Right the Wrong

On January 21, 2010, a group of five male suspects savagely assaulted two women in Washington, D.C. They have never been held accountable for this crime.

The suspects were Samuel A. Alito, 65, Anthony M. Kennedy, 78, John G. Roberts, 60, Antonin G. Scalia, 79, and Clarence Thomas, 66. The victims were Lady Justice and Lady Liberty.

There is no footage of this assault, but there is a transcript of what these suspects said during this horrific attack. That transcript, filled with their hateful slurs and insults, is known as Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, and the text of that transcript reveals an assault of such barbaric brutality that it ranks among the worst crimes ever committed on the streets of our nation’s capital.

The night of this hate crime, this gang-assault–as word spread nationwide of the savage beating both women sustained–a courageous crime reporter named Keith Olbermann described what this amoral act meant for the citizens of Washington, D.C. and the country:

Today, the Supreme Court, of Chief Justice John Roberts, in a decision that might actually have more dire implications than Dred Scott v. Sandford, declared that because of the alchemy of its 19th Century predecessors in deciding that corporations had all the rights of people, any restrictions on how these corporate-beings spend their money on political advertising, are unconstitutional.

In short, the first amendment — free speech for persons — which went into affect in 1791, applies to corporations, which were not recognized as the equivalents of persons until 1886. In short, there are now no checks on the ability of corporations or unions or other giant aggregations of power to decide our elections.

None. They can spend all the money they want. And if they can spend all the money they want — sooner, rather than later — they will implant the legislators of their choice in every office from President to head of the Visiting Nurse Service.

And if senators and congressmen and governors and mayors and councilmen and everyone in between are entirely beholden to the corporations for election and re-election to office soon they will erase whatever checks there might still exist to just slow down the ability of corporations to decide the laws.

It is almost literally true that any political science fiction nightmare you can now dream up, no matter whether you are conservative or liberal, it is now legal. Because the people who can make it legal, can now be entirely bought and sold, no actual citizens required in the campaign-fund-raising process.

And the entirely bought and sold politicians, can change any laws. And any legal defense you can structure now, can be undone by the politicians who will be bought and sold into office this November, or two years from now.

Amazingly enough, on April 2, 2014, these five male suspects returned to the scene of the original crime and brutalized their female victims again. As was the case four years earlier, there is no video of the assault, just a transcript of the hateful language used in the attack–a transcript known as McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission. As was the case four years earlier, these five suspects were not held accountable for this crime.

Thankfully, like Olbermann, there’s another crusading crime reporter who’s fighting to make sure that justice is served, and that the five suspects who committed these two heinous acts are ultimately held accountable. After the Citizens United atrocity, Cenk Ugyur of the Young Turks online network launched an effort to amend the United States Constitution to affirm that money is not speech and corporations are not people. In 2011, Ugyur told the Huffington Post:

“Every single issue gets decided by who gives the most donations…We have, in a sense, lost our democracy. The only determining factor is money. We must pass a constitutional amendment to get money out of politics. It’s not even a democracy anymore, it’s an oligarchy.”

The Huffington Post also noted:

The initial plan for [Ugyur’s] Wolf PAC is to build up a list of dedicated organizers so they can mount a campaign pressuring state houses to vote for holding a constitutional convention.

“We’re going to go and occupy the state houses and ask them to call for a constitutional convention so that we can get the constitutional amendment,” Uygur said.

Ugyur’s effort was laughed at, mocked, scorned, dismissed as a pipe dream. They’re not laughing anymore: As a result of Ugyur’s tireless efforts (and the hard work of countless volunteers), four states–Vermont, California, Illinois and New Jersey–have now passed resolutions calling for an Article V convention to amend the U.S. Constitution to limit big money’s role in American politics. Similar resolutions are likely to be passed in New Hampshire, Delaware and Hawaii. Once thirty-four states pass such resolutions, we will begin, in earnest, the process of getting our country and our democracy back.

When the Supreme Court declared that money was a form of free speech and that corporations had the same rights as human beings, they gave our country’s most powerful criminals permission to hold a serrated switchblade against the throat of the middle class. America has been held hostage since January 21, 2010, and the kidnappers just keep increasing their ransom demands.

By passing a 28th Amendment to declare, now and forever, that money is not speech and corporations are not people, we’ll liberate ourselves from these kidnappers. By passing a 28th Amendment to declare, now and forever, that money is not speech and corporations are not people, we’ll be able to make sure that, at least on a symbolic level, the suspects who committed the atrocities of January 21, 2010 and April 2, 2014 are held accountable for their sick and sadistic actions. By passing a 28th Amendment to declare, now and forever, that money is not speech and corporations are not people, we’ll let our children know that when they recite the Pledge of Allegiance, they won’t be lying through their teeth when they get to the part about “liberty and justice for all.”

We, the people, want–and demand!–the separation of money and democracy. Yes, we want justice…and yes, we want it now.

UPDATE: “Fixing Our Broken Democracy,” a video on the need for a 28th Amendment to get money out of American politics by Massachusetts-based democracy activist Paul Lauenstein:

D.R. Tucker

D. R. Tucker is a Massachusetts-based journalist who has served as the weekend contributor for the Washington Monthly since May 2014. He has also written for the Huffington Post, the Washington Spectator, the Metrowest Daily News, investigative journalist Brad Friedman's Brad Blog and environmental journalist Peter Sinclair's Climate Crocks.