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Supreme Court Strikes Down Aggregate Limits On Campaign Contributions

campaign-money-parties

Ever since the passage of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law more than ten years ago, the limitations that law and other Federal laws and regulations have been subjected to a seemingly endless barrage of legal challenges. Within five years after the law had been passed, the Supreme Court had already struck down those provisions of the law that limited the ability of corporations and labor unions to air ads against specific candidates within a certain time period before an election, as well as the so-called “millionaire’s amendment” to the law which purported to “equalize” campaigns by making donation limits more stringent for candidates who managed to raise more money than their opponents. Most famously, in the Citizens United case, the Court struck down FEC regulations that prevented political expenditures other than direct contributions to candidates by corporations, associations, and labor unions. Two months later, in SpeechNow v. FEC, the Court issued a ruling that expanded on Citizens United and which is widely credited as being the legal impetus for the SuperPACs that became such a large part of the 2012 Presidential campaign. In intervening years, the Court has also issued rulings on state-level campaign finance laws, including a Montana law which effectively sought overturn the Citizens United holding which the Court struck down.

This term, the Supreme Court was presented with a case challenging the Federal Election Commission’s limits on aggregate donations to political candidates, which purports to act in tandem with the individual donation limits that most people are familiar with to limit how much a single person can donate to any political candidates in total. As I noted at the time that the case was argued in the first week of the Court’s term last October, the arguments in favor of the aggregate limit seemed weak and it appeared that the conservative majority on the Court was inclined to strike them down. Today, in an opinion that was divided to some extent, the Court did indeed rule that the FEC’s aggregate campaign donation limits are unconstitutional:

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Wednesday issued a major campaign finance decision, striking down some limits on federal campaign contributions for the first time. The ruling, issued near the start of a campaign season, will change and most likely increase the already large role money plays in American politics.

The decision, by a 5-to-4 vote along ideological lines, with the Court’s more conservative justices in the majority, was a sequel of sorts to Citizens United, the 2010 decision that struck down limits on independent campaign spending by corporations and unions. But that ruling did nothing to affect the other main form of campaign finance regulation: caps on direct contributions to candidates and political parties.

Wednesday’s decision in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, No. 12-536, addressed that second kind of regulation.

It did not affect familiar base limits on contributions from individuals to candidates, currently $2,600 per candidate in primary and general elections. But it said that overall limits of $48,600 by individuals every two years for contributions to all federal candidates violated the First Amendment, as did separate aggregate limits on contributions to political party committees, currently $74,600.

It did not affect familiar base limits on contributions from individuals to candidates, currently $2,600 per candidate in primary and general elections. But it said that overall limits of $48,600 by individuals every two years for contributions to all federal candidates violated the First Amendment, as did separate aggregate limits on contributions to political party committees, currently $74,600.

The decision chipped away at the central distinction drawn by the Supreme Court in its seminal 1976 campaign finance decision, Buckley v. Valeo. Independent spending, the court said in Buckley, is political speech protected by the First Amendment. But contributions may be capped, the court said then, in the name of preventing corruption. The court added that aggregate contribution limits were a “quite modest restraint upon protected political activity” that “serves to prevent evasion” of the base limits.

Lyle Denniston does his usual able job of summarizing the case:

The main opinion delivered by Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., said confidently that corruption in politics will be kept in check by caps — left intact — on how much each single donation can be.  Removing the ceilings on the total amounts that may given in each election cycle will not undermine those limits, Roberts predicted.

The decision was not as sweeping as the Court’s ruling four years ago, removing all restrictions on what corporations and labor unions can spend of their own money in federal campaigns (Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission), which has led to billions of dollars spent on politics through financing that is supposed to be independent of candidates or parties.  The new ruling leaves that option open if a donor does not want to directly support a candidate or a party committee and stay within the per-donation caps.

Even so, the practical result of the new ruling is almost sure to be that wealthy individuals favoring specific candidates or party positions will be able to spread their money around among more candidates and political groups.

Donors will get into legal trouble, the ruling emphasized, only if they demand a specific favor in policy or legislation in a direct exchange for the money they give.  That is the only kind of corruption that the First Amendment will allow the government to attack, the decision stressed.

The Chief Justice’s opinion said that other recent changes in campaign finance law will work to reduce the risks of abuse, and it offered several other ideas for new limits that it implied might be constitutional. Whether the votes are there in Congress to pass any of those suggestions is problematic.

Although the Roberts opinion spoke only for himself and three other Justices, Justice Clarence Thomas said he agreed with the result, making a majority for eliminating the two-year ceilings.  Thomas said he would have gone even further to free up even more donations in federal campaigns.  He would have overruled a 1976 decision (Buckley v. Valeo) that gives contributions less constitutional protection than spending during campaigns.  He added, though, that the Roberts opinion “continues to chip away” at the 1976 decision’s foundations.

It’s important to understand exactly what the Court has done here, and what it’s likely to mean for campaigns and elections going forward. First of all, the decision itself makes clear that the Court is not expressing any judgment as to the validity of the contribution limits that restrict individuals from donating more than a certain amount to individual candidates ($2,600 per election with primaries and general elections treated separately), political parties ($32,400 per year at the national level and $10,000 per year at the state or local level), and political action committees ($5.000 per year). Instead, what has been struck down are the limitations that were placed on how much an individual could contribute to individual candidates over a two-year period. On the surface, there never really seemed to be a very good reason for those aggregate limits, and the arguments that are often cited in favor of the individual limits don’t really make much sense when applied to candidates as a whole. Moreover, as the Court noted today, the aggregate limits have the impact of limiting how many candidates an individual can contribute to in a given two year period. Given the fact that those donations are still limited by the individual donation limit, the justifications for the aggregate limit don’t really seem to make much sense, especially when balanced against the First Amendment rights of the individuals wishing to make those donations. In that respect, it seems clear to me that that Court got this case right and that the aggregate limits are something that served no real purpose to begin with.-maries and general elections treated sear, and $5,000 per year to a regular political action committee

