Public outraged by Supreme Court’s ruling for corporate influence in elections

A Washington Post-ABC News poll released today shows broad disapproval of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to give corporations the right to spend unlimited money to influence elections.

The Post’s Dan Eggen reports:

Eight in 10 poll respondents say they oppose the high court’s Jan. 21 decision to allow unfettered corporate political spending, with 65 percent “strongly” opposed. Nearly as many backed congressional action to curb the ruling, with 72 percent in favor of reinstating limits.

While some right-wing pundits have disingenuously hailed the ruling in Citizens United v. FEC as a “free speech” victory, the public’s disapproval spans the political spectrum:

The poll reveals relatively little difference of opinion on the issue among Democrats (85 percent opposed to the ruling), Republicans (76 percent) and independents (81 percent).

[…]

Nearly three-quarters of self-identified conservative Republicans say they oppose the Supreme Court ruling, with most of them strongly opposed. Some two-thirds of conservative Republicans favor congressional efforts to limit corporate and union spending, though with less enthusiasm than liberal Democrats.

In these days of highly partisan politics, it’s refreshing to see people on the right and left agree. Everyone realizes that corporate participation in elections an unseemly and distorting influence. Clearly, it does not bode well for democracy when the most well-funded interests become the most well-represented.

The races in 2010 are likely to be the worst ever. There is the looming threat of massive spending to defeat candidates who would run on anti-corporate, public interest platforms. There also are now huge incentives for candidates who signal their willingness to carry water for corporate titans.

The Democratic leadership has proposed a legislative package to address some concerns in the fallout from Citizens United, but these measures are only just the beginning of what is needed:

Under legislation being drafted by Schumer and Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), companies with foreign ownership or federal contracting ties would be limited in their ability to spend corporate money on elections.

The lawmakers also want to require companies to inform shareholders about political spending; to mandate special “political activities” accounts for corporations, unions and advocacy groups; and to require that corporate executives appear in political advertising funded by their companies.

Ultimately, a constitutional amendment to reverse the decision and ensure that our democracy works for the people will be essential. The movement is growing, and if this recent poll is any indication, we will have partners across the political spectrum willing to fight for democracy and free speech for people.

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