Letter: The selling of judicial elections
In January the Supreme Court put our republic up for sale. It was done without fanfare in the case of Citizens United v. FEC. Five activist justices using two premises -- that corporations are people with all constitutional rights and that money equals speech -- ruled that the corporations could spend any amount of their profits to campaign in any and all elections. They may not contribute directly to a candidate but they may advertise and do everything to advance the agenda of their candidate.
The results of this disastrous decision may not be obvious in the election this November but there will be a result, which will increase with every election as candidates become more and more dependent upon the support of corporations or fear the consequences of opposing the desires of rich corporate power.
Presently 39 states elect their judges. A case from West Virginia reached the Supreme Court. In a dispute between two companies, company B was awarded damages of $50 million. Company A poured $3 million into the election of a judge to the court of appeals. When Company A filed their appeal of the original award of damages, the verdict was 2-1 with their successful candidate casting the deciding vote. Company A had just saved $47 million. When the case finally reached the Supreme Court, the decision was that the judge should have recused himself. Justice Kennedy understood that judges, like Caesar's wife, must be above reproach and thus became the deciding vote for justice.
Ironically, Kennedy, who saw the danger of money in the judicial system, was unable to see its peril in the political system. This time Kennedy was the deciding vote that opened the floodgates for corporate purchase of elections.
Every Republican, Independent and Democrat should join in the fight to eliminate the sale of our elections. A good place to begin is movetoamend.org.
Barbara M. Edwards