So far, the reaction to the decision from political partisans on both sides is about what you might expect. Conservatives are hailing the decision as a victory for free speech, while those on the left are arguing that the Court is helping once again to “corrupt” the political process much as it did in Citizens United, which is a decision that makes liberals about as apoplectic as Roe v. Wade does with conservatives. As I’ve noted in the past, though, the arguments against “money in politics” are typically misplaced fors several  reasons. First of all, as much as it gets derided by critics, the Supreme Court has recognized since its first campaign finance decision, Buckley v. Valeo, that money is indeed equivalent to speech in the political context. Functionally, there is no difference between me written a blog post endorsing a political candidate, and me writing them a check, and any effort by government to restrict my ability to do either should be subjected to the strictest form of scrutiny. Second, history has shown us that any attempt to decrease the role of money in politics only tends to drive such activity underground where it is much harder to keep track of. This is why, as I’ve noted in the past, the most ideal form of campaign finance reform would be one that eliminates restrictions on donations while at the same time requiring disclosure of campaign donations and expenditures to be made more frequently and with greater detail. In an era where records are kept on computers and most Federal campaigns file their FEC reports electronically, there is no rational reason for reporting to be something that only happens on a quarterly basis. Finally, the fact remains that trying to restrict campaign donations will do nothing to restrict the influence that lobbyists, “the rich,” or corporations have on government. As long as we continue to have a government that has its hands in every aspect in the economy, then those institutions it impacts most directly will always have a greater incentive to influence policy, and they will always find a way to do so.

Going forward, today’s decision should have some interesting impacts. For one thing, the elimination of the aggregate donation limits is likely to impact the balance of power between political parties and campaigns on the one hand and SuperPACs and other independent groups on the other. As we saw during the 2012 campaign most especially, there has always been tension between the campaigns and these independent groups due to the manner in which independent expenditures can push campaigns into directions other than those that the candidates and their advisers would like to see. For example, during the 2012 campaign there were some rumors that one SuperPAC was readying a series of anti-Obama ads featuring Rev. Jeremiah Wright, a subject that both the Romney and McCain campaigns avoided for rather obvious reasons. While that ad never ran, it’s potential to cause problems for the candidate were quite obvious, and we’ve seen similarly disruptive activities by SuperPACs in other campaigns. With the aggregate limits gone, we should see some of the balance between the “official” and independent groups restored in favor of the campaigns, although we’re unlikely to see the influence of the independent groups eliminated completely. On the whole, though, if you dislike the influence that SuperPACs have had on politics, you should like this decision.

Where we go from here depends on what kind of cases make it to the Court in the coming years. The next most logical target of attack would be the individual donation limits, but those have been around as long as we’ve had campaign finance laws and it’s unclear that even this conservative Court would want to upset that balance. Ideally, of course, we’d see real reform along the lines I’ve noted here but that’s not likely to occur given the current makeup of Congress and not much more likely if the GOP gains control of the Senate. At some point, though, perhaps we need to recognize that this 40+ year long effort to restrict speech was mistaken from the start.

Here’s the opinion:

McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission by Doug Mataconis

Related Posts:

About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Mu says:

    Doesn’t Roberts statements on individual caps and Thomas “dissent” imply that the justices discussed the matter and thought them acceptable? Or was there a technical “we weren’t asked to decide that” argument?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  2. michael reynolds says:

    This is not about political speech. It’s about oligarchy and the GOP court has voted in favor of oligarchy. Stick to working your minimum wage jobs, you proles, let the rich folk decide your future.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 33 Thumb down 4

  3. C. Clavin says:

    Well, of course, you are wrong.
    First, today’s decision rests upon an incredibly narrow, utterly ridiculous definition of “corruption”. Maybe I missed it but it looks like you failed to pick that up. Maybe you should read Breyer’s scathing dissent. Not that it would matter much. Anyone who would compare his piss-ant blog-post to the Koch Brothers political machinery is a couple cards short of full deck anyway.
    Second, what current jurisprudence says, and you apparently whole-heartedly endorse, is that the wealthy have a constitutional right to disproportionate political influence.
    As for $5000 limits…everyone should check out page 40 of the decision where Breyer shows everyone how to write a 3.6M check.
    How could that possibly lead to corruption???

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 2

  4. Mu says:

    the wealthy have a constitutional right to disproportionate political influence

    Now that’s hardly Doug’s fault, is it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  5. Rick DeMent says:

    The 1st amendment was about the government sanctioning content. It guaranteed that the government could not make any law that censored what people had to say. It had nothing to do with buying eyeballs since a national mass media could not have been conceived at the time. These decisions all hinge on the second most obnoxiously wrong idea to ever have been floated by legal minds, the notion that money equals speech (the first being that corporations are persons). It obliterates the idea of equal protection under the law by giving some the means to buy more eyeballs and influance then others.

    Functionally, there is no difference between me written a blog post endorsing a political candidate, and me writing them a check, and any effort by government to restrict my ability to do either should be subjected to the strictest form of scrutiny.

    This is complete and utter BS. Money buys eyeballs, not speech. Your blog post is an opinion that is intended to compete in the market place of ideas. Your money buys you an amplifier. Please tell me where the constitution guarantees anyone an audience and why should someone of means get a bigger soapbox to stand on? Money buys influence and access, not an opinion in the marketplace of ideas. If this stands it means that bribery is now, for all intents an purposes legal.

    I am continually shocked that anyone could ever think this is in the same galaxy of a good idea. Our democratic republic was founded on one man one vote and equality of access to the public debate. My god I understand that the oligarchs have always been behind the curtain but now there is no reason to even have the curtain; we’ve lost, gave it all away with glee. Hope your all happy.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 3

  6. C. Clavin says:

    @Mu:
    I didn’t say it was his fault…I said he endorses it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  7. OzarkHillbilly says:

    The best government money can buy. I say we just get rid of the middle men and start selling our votes directly. That would be far more democratic than what is coming our way now.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1

  8. Rob in CT says:

    And you wonder why politicians line up to fellate a guy like Sheldon Adelson. Or, if you prefer a different option, Soros or whichever vaguely left-leaning rich guy you care to name.

