Citizen United Decision Eight Years Later

A look at the Citizen United Decision Eight Years Later

 

In the run up to the 2008 United States Presidential Election, a group called Citizens United wanted to broadcast a film titled ‘Hillary: The Movie’. They also wanted to advertise the broadcasting of the movie on major television channels. Preexisting laws barred Citizens United from broadcasting the movie as it violated many established practices, one of which was the prohibition of corporations participating in any electioneering communications. While corporations, private or publicly held, labor unions and all kinds of associations can freely donate to any political party or candidate of their choice, they cannot directly participate in electioneering communications or sponsored campaigns that would advocate the victory or defeat of any candidate in the fray. Such communications are restricted during the sixty days leading to the election and for a period of thirty days until the primaries.

 

Hillary Clinton was pitted against Barack Obama in the primaries. The movie was to be aired during the thirty days leading to the primary and hence Citizens United could not go ahead with their planned or intended broadcast. They filed a petition at the D.C. district court and it eventually went up to the Supreme Court as it involved constitutional rights. The Citizens United decision was essentially about free speech and upholding the freedom of expression. Prohibiting ordinary citizens or corporations from expressing their views, even if they are at a crucial juncture as the days leading up to a primary or the election, would be a direct violation of the First Amendment. The Supreme Court ruled by a majority of five to four that enabled associations or organizations and individuals, for profit and nonprofit groups to participate in electioneering communications or campaigns.

 

The landmark ruling has had many ripple effects over the years. The entire business of politics has undergone a sea change as a direct impact of the ruling. The decision effectively allowed companies to spend as much money as they wanted on political activities if the funds were not directly donated to a candidate or a party. The floodgates opened, and innumerable political action committees have been created in the last eight years. These are often partisan initiatives but there are nonpartisan groups as well. The more troubling impact has been on dark money. Many corporations have allegedly started using funds that are not disclosed or completely accounted for to finance such political activities.

 

Candidates are now capable of raising much more funds, either directly or by routing them to fund specific communications. This has led to a sharp increase in spending before and during elections. In eight years, outside spending for Senate races have almost tripled. It is not a surprise that outside groups are the primary financers for such spending. When the Supreme Court struck down or reversed, either wholly or partly, the existing laws that prevented Citizens United from broadcasting the movie, the objective was to uphold free speech and expression, including political messages and opinions. But the highest court of the land ended up promoting partisan financing and unbalanced electioneering communications, which has been the reality post the decision.

Politics of Criminal Law

firegriles 04 Feb , 2016 0 Comments Law, Money, Politics

Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is inherently one of the most dangerous things that human beings undertake every single day of the year.

Sure, the overwhelming majority of drivers out there are safe, responsible, and understand just how dangerous it is to slide behind the wheel even after a single drink, but every day there are reports of major accidents, deaths, and vehicular homicides all stemming from drinking and driving or driving under the influence of drugs.

What you might not know, however, is that information released between 2007 and 2015 by the US federal government shows that instances of drunk driving accidents and DUI related accidents are actually on the decline – information that politically active groups, special interests organizations, and especially nationally known MADD leadership members tend to minimize.

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That’s because the reality of the DUI situation is much more politically motivated than most people ever would have thought, and a lot less about keeping people safe as opposed to keeping power in the hands of these special interests groups.

The information below attempts to shine a little bit of light on the situation so that you better understand these politically motivated crimes, these politically motivated laws, and how they are impacting the United States and the rest of the world.

What exactly is a political crime?

As mentioned above, the amount of drunk driving or alcohol related driving accidents has actually dropped more than 40% since 1982, and has dropped significantly between the years 2007 and 2015.

That’s not what major media groups and special interests groups emphasize though.

That’s because both of these parties (as well as the government itself) seem much more interested in pushing forward politically motivated laws to charge people with politically motivated crimes, all in an effort to further whatever agenda they are looking to pursue.

Political crimes are defined as “any behaviors perceived as a threat, both real and imagined, to the states survival”. The kinds of laws that usually create these kinds of political crimes are almost always established by those in power as a method to control the population they are governing, as well as too control those that they are looking to oppress.

Civil rights infringements, human rights infringements command basic freedoms infringements are usually the first to go when it comes to political crimes – though many of these laws are motivated by policing ethics and morality by wrapping it in legalese.

What do political crimes have to do with the overwhelming majority of DUI laws in America?

A closer inspection of the information published by the federal government pertaining to alcohol-related accidents would show you that the startling numbers are a lot more inflated than most people would have ever thought them to be.

