10:22:05 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  We Need A Serious Investigation (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Ammo Hauler

            into Florida 2000 and Ohio 2004 once we actually have real adult non-criminals in DoJ again.  Because IF we can show either actually was stolen I thnk we could convince the American people that Alito & Roberts are the illegitimate fruit of a poison tree and should be forced to resign or impeached.

            Better yet, we could actually impeach Thomas for his perjury during his confirmation hearings.

            But as to your comment - let em scream.  Screaming didn't stop the GOP from stealing an election or impeaching a President. We need to start playing hardball.

          •  The nation's population has doubled since 1937. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Ammo Hauler

            The government has also added to the number of Circuit Courts of Appeals which the High Court must oversee.  The right-wing nutjobs would complain no matter what is done.  would they prefer someone seeking a more violent alternative to this standoff?  (I do not condone such an action, but I can not rule it out by those who are not adverse to making martyrs out of these slimeball Injustices.)

        •  I have advocated that action (0+ / 0-)

          Ever since Scalia said "stop the recount".
          He should've just been arrested.

          "You can't nice these people to death."-- John Edwards

          by ge0rge on Fri Jun 27, 2008 at 09:03:17 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  yes, was talking to an Independant who (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mcfly, Ammo Hauler, brein

       "likes" mcShame.  Tried to inform him re. voting for mc cain, the congress, shared powers, the supreme court, checks and balances.  That sort a thing.  Then hes reading the front page. re. Scotus reducing - practically demolishing the Alaska oil spill damages due by big oil.  There, i said, there is why you cannot, or should not vote Republican.  He seemed to get it. The mllionaire ruling will hit front page tomorrow.

  •  And wingers fret over activist librul judiciary. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    oceanview, bwintx, Junah

    Rich.

    Religion is sort of like a lift in your shoes. If it makes you feel better, fine. Just don't ask me to wear your shoes. - George Carlin

    by AllanTBG on Thu Jun 26, 2008 at 09:43:26 AM PDT

  •  The SCOTUS has been on a scorched-earth (4+ / 0-)

    mission with its decisions this week...it's almost as if they think they're going to be voted out of office in November, too...

    I just wish Roberts and Alito would decide (after November) that they don't like being on the court and step down.  Then Obama could replace them with people who actually think about the cases they're deciding.  Scalia can sit on the bench and be a reminder of why we can't have Republican presidents for a while longer.

    Once in a while you get shown the light in the strangest of places if you look at it right.

    by darthstar on Thu Jun 26, 2008 at 09:44:38 AM PDT

    •  They need to wait till the end of January instead (0+ / 0-)

      But yes, that would be nice.  I doubt they would step down, but if a miracle would occur, and Congress would do its oversight jobs, a case(not sure how strong, as I'm not a lawyer) could be made that they lied under oath in the confirmation hearings when both Alito and Roberts claimed they were nearly fucking wed to Stare decisis. It certainly wouldnt fly though, I mean no ones dick was sucked in this situation.

      as the cleansing light of oversight floods the room, the fearful roaches scatter.

      by Resmuglicrook Investigator on Thu Jun 26, 2008 at 09:56:01 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Scalia is a sick twisted individual and should (0+ / 0-)

      not be allowed anywhere near a position where he has the ability to affect other peoples lives.

      Dear Mr. President, There are too many states nowadays. Please eliminate three. P.S. I am not a crackpot.

      by ryan81 on Thu Jun 26, 2008 at 10:20:18 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  It's ALWAYS "this week" (0+ / 0-)

      "This week" is when the term ends, when the hardest rulings (the ones it took them the longest to wrangle through) are finally handed down.  The notorious Bowers v. Hardwick also came down "this week".

      "You can't nice these people to death."-- John Edwards

      by ge0rge on Fri Jun 27, 2008 at 09:02:33 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  SCOTUS is having a grand old time (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Eric J in MN, oceanview, Samer, ge0rge

    being assholes this week.

    "You don't make peace with friends. You make it with very unsavory enemies." -Yitzhak Rabin

    by juslikagrzly on Thu Jun 26, 2008 at 09:45:15 AM PDT

  •  One of those places where I don't understand (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Skeptical Bastard, Druid800

    Progressives at all.

    A candidate putting personal funds on the line is, essentially, putting one's money where one's mouth is.

    I fail to see how that is anywhere near as offensive as lobbyist money or money raised at $1,000 a plate fund-raising dinners for the rich and influential.

    Exercising one's personal cash is a form of exercising one's personal speech. First amendment rights should apply.

    Free speech? Yeah, I've heard of that. Have you?

    by dinotrac on Thu Jun 26, 2008 at 09:45:27 AM PDT

    •  So I can't run for office because I'm not rich? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      brein

      Is that your argument?

      Hige sceal þe heardra, heorte þe cenre, mod sceal þe mare, þe ure mægen lytlað

      by milkbone on Thu Jun 26, 2008 at 10:22:47 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Ummmm.....Now you see why I sometimes fail (0+ / 0-)

        to understand Progressives.

        I will simply refer you to Lawton Chiles in the 1970 Forida Gubernatorial campaign.