    It’s called “responding to incentives” is it not? People do that.

    My father, an 88-yr old Tory who unfortunately now believes pretty much whatever Fox tells him, often said to me “you have legalized bribery in this country.” To Dad, of course, Britain was better. Everything British was always better, as far as Dad is concerned. Regardless of that misconception, he is correct about the legalized bribery. We haz it. This case merely extends it a bit further.

    How many people are now freed from their shackles, btw? I heard 646.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 1

  9. C. Clavin says:

    @Rob in CT:

    How many people are now freed from their shackles, btw? I heard 646.

    I must be slow today…what does that mean?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  10. Rob in CT says:

    the first being that corporations are persons

    Or rather, that corporate personhood was anything more than a legal fiction necessary to enforce contracts and such.

    As for the rest, Rick, Doug’s a libertarian. What do you expect? Concentrated private power is something libertarians love.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1

  11. Rob in CT says:

    @C. Clavin:

    It means how many people were constrained by this last year and are now free to buy more favors speak? I saw a comment claiming 646, but haven’t verified.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  12. C. Clavin says:

    @Rob in CT:
    Oh…I thought it was a reference to freed slaves…or something of that ilk…and I was missing it.
    Carry on, neighbor.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  13. Rob in CT says:

    http://billmoyers.com/2013/09/19/why-campaign-contribution-limits-matter/

    We found 646 people in the 2012 election cycle who hit the maximum overall donation limit of $117,000

    The maximum overall donation limit, of course, was more than double the median household income in this country.

    USA! USA! USA!

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 1

  14. Jack says:

    @michael reynolds: So when the USSC votes how you determine it should (Obamacare, Pro-Affirmitive Action, Pro late term abortion) they are upholding justice, but when it vote for something you disagree with (Bush v Gore, Citizens United, Heller) the court/judges are simply a tool of the GOP. Yeah, now I rememby why your opinion is worth less than a pile of dog squeeze.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 5 Thumb down 19

  15. Jack says:

    @Rob in CT: So now you should be able to tell people how to spend their money? Most of these people have cars that are worth more than double the mediuan household income.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 7

  16. C. Clavin says:

    @Jack:
    So……I’m having trouble following your logic here.
    Are you saying the court is always absolutely right..so shut up?
    And if so I can only assume you believe Roe v. Wade was correctly decided.
    Thanks for playing.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 3

  17. michael reynolds says:

    @Jack:

    No. When they vote in ways that harm democracy, they are wrong. Kinda simple, really.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 22 Thumb down 5

  18. Jack says:

    @C. Clavin: I have no problem with Roe v Wade. I believe government should get out of peoples lives and especially out of their bedrooms.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  19. C. Clavin says:

    @michael reynolds:
    Not to nitpick…but America is now a proper Plutocracy…not an Oligarchy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  20. Stan says:

    @C. Clavin: Actually, Jack is making a classic tu quoque argument with a side order of hominem. It’s the best he can do.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 2

  21. C. Clavin says:

    @Jack:
    So you support marriage equality?
    Stunning.
    Still…your logic fails.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  22. gVOR08 says:

    … the Court is helping once again to “corrupt” the political process …

    Doug, I have no idea in the world why you put quotation marks around “corrupt”. Is it that corruption doesn’t count as corruption once The Gang of Four and Kennedy declare it legal?

    I recently bought a copy of Toobin’s The Oath. The blurb on Amazon says of Obama and Roberts, Both men are young, brilliant, charismatic, charming, determined to change the course of the nation—and completely at odds on almost every major constitutional issue. One is radical; one essentially conservative. The surprise is that Obama is the conservative—a believer in incremental change, compromise, and pragmatism over ideology. Roberts—and his allies on the Court—seek to overturn decades of precedent: in short, to undo the ultimate victory FDR achieved in the New Deal. Seems right, except they want to go way past repealing the New Deal.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 1

  23. michael reynolds says:

    @C. Clavin:

    Fair enough. I stand corrected.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  24. Jack says:

    @michael reynolds: You mean your perception of Democracy. But please, tell us why, in your version of democracy, I should not be able to contribute to any number of candidates I want over a two year period, yet the NY Slimes can endorse any candidate it wants nationwide, eventhough the endorsement is effectively a paid advertisement. They can write all the great stories they want about said candidate (more free advertising) throughout the election year, and then they can go out and spend up to the legal limit in cash donations. Yeah, there’s no double standard there. The NY Slimes doesn’t have anymore power than the average citizen making $7.25 an hour. Hypocrite much?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 13

  25. David M says:

    In its majestic equality, the law allow rich and poor alike to donate millions, buy favors and bribe politicians.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 1

  26. al-Ameda says:

    @Jack:

    Yeah, now I rememby why your opinion is worth less than a pile of dog squeeze.

    That’s a very Cupcake-ian observation.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  27. Moosebreath says:

    @David M:

    Totally going to steal that.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  28. Rob in CT says:

    @Jack:

    The point isn’t about dictating how folks can spend their money (though we occasionally do that – e.g., outlawing particular things like prostitution and such). The point is that money and speech really aren’t the same thing, contra current SCOTUS decisions. I think SCOTUS got that issue wrong. Money isn’t speech, it’s an amplifier.

    Allowing unlimited donations is just another step down the road to oligarchy. Glad to know you’re happy to welcome your oligarchic overlords, but I’m not, thanks.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  29. C. Clavin says:

    @Rob in CT:
    Again…Plutocracy…not Oligarchy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  30. michael reynolds says:

    @Jack:

    If we’re handing the country over to billionaires why are you here? Why are you bothering to have opinions? Why are you debating politics? You’re irrelevant.

    For that matter, why is Doug writing about politics? He and you both want Sheldon Adelson to pick the GOP candidate. You think that’s not what’s happening? Adelson is already picking your candidate. He’s already eliminated people you might like. Too bad: he’s rich, you’re not.

