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GUEST COLUMN

Supreme Court's Citizens United decision assault on democracy, Constitution

Wednesday, November 10, 2010 - 10:33 am

The most powerful political force in the United States in the 21st century is the U.S. Supreme Court.

In 2000, Rehnquist, Scalia, Thomas, O'Connor and Kennedy stopped the counting of votes in Florida and elected Bush by one vote (Bush vs. Gore).

In 2010, Roberts, Alito, Scalia, Thomas and Kennedy tilted congressional elections by one vote by ruling that corporations, such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and BP, are people, as in “We the People” in the Constitution, only more so (Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission.

My copy of the Constitution does not include the word “corporation,” but it surely begins with these three words, “We the People.” But in their “wisdom,” aka ideology, the named five Catholic Republican justices have decided that corporations have the same free speech rights as you and me, not to mention moreso.

And, say these five right-wing justices, that includes the right to spend whatever corporations like to support or oppose candidates for elected office. That's the “moreso.”

At his January State of the Union address, President Obama criticized the court's Citizens United decision as the justices sat in the audience, but Alito, like Rep. Joe, “You lie!” Wilson (R-S.C.), said, “No! No!” Obama, like FDR, targeted the high court. Why? The court was too political then and today. “Yes! Yes, Alito!”

In March at my alma mater Alabama, Roberts told the friendly audience that Obama's targeting the court publicly was “troubling” and said, “To the extent it (the State of the Union address) has degenerated into a political pep rally, I'm not sure why we're there.”

The high court degenerated to the political in 2000, and Roberts has squarely positioned the court into the political right corner in American politics.

The Roberts Court's Citizens United decision is an absolute assault on democracy and the Constitution. Corporations are not people. It's an impeachable offense for these five justices.

Last year, Sen. Dick Durbin stated flatly that the banks owned the U.S. Senate. Recently, Mother Jones found that Durbin was right; that is, “finance, insurance and real estate” own Congress. Citizens United has already tightened the corporate hammerlock over federal, state and local aspects of our democracy.

What can “We the People” do? We have three choices: nothing, impeach or pass a constitutional amendment.

Can't Congress fix this mess? No! We can impeach and the new high court can change Citizens United.

B.J. Paschal is a Ball State University professor emeritus.