Washington Babylon — February 9, 2010, 3:37 pm

Electorate already lost faith in democracy, Supreme Court finishes things off

Writing for the majority in the Citizens United v. FEC case, Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy stated: “The appearance of influence or access, furthermore, will not cause the electorate to lose faith in our democracy.”

I wonder what the learned justice would have to say about this story today from Politico:

As if voters weren’t mad enough at Washington, the Supreme Court apparently has given them one more reason to fume. According to a bipartisan poll released Monday, voters oppose by a 2-to-1 ratio the court’s ruling in Federal Election Commission v. Citizens United that cleared the way for corporations and unions to run political advertising…

Asked if special interests have too much influence, 74 percent of respondents said yes. Asked if members of Congress are “controlled by” the groups and people who finance their political campaigns, a whopping 79 percent said yes.

Justice Kennedy, for the majority, also stated: “Ingratiation and access, in any event, are not corruption.”

A campaign finance expert in town, who asked to remain unidentified, said of that:

“That means (a) you have a First Amendment right to suck up to your Congressman – which would seem to make the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act’s prohibition on gifts from lobbyists unconstitutional and (b) Members have a constitutional right to sell access to themselves, i.e., charge you for a meeting with them (which, in real life has long been the practice – come to my fundraiser and tell me what you’re working on . . . .).

“I don’t think people understand how radical the decision in Citizens United really is – its essentially a frontal assault on all attempts to prohibit political corruption invoking the principal of Free Speech.”

Single Page

More from Ken Silverstein:

From the November 2013 issue

Dirty South

The foul legacy of Louisiana oil

Perspective October 23, 2013, 8:00 am

On Brining and Dining

How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy

Postcard October 16, 2013, 8:00 am

The Most Cajun Place on Earth

A trip to one of the properties at issue in Louisiana’s oil-pollution lawsuits 

Get access to 164 years of
Harper’s for only $39.99

United States Canada



September 2014

Israel and Palestine

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Washington Is Burning

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

On Free Will

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

They Were Awake

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content


Arab artists take up — and look past — regional politics
“When everyday life regularly throws up images of terror and drama and the technological sublime, how can a photographer compete?”
“Qalandia 2087, 2009,” by Wafa Hourani
“There was torture by the previous regime and by the current Iraqi regime,” Dr. Amin said. “Torture by our Kurdish government, torture by Syrians, torture by the U.S.”
Visiting His Own Grave © Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
The Tale of the Tape·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“Heroin isn’t the weakness Art Pepper submits to; it’s the passion he revels in.”
Photograph (detail) © Laurie Pepper
The Soft-Kill Solution·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

"Policymakers, recognizing the growing influence of civil disobedience and riots on the direction of the nation, had already begun turning to science for a response."
Illustration by Richard Mia
New Books
New Books·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“Almond insists that watching football does more than feed an appetite for violence. It’s a kind of modern-day human sacrifice, and it makes us more likely to go to war.”
Photograph by Harold Edgerton

Chance that a movie script copyrighted in the U.S. before 1925 was written by a woman:

1 in 2

Engineers funded by the United States military were working on electrical brain implants that will enable the creation of remote-controlled sharks.

Malaysian police were seeking fifteen people who appeared in an online video of the Malaysia-International Nude Sports Games 2014 Extravaganza, and Spanish police fined six Swiss tourists conducting an orgy in the back of a moving van for not wearing their seatbelts.

Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!


In Praise of Idleness


I hope that after reading the following pages the leaders of the Y. M. C. A. will start a campaign to induce good young men to do nothing. If so, I shall not have lived in vain.

Subscribe Today