    That’s the future you want. You want to be politically castrated.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 18 Thumb down 1

  31. Rob in CT says:

    @C. Clavin:

    Plutocracy is a form of Oligarchy, is it not? Come on, same difference.

    As for our friend Jack, isn’t it time for him to call somebody a “little bitch” or threaten somebody with violence?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  32. C. Clavin says:

    @Jack:
    Because the NYTimes or Fox News can only state it’s opinion in an attempt to influence. Politicians are not in any way bound by it. If the NYTimes or Fox are able to educate the masses and the masses vote for “x”…then so be it…that’s Democracy.
    Money buys people…individuals in power…legislators…judges. In this case Justices. It corrupts. Indeed…in order to come to this very decision Roberts et al had to so narrowly focus the meaning of “corruption” as to totally alter it’s definition.
    Journalism is key to Democracy. Maybe you’ve heard of the 1st Amendment. There is a reason it comes First. Democracy can exist without wealth.
    Wealth is the key to Plutocracy. Plutocracy can exist…and will likely flourish…without Journalism. Certainly this ruling bastardizes the 1st.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  33. grumpy realist says:

    Well, so much for the American Experiment. What was it that Ben Franklin said when they asked him what he and his coterie had bequeathed? “A republic, if you can keep it.”

    Just admit that we failed to keep the levers of power out of the hands of the rich and now we’re passing laws to say that everything they do is Right And Proper.

    Banana Republic, here we come.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 1

  34. David M says:

    @Jack:

    If I read that correctly, you dislike that the NY Times has a louder voice than someone making $7.25 / hour, so the solution is to remove the donation limits for the 1%?

    I’m not sure you’ve really thought that through.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  35. C. Clavin says:

    @Rob in CT:
    Again…it’s nit-picking…but power in an Oligarchy can be based on anything.
    In a Plutocracy power rests specifically with wealth.
    From my friends at Wikipedia:

    Aristotle pioneered the use of the term as a synonym for rule by the rich, for which the exact term is plutocracy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  36. michael reynolds says:

    Now, let me ask why would people like Doug Mataconis want to hand all political power over to a few billionaires? Doug is an ideologue, a libertarian, which is to say he’s indifferent to reality and will cling to his “ideal” even when (as now) it is patently absurd and even self-destructive. It’s ideology as suicide pact. “Well, according to my theory I have to bend over and take it good and hard, but hey, what can I do? I have the ideology I picked up when I was a college freshman. I’m helpless!”

    Others on the right I think favor this kind of destructive decision because they are fascists. They want a Leader. They want to be told what to do and what to think, so long as in the end they are not the very lowest rank of society but have someone they can still sh!t on. So long as their Great Leader (apparently Sheldon Adelson) gives them that, they’re content.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 17 Thumb down 5

  37. C. Clavin says:

    @michael reynolds:
    Libertarianism inevitably leads to Plutocracy…that’s why.
    Libertarianism looks for a weak de-regulated Goverment. A Democracy with weak Goverment is unable to fight Plutocracy…it’s most natural enemy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 1

  38. wr says:

    @Jack: “tell us why, in your version of democracy, I should not be able to contribute to any number of candidates I want over a two year period”

    Because people who have so little impact on the world that they feel a need to troll just to prove they exist rarely have jobs that pay above the mid five figures. I suppose you could send nickels to every candidate in the country, but I can’t see anyone but the Secret Service paying attention to you at that point.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

  39. Tillman says:

    Donors will get into legal trouble, the ruling emphasized, only if they demand a specific favor in policy or legislation in a direct exchange for the money they give. That is the only kind of corruption that the First Amendment will allow the government to attack, the decision stressed.

    Got it. Only the stupidest, unsubtle oligarchs plutocrats will be prosecuted. That way we can be sure of the quality of our elites.

    It’s not the only kind of corruption the First Amendment allows, it’s the only kind allowed when you equate buying a political candidate with free expression.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  40. Mu says:

    Doug is … indifferent to reality and will cling to his “ideal” even when (as now) it is patently absurd and even self-destructive.

    Com’on, which Yankee fan isn’t?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  41. gVOR08 says:

    @michael reynolds:

    They want to be told what to do and what to think, so long as in the end they are not the very lowest rank of society but have someone they can still sh!t on.

    That’s one I had trouble understanding. Why fight so hard to have one or a few guys at the top, when you’re not him? I saw the light when Corey Robin in The Reactionary Mind pointed out that yes, the hierarchy ensures someone above you, but it also guarantees someone below you, and that’s the important thing.

    I don’t recall who to credit with this line – but they’re OK with living in a packing crate cooking a pigeon over an open fire on a curtain rod spit, as long as they know the black guy down the road doesn’t even have a curtain rod.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  42. Tillman says:

    Second, history has shown us that any attempt to decrease the role of money in politics only tends to drive such activity underground where it is much harder to keep track of. This is why, as I’ve noted in the past, the most ideal form of campaign finance reform would be one that eliminates restrictions on donations while at the same time requiring disclosure of campaign donations and expenditures to be made more frequently and with greater detail. In an era where records are kept on computers and most Federal campaigns file their FEC reports electronically, there is no rational reason for reporting to be something that only happens on a quarterly basis.

    I actually wouldn’t mind a system like this, but see, this is exactly what you said it is – the ideal. It is not the real or even something we could realistically impose for any number of reasons. Limiting contributions, while in principle it is detestable (if we take as granted that contributions are equivalent to political speech, something no one has ever been able to persuade me of), is the practical, pragmatic alternative to limit corruption.

    Dr. Joyner mentioned in an earlier post about how voter ID laws appealed to him on a gut or emotional level, but the pattern of their legislation and enactment showed a clear partisan attempt to rig the game electorally. With the recent crumbling of campaign finance law in the Supreme Court, I think a similar pattern is evident. The arguments in its favor are founded on the flimsiest of contentions.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  43. superdestroyer says:

    @michael reynolds:

    As shown by the failure of virtually every candidate funded by Sheldon Adelson, money is the most overrated part of politics. No matter how much money a few Republican candidates have to spend, it does not offset the overwhelming demographic advantage that the Democrats have.

