I rarely attend a Supreme Court argument, but I did last fall for a "rehearing" of the campaign-spending case. I wrote a column about it, predicting that the Roberts Court would sweep away long-established restrictions on spending by corporations. The most vivid image I saw was the red-faced Chief Justice John Roberts, veins popping on his neck as he vibrated with disgust at the idea that government could limit what a corporate entity could do or say in the political arena.
The 5–4 opinion issued Thursday by the Roberts Court—written by swing voter Anthony Kennedy—was even more sweeping than I had imagined and predicted.
It's nothing short of revolutionary. Here's how I add up the possible consequences:
- It adds to Republican chances of pickups in red states with small, cheap media markets.
- It turns the cottage industry of campaign consulting into a Hollywood-lucrative major media sector.
- It reduces candidates and political parties to mere appendages in their own campaigns.
- It will turn corporate boardrooms into political cockfighting pits, since that is where the key decisions will be made.
- It gives President Obama a populist issue, if he has the cojones and imagination and sense of injustice to take it on.
- It rips the veil of "conservatism" from this court, which just rendered one of the most wildly "activist" opinions in decades. It makes a mockery of the legal theory of "original intent." The Founders would be rolling over in their graves.
Other than that, it's not much of a story.