18 February 2010

Americans of BOTH parties despise SCOTUS ruling.

The new poll by the Washington Post et al reveals a strikingly bipartisan rejection of the SCOTUS ruling in the Citizens United case. Eight of ten respondents oppose the ruling, and 65% "strongly oppose" it. And the response was not strongly differentiated by party loyalty. 85% of Democrats and 76% or Republicans opposed it. Age, sex, race, education, and income levels also made little difference in responses.

This ruling reveals what has been suspected since the Robert's court was seated: this SCOTUS is deeply out of touch with how the majority of Americans understand the most basic tenets of representative government. Forget abortion, forget gay marriage, this court is out of touch with even the concept of fair elections. It is telling that across the board- across party lines, across all demographic boundaries- the country is clearly aware of the dangers of this ruling. The infusion of ready corporate cash into the election process is seen as an act of universal disenfranchisement and reveals a recognition that our democracy is under assault from a narrow self-interest that has now been firmly tenured in our nation's highest court.

Bipartisan efforts are now underway in the other branches of government to undo the damage that has been done but the sense of urgency is far from unanimous. The legislative effort does not have the support of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who praised the ruling as "a victory for free speech." Maybe McConnell should take a good hard look at the recent poll and consider the effect of his stance on the next election.

Regardless, this court remains and will be considering several important cases in the upcoming session, including rulings touching church and state (Christian Legal Society and Salazar), the Sherman Act (American Needle v. NFL), and Miranda (Florida v. Powell). These and many other decisions this court faces will have far-reaching implications for all Americans and will, if the Citizens United case is any indication, be decided with little recourse to precedent.