    What is amazing is that the Democrats cannot be happy with being the one dominant political party in the U.S. Democrats want to be able to control what everyone else can say about them.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 10

  44. Tillman says:

    Finally, the fact remains that trying to restrict campaign donations will do nothing to restrict the influence that lobbyists, “the rich,” or corporations have on government. As long as we continue to have a government that has its hands in every aspect in the economy, then those institutions it impacts most directly will always have a greater incentive to influence policy, and they will always find a way to do so.

    So we shouldn’t bother restricting handgun sales because the criminals will always get the handguns they want? You’re making the exact same argument, and it is so cynical as to be a farce in itself.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  45. C. Clavin says:

    @Tillman:
    I think he is recycling old Jenos comments.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

  46. Tillman says:

    First of all, as much as it gets derided by critics, the Supreme Court has recognized since its first campaign finance decision, Buckley v. Valeo, that money is indeed equivalent to speech in the political context. Functionally, there is no difference between me writing a blog post endorsing a political candidate, and me writing them a check, and any effort by government to restrict my ability to do either should be subjected to the strictest form of scrutiny.

    Doug, can you write a post discussing this specific point? People assert this and never try to explain it, and while I want to just blast it as nonsense, I get the idea there might be an argument in there.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  47. anjin-san says:

    @ Jack

    Yea, about the “cupcake” thing yesterday – no, I won’t go out with you.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  48. michael reynolds says:

    @superdestroyer:

    You don’t understand this, like so many other things.

    You know how many politicians I can call up and chat with and ask favors of just because I’m an incredibly attractive man? Zero. You know how many I can chat with because I give them money? More than zero.

    Access is a commodity. One pays for it. You can’t buy any, I can buy some, Sheldon Adelson can buy all there is. The question is why people who can never buy access want so desperately to ensure that I will have more political power than they will.

    I think of it as the Toady Impulse. Some folks are just born to lick a rich man’s boots.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 1

  49. wr says:

    @Tillman: ” Only the stupidest, unsubtle oligarchs plutocrats will be prosecuted”

    And the good news is, if they are prosecuted they will never see the inside of a jail, because they are too delicate to thrive there.

    And that’s even if they’ve raped their three year old daughter. At least according to one judge.

    Black teen carries a joint, he can do ten years standing on his head. Rich white guy rapes a toddler, but prison for him is out of the question. He gets probation in his mansion.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1

  50. Eric Florack says:

    Im with justice Thomas,
    The ruling doesnt go far enough.

    Oh… by the way… this ruling will help the Democrats immesurably, by allowing them to place the blame for their impending losses on this ruling and not public reax to their policies. You watch, gang. It WILL go down just that way.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 10

  51. wr says:

    @Eric Florack: Bithead, for one, welcomes his ant overlords.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1

  52. mantis says:

    First of all, as much as it gets derided by critics, the Supreme Court has recognized since its first campaign finance decision, Buckley v. Valeo, that money is indeed equivalent to speech in the political context.

    You mean they invented that equivalency out of whole cloth.

    Gee, I wish I was rich enough to have free speech.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 0

  53. superdestroyer says:

    @michael reynolds: ]

    But does access really change because someone can give $2,600 dollars to more politicians? Do you really think that government policy will be any different with the new rules versus the old rules? Has politics changed at all since Citizens United? Has policy or governance changed at all since that ruling? What the left seems to be upset about is that they will have less control over elections if a few rich Republicans can spend more money. Remember, the real goal of the left is not only a one party state but for their to be no real dissent or diversity is political opinion.

    The increased spending on campaigns has seemed to have almost no effect on who wins and loses election but has mainly flowed to the pockets of consultants and additional staffers who appear to be grifting on the system.

    The four dissenting Supreme Court Justices appear to want to limit political spending and speech to the point that not only will the U.S. be a one party system but that almost no election will be competitive. Do you really want a system where un-elected fixers and clouts are who determine policy?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  54. C. Clavin says:

    @superdestroyer:

    Has politics changed at all since Citizens United?

    Uh…yes…massively.
    And this will change it nearly as much.
    Again… Look at page 40 and see how it’s not about a couple thousand…but millions.
    Luckily you have millions to get your voice heard.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  55. Tillman says:

    @superdestroyer:

    But does access really change because someone can give $2,600 dollars to more politicians?

    Say you’re an aspiring candidate poised to win a primary. Who do you want to meet first: the donor who funds the entire party, or the donor who only funds certain candidates?

    Say you’ve been elected and have limited time in your schedule. Who gets priority in appointments: the donor who funds the entire party, or the donor who only funds certain candidates?

    Use some common sense.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  56. C. Clavin says:

    @superdestroyer:
    You might want to ask Gingrich…who collected $15M from one person…if Citizens United changed anything.
    Do you have any idea about anything??!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  57. C. Clavin says:

    @Eric Florack:
    The ultimate toady is heard from.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  58. rudderpedals says:

    @<a href="#c@Rob in CT: omment-1897716″>C. Clavin:

    Can’t we all just get along and compromise on Kleptocracy?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  59. C. Clavin says:

    Money has always bought influence.
    Now it’s a Constitutional right.
    Brought to you by the so-called “Originalists”.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  60. anjin-san says:

    @ Bithead

    It’s kind of sad watching you groveling at the feet of people who would not let you in the servants entrance.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 2

  61. superdestroyer says:

    @C. Clavin:

    The $15 million could not overcome a candidate that had zero chance of winning. If money meant anything then candidates that Sheldon Adelson support would actually manage to win an election on a periodic basis. Yet, what has still occurred in politics is 90% of the incumbents still win, few incumbents face a real opponent, the size of the federal budget is the same, the Code of Federal Regulations is about the same.

