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In 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a bitterly divided 5-4 decision to overturn the government ban on corporate contributions to candidate elections. The majority, consisting of justices Scalia, Thomas, Roberts, Alito and Kennedy, argued that because of the right to free speech guaranteed by the First Amendment, the government cannot regulate the “political speech” of corporations (giving money to a candidate = political speech in this view).

The minority, consisting of justices Stevens, Breyer, Bader Ginsburg and Sotomayor, argued against this interpretation of the First Amendment, saying that allowing unlimited corporate contributions to elections would deeply corrupt our democratic process. President Obama agreed with the minority, calling the decision “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.” –NYTimes

Wait, why is our Supreme Court fighting battles on behalf of big oil and Wall Street banks, you may ask. It should be fighting on behalf of the American people! Right? Right?

Ralph Nader, for one, says yes. Emphatically, yes. In a recent and quite passionate editorial, Nader actually called for the impeachment of the five “corporate” Supreme Court justices for consistently choosing big business interests over the interests of everyday Americans, overstepping their Constitutional bounds in the process.

Five Supreme Court Justices– Scalia, Thomas, Roberts, Alito and Kennedy–are entrenching, in a whirlwind of judicial dictates, judicial legislating and sheer ideological judgments, a mega-corporate supremacy over the rights and remedies of individuals. The artificial entity called "the corporation" has no mention in our Constitution whose preamble starts with "We the People," not "We the Corporation."

Taken together the decisions are brazenly over-riding sensible precedents, tearing apart the state common law of torts and blocking class actions, shoving aside jury verdicts, limiting people’s "standing to sue", pre-empting state jurisdictions–anything that serves to centralize power and hand it over to the corporate conquistadores. –

While Nader’s rhetoric is fiery, he makes some sensible points. The Supreme Court has indeed given political power—and a lot of it—to this lifeless entity called “the corporation,” which can’t actually think or feel or speak, but essentially now gets to vote for president. Whereas the CEO of Exxon used to get one vote just like everyone else, now he gets two. To say this isn’t corrupting our democracy would be irresponsible at best and dishonest at worst. And while impeaching Supreme Court justices might not be the answer, we all need to pay attention to decisions like this, recognize their implications, and keep fighting for the rights of everyday Americans harder than ever.

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