Anthony Kennedy, Money, Politics, SCOTUS, Supreme Court

Money’s Assault on American Politics Is Well Underway — Thanks to the Psychological Effects of Citizens United

I hope Anthony Kennedy is happy. It’s Justice Kennedy’s world now, and we’re all just playing by the rules he lays down. Despite all the talking points you may have heard about how Citizens United really isn’t that big of a deal, what Justice Kennedy calls speech is flooding American politics ahead of this November’s mid-term elections. So reports Michael Luo of the New York Times.

I know what you are thinking, especially if “you” happen to be Justice Alito: Not True! But you have theories about what might happen, while the Times has facts about what is happening.

And the facts speak for themselves. According to the Campaign Media Analysis Group, which monitors political advertising, “television spending by outside interest groups has more than doubled what was spent at this point in the 2006 midterms.”

Of course, at least four Supreme Court justices could have told you that would happen. And I’d imagine that even the other five damn well knew that tons of corporate money would flood into politics, and just didn’t care. What’s marginally more interesting than the “water is wet” fact that money is pouring in is the reason why captains of industry are speaking spending freely…

The WSJ Law Blog highlights the most interesting part of the Times piece:

[E]ven more interesting is Luo’s description of why Citizens United has been so influential. The legal changes, he writes, “have turned out to be quite subtle . . . the case has been more important for the psychological impact it had on the biggest donors.”…

In other words, heads of corporations and wealthy individuals, Luo writes, haven’t necessarily delved [into] the ins and outs of the case so much as they have become reenergized by the thrust of the ruling — that folks (and companies) should have the right to spend as they see fit.

And, again not surprisingly, the Republicans have quickly availed themselves of this new psychological weapon. From the Times:

And skirmishing between Democrats and Republicans over the spending, which has overwhelmingly favored Republicans, reached a fever pitch this week, with charges and countercharges, calls for investigations and calls to block them. Suddenly, complex campaign finance regulations have been elevated to crucial political talking points.

Again, point out to me a Supreme Court justice who didn’t know the Citizens United ruling would disproportionately favor Republicans, and I’ll point to a liar.

Hey, Democrats can bitch all they want, but Citizens United is not going away. So what should they do to close the money gap the created by Justice Kennedy? Well, for starters they could — just this once — stop acting like Democrats and start acting like winners. They could stop standing on principles and start tapping into the power of wealthy moderates, whose God is green and made of paper instead of invisible and made of bread.

An article in the Los Angeles Times reports that Democrats haven’t really done this yet:

[T]here have been no similar efforts by Democrats to create a major operation to channel soft money.

That’s in part because Obama has assailed the Citizens United decision.

“I don’t think American elections should be bankrolled by America’s most powerful interests, or worse, by foreign entities,” he said in his State of the Union address.

“It doesn’t help a Democratic fundraiser when the president is telling people these independent groups are a bad idea,” said political consultant Tom Matzzie, former Washington director of

It would appear that the psychological impact of Citizens United didn’t just help Republicans, it hurt Democrats. They don’t like the decision, and so they are less inclined to use it to their advantage. Well-played, Justice Kennedy, well-played.

Really, this the most horrifying aspect of liberalism. Someone is beating you, using tools that you don’t agree with, and so you sit there and get your face kicked in instead of fighting fire with fire. It worked for Gandhi, and it worked for Martin Luther King, but if Harry Reid thinks it’ll work for Senate Democrats, he’s worse at his job than anyone else has ever been at their job.

Elections matter. Just not as much as appointments and confirmations to jobs with lifetime tenure. The first election brought to you by Justice Kennedy is already being unduly influenced by money, and we’re talking about mid-terms that over half the country hasn’t even started paying attention to yet. Can you imagine what 2012 is going to look like?

Maybe by then, Dems will stop bitching about the law and start using it.

Money Talks Louder Than Ever in Midterms [New York Times]
Is ‘Citizens United’ Affecting the 2010 Midterm Races? In a Word: Yes [WSJ Law Blog]
Democrats conflicted about election spending gap [L.A. Times]

Earlier: Breaking: SCOTUS Expands Free Speech in Politics By Liberalizing Campaign Finance Rules E
Why Citizens United Is Not the End of the World

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