    Compare this years farm bill to previous farm bills: Same size, same scope, same subsidies, same winners, same losers. Nothing has changed except the name given to the subsidies. I guess fretting about irrelevant elections gives progressives a reason to not think about the long term consequences of current federal policy and governance.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 4

  62. superdestroyer says:

    @Tillman:

    If one is an aspiring candidates, you do what everyone else does: get a job on the staff of a current politician and make connections to use to run for an open office sometime in the future.

    Considering that most rich progressives live in one party states like California and New York, one would think that progressives would like the idea of donating to candidates in other states where the Democrats have a chance to unseat Republicans. However, if one wants to have a one party state where dissent is not really tolerated, it makes sense to support to support the four liberal on the Supreme Court who believe that speech, electioneering, and political speech can and should be restricted. Such limits benefits their friends, former coworkers, and families.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  63. C. Clavin says:

    @superdestroyer:
    So your point is because it didn’t work once…we shouldn’t think it can happen?
    Brilliant.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  64. Eric Florack says:

    @anjin-san: so, people who have more than you dont have first amendment rights? How socialist of you.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 7

  65. Eric Florack says:

    So, you guys complaining about money in politics….
    Do you really consider the american voter so stupid as to not be able to make up their own mind?

    and something more… the law overturned, is just like gun control, in that it only affects the law abiding. Given the longish list of vote fraud cases and campaign funding cases weve been seeing, all involving Democrats.. (Five have crossed my inbox in the last day alone) that phrase ‘law abiding’ would seem to exclude Democrats.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 7

  66. David M says:

    @superdestroyer:

    The idea that we don’t need to worry because the wealthy right wing cranks haven’t bought the entire political process yet isn’t very convincing.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  67. C. Clavin says:

    @Eric Florack:
    You can’t make up your own mind.
    My guess is there are millions barely smarter than you.
    6 dumber.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  68. Just Another Ex-Republican says:

    I keep looking at the First Amendment foolish judges, bithead, and others divorced from reality rely on, and it never has and still doesn’t mention “money.” Money is not speech outside of certain ivory towers (usually you see those on the left, but this one, along with corporations being people, are artifacts of the right). I don’t care at all if the Koch brothers or George Soros or anyone else wants to stand on a street corner and make speeches all they want about anything under the sun. I care a great deal about all the other influence money buys. Which it does in the real world, no matter what some incredibly ignorant of reality judges state.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  69. anjin-san says:

    @ Florack

    How socialist of you

    You keep saying things like that. I work for entrepreneurs , 1%ers. I help them to make more money – so I can make more money. I go to sleep thinking about how to increase profitability.

    I don’t think “socialist” means what you think it does. It does not mean “a Democrat who disagrees with my idiot opinions”…

    Unlike you, my fortunes are actually tied to the 1%. Also unlike you, I have no desire whatsoever to kiss their asses.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  70. DrDaveT says:

    @Tillman:

    Doug, can you write a post discussing this specific point?

    Me three. It’s such a patently absurd notion on the face of it that I know I have to be missing something. My wife suggests that it’s where you get at the end of the slippery slope that starts with “flying a flag is political speech”…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  71. Hal_10000 says:

    Like Doug, I’m having trouble understanding the hysteria over this decision. Currently, there is nothing to stop massive amounts of money being donated in secret to PACs and used to indirectly support candidates to unlimited extent. Wasn’t that supposed to be the destruction of our Republic? Compared to that, being able to donate directly to a few hundred instead of a few dozen members of Congress is less of a concern, surely? You mention Alderson. Well the contribution limits didn’t stop him from donating millions in the last election, did they? I’d much rather have him donating in the open, where it’s known, rather than secretly.

    And gVOR08, you’re going cite Toobin? Did you see the other day that he had to run a correction for completely misrepresenting the argument in the Hobby Lobby case (which happens frequently with Toobin)? In this case, I couldn’t agree with him less. The Roberts Court has a history of ruling narrowly when possible, as they did with gay marriage and Obamacare. Toobin, like most people, sees as radical any Court that disagrees with him.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

  72. Tillman says:

    @Eric Florack:

    So, you guys complaining about money in politics….
    Do you really consider the american voter so stupid as to not be able to make up their own mind?

    So you support Doug’s idea that we should allow unlimited contributions but require greater and more frequent public disclosure of those contributions?

    ’cause, you see, the party you support doesn’t believe in that sort of transparency. They are only interested in the “unlimited contributions” part. The paper trail that would expose contributions to scrutiny (allow the American voter to make up their own mind) is something they fight against.

    I’m all for letting Americans make up their own minds if they’re capable of being fully informed. The current SuperPAC-infested election finance landscape we have is not even close.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  73. bill says:

    @Tillman: one way or another they’ll find a way to donate as much as they want- the gov’t. can’t outsmart big business or union donors.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

  74. wr says:

    @superdestroyer: “Remember, the real goal of the left is not only a one party state but for their to be no real dissent or diversity is political opinion.”

    You want to maybe give us a cite for that?

    I get that you have your little hobbyhorse you need to ride over the internet. “One party state with icky Meskins!!!”

    But here you’ve gone past annoying into a full-on psychotic break. Time for professional help.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  75. becca says:

    I have come to the conclusion that the Roberts Court and the rest of the “conservative movement” are just double-dog daring the great unwashed to start making some real noise, just begging for someone to start the fire so they can bring out the hoses. And handcuffs.

    These people are not Americans. I don’t know what they are, but they sure as hell are not Americans.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  76. Ron Beasley says:

    The founding fathers were terrified that “factions” (what we call political parties today) and oligarchs/plutocrats could hijack the political system. I’m sure they would be shocked by the decisions of the Robert’s Court on campaign finance. Limits on campaign contributions may or may not violate the first amendment but not having limits on campaign contributions is a threat to Democracy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  77. anjin-san says:

    just begging for someone to start the fire so they can bring out the hoses. And handcuffs.

