Everyone hates Citizens United ruling

BooMan points to Jonathan Chait in New York magazine, Jim Worth in the Huffington Post and the continued viability of the Newt Gingrich for President train-wreck and concludes Republicans are rethinking their elation over the Citizens United ruling:

Republicans and Democrats hate the Citizens United ruling for different reasons, but it's important that they both hate it. It means there might be some hope of doing something about it. Now, the easiest way to change the law is to replace one of the five conservative Supreme Court Justicies (Alito, Kennedy, Roberts, Scalia, or Thomas) with a Justice who thinks they ruled incorrectly. If the president gets a second term in office, there is a decent actuarial chance that he'll get that opportunity. However, as long as the ruling remains the law of the land, the only way to change it is to pass a constitutional amendment. Organizations like Public Citizen and Common Cause are already organizing events to build support for an amendment-drive. Democracy for America has collected over 100,000 signatures in support of overturning Citizens United through a constitutional amendment. DFA's members are in the process of delivering these signatures to their U.S Senators in the coming weeks. These efforts paint a clear picture. The ruling is unpopular with the public. It has created a system that the candidates don't like. If, say, Newt Gingrich wins the GOP nomination and then loses the election very badly, the Republican Establishment may become amenable to the idea that Citizens United was wrongly decided.

It's undeniable Gingrich would be out were it not for a single large donor and SuperPAC support, and that has Republicans seeing a problem with SuperPAC money, what with him being Newt and all.  But public disapproval or not I don't see Republicans joining in any effort to curtail the speeding train of money the Supremes set in motion with the ruling.  The potential payoff for them is just too sweet.  Their efforts to avoid a "Newt" problem in the future will be focused on dissolving the already weak divisions between candidates and their SuperPACs.  Newbie Utah Senator Mike Lee's request for his own SuperPAC met with hysterical laughter at the FEC hearing, but it's not the last we'll about it.  Lee's own lawyer in that FEC case, Dan Backer, seems to be making a career out of similar court challenges.  They will exploit every vaguery and loophole before they'll sign onto any amendment or legislative shackle of the ruling.

Countering Citzens United is going to require massive public education, post facto, on the election we're about to see play out.  2012 will be the first highly visible test of SuperPAC influence and money.  And public approval/disapproval of the ruling may shift.  The money being spent is influencing voters, which might translate into voters feeling more informed (stranger things have happened). More likely, the barrage of SuperPAC messaging will be digested with skepticism, even irritation, giving Democrats enough leverage to move a vote or two in a second attempt at the DISCLOSE Act.


Executive Order on Corporate Spending Disclosure Coming?

AlterNet's Steven Rosenfeld (h/t Election Law Blog):

“There’s a lot of movement at the White House,” said Craig Holman, government affairs lobbyist for Public Citizen. “I just had a meeting at the White House counsel’s office, trying to encourage them to move forward with the executive order. They have the perfect window of opportunity to get the executive order done.”

“It’s simple—any company that is paid with taxpayer dollars should be required to disclose political contributions,” said Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., who has pushed for the White House to issue the order. “With public dollars come public responsibilities, and I hope President Obama will issue his executive order right away.”

The order, if issued, would likely be the only campaign finance initiative to emerge from Washington this year as nothing is expected from Congress.

Expect to hear a lot of squawking about this from Republicans and U.S. Chamber of Commerce, arguably one of the biggest benefactors of undisclosed corporate donations.

"Many of the government contractors that would be captured under the executive order probably are the big contributors to the Chamber of Commerce, so as a result, the chamber is pursuing their battle against this with extreme vigilance," said Craig Holman, lobbyist for the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen, one of 30 organizations that sent Obama a letter last week urging him to sign the order.

Nonprofit 501(c) groups, as the third-party groups are legally known, plowed at least $134 million from secret donors into the last election — $119 million of which was spent by GOP allies, according to an analysis by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.

