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Thursday, July 12, 2012 09:41 pm

Supreme Court vs. The People in Montana

“Two wrongs don’t make a right,” as my old Texas momma used to instruct my brothers and me. But apparently, five of the justices on our Supreme Court didn’t have mommas with such ethical sensibilities – or perhaps they’re just ignoring their mommas’ wisdom now in order to impose their extremist political agenda on you and me.

That agenda became startlingly clear in 2010, when the black-robed cabal of Sam Alito, Anthony Kennedy, John Roberts, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas hung their infamous Citizens United edict around America’s neck. It allowed unlimited sums of corporate cash to spew into our elections, effectively legalizing the wholesale purchase of America’s elected officials.    

And now the same five judicial extremists have added a third egregious wrong to their agenda of turning The People’s rights over to soulless corporations. On June 25, they struck down a century-old Montana law (enacted directly by the people through a 1912 initiative vote) that banned corporate money from corrupting that state’s elections.

These five are not mere “judicial activists” – they’re dangerous political hacks, fronting for corporate powers that are openly attempting a plutocratic coup on America. As a Montana newspaper editorial succinctly put it: “The greatest living issue confronting us today is whether the corporations shall control the people or the people shall control the corporations.”

That was written in 1906, as Montanans were rising up in outrage against the “copper kings” – giant, out-of-state mining corporations that were grossly exploiting Montana’s workforce, extracting its public resources, and routinely extending bribes to control its government. A populist rebellion culminated 100 years ago in the passage of a citizens initiative, called the Corrupt Practices Act. With that, Montana’s people outlawed direct corporate expenditures in elections for state offices.

Their law worked, breaking the copper kings’ legislative chokehold. A century later, the law was still working, for the lack of corporate cash allowed people politics to supplant money politics, opening up a more democratic electoral process.

Even today, the average cost of state senate races stands at only $17,000 in Montana. Rather than blitzing the airwaves with ads, candidates go town-to-town and door-to-door, having actual discussions with everyday folks about their needs and concerns. Because of this, Montana has one of America’s highest rates of voter turnout.

How positive – a model of democracy in action! Until an out-of-state corporate front group rode in like copper kings from hell to sue the state. With a pack of high-dollar lawyers and a bundle of corporate funding, the group wailed that Montana’s anti-corruption law discriminates against poor corporations, denying them their First Amendment “right” to have the biggest voice in government that money can buy.

On June 25, in a terse, unsigned ruling, the five corporate hacks now controlling the Supreme Court ratified the ridiculous argument of the front group, imperiously shoving Montana’s law into the ditch and re-imposing the rule of special interest money on the people’s will.

To stop this court’s collusion in the corporate coup against our democracy, We The People must pass a constitutional amendment overturning these decisions. To help, go to: www.United4ThePeople.org.   

Jim Hightower is a national radio commentator, columnist and author.
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