Limiting the Impact of Corporate Money in Politics
In his State of the Union address, President Obama said the Supreme Court had "reversed a century of law that I believe will open the floodgates for special interests—including foreign corporations—to spend without limit in our elections." As Justice Alito could be seen mouthing the words "that's not true" in response, Obama went on to say he didn't "think American elections should be bankrolled by America's most powerful interests, or worse, by foreign entities" and to call on Congress pass a bill limiting the power of corporations to affect elections.
While financial reform legislation dominates the political headlines, Congress is finally preparing to do as President Obama asked. In his speech Obama was referring the Supreme Court's 5-4 decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission that Congress can't pass a law prohibiting corporations or unions from paying for political advertising. The legal question is murky. It's not obvious that spending money to broadcast advertising is speech in the sense that is protected by the Constitution. Nor is it clear that corporations should necessarily have the same rights to express themselves as their individual members. In his dissent, the now retiring Justice Stevens worried about "the distinctive corrupting potential of corporate electioneering" and said that the ruling threatened "to undermine the integrity of elected institutions across the Nation." In the end, however, the majority decided that it was hard to draw a bright line between corporate political advertising and protected private political speech.
The decision completely overturned the court's 1990 decision in Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce, and it called into question—although without directly reversing—more than a hundred years of law limiting the ability of corporations to make contributions to political campaigns. It probably tilts the electoral balance somewhat toward Republicans, who typically receive more corporate support than Democrats. But it is not merely a partisan issue. At stake is whether corporations should have even more influence over the political process than they already do. And while people are generally sympathetic to the argument that campaign spending is a form of speech, a large majority favors limiting the ability of corporations to participate in political campaigns. As President Obama said in one of his radio addresses, the ruling "gives the special interest lobbyists new leverage to spend millions on advertising to persuade elected officials to vote their way—or to punish those who don't."
There's not much Congress can do to limit corporations' ability to produce political advertising if it's protected by the First Amendment. But the Supreme Court did leave open the possibility that Congress could prevent corporations from producing advertisements anonymously. So the Democrats are proposing legislation that would force corporations to disclose that they paid for their ads, and would even require CEOs to personally appear in their company's ads and to take responsibility for their message. The law would make it difficult for corporations to take positions they could not defend, as well as give voters a way to judge whether ads were biased or self-serving. While the Republican leadership has attacked the proposal as a way to game the fall elections, it has attracted at least one Republican sponsor, and its broad popular appeal makes it likely to pass.
Pay attention to the decisions made by the provinces.
- China leads the world in numerous green energy categories.
- CO2 emissions in the country totaling more than all coal emissions in the U.S. have recently emerged.
- This seems to be an administrative-induced blip on the way towards a green energy tipping point.
NASA astronomer Michelle Thaller is coming back to Big Think to answer YOUR questions! Here's all you need to know to submit your science-related inquiries.
Big Think's amazing audience has responded so well to our videos from NASA astronomer and Assistant Director for Science Communication Michelle Thaller that we couldn't wait to bring her back for more!
And this time, she's ready to tackle any questions you're willing to throw at her, like, "How big is the Universe?", "Am I really made of stars?" or, "How long until Elon Musk starts a colony on Mars?"
All you have to do is submit your questions to the form below, and we'll use them for an upcoming Q+A session with Michelle. You know what to do, Big Thinkers!
If you want to be a better and more passionate communicator, these tips are important.
If you identify as being a socially conscious person in today's age of outrage, you've likely experienced the bewildering sensation when a conversation that was once harmless, suddenly doesn't feel that way anymore. Perhaps you're out for a quick bite with family, friends, or coworkers when the conversation takes a turn. Someone's said something that doesn't sit right with you, and you're unsure of how to respond. Navigating social situations like this is inherently stressful.
Below are five expert-approved tips on how to maintain your cool and effectively communicate.
Calling all big thinkers!
- The next Mega Millions drawing is scheduled for Oct. 23 at 11 pm E.T.
- The odds of any one ticket winning are about 1 in 300 million.
- This might be a record-setting jackpot, but that doesn't mean you have a better chance of winning.
Or how I learned to stop worrying and love my tsundoku.
- Many readers buy books with every intention of reading them only to let them linger on the shelf.
- Statistician Nassim Nicholas Taleb believes surrounding ourselves with unread books enriches our lives as they remind us of all we don't know.
- The Japanese call this practice tsundoku, and it may provide lasting benefits.
Money makes the world go 'round. Unfortunately, it can make both children and adults into materialists.
- Keeping a gratitude journal caused children to donate 60 percent more to charitable causes.
- Other methods suggested by researchers include daily gratitude reflection, gratitude posters, and keeping a "gratitude jar."
- Materialism has been shown to increase anxiety and depression and promote selfish attitudes and behavior.
The Boring Company plans to offer free rides in its prototype tunnel in Hawthorne, California in December.
- The prototype tunnel is about 2 miles long and contains electric skates that travel at top speeds of around 150 mph.
- This is the first tunnel from the company that will be open to the public.
- If successful, the prototype could help the company receive regulatory approval for much bigger projects in L.A. and beyond.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.