        Free speech? Yeah, I've heard of that. Have you?

        by dinotrac on Thu Jun 26, 2008 at 10:28:07 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  What does Chiles have to do with it? (0+ / 0-)

          He was already a state senator and a lawyer when he ran for governor - presumably he was as well-to-do as his opponent.

          Pulling a cute little publicity stunt like he did costs money, too.

          Hige sceal þe heardra, heorte þe cenre, mod sceal þe mare, þe ure mægen lytlað

          by milkbone on Thu Jun 26, 2008 at 11:01:59 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  The thing is... (0+ / 0-)

            there are many ways to skin a cat.

            Your question's a straw man, anyway.
            Even without the Supreme Court ruling, how many poor people have you seen win office?

            For that matter, since when does money guarantee victory?

            Here in Illinois, Bill Foster beat the wealthy self-financing Jim Oberweis for Denny Hastert's old seat.  I was happy to vote for him, too. But...Bill Foster isn't exactly poor, either.

            Barack Obama is opting out of public financing because he has got oodles and oodles of money.  It's not his own, though.  He raised it from scads of small supporters.  Going into the primaries, Hillary had what seemed like an insurmountable financial lead, not to mention a personal fortune that she dipped into to keep her campaign going.

            Who's the nominee?

            In 1992, Ross Perot could have bought both Bill Clinton and George Bush several times over.  Who got elected?

            Even on the other side this year --
            very wealthy Mitt Romney got beat by campaign on a shoestring John McCain.

            If you're going to mess with something like the first amendment, you need a pretty strong argument.

            You haven't got one.

            Free speech? Yeah, I've heard of that. Have you?

            by dinotrac on Thu Jun 26, 2008 at 11:41:12 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Uh...what the hell? (0+ / 0-)

    When did the Court ever pump out decisions this quickly?

    That's, what, 4 or 5 now in the past couple weeks.

    What the hell kind of coffee did they start serving over there?!?!

    "Every man is guilty of all the good he did not do." ~Voltaire

    by The BBQ Chicken Madness on Thu Jun 26, 2008 at 09:46:26 AM PDT

  •  The Roberts Court is Karl Rove's wet dream... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ammo Hauler, c2olgos2

    ...there is no question that John Roberts is trying to set us up...  He brings int he gitmo case, in order to inspire lackadaisical conservative voters to wakeup and go to the polls, then the child rape death penalty case to try and "remind" independents how "liberal" judges are "soft on crime", and now, with republicans short on cash, gets rid of the millionaire's ammendment so their self funded millionaire candidates can get an edge.  Why it's almost like Rove himself is advising the SCOTUS!

    Well, played John Roberts... too bad the court wasn't supposed to be stacked with political hacks!

    I can only hope that president Obama will get the opportunity to stack the court with his own political operatives to undermine your attacks on the constitution.

    The United States of America--the only country in the world where being educated and cultured actually *lowers* your social and political standing.

    by LordMike on Thu Jun 26, 2008 at 09:46:34 AM PDT

  •  This line of Campaign Finance Reform is Dead (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Alfonso Nevarez

    The only legitimate regulation of campaign finance should be to ensure full transparency by all actors in the political process and to have that information reported to the public in as real time as possible.

    Sure the super rich can dominate the discourse but that is in part because, prior to Dean and Barack, the majority of citizens sat on their asses presumably assuming public funding and matching somehow was serving their interests.  It is clear public funding has been gamed from the get go; those who followed the system got chumped, except for the marginal candidates who were subsidized by matching funds.

    There should be no limits to contribution amounts; the millionaire amendment is unnecessary.  Tell me why all political denizens worship the bundlers - those partners who can shake down $100,000 from their firm employees in voluntary contributions, whose influence is then outsized again.  Tell me the WalMart heirs are at all limited in their efforts to get rid of inheritance taxes.  

    And tax payers know it which is why so few contribute to the Federal matching funds accounts.  Maybe it is time for individual Americans to put money in the political system (a little less pet care, cable service, Doritos, lottery tickets) if they want to influence the results.    

    •  I tell people all the time (0+ / 0-)

      if you're willing to pay for government services on the back end via taxation, you will be better served paying for them from the front end via political contributions.

      Just think of it as a voluntary tax - a good government tax.

      "Bipartisan usually means that a larger-than-usual deception is being carried out." - George Carlin, R.I.P. (1937-2008)

      by Alfonso Nevarez on Thu Jun 26, 2008 at 09:55:52 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Your proposal would take us from bad to worse. (0+ / 0-)

      The bundling of donations is a problem.

      Letting a rich person hand over millions directly to influence a candidate would give that rich person even more control over the politician than if he raised the money as a bundler.

      •  Then the huge contributions are part of the (0+ / 0-)

        debate and, assuming we have a free press (i.e. something other than Fox - hand hopefully and multiplicity of competing media outlets), then let the voters decide.

        Get the voters off political welfare.  That is the real proble,

  •  It seems that Scalia and his assenting (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Alfonso Nevarez

    judges are deliberately conflating freedom of speech with montary influence. While having funds may be a prerequisite to expressing an idea by using the media, that does not mean that the expenditure does in itself constitute an expression of ideas.

