Saturday, February 6, 2010

The Citizens Mutual Case and Viagra/Levitra

The U.S.Supreme Court ala Scalia took it upon itself to upend and reverse over 106 years of precedent by declaring recently that corporations have the same constitutional standings as flesh and blood individuals do when it comes to freedom of speech as guaranteed by the first amendment. The mantra of conservatives led by Scalia is that activist judges should not replace, for example, statutes enacted by legislative bodies to satisfy the judge's moral code as to what is right or wrong. In Citizens Mutual the five man conservative majority abandoned this principle and reversed both long standing judicial precedent, including two recent decisions of its own, and the Congressionally-enacted McCain Feingold law which placed common sense limitations on unbridled corporate spending in elections. The previously-existing rationale for placing spending limits was the undue influence that big dollars from corporate coffers could have on what is intended to be a fair and balanced (sound familiar?) process. Let me show by example what can happen now that the activist Court has shown its true colors. Let's talk about Viagra and Levitra. Untold millions of dollars are spent on the advertising of these two drugs on television and in journals. This money is being spent to push the use of these two drugs on an alleged disease process that most of us guys didn't even realize existed a decade ago. Regular TV watchers, including young kids, can spout the side effects of these drugs readily [do not take this drug if you are taking nitrates . . .you should see a doctor if an erection last longer than four hours. As Jay Leno said "I can't even smile that long."] The corporate effort beyond the pushing of Viagra and Levitra into our collective consciousness has worked infamously, but what is reveals in the present discussion is the power of the almighty dollar in influencing decision making. What follows is a comment of mine that appeared recently in response to an editorial in the New York Times.

February 2nd, 2010
8:35 am

The country is getting now what it paid for by electing "He who would be King" (Bush the Second) who placed the final touches on the process of corporatizing America by putting Roberts and Alito (Scalito) on the bench. The bottom line is that corporations have the money to outshout and drown out anyone with a smattering of principle. As Professor Fish points out, the Republican Teddy Roosevelt pointed that out in no uncertain terms more than 100 years ago.

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