Friday, January 22, 2010

State Republican Discussions Resolved By Recent Supreme Court Ruling

Under American law, corporations and individuals enjoy the same legal status with only a very few exceptions. The United States Supreme Court on Thursday in a 5-4 vote eliminated one of them and allowed corporate entities to freely donate in federal elections for the first time since 1907. This also undercuts the McCain Feingold campaign financing act.

According to the majority opinion, laws that restrict corporate donations violate the First Amendment guarantee of free speech. The Court historically gives free speech issues the widest possible latitude. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy explained that “The 1st Amendment does not permit Congress to make these categorical distinctions based on the corporate identity of the speaker and the content of the political speech.” This decision also possibly indirectly overturned a ban on labor union donations that extends back to World War II since the same standards would likely apply. Predictably the president and his cronies screamed that it means Big Oil will dominate politics, but they will soon be encouraged by their friends in Big Labor to not complain so loudly since it helps them as well. Of course it remedied a problem in that the law banned some corporations and other combinations from making political statements via donations, but placed no limits on Big Media. Now all corporations will have the same right as media outlets to make funded political statements.

This ruling automatically solves an issue oft discussed within the ranks of the West Virginia Republican Party. A corporate donation allowed the WVGOP to purchase the headquarters building in South Charleston. Recently its leadership decided to move from there to a more appealing central location across Greenbrier Street from the Capitol Complex in Charleston. To cover some payments and expenses, the leadership proposed to use part of the money generated from the sale of the former headquarters. Some argued that under campaign finance laws, this money could not be used for this purpose. State Party leadership interpreted the law otherwise. Now that the Supreme Court declared that law as a violation of the Constitution, active Republicans can hopefully come together and work together for victory this coming November.

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