The order would require disclosure of any contribution over $5,000, and has the signature support of 62 House Democrats.  Worth noting in advance of the pearl clutching over corporate free-speech, the information is mostly available already.  The order would simply centralize the info in one public database, and clarify penalties for non-compliance.

Al-Awlaki Decision Leaves Key Questions Unanswered

"How is it that judicial approval is required when the United States decides to target a U.S. citizen overseas for electronic surveillance, but ... judicial scrutiny is prohibited when the United States decides to target a U.S. citizen overseas for death?"

That's just one of many intriguing questions raised -- but not answered -- by the D.C. District Court today in its decision dismissing the case of Anwar al-Awlaki, a challenge to the government's authorization to kill a U.S. citizen allegedly tied to Al Qaeda overseas. Ultimately, the court won't answer any of these critical questions because it decided that Al-Awlaki's father lacks standing to sue, since he's not directly harmed by the U.S. action.

Significantly, though, Judge John Bates did not dismiss the case on the merits. Instead, he went out of his way to write that the case raises important legal questions regarding whether the government can target its own citizen for death in a foreign country without so much as a hearing to determine that he's done anything wrong.

There's more...

House Republicans Will NEVER Like the Healthcare Bill


With the recent executive order precluding public-funding for abortions, the Stupak posse was pleased.  Bart Stupak made his formal announcement essentially endorsing the healthcare bill, and in all likelihood pushing the number of yes votes above 216 (tentatively 222 according to Stupak).  With abortion out of the way, would Republicans be pleased? Of course not!  God-forbid a Republican actually believe anything said that might have an inkling of courting their vote for the dreaded "Obamacare" bill. 

The House Republicans lined up in front of the podium this evening and had a healthcare bashing barrage.  Of course the favorite face of hypocrisy and stupidity, Michele Bachmann, was present.  (Let us reflect to just recently when her website read "Amarica's Congress Woman)

House Republicans are now claiming that an executive order isn't enough

"An Executive order isn't supreme law!"

It is sad that nothing the Democrats can do will ever help them garner any Republican votes (although all intents and purposes for this executive order were to get more Democrats votes, the concept is still the same)

Of course, the bullshit bonanza not only contained Michelle Bachmann, but Representative Boehner himself.

Nothing will ever be good enough for these few heartless pubbies.  Thank God there are enough democrats in the house to push this legislation through... Hopefully.




Obama Administration Drafting Executive Order on Indefinite Detention

The Washington Post is reporting late on Friday afternoon that the Obama Administration is drafting an executive order aimed at reasserting Presidential authority to incarcerate terrorism suspects indefinitely. The story in the Post is written by Dafna Linzer and Peter Finn and it cites three unnamed senior government officials with knowledge of the deliberations inside the West Wing.

Such an order would embrace claims by former president George W. Bush that certain people can be detained without trial for long periods under the laws of war. Obama advisers are concerned that bypassing Congress could place the president on weaker footing before the courts and anger key supporters, the officials said.

After months of internal debate over how to close the facility in Cuba, White House officials are increasingly worried that reaching quick agreement with Congress on a new detention system may be impossible. Several officials said there is concern in the White House that the administration may not be able to close the facility by the president's January deadline.

White House spokesman Ben LaBolt said there is no executive order and that the administration has not decided whether to issue one. But one administration official suggested that the White House was already trying to build support.

"Civil liberties groups have encouraged the administration, that if a prolonged detention system were to be sought, to do it through executive order," the official said. Such an order could be rescinded and would not block later efforts to write legislation, but civil liberties groups generally oppose long-term detention, arguing that detainees should be prosecuted or released.

The Justice Department has declined to comment on the prospects for a long-term detention system while internal reviews of Guantanamo detainees are underway. One task force, which is assessing detainee policy, is expected to complete its work by July 21.

The article goes on to note that the Obama Administration has chosen not to push for the creation of a "national security court" that would supervise the incarceration of detainees deemed too dangerous to release for fears that such a court might be too politically divisive.

There's more...


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