    Oddly enough, I'd agree with Scalia's reasoning that personal expenditure prevents a candidate becoming beholden to various special interests, but his deduction is flawed: That does not mean that he should be exempt from the cap, since that would mean that he has an unfair advantage, one which a poor candidate, no matter the possible superiority of his ideas, can match only with great difficulty. In this way money actually impedes free speech.

    As for Justice Stevens' reasoning, well, no matter your political views you can see the difference in the clarity and precision of thought.      

    Omne malum nascens facile opprimitur, inveteratum fit plerumque robustius. - Cicero

    by Dauphin on Thu Jun 26, 2008 at 09:48:49 AM PDT

    •  Small correction (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Rosemary, Dauphin

      There isn't any "cap" in the law that needed to be overturned. The law basically stated that if a self-funded candidate spent a certain amount of his own campaign, the opponent could raise the limit on individual donations to allow some parity.

      The law as written was STILL tilted to favor the wealthy, because it only allowed the opponent the RIGHT to ask for bigger checks. It didn't guarantee that those checks would be written or offer any additional money from government coffers.

      In reality, this will likely have little effect on Presidential campaigns, which rely on individual donors are are prohibitively expensive for all but the SUPERrich to self-fund. However, I fear this will have serious implications on congressional races, where Republican ranks are usually bloated with plutocratic candidates to begin with.

      --------------
      Condemnant qui non intelligent.
      Economic: -6.75
      Social : -5.03

      by cognizant on Thu Jun 26, 2008 at 10:19:09 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I'm not too concerned (0+ / 0-)

    Our fund raising model is becoming more and more reliant upon lots and lots of small donors.  The net benefit is that Democratic millionaires will have a fund raising advantage over Reps who can't cash larger checks, while Republican millionaires may not.

    "Bipartisan usually means that a larger-than-usual deception is being carried out." - George Carlin, R.I.P. (1937-2008)

    by Alfonso Nevarez on Thu Jun 26, 2008 at 09:50:37 AM PDT

  •  So how many billionaire democrats are there (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    chaboard, milkbone

    that we can get to rung for office?
    You guys better start making money and pronto.

    John McCain "Beware the terrible simplifiers" Jacob Burckhardt, Historian

    by notquitedelilah on Thu Jun 26, 2008 at 09:51:42 AM PDT

  •  All financing needs to be public (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    c2olgos2

    Until our congress gets this through their fucking heads, we will continue with the current mess we find ourselves in.

    And Obama choosing to forego public financing doesn't help one bit.

    "Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others." - G. Marx

    by Skeptical Bastard on Thu Jun 26, 2008 at 09:55:32 AM PDT

    •  I disagree (0+ / 0-)

      this an issue that gets absolutely no play in the corporate media.  The fact that the media is actually calling attention to it in a desperate attempt to damage BO's candidacy is actually a good thing IMO.  Barack is right: so long as there are soft money loopholes, there is no such thing as spending limits.

      Besides, as I noted above, I consider campaign donations as a front end, voluntary tax for good government service.  I see no reason why we should limit the number of people allowed to participate.

      "Bipartisan usually means that a larger-than-usual deception is being carried out." - George Carlin, R.I.P. (1937-2008)

      by Alfonso Nevarez on Thu Jun 26, 2008 at 10:02:37 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  "limit the number of people"??? (0+ / 0-)

        If ALL campaign financing were publicly funded, the ALL taxpaying citizens would be participating.  How much better, more fair participation could you ask for?

        "Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others." - G. Marx

        by Skeptical Bastard on Thu Jun 26, 2008 at 11:26:49 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Damn (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mcfly

    If I had a million bucks, I wouldn't waste it on running for election, cheeseburgers in paradise for ME!

    Don't drink and blog

    by c2olgos2 on Thu Jun 26, 2008 at 09:56:01 AM PDT

  •  The ruling has a point (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rosemary

    A kind of flaky point, but a point nonetheless. I'm not too worried about this -- we've seen self-funders come and go, and all most of them have done is depleted their own wealth.
    Money can buy a lot of things, but it apparently can't make conservative ideas attractive to voters that largely disagree with them.

    "We'd free the incarcerate race of man That such a doom endures Could only you unlock my skull, Or I creep into yours." -- "sten...", Ogden Nash

    by Jaxpagan on Thu Jun 26, 2008 at 09:56:13 AM PDT

  •  Maybe a stupid question. (0+ / 0-)

    If Person A gives Person B a large gift of one million dollars, and pays the gift taxon that amount, and then Person B decides to run for office and uses their new gift, is that legal?

    A Leader Without Followers Is Just A Guy Taking A Walk

    by gooderservice on Thu Jun 26, 2008 at 09:56:58 AM PDT

  •  Millionaire's Amendment (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Delirium, bwintx

    I could think of things more important to get outraged about than the Millionaire's Amendment ruling. It appears to me that the Millionaire's Amendment was crippled already. Mitt Romney and Hillary Clinton just loaned their campaigns money. That did not trigger the Millionaire's Amendment allowing their opponents to raise money in larger sums. If they do not recover the money they loaned their campaigns by the convention, they are limited to recovering only $250,000 of the loan. They are not required to recover the $250,000. In essence they self financed a portion of their campaign. All the Supreme Court did was emphasize a moot point.

