Co-published by AlterNet
A Supreme Court case that could topple the power of California’s unions has been a perfect storm gathering for 40 years.
The U.S. Supreme Court’s new term, which began yesterday, could spell a world of hurt for working Americans. People who believe this aren’t simply looking at worst-case scenarios — in which, say, the conservative majority sides on every point with plaintiffs represented by the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. No, their view rests on the conservatives’ well-established penchant for producing rulings that go far beyond the original cases before the justices – rulings that make laws that didn’t previously exist, grant awards that weren’t sought and answer briefs that were never filed.
But equally as ominous as the handful of labor-related cases that will start pleadings in November is McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, which began arguments today.
It seems like only yesterday that the high court, in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, pried opened a portal to a spending orgy by lifting limits on how much corporations and unions could contribute to election campaigns.
For the past seven days America has watched a government shutdown unfold, courtesy of the Tea Party-controlled House of Representatives – a moment of political vaudeville more worthy of the description “circus” than “theater.” Beginning this week, however, we may be in for the start of a truly Grand Guignol event befitting the Halloween season.
That’s because the Supreme Court will hear several key labor cases this term, along with yet another plea from billionaires to be allowed to purchase a larger share of the electoral process. Just as the shutdown has battered the economy and harmed countless Americans through its curtailment of Headstart programs, the closing of federal parks and suspension of government health programs, so could damage be done to the national welfare by a handful of pro-business decisions by the high court. If the present conservative majority continues to vote within its ideological groove,
Just mentioning the Citizens United case is enough to boil some folks’ blood. Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, No. 08-205 (U.S. Jan. 21, 2010) to use its full name, was the 5-4 U.S. Supreme Court decision that held that corporations and unions have the same political speech rights as individuals under the First Amendment.
The decision, equating campaign money with speech, opened the floodgates for, as some have put it, turning elections into auctions.
But, although a lot of us know something about the decision, mostly focused on its consequences, not enough of us know enough about the case itself—and some of the truly devious people behind it—and we should know.
But before we can begin connecting the dots, we need to identify the dots.
First Dot: Citizens United
The group is a conservative lobbying and propaganda shop located in Washington,