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Setting standards

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"The very rich are different from you and I."

"Yes, they're allowed to vote."

The Supreme Court continues its efforts to keep riff-raff from influencing elections. Otherwise, "They could embarrass the rest of us," U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts has explained. "Poor people get some strange ideas, you know. My mother thought she had voting rights equal to the Koch Brothers. She knows better now."

In the space of a few months, a 5-4 majority on the Supreme Court has removed the limits on corporate spending in elections, saying that corporations have free-speech rights like people, except bigger, and ruled that rich individuals are entitled to more free speech than their poorer neighbors. The Court has also upheld voter-ID laws that will make it harder for poor people to vote. In each case, the five Republican justices on the Court voted to further advance the rich at the expense of the poor. The four Democratic judges voted with the poor.

In the latest case, rules limiting the total amount that an individual could give to candidates, parties and political action committees had been in place for decades. The five-member court majority threw out those limits. Justice Stephen Breyer dissented, saying that the majority was "eviscerating our nation's campaign-finance laws." Justice Antonin Scalia, a member of the majority, responded "tough titty."  Justice Clarence Thomas, another member of the majority, asked the meaning of "eviscerated."

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