Today is the 39th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court Buckley v Valeo decision, decided on January 30, 1976.
Of course, 1976 was the year of the 200th anniversary of the American Revolution from Great Britain. That independence was supposed to provide liberation for people from a single all-powerful source – the King of England and his military arm (i.e. Red Coats) and economic/political arm (i.e. “Crown” corporations, such as the Massachusetts Bay Company, Carolina Company, Virginia Company, etc.). It was a very imperfect independence, to say the least, with only white, male property owners possessing inalienable constitutional rights. Nevertheless, the Revolution shifted sovereignty from a King to We the People. Leadership was no longer determined by God or by birth.
The Buckley decision contributed to the shifting back from self-governance by the many (at least on paper) to the few – namely to the very wealthy. The decision anointed that money was not property, but speech — as in free speech, as in having the right to donate or invest in political campaigns.
There could be no limits on how much of one’s own money could be spent on elections, no limits on how much money could be spent in election campaigns (and, by extension, efforts to limit campaign seasons), and no limits on so-called “independent expenditures” by so-called “outside groups” (corporations, unions, etc.), which often in reality coordinate their strategies with candidates.
The decision left on the books limits on individual contributions to candidate campaigns, Political Action Committee (PAC) contributions to candidate campaigns and political party contributions to candidate campaigns. Corporate contributions made directly to candidate campaigns remained prohibited. But the “money = speech” mantra and doctrine was a pivotal win. It has served as a beacon for the power elite to continue to challenge limitations of money being spent in any way – what dwindling limits remain. And it has opened the floodgates to money into political campaigns by the wealthiest 1% and mega corporations.
Kings and Queens from their graves tipped their crowns to the Supreme Court for Buckley — as it is a means to ensure that those who own the country rule it.
Move to Amend believes We the People are the real sovereigns – and should possess the power and rights to rule. That’s why it’s working to not only overturn the Citizens United decision of 5 years ago, the Buckley vs Valeo decision of 39 years ago, and numerous corporate constitutional rights spanning more than 100 years ago – since the power elite have also used never-intended corporate constitutional rights to rule.
Make this day one to commit or recommit to ending all forms of corporate rule and the power of the 1%. Become involved or more active in Move to Amend.