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The Supreme Court, Essay Example

Pages: 2

Words: 687

Essay

“The Court rarely speaks with one voice; the Court can sometimes be a conscience for the nation and at other times merely a temporary legitimizer of its more selfish and destructive instincts.” I believe that in the past, there are many examples of the Supreme Court acting as a conscience for the nation, such as in Brown vs. Topeka Board of Education or Loving vs. Virginia, cases in which separate but equal were banned and interracial marriage was no longer illegal. This paper will discuss a recent decision by the court, Citizens United vs. Federal Elections Commission, in which the court clearly acted as a temporary legitimizer of the most selfish and destructive instincts.

Prior to 2010, federal law prevented companies from giving corporate money to endorse or campaign for political candidates, including encouraging employees to support certain politicians (Greenhouse, 2012.) The Citizens United decision, however, removed that ban so that during this election season, many major companies have directed their employees to vote for a specific candidate on November 6. In communications with their employees, executives warned that if President Obama were to be reelected, the added costs of regulation, the implementation of The Affordable Health Care Act, and potential tax increases would possibly put their jobs at risk. The Citizens United decision opened the floodgates for private money to be utilized to engage in advertising, much of which was false or misleading, without clearly identifying the source of the ads for months.

Following the Supreme Court decision, super PACs were formed and soon became a tremendous influence in the 2012 campaign, although ultimately it became unclear whether and how the final results of the election were impacted by the ads. Citizens United threatened to allow candidates to simply buy their elections, an example being Linda McMahon from Connecticut spending more than $100 million to try to win a senatorial race in that state (Altimari, 2012.) The candidate, who had never held elective office, used her endless supply of money in two separate elections to purchase more than 12 offices across the state, to hire hundreds of full and part-time campaign workers and to run a barrage of attack ads against her opponent. This was not the American electoral system’s finest hour, conveying the notion that unlimited money could possibly be used to alter the results of elections. Nevertheless, despite the Supreme Court’s decision, McMahon, as well as a number of other candidates who had received unlimited money to launch negative ads, lost her bid for office. This was apparently due to the common sense of the American public, despite the negative ramifications of the Citizens United decision reached by the Supreme Court.

In the 2010 midterm elections, however, the effects of the Citizens United ruling were more apparent when $80 million was spent by super PACs during that cycle, leading Republicans to benefit greatly from the vast amount of money spent. The end result was that Republicans won control of the House of Representatives, an occurrence that was undoubtedly the result of deep pocketed individuals and companies who were able to remain anonymous for many months after the election (Rowen, 2012.) In addition, although President Obama was a vocal critic of the Citizens United decision, ultimately, he also utilized super PACs during the presidential election cycle of 2012. This decision made by the Supreme Court was clearly a destructive influence on the national election process, reminiscent of the Bush vs. Gore decision, which was a disgraceful meddling of the Court in the election process as well. Certain decisions by the Supreme Court have been noble in the past; more recently, several of their decisions have reflected a callousness and cynicism, including the Citizens United ruling, as well as various refusals to stay the executions of people who were almost certainly innocent.

References

Altimari , D. and Keating,  A. (2012, November 10). Linda McMahon’s $100 Million Dream. Retrieved November 10, 2012, from The Hartford Courant:http://www.courant.com/news/elections/hc-mcmahon-wrapup-20121110,0,3049294.story

Greenhouse, S. (2012, October 26). Here’s a Memo from the Boss: Vote This Way. The New York Times , p. A 1.

Rowen, B. (2012). Campaign 2012: Super Pacs Explained. Retrieved November 10, 2012, from Pearson Education: http://www.infoplease.com/us/government/super-pacs.html

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