  •  We have to feel sorry for those millionaires. (0+ / 0-)

    Maybe we can put a dollar sign on the flag.

  •  The honesty of Scalia (0+ / 0-)

    Somewhat unrelated to this post, but nevertheless relevent.
    Scalia Cites False Information in Habeas Corpus Dissent
    http://www.marjoriecohn.com/

  •  This is not really as important (0+ / 0-)

    as it might appear.

    OK, I agree it's a bad ruling.

    But spending tons of money doesn't win office.  I'll try to dig this up a bit later, but I remember studies showing that what's important is not spending the most, but spending at least a certain minimum.  I think this was in a book on congressional elections.  It also found that the amount the incumbent spent was much less important than the amount the challenger spent, and what was most important there was that it was over a certain amount.

    Another thing to remember is that some of the richest people in Congress and politics more generally are fairly far to the left --- Corzine is, I think, the richest person in either chamber, and one of the most liberal.  

  •  *** Dammit.... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    c2olgos2

    ... I could write a book on this but why bother with some of the inane comments showing up already to the effect that "this doesn't matter, elect Obama."  

  •  Sorry, But I think this is the right decision (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cartwrightdale, jccleaver

    There has been a lot of hand-wringing over protecting the fourth amendment here on DKos, so why aren't folks as concerned about the First Amendment? I think this is a pretty clear violation in that it gives unequal treatment ot both candidates.  A lot of times when candidates use a lot oftheir own money, anyway, it comes back at them as being seen as trying to buy the seat.

    •  But As The Minority Pointed Out... (0+ / 0-)

      ...in the dissent, there was no curtailment of the rich guy's First Amendment rights by the Amendment. There was absolutely nothing in the amendment limiting the rich guy's speech.  

      "Equal treatment" is not in the First Amendment.

      This is really  illogical law.

    •  If it were unequal treatment, (0+ / 0-)

      that would be the 14th amendment, not the 1st.  The contribution restriction ISN'T a restriction on your SPEECH because it ONLY comes into play when you are already making much much more speech  than your opponent.
      At best the contribution restriction is a restriction on your ability to  accept gifts after you become a candidate.  But that ability was already being drastically restricted in other ways for other reasons (to combat bribery).

      Is it even theoretically possible that if you were the next order up (from the Obama campaign) of internet-savvy, you could, despite not being a millionaire yourself, organize so very many triple-weight contributions as to leave the millionaire at a disadvantage (had this been left in place)?

      Does the opinion even care at all about giving a millionaire's opponent a fair shot??

      And how would raising to symmetric limits even help AT ALL??  Doesn't it surely follow that people who can afford to give at higher limits are THEMSELVES RICHER and therefore Much More likely to support
      the millionaire??  Raising BOTH levels discriminates further in favor of the millionaire unless he is a millionaire progressive like John Edwards (rich  white North Carolinians would be more inclined to give to a poor version of Jesse Helms than to Edwards).

      "You can't nice these people to death."-- John Edwards

      by ge0rge on Fri Jun 27, 2008 at 08:53:57 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  This is bad news for Sen. Mitch McConnell (R) (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ajsuited, Thaddaeus Toad

    who's facing millionaire Bruce Lunsford (D) in the fall.  So, in the short-term, some good comes from the ruling, perhaps.

  •  The Internet is changing everything (0+ / 0-)

    We need to focus on many small contributions. When the Internet reaches more voters in a substantive way, (more people spend time and more time on the Internet than cable television) then all that will need to be done is to provide every candidate with sufficiently fast and robust service to get her/his message out.

    Practice tolerance, kindness and charity.

    by LWelsch on Thu Jun 26, 2008 at 10:13:32 AM PDT

  •  Well........... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    oceanview

    with this decision, as well as the decision reached regarding handguns in D.C., and a list of others far too egregious to ignore, I think we can dispense with the rendering of pearls and wringing of hankies over the FISA bill.  

    Elections matter, folks.

    If you don't think so, read this nonsense very carefully.

    We must win the White House.  FISA will look like a fond memory if we don't.

  •  Court gets Overtur Once OK'd Slavery (Dred Scott) (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    oceanview

    The Supreme Court does eventually get overturned, even in the most dreadful decisioins.

    The Supreme Court of it's time OK'd slavery, with the Dred Scott decision. It took decades until a new court acknowledged the right of all humans to live as citizens, and not be enslaved. As opposed to the over-riding rights of "property owners" who "owned" slaves, as the Wikipedia entry explains:

    The court ruled seven to two against Scott, finding that neither he, nor any person of African ancestry, could claim citizenship in the United States, and that therefore Scott could not bring suit in federal court under diversity of citizenship rules. Moreover, Scott's temporary residence outside Missouri did not affect his emancipation under the Missouri Compromise, since reaching that result would deprive Scott's owner of his property.

    In 1944, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Japanese Internment Camps, that incarcerated all Japanese citizens in California (though not Germans), on the grounds that they would otherwise help Japan to win World War II.

    May we hope that, down the road, a new court will be more amenable to humane decision-making.

    Even if Obama has disappointed us with his acceptance of the terrible FISA bill and its terrible immunity provisions.

