Homer Alaska - Letters

Story last updated at 6:12 PM on Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Presidents and the Supreme Court




Most Libertarians, Democrats, Tea Party activists and some Republicans agree that the rich should not be able to buy elections. For the first time, nonprofits, corporations and unions are legally spending billions for political ads. The "Citizens United" Supreme Court decision, 2010, eviscerated campaign reform laws and earlier United States Supreme Court decisions by stating that corporations, nonprofits and unions have the same free-speech rights as people.

As a person, I have free speech. After Citizens United, if I were rich, I could give unlimited amounts of money to organizations which can hide my identity.

In his minority opinion, Justice John Paul Stevens wrote, "A democracy cannot function effectively when its constituent members believe laws are being bought and sold." Before voting Nov. 6, 2012, I want to know whether President Obama or Gov. Romney would more likely appoint justices who believe people have greater free speech rights than corporations.

This chart shows which Supreme Court justices voted for the main part of the Citizens United Decision and which voted against it. The chart reports which president appointed each justice (R = Republican; D = Democrat).

Justices for Citizens UnitedPresident Party Date
Anthony Kennedy Ronald Reagan R 1988
John Roberts, Chief George W Bush R 2005
Clarence Thomas George HW Bush R 1991
Antonin Scalia Ronald Reagan R 1986
Samuel Alito George W Bush R 2006
Justices against Citizens United
John Paul Stevens Gerald Ford R 1975
Ruth Bader Ginsburg Bill Clinton D 1993
Stephen Breyer Bill Clinton D 1994
Sonia Sotomayor Barack Obama D 2009

The chart indicates that Barack Obama is more likely than Mitt Romney to appoint justices who believe that people have broader rights to free speech than corporations.

Amy Bollenbach

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