MAYBE SESSIONS SHOULD AVOID THIS SUBJECT ALTOGETHER…. The controversial Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United earlier this year established a sweeping new precedent. Laws prohibiting direct campaign support from corporations were deemed unconstitutional, clearing the way for, among other things, corporate-backed independent expenditure campaigns for and against candidates.
And as far as Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, is concerned, the laws restricting corporate intervention in U.S. campaigns were pretty similar to segregation. Seriously.
Last night, elaborating on his criticisms of former Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, Sessions made the unusual comparison of Citizens United v. FEC to Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka.
“[Marshall] was right on Brown v. Board of Education. It’s akin in my view to the Citizen’s United case. The court sat down and we went back to first principles — What does the Constitution say? Everybody should be equal protection of the laws,” Sessions told me after a Senate vote last night.
“Is it treating people equally to say you can go to this school because of the color of your skin and you can’t?” Sessions asked rhetorically. “We’ve now honestly concluded and fairly concluded that it violates the equal protection clause.”
How is that like Citizens United? “I think this Court, when they said ‘Wait a minute! If you’re talking about a precedent that says the government can deny the right to publish pamphlets, then we’ve got get rid of this one outlier case Austin — 100 years of precedent — and go back to what the Constitution [says].’ I don’t think that’s activism.”
So, the top GOP senator on the Judiciary Committee believes restrictions on corporate intervention in political campaigns is effectively the same thing as public schools segregated along racial lines.
Given Jeff Sessions’ ugly and offensive history with racial issues, I can’t say this is especially surprising, but I do think this is a subject the far-right Alabama senator would be wise to avoid in the future.