  •  I'm concerned that many/most ordinary Murrkan (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    oceanview

    citizens are NOT paying very much attention to these SCOTUS rulings!

    Also, we can count on several more decisions to come down in 2008--NOT any of which likely to benefit "little people", IMHO!!

    I heard on NPR,while driving Wednesday,about a case that had angered (and saddened me!) for a long time:
    Exxon Valdez. That it's still dragging thru courts my first bone of contention; latest BAD news had smoke pouring outta my ears!!

    No surprise that current atmosphere favors Big Oil, since "they" have us by the short'n'curlies at the pump. This SCOTUS ruling reducing Exxon's liability
    jes' more salt in our collective wounds!!

    Keep on keeping on, Adam B, informing us! Great diary. I'll promise we won't kill the messenger!!

    Aloha   ..  ..  ..

  •  Can said millionaires.,, (0+ / 0-)

    whine and cry about how they need help to pay their bills after the election is lost?

    CHRISTIAN, n. One who believes that the New Testament is a divinely inspired book admirably suited to the spiritual needs of his neighbor. A. Bierce

    by irate on Thu Jun 26, 2008 at 10:18:13 AM PDT

  •  Can we now change the Gettysburg Address? (4+ / 0-)

    The last sentence should now read as follows:

    It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of wealth -- and that government of the rich, by the rich, for the rich, shall not perish from the earth.

    "Those who would sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither liberty nor security." -Ben Franklin

    by leevank on Thu Jun 26, 2008 at 10:23:35 AM PDT

  •  This ruling is a great victory (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gangster Octopus

    There is no disproportionate amount of Republican self-financing candidates than there are Democrats, on the whole. Therefore, there's really no advantage to anyone save for fairness (people spending their money how they want to).

    Before you decry self-financing, remember that if someone funds their own campaign they are only beholden to themselves and those who elect them, not special interests.

    This ruling will allow Democratic self-financers to not have to worry about giving to their own campaigns after the primary election, which was the issue in the past. They could give all they wanted during the primary, but after the primary, if they gave above a certain amount it would trigger caps, so opponents' donors could give more. This is great. This is awesome. Let's recruit some self-financing House and Senate candidates for 2010!

    •  And (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Adam B, Gangster Octopus

      It's not like there's been this wave of successful self-funded candidates.  For every Bloomberg, there are twenty Dick Devoses, Mitt Romneys, Ross Perots, etc.  There was a New York Times article not too long ago that showed only around 5% of self-financed multi-millionare candidates actually succeed.  

      There's simply no wave of people buying themselves political office.  There isn't.  So we shouldn't give up fundamental free speech rights just to combat a problem that doesn't really exist.

  •  One dollar, one vote (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    oceanview

    America the beautiful.

    Hige sceal þe heardra, heorte þe cenre, mod sceal þe mare, þe ure mægen lytlað

    by milkbone on Thu Jun 26, 2008 at 10:24:33 AM PDT

  •  Symmetry... (0+ / 0-)

    -- and it's certainly easy enough to raise the limits symmetrically instead --

    And there's the key.  The law went too far creating an asymmetrical playing field.  Personally, the fact that it was another 5-4 is somewhat disturbing, but the law wasn't good.  Rant all you want about the rich guys getting ahead...giving a different artificial advantage to the other guy isn't the appropriate answer IMO.

    -- Hope is the adrenaline of the mind. --

    by Druid800 on Thu Jun 26, 2008 at 10:25:23 AM PDT

  •  What's almost as bad (0+ / 0-)

    as the decision itself, in my opinion, is that the Supreme Court decided to make a decision on this during an election year.  This couldn't have waited until 2009?  What happened to the good old days when there seemed to be an actual concern from the Court about seeming to politicized?  Went away with Bush v. Gore, I guess.

    •  Not really. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      theran

      The briefs were filed ... they were supposed to wait?  

      I'm more entertained by the litigants' decision to delay the challenge to the DC gun law until they had the right five justices in place.

      •  Sure (0+ / 0-)

        They didn't have to wait, but the Court could have pushed to hear this case earlier in the term.  A decision last October or November could have been perceived as less of a "gotcha" for 2008 since primaries weren't concluded and candidates weren't making campaign and fundraising decisions based on the existence of the Millionaire's Amendment.  

        Or it could have just denied cert.  I doubt this is the only challenge to this amendment or would have been the only challenge in the next year.

        On the other hand, all cases have political impact, and if the Court tiptoed around when they were going to hear each one, it would never hear anything.  To me though, election law seems to be a special case because it is more process oriented, and a small change in process can sometimes affect the outcome of the election.

        •  Not really (0+ / 0-)

          The DC Cir opinion was handed down in August 2007.  Case was on a tight briefing schedule to get it heard this term.  The nature of the appeal was such that the Court had to hear it unless it found a lack of jurisdiction or the ability to grant summary disposition.

          •  "Not Really" :-) (0+ / 0-)

            For the sake of argument, I'll grant you your opinion - let's say that Court had to hear this case, and absolutely had to make their decision in the last month of the term.  But then let's move on to the larger point here.

            There is a growing public perception that the Court is becoming too politicized, and there currently seems to be a startling lack of internal "ground rules" for the Court's behavior to try and reign this perception in.

