Democrats resist election ruling | Jan. 24
The First Amendment is for all
Would someone please explain the First Amendment to our current president?
This story tells us that he is unhappy with the U.S. Supreme Court's recent ruling and quotes him as saying, "We don't need to give any more voice to the powerful interests …" (I suspect that if they were saying things he liked, he would think otherwise.)
How arrogant and condescending for him to suggest that "the powerful interests" or anyone else need him or anyone else in government to give them "voice."
I was taught that the First Amendment meant that all citizens have the right to hold and express as many ideas as they like and the government has no right to control their quantity, volume or content. If I am wrong, then let me suggest that the first voice we need less of is the president's. His incessant, self-righteous and self-serving mutterings have gone from tiring to annoying to irritating to nauