In one of the talks given to TED, ideas worth spreading, legal activist, founder of Rootstrikers and constitutional law professor, Lawrence Lessig conveyed his story of the corrupt, American political system. It’s only 18 minutes long, so take a listen to his tale of Lesterland.
Via the TED website:
Professor Lessig is to be commended for bringing the systemic corruption to light. Lessig’s claims were reinforced on May 24th on All In with Chris Hayes. Listen to Hayes and Gov. Spitzer discuss the piece of legislation written by the banking interests!
Notice that at the 5:38 minute point, Spitzer points out the obvious: “Both Parties are playing this game. We can’t pretend to be sanctimonious on this.” Corruption is endemic to the American system of government, just as Lessig argues in his TED talk.
Lessig’s claim that campaign finance reform (CFR) will fix this corruption is correct, but his claim that it will not “require a constitutional amendment” at the 12:00 minute mark is naive. With the Citizens United ruling in place — and soon to include the expected pro-corporate Supreme Court decision in McCutcheon v. FEC — the corporations and special interest corporations will still be able to outspend, by far, what candidates will be able to raise after (what always amounts to) weak campaign finance reform passes. So long as money spent on electioneering communications is deemed as “speech,” so long as Buckley v Valeo, one of the bases of Citizens United, remains intact as doctrine; no substantial CFR will be deemed constitutional by the Court. The recent Supreme Court ruling in American Tradition Partnership v. Bullock, wiping a 100-year law off the Montana books, should be proof enough for even the most enthusiastic Supreme Court sympathizer.
Furthermore, with Buckley in place, the Lesters themselves will still be free to run for office and outspend their opponents by wide margins. We do need CFR, but until Buckley is overturned with a constitutional amendment, it will not resolve the problem of corporate influence, Lester Inc. if you will, in our elections. This view is shared by Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-WA) as expressed during a town hall meeting with constituents.
Via RainDagger Productions:
At the 5:00 minute mark, Congressman Kilmer states that “if you do [CFR] on its own without addressing Citizens United, it doesn’t do a lick of good.” That is why Lessig is wrong about not needing a constitutional amendment. Sadly, Professor Lessig has his priorities backward, and he was the expert “from the left” called upon by the Senate Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights on July 24th last year to “support” the need for an amendment. It will be interesting to see if Professor Lessig updates his position on the necessity of a constitutional amendment after the McCutcheon ruling erases the majority of the remaining campaign finance rules from the books.