            5-4 decisions along ideological lines don't help that perception either.  I don't disagree with the main points of the Heller decision today, but one element of it that gone somewhat overlooked is how broad the decision was, and how it was the first time we've heard from the Court in our nation's history about how they view the fundamentals of the second amendment.  And the Court was willing to make this precedent setting move on a 5-4 decision (okay, ironic for a liberal to say, I know) rather than narrowing the scope and trying to bring another justice or two along.  I think regardless of how people might feel about that particular decision, we are starting to see some troubling signs that the Roberts Court is willing to use its slim majority to follow an activist agenda.

  •  I'm going to learn to speak Chinese. (0+ / 0-)

    This place is in the tank.

  •  I've said it before (0+ / 0-)

    On one hand, I want court decisions to reflect a strict, traditionalist viewpoint of the Constitution, but I don't trust a lot of the judges Republicans support to allegedly fill this need.  If only we could find judges who were constitutionally conservative without being politically and socially conservative.

    I'm always amazed at how often I side with the conservative members of the court (like both cases today) and how often I am disgusted by the liberal members (like in Kelo).  We all make such a huge deal about the importance of nominating Supreme Court justices, but frankly, even as an atheist, gay-marriage demanding, sierra-club attending, obama volunteering liberal activist, I can honestly say I think each "side" gets it right about the same percentage of times.

  •  The Sweet Irony - ditch mitch (0+ / 0-)

    Mitch McConnell the champion against campaign finance reform could be in a world of hurt now. His opponent, Bruce Lunsford is a multi-millionaire, that has spent 17 million in his 2 previous runs for statewide office in Kentucky.

    If this does anything, with blood in the water (polling has the race close) and if Lunsford truely wants to win this - he'll cut a check to catch up to McConnell's warchest and there is nothing Mitch can do about it (at least he can't resolicit his previously maxed-out donors b/b oc SCOTUS ruling).

    Ditch Mitch anyone?

  •  Maybe an ignorant question (0+ / 0-)

    but why isn't a candidate donating to him/herself considered a campaign contribution and limited to $2300?  Apparently it isn't, so shouldn't it be?

    "A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes." Mark Twain

    by Shaniriver on Thu Jun 26, 2008 at 10:32:38 AM PDT

  •  Am I stupid? The law (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    GrouchoKossak, heliosfootball

    doesn't restrict a millionaire's speech at all does it? It basically just allows someone with a differing viewpoint the ability to raise enough money to get a word in edgewise, right?

    I mean, the whole point of free speech is to allow there to be a marketplace of ideas. If one person is allowed to monopolize the marketplace of ideas, then isn't that a threat to free speech?

  •  Shut Them All Down (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Black Maned Pensator, bbrown8370

    There is no possible excuse for letting rich people have an advantage in running for office. They shouldn't be able to spend more of their own money on their race anymore than they should be able to spend their own money on someone else. Nor should they be able to "borrow" money, either from themselves or anyone else - the most transparent bribe for power favor system possible.

    No one should ever be allowed to give any money directly to a candidate or politician (except selling them something at market rates like any vendor to any consumer). That practice is bribery, and everyone knows it.

    Any "natural" citizen (not a foreigner or a corporation) should be free to donate as much money as they want to the race, not an individual candidate. That donation should go into a pool from which every candidate can draw equally. That prohibition on favoritism will let people donate to ensure their favorite candidate has the money to get their message across, but also ensure that every candidate has the funds to do so. Since it will eliminate advantages for the rich and the friends of the rich, people will donate less money, because it won't buy favors anymore. So campaigns will feature the minimum budgets necessary, not the maximum allowed. Which will mean that the message, not the money is what's driving public opinion.

    "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

    by DocGonzo on Thu Jun 26, 2008 at 10:40:40 AM PDT

    •  This idea isn't a bad one, (0+ / 0-)

      but I do have issues with taking away someone's ability to spend their own money to promote an idea they have. That does seem (to me) to be a violation of free speech. It's a fine line to walk. Personally, I thought the rule struck down by the SCOTUS was a pretty good balance. Heh, and judging by the 5-4 ruling, it seems that almost half of those old conservative bastards did too...

      •  Doesn't Take It Away (0+ / 0-)

        They can put their own money in the pool and get their share of it.

        Show me where people don't have enough money, as an equal share of all that's spent on the election they're in, to get their message out, and I'll believe there's a problem. There are so many venues for speaking cheaply or free, including the one you're reading right now and the ones that compete directly with it, that there is no restriction on free speech just because there are restrictions on buying overwhelming amounts of it.

        The Court's decision was correct in a very limited way. The appropriate response to unpopular free speech is indeed more free speech. But that sensibility reaches its limits, as everything does, when the answer to overwhelmingly excessive speech is "more excessive speech". So the response to a millionaire spending his way to dominating the debate isn't to allow others to become millionaires in fundraising in order to swamp back the debate into an orgy of spending. That process never improves the quality of speech, and makes it harder to find any in the overwhelming quantity. So they're right to avert the allowance for so much more speech.

        They should indeed go much further, and ensure a simple mechanism for expenditure equality, like the one I propose, that will also shrink back the fundraising to a sensible level that doesn't itself dominate the message.