    I don’t think it’s an accident that our countries police departments have been militarized over the last twenty years.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  78. C. Clavin says:

    Koch is very upset that he isn’t free to pollute our air and kill workers and do business with our enemies. He inherited a fortune dammit…and should be free to buy the Govt and do what he wants with it.
    http://m.us.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052702303978304579475860515021286?mobile=y

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  79. Rick DeMent says:

    Look if the rich want to buy ads and go on TV themselves and spout whatever political nonsense they want, fine, let them, that is free speech. if they want to stand on a soap box in the public square, ditto. What I object to is the ability to hand cash over to candidate, or PACs that shield their identity, or hiding behind the creation of phony “grassroots” organizations and frankly I don;t care who is doing it.

    If mine were the world to run you would only be able to contribute to the campaign of someone you could actually vote for, period. And even then only in limited amounts. If you want to exercise your free speech, fine, but you have to be the speaker and you have to have your name on it front and center. If that makes you uncomfortable then STFU. Otherwise your contributions to the political process should be extremely regulated. And as long as you have the ability to exercise your free speech then the regulations on campaigns would not in any way violate your free speech.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  80. gVOR08 says:

    @Rick DeMent: Yes. And Koch Industries should only be able to contribute to someone Koch Industries can vote for. Unfortunately, the Roberts court would quickly rule that a corporation can vote.

    My own proposal is simply that any office holder or candidate has to wear at all times a tee shirt listing their five top donor industries.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  81. Tillman says:

    @bill: see this

    So we shouldn’t bother restricting handgun sales because the criminals will always get the handguns they want? You’re making the exact same argument, and it is so cynical as to be a farce in itself.

    Also love that big business and unions can be considered equivalent donors in your universe. It’s not like one has been slowly unfettered over the last couple of decades while the other continues dying a slow death.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  82. Tillman says:

    @Hal_10000:

    Like Doug, I’m having trouble understanding the hysteria over this decision. Currently, there is nothing to stop massive amounts of money being donated in secret to PACs and used to indirectly support candidates to unlimited extent. Wasn’t that supposed to be the destruction of our Republic? Compared to that, being able to donate directly to a few hundred instead of a few dozen members of Congress is less of a concern, surely?

    The hysteria’s a little overblown (we’re now deploying the word “plutocrat” without irony), but it probably comes from perceiving the pattern that’s emerged in these campaign finance decisions more than this specific decision. SuperPACs and dark money are the bigger “threat to democracy,” but this decision is the legalistic equivalent of kicking someone while they’re down.

    Also, as we saw in 2012, the SuperPACs aren’t as effective as they could be because they have to remain uncoordinated with the campaigns they hope to support, and message crossfire can be rampant. Direct contribution doesn’t have this hurdle.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  83. Barry says:

    @Tillman: “…but it probably comes from perceiving the pattern that’s emerged in these campaign finance decisions more than this specific decision. SuperPACs and dark money are the bigger “threat to democracy,” but this decision is the legalistic equivalent of kicking someone while they’re down.”

    Money is speech, and may not be regulated; voting is not speech, and may be suppressed.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  84. CB says:

    Do you really consider the american voter so stupid as to not be able to make up their own mind?

    Yes. Next question.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  85. Rob in CT says:

    @Tillman:

    Yeah, this latest decision isn’t nearly as bad as Citizen’s United. But obviously, talking about it brings up the current state of things and if you’re going to discuss that, you’re discussing the post-CU world. And obviously even the pre-CU campaign/political finance world was far from great.

    @C. Clavin:

    I really hope he keeps that up. Keep talking, ahole. Keep talking. Use that Free Speech.

    Now, in response, I’ll go back to Dickens (given our current age, Dickens is suddenly rather relevant):

    Seen from a distance in such weather, Coketown lay shrouded in a haze of its own, which appeared impervious to the sun’s rays. You only knew the town was there, because you knew there could have been no such sulky blotch upon the prospect without a town. A blur of soot and smoke, now confusedly tending this way, now that way, now aspiring to the vault of Heaven, now murkily creeping along the earth, as the wind rose and fell, or changed its quarter: a dense formless jumble, with sheets of cross light in it, that showed nothing but masses of darkness. Coketown in the distance was suggestive of itself, though not a brick of it could be seen.

    The wonder was, it was there at all. It had been ruined so often, that it was amazing how it had borne so many shocks. Surely there never was such fragile china-ware as that of which the millers of Coketown were made. Handle them never so lightly, and they fell to pieces with such ease that you might suspect them of having been flawed before. They were ruined, when they were required to send labouring children to school; they were ruined when inspectors were appointed to look into their works; they were ruined, when such inspectors considered it doubtful whether they were quite justified in chopping people up with their machinery; they were utterly undone, when it was hinted that perhaps they need not always make quite so much smoke. Besides Mr. Bounderby’s gold spoon which was generally received in Coketown, another prevalent fiction was very popular there. It took the form of a threat. Whenever a Coketowner felt he was ill-used – that is to say, whenever he was not left entirely alone, and it was proposed to hold him accountable for the consequences of any of his acts – he was sure to come out with the awful menace, that he would ‘sooner pitch his property into the Atlantic.’ This had terrified the Home Secretary within an inch of his life, on several occasions.

    However, the Coketowners were so patriotic after all, that they never had pitched their property into the Atlantic yet, but, on the contrary, had been kind enough to take mighty good care of it. So there it was, in the haze yonder; and it increased and multiplied.

    Go Galt, Mr. Koch. I triple dog dare ya. It sure is nice when you inherit hundreds of millions of dollars and get to pretend to be a self-made champion of the free market.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  86. Mikey says:

    @Tillman:

    The hysteria’s a little overblown

    A little? You’d think SCOTUS had installed those bank vacuum-tube things directly from the Koch brothers’ homes to the House chambers.

    This decision is going to reduce the influence of shadowy super-PACs and increase the influence of the traditional party structures (for which contribution transparency requirements are far more stringent). These are good things, not “plutocracy.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  87. Mikey says:

    A good pre-analysis (October 2013) from the Washington Post:

    The Supreme Court might strike down overall contribution limits. And that’s okay.

