On the issue of corporate personhood, is the Los Angeles City Council smarter than the United States Supreme Court? Incredibly, Yes!
Last week in a huge victory for Angelenos, the Los Angeles City Council voted against the 2010 Supreme Court's ruling in the Citizens United case that found that corporations were entitled to the same rights and privileges as people.
As is usual with cases challenging the First Amendment, this court's constitutional interpretation favored corporations which means that political contributions are a form of free speech. As I've written before, whatever the drafters of the First Amendment meant, they certainly didn't mean that the person with the most money is entitled to the most speech. The idea that the huge sums spent on political campaigns are “free” speech is on the face of it, idiotic.
What was even more remarkable than the LA Council's vote against the Court's partisan ruling, was the fact that it was unanimous.
Of course, since the Court's ruling, attention has been focused on the tsunami of corporate money flowing into elections. I'm not denying that this was a major move against democracy --
but...yes, there's always a 'but'! – even if the Citizens United decision was overturned tomorrow [which it won't be until the composition of the Court is changed], we would still have a sick system, in urgent need of treatment to return it to some semblance of democracy.
When I see the streets of Moscow filled with protesters about the recent – and apparently fixed – election in Russia, I can only marvel that no such protests are seen in our nation's capital. We see issue after issue, bill after bill, in which the votes go with the money. And voters don't protest – because they don't know it's happening!
What a shame that all that Occupier energy will have gone to waste, dribbled away as a kind of irrelevance, when it could have been directed at K Street in DC!
Whatever your issue, whatever your political views, you should be outraged by the fact that votes in Congress are bought and paid for.
Remember when plain Congressman John Boehner walked onto to the floor of House to give out tobacco lobbying checks for his colleagues? Blatant doesn't cover it!
Just check with Maplight.org or OpenSecrets.org, and see how your “elected” representatives voted on any issue – and then check if their vote is in line with the interests of their corporate sponsors... Without checking, I can tell you that it will be.
By Francis Megahy
Francis Megahy is a veteran documentary director who has made more than forty documentaries. He has had a lifelong interest in social issues and many of his films have reflected this interest. You can find out more about "The Best Government Money Can Buy", a film directed by Francis Megahy, produced by Scott Wolff and distributed by Cinema Libre Studios by clicking here.