        "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

        by DocGonzo on Thu Jun 26, 2008 at 11:04:27 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Coupling (0+ / 0-)

    One of the more odious holdings of this band of bandits is in the preservation of the holy right of Lord Fauntelroy to buy offices like skittles. There are two acts I'd love to see a Supreme Court (if ever there be such again) perform. One is to cut text from graphics for any and all "porn" statutes (nearly accomplished in the 70s, according to one report) and the other is to ban outright any argument which holds that wealth is a First Amendment issue.

    The ideal Free Speech campaign would be a blog, in which the candidate can be expected to produce her own copy, with comments allowed. This in one step elevates the argument to at least a literate level. When you have reduced the debate to the TV ad market, you have included what are variously termed "no-info" or "non-college" or "under-$50K" or "Appalachian" but really mean Credulous Cretins. (A graphic example of their ideal sits in the Offal Office right now.)

    Did anyone reflect, on reading:

    Far from preventing these evils, "the use of personal funds," we observed, "reduces the candidate’s dependence on outside contributions and thereby counteracts the coercive pressures and attendant risks of abuse to which . . . contribution limitations are directed."

    The famous Checkers speech? Nixon was nearly booted from Ike's campaign in '52 when a secret slush fund of his wealthy backers was discovered. His alibi: "I used that source to avoid taxing the American People for those services." This is like paper-scissors-rock; any sort of corruption can be justified by pointing to the next link in the chain. Allowing wealth to buy office prevents "special interests," and allowing those special interests to buy a candidate benefits taxpayers.

    And the mere suggestion that wealth is unattached to "special interest" is laughable. Had I three hundred mil in Euros in my basement, not tied up in any investment or trust, then I would at least be very interested in the money market. There is simply no way to uncouple wealth from influence.

    The people who own the country should run it. - John Jay

    ubi dubium iba libertad "certainty is sickness"

    by Timus on Thu Jun 26, 2008 at 10:53:59 AM PDT

  •  It seems to me that... (0+ / 0-)

    ...if we accept the minority argument that making one voice louder does not diminish the power of another voice, then we must also accept that there's no significant public interest in making the increase in fund-raising asymmetrical.

  •  Public Financing MAY be safe for now (0+ / 0-)

    This is NOT legal advice:

    I think public financing survives this decision because unlike the Millionaire's Amendment, most public financing programs are contracts between a government and a candidate.  The candidate agrees to burden herself (by setting a voluntary spending cap and limiting fundraising) in exchange for public funds.

    It looks like the Court's objection to BCRA was that if one candidate spends a lot of their own money, the law mandates a limit increase for the opponent, but no increase for the millionaire.  The court says this is discriminatory.  However, under most public financing, ANY candidate has the choice to opt-in to the public financing program.  The difference in burdens and benefits between candidates is based on their own choice to sign a contract with the local or state government.

    Of course, it is ominous that the Court has set a principle that leveling the playing field is not an important governmental interest.  This principle could be extended to limit public financing as well.  But I don't think today's decision outlaws the "fair fight funds" mechanism of public financing programs currently on the books in several states and municipalities.

    Adam, your thoughts?

  •  Stevens doesn't really believe in the 1st Amend. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Adam B

    This isn't a particularly new position for Stevens---he has a disturbingly limited view of the First Amendment. He vociferously dissented from the ruling upholding flag-burning as protected speech, and has at various times held and expansive view of what constitutes "obscenity".

    Although fortunately the more disturbing parts of that dissent were, as Adam B notes, signed on to only by Stevens himself. He would basically overturn Buckley and hold that the government has a right to restrict private individuals from spending their own money to disseminate their own political ideas. This is directly contrary to the primary point of the First Amendment---it would be like limiting how much money Thomas Paine was allowed to spend on pamphlet-printing.

    "See a world of tanks, ruled by a world of banks." —Sol Invictus

    by Delirium on Thu Jun 26, 2008 at 10:58:31 AM PDT

  •  But what will Obama say [nt] (0+ / 0-)

    Terrorists can attack freedom, but only Congress can destroy it.

    by romulusnr on Thu Jun 26, 2008 at 11:01:46 AM PDT

  •  I agree with Stevens' point (0+ / 0-)

    I don't find it so repugnant to the First Amendment. I think he has a point. In fact, I think to deny his point is to deny the validity of any regulation of elections.

    Coming Soon -- to an Internet connection near you: Armisticeproject.org

    by FischFry on Thu Jun 26, 2008 at 11:13:45 AM PDT

  •  The whole judicial system stinks (0+ / 0-)

    It's more and more obvious that there is nothing such as neutral and non-partisan judgments. Then why don't let elected politicians decide the laws rather than judges? I am beginning to doubt the wisdom of having powerful courts, and warming up to the European model of stronger politicans and legislatures and weak courts.

    Conservatism = greed, hate, fear and ignorance

    by Joe B on Thu Jun 26, 2008 at 11:28:41 AM PDT

  •  Using The 1st Amendment reasoning they used (0+ / 0-)

    how can there now be any donations limits and caps at all or even an FEC,any law or restriction on money which this Court is now calling Free Speech is breaking the 1st Amendment.I am seeing that to this Supreme Court "Money=Free Speech,Free Speech=Money".So no laws can be passed abridging the "Freedom of Money".

