Republicans are celebrating the ruling that will open the floodgates to unlimited corporate spending on campaigns, and to the buying up of whatever remaining real estate is left on the souls of our members’ of congress. But the GOP may not be on the same page with the tea partiers (at least not all of them) on this one. More on that after the jump. First, via ThinkP, some GOP reactions:
– Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY): The court took a step toward “restoring the First Amendment rights [of corporations and unions]. … By previously denying this right, the government was picking winners and losers.” [AP]– RNC Chairman Michael Steele: “Today’s decision by the Supreme Court in Citizens United v. FEC, serves as an affirmation of the constitutional rights provided to Americans under the first amendment. Free speech strengthens our democracy.” [Statement]
– Senate Candidate Marco Rubio: “Today’s SCOTUS decision on McCain-Feingold is a victory for free speech.” [Statement]
President Obama, meanwhile, blasted the decision:
President Obama sharply criticized the decision, saying it gives “a green light to a new stampede of special interest money in our politics” and represents “a major victory for big oil, Wall Street banks, health insurance companies and the other powerful interests that marshal their power every day in Washington to drown out the voices of everyday Americans.”
In a statement released by the White House, Obama said the ruling “gives the special interests and their lobbyists even more power in Washington — while undermining the influence of average Americans who make small contributions to support their preferred candidates.” He said he was instructing his administration “to get to work immediately with Congress on this issue” and coordinate with Democratic and Republican leaders on a “forceful response.”
Florida Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) called the ruling the “worst Supreme Court decision since the Dred Scott case.” And he issued this statement:
“The Supreme Court in essence has ruled that corporations can buy elections. If that happens, democracy in America is over. We cannot put the law up for sale and award government to the highest bidder.”
So it all breaks down along party lines, right? (Except for John McCain, of course.) Well, that depends on whether you believe that the tea parties are an extension of the GOP. To that point, I just got this statement from Dale Robertson, founder of TeaParty.org (Rubio may want to take note, since he’s the immediate past titular head of the Tea Party, until Scott Brown knocked him off):
“I have a problem with that. It just allows them to feed the machine. Corporations are not like people. Coroporations exist forever, people don’t. Our founding fathers never wanted them; these behemoth organizations that never die, so they can collect an insurmountable amount of profit. It puts the people at a tremendous disadvantage.”
Robertson added that his distaste for the buying up of politicians is bi-partisan. “The Republicans adn the democrats are both playing this game.” But he also had this comment that the Republicans looking to co-opt the tea party movement might want to pay attention to:
“You’ll have people who say their conservatives but they’re not. They’re just oligarchs, and we pay dearly as Americans.”
Is it just me, or is it not so smart for the GOP to be so exuberant about a decision that so clearly rewards big corporations at a time when most Americans, and the tea party movement in particular (and on which the Republicans are counting for their very political lives,) are enraged, not just about big government, but also about big banks and big corporations they feel are getting a better deal than the average Joe. And if other elements of the tea party movement come out in favor of the decision, what does that say about how authentic a grassroots movement they represent?
Meanwhile, I also interviewed Robertson about that infamous sign he held at a tea party rally, which was recently altered on the group’s website. What he had to say might surprise you. Stay tuned…
“Presented with a relatively narrow legal issue, the Supreme Court chose to roll back laws that have limited the role of corporate money in federal elections since Teddy Roosevelt was president. Ignoring important principles of judicial restraint and respect for precedent, the court has given corporate money a breathtaking new role in federal campaigns.” – Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis. [WaPo]
“There is clear reason for ordinary citizens to be concerned that this divisive ruling will, in reality, allow powerful corporations to drown out the voices of everyday Americans in future campaigns. This ruling is no doubt yet another victory for Wall Street at the expense of Main Street America.” – Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.
And John McCain issued this terse statement (he’s facing a fire from his right in Arizona, so tepid was probably best…)
“I am disappointed by the decision of the Supreme Court and the lifting of the limits on corporate and union contributions.”
And of course, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is quite happy:
“Today’s ruling protects the First Amendment rights of organizations across the political spectrum, and is a positive for the political process and free enterprise.” – Robin Conrad of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce National Chamber Litigation Center.