    Given the current situation, it could be argued that McCutcheon winning may actually improve the political system by curtailing the flow of money from wealthy donors to outside groups. Importantly, candidate contributions are all reported to the Federal Election Commission and highly transparent, unlike much of the money going to outside organizations.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  88. al-Ameda says:

    @Eric Florack:

    @anjin-san: so, people who have more than you dont have first amendment rights? How socialist of you.

    Maybe a better question is: Why do conservatives apparently believe that those who possess great amounts of money and wealth have more First Amendment rights than those who do not possess such resources?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  89. Tillman says:

    @Mikey: They don’t use vacuum tubes enough. Those things are neat.

    Re:reducing SuperPAC influence, I think it could go otherwise. If you have a donor to both a candidate and to a SuperPAC, the SuperPAC knows who its donors are supporting and can tailor their messages better. It still remains uncoordinated, but it has a better idea of where to aim. Admittedly this was always the case, but now the list of targets can be expanded. Donors might pump even more money into the SuperPACs because of this.

    I’m really speculating on that though.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  90. stonetools says:

    Just wanted to spotlight this comment from Balloon Juice:

    I would once again like to offer my deep appreciation and thanks to Ralph Nader, and to every single person who worked for him in his 2000 campaign, for their critical role in making this great victory for democracy and equality possible. Your unswerving dedication to the principle that there wasn’t a dime’s worth of difference between George W. Bush and Al Gore has proven itself out again and again. I can only imaging how warm the glow of sweet, sweet vindication must be for each and every one of you.

    And I would like to give a special shout-out to all the Democrats and left-of-center independents who will be too busy to vote this November because it’s not really worth their time to bother with it. Let this victory remind you that through your non-efforts, great things can be achieved by our betters.
    </em

    I know it’s unfair to blame Nader Supporters for every disaster that happened as a result of Bush being elected. But Lord, the temptation is great.
    The undoubted consequence of the Bush years was that Lord Plutocrat and his minion was elevated to the USSC and we’re are going to have to suffer their decisions for decades. What this means is that we liberals have to stay focused, united and to make d@mned sure that we keep the Senate in 2014 and the Presidency in 2016.WE also have to up our game when it comes to judicial nominations. In that game, the Republicans are playing chess and we’re playing tiddlywinks.

    This is from Senator Obama’s speech on why he voted against Robert’s nomination to the Supreme Court:

    I was impressed with that statement because I view the law in much the same way. The problem I had is that when I examined Judge Roberts’ record and history of public service, it is my personal estimation that he has far more often used his formidable skills on behalf of the strong in opposition to the weak. In his work in the White House and the Solicitor General’s Office, he seemed to have consistently sided with those who were dismissive of efforts to eradicate the remnants of racial discrimination in our political process. In these same positions, he seemed dismissive of the concerns that it is harder to make it in this world and in this economy when you are a woman rather than a man.

    I want to take Judge Roberts at his word that he doesn’t like bullies and he sees the law and the Court as a means of evening the playing field between the strong and the weak. But given the gravity of the position to which he will undoubtedly ascend and the gravity of the decisions in which he will undoubtedly participate during his tenure on the Court, I ultimately have to give more weight to his deeds and the overarching political philosophy that he appears to have shared with those in power than to the assuring words that he provided me in our meeting
    </em

    Unfortunately, Obama was 100 per cent right on Roberts.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  91. Mikey says:

    @stonetools:

    Unfortunately, Obama was 100 per cent right on Roberts.

    Really? Because I seem to remember this deciding vote in favor of the Constitutionality of the ACA…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 3

  92. wr says:

    @Rob in CT: It has astonished me for years that you can open Hard Times to just about any page and it sounds like it’s about the contemporary American right. I suppose some things never change…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  93. stonetools says:

    @Mikey:

    So he is right one time. Remember too his decision undermined the most popular (and ) populist part of the ACA-Medicaid expansion. It preserved the portion centered on private health insurers, who are signing up a record number of customers thanks to the ACA. For a corporation man like Roberts, that’s not a bad result.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  94. C. Clavin says:

    @Mikey:
    Actually Roberts cost millions of poor folks the opportunity to have health care when he allowed states to opt-out of Medicare. So Obama was in fact correct. Again.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  95. Mikey says:

    @stonetools: @C. Clavin: You can’t rightly blame Roberts for that. Only Ginsburg and Sotomayor would have upheld Medicaid expansion as written in the law.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  96. Tillman says:

    @C. Clavin: Craven political factionalism among Republican governors caused people to lose benefits from Medicaid expansion.

    I don’t like Roberts all that much, but let’s place blame where it’s deserved.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  97. C. Clavin says:

    @Tillman:
    Well, yes, of course. Agreed.
    But SCOTUS gave them the out.
    So in context of the comment…the Roberts Court sided with Craven Republican Governors over poor folks.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  98. Grewgills says:

    @C. Clavin:
    Again… squares… not rectangles

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  99. grewgills says:

    @Eric Florack:
    When have you ever been correct in any of your political predictions?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  100. grewgills says:

    @Eric Florack:

    the law overturned, is just like gun control, in that it only affects the law abiding

    That is true of all laws. If that is your argument against you aren’t a conservative, you are an anarchist. Alternately you could be an idiot throwing out nonsense arguments in the hopes that something will stick.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  101. bill says:

    @Tillman: and on the lighter side;

    http://www.theonion.com/articles/us-currency-finally-achieves-universal-suffrage,35702/?utm_source=Facebook&utm_medium=SocialMarketing&utm_campaign=LinkPreview:1:Default

    but i really feel bad for union workers who have to see all that money go into political races while their pensions are dwindling- awaiting another bailout by those who were supported by their union dues- some circle of life there.

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  102. Rob in CT says:

    @wr:

    It’s pretty scary how relevant Hard Times has become again. When I first read it, I didn’t much like it. And it really felt dated. I liked North and South (same basic topic) better. I was never much of a Dickens fan.

    But now? It feels awfully fresh.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  103. bill says:

    @Rob in CT: “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times”. that never seems to change.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0