  •  So what happens this year? (0+ / 0-)

    There are people running campaigns against millionaires this year who have already collected contributions in line with the Millionaires Amendment.  Do they have to give the money back?  Are they de facto in violation of campaign finance law?  Or do the lower limits essentially "go away"?

    Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves. - William Pitt

    by Phoenix Rising on Thu Jun 26, 2008 at 11:31:33 AM PDT

  •  Money is not Speech... (0+ / 0-)

    ...someday SCOTUS will get that right.  But not until the millionaires are gone.

  •  The Supreme Court has proven (0+ / 0-)

    Who the One True God is for them and Republicans and his name is Mammon.

  •  The only effective answer (0+ / 0-)

    is to develop further means for lowbudget candidates to get the word out.

    I got a lot of mileage in my Primary run v gazillionaire Herb Kohl by selflimiting contributions to a buck. ("A Senator you can afford")

    The free media this generated was worth much more than anything I could have bought with a few $4,600 contributions.

    Obama still gets my vote, but my bumper belongs to Privacy '08.

    by ben masel on Thu Jun 26, 2008 at 11:57:23 AM PDT

  •  Buckley schmuckly (0+ / 0-)

    To reiterate-- the court equates money with free speech.  As the medium is television and direct access is by chartered jet...

    If you don't have money you don't have free speech. (Beyond yelling in the wind on a lonely streetcorner.)

    Without campaign reform--without the declarative value to remove money from politics--we will have only an insulated group of millionaires speak for the whole country.  This same group will have nothing in common with the other 99.8 % of us.

    Campaign finance reform attacks the symptom not the cause.  We must have electoral reform.

    Panem et circenses-- Juvenal, Satire X, line 81

    by Agent Orange on Thu Jun 26, 2008 at 12:08:51 PM PDT

  •  millionaires law (0+ / 0-)

    if voting mattered, they'd make illegal (U. Utah Phillips). Oh, wait...

  •  REAL CAMPAIGN-FINANCE REFORM (0+ / 0-)

    Most of our nation's problems will not receive any serious attention from our politicians until we achieve real campaign-finance reform.  On May 2, 2008, OpEdNews.com printed my article titled "REAL CAMPAIGN-FINANCE REFORM", which advocates a plan that provides an innovative source of revenue for public financing of political campaigns and simultaneously reduces the undue influence of wealthy donors.

  •  Lots of SCOTUS activity lately. (0+ / 0-)

    Are they trying to get as much of the conservative / rich corporate agenda through as possible because one of their number plans to retire soon, and a nomination to the court could conceivably be held up until 2009?

    Or is there just a lot of SCOTUS in the news lately?

    It seems like they're hammering them through pretty fast: the ruling on guns, the ruling on Exxon and the punitive damages a corporation pays, now this... all this past week.

    The timing seems odd, this being an election year.  Perhaps they're trying to set up campaign issues to benefit McCain?  Or they're pretty sure that their new colleagues are going to be appointed by an Obama administration?

    Everything is too politicized now, I can't believe it's just the judiciary being productive all of the sudden.

    -9.25; -8.56 John McCain and the subprime mortgage crisis.

    by JAS1001 on Thu Jun 26, 2008 at 01:44:55 PM PDT

  •  Where Will This Hurt? (0+ / 0-)

    Somebody should do an analysis of which Congressional and Senate races will be most affected by the development.  In my district, NY-20, our first-term Democrat, Kirsten Gillibrand, has raised a lot of money, but she is up against a gazillionaire who has made no secret of his intention to fund his campaign to the max.  He is already flooding TV with advertising.

  •  It's starting to be time for some... (0+ / 0-)

    ...executive nullification here.  Actually, it was time when Scalia said stop the recount.

    "You can't nice these people to death."-- John Edwards

    by ge0rge on Fri Jun 27, 2008 at 08:45:43 AM PDT

  •  Maybe we could map to a flat income tax (0+ / 0-)

    It is easy to say that a flat tax violates the 14th amendment (equal protection) because rich and poor are taxed different amounts.  If the tax rate is 20% and I make $30K and you make $60K, then I would be taxed $6K and you would be taxed $12K, and you could say that you are being taxed twice as much money as I am, which is double-plus-unfair to you.   I could counter that it is equal protection because it's 20% both ways.

    In our jurisprudence, this argument has long been resolved in favor of the percentage tax.  Indeed, we go even further (to progressive taxation) on the income tax.

    So, before this Supreme Court rules that progressive taxation is a violation of the equal protection clause, why don't we try something like "the limits go up depending on the percentage of your net worth" that you spend.
    LIke if you spend 10% or less of it, they stay down, but if you spend 20%, they double, and 30% they triple.   Or something.
    The point is that this court (if they are whom we have to appease, which maybe not) is going to insist on trying to treat "both candidates equally", even though  the known fact that they are not equal is what's relevant.

    "You can't nice these people to death."-- John Edwards

    by ge0rge on Fri Jun 27, 2008 at 09:01:01 AM PDT

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