You see, for the federal government to consider an accident to be alcohol-related, the driver of either of the vehicles (or any of the vehicles) may or may not have consumed alcohol, any passengers in the vehicles may or may not have consumed alcohol, and any pedestrians or bystanders that witnessed the event may or may not have consumed alcohol. In essence, if anyone involved in the accident, including witnesses to the accident, were under the influence of alcohol, the accident becomes alcohol-related. On top of that, the consumption of alcohol does not need to be proven – only implied – for this to go down as statistically an alcohol-related incident.

There is a huge bureaucracy that has been created around the DUI laws, including law enforcement jobs in and of themselves, the DUI classes mandated by law, and the impact the laws have on incarceration rates which benefit the prison industrial complex. MADD has become a major bureaucracy as well, providing thousands of jobs. According to many lawyers, local law Enforcement receives grants for the State and Federal government in the name of DUI prevention. Without these grants, many law enforcement agencies would cease to exist. Once one looks at the entire picture, specifically the economic motive of the DUI laws, it becomes clear that there is an element of concern of public safety, and a big part dealing with money.

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What about the War on Drugs? Has this been politically motivated as well?

The War on Drugs suffers the same kind of indignity.

There is a mountain of information and evidence out there proving that the United States government (amongst others) have been using the War on Drugs to line their own pockets, either through fines and penalties for those that possess or sell these drugs, or the benefit that the private prisons have received from the War on Drugs. Of course, the private prison industry in the United States became big business in the 1980s, on the back of the war on drugs, and as always, the poor.

All About the Revolving Door in Politics (USA)

firegriles 03 Jan , 2016 0 Comments Law, Money, Politics

You had better believe that the founding fathers never conceived of a form of governance that looks like the revolving door policy in the United States today.

In fact, the odds are pretty good that our founding fathers would be ashamed about how things have shaken out – and especially to where things are headed in the future without major and sweeping changes.

The odds are pretty high that you’ve at least heard of and are somewhat aware of the revolving door in the world of politics today, though you may not be intimately familiar with the in’s and out so this form of governance and its destructive capabilities.

Hopefully we are going to be able to shed at least a little bit of light on the situation, and better informed use of that so you know exactly what we are all up against.

Philosophy,-Politics-and-Economics

What exactly are revolving door politics in the United States?

At least as far as the world of politics in America is concerned, the revolving door speaks to the way that personnel moves from their role as legislators and regulators (usually in Congress) that are responsible for creating legislation that impacts industries that they will eventually move over to after their time as a legislator or as a regulator is up.

They move through this process as though they were trapped inside of a revolving door, acting first as the people responsible for setting up the rules and laws of the industries and then later acting as the heads of those industries – playing by the very rules and laws that they helped to establish in the first place!

This is a major problem in the world of governance today, and is why something close to 85% of the American population believes that the government – Congress, the president, and even the Supreme Court all – are bought and paid for by industries that are looking to establish and cement this revolving door for their benefit.

Which major industries benefit the most from these revolving doors?

Just about every major industry (and a significant amount of “special interests”) hires lobbyists to represent themselves and defend their interests to Congressman and other representatives in Washington DC.

However, the savviest of these industries and of these special interests go a step further, and instead of hiring high-powered lawyers or impressive salespeople to represent themselves and their industries, they choose to hire those that have already worked for the federal government – possibly even in the position that they are going to be working to lobby for.

Think of it like this:

If you had the chance to hire someone off the street to plead your case in front of a judge or the chance to hire the judge that was replaced by this one, it would be a no-brainer, wouldn’t it?

Wouldn’t you be practically guaranteed to have more influence than you would have otherwise?

And if you could somehow tell that current judge – maybe indirectly – that they would have the chance to get hired as a special interests lobbyist later down the line, don’t you think they might be interested in ruling for you as well?

This is the state of American politics as it sits today.

The pharmaceutical industry, the electronics and manufacturing industry, and the for-profit educational industry represent the biggest lobbyists on the block, though the transport, the telecom services, the health services, and the insurance agencies are also “heavy hitters” as far as revolving door politics and lobbying is concerned.  Insurance companies have also had far reaching success. “Tort Reform” aimed at “frivolous” lawsuits has swept the country in the last twenty years, thanks in large part to the army of lobbyists the insurance company has under its payroll.  Many have expressed frustration at the “cap on damages”  laws that have passed in different states, many times hurting the very people that vote for the law in the first place.

What’s the future of American politics look like if the revolving door form of governance and lobbying stays in place?

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Well, if things continue as they have already, the odds of the American people getting held further over a barrel are very, very significant.

New legislation would need to be brought up – and then passed by the same people that would be crippled by said legislation – which (for obvious reasons) doesn’t look like it’s going to happen any time soon.

However, the people of America – close to 400 hundred million strong – always have the power in numbers. With a new crop of politicians that aren’t career politicians (or career lobbyists), we could be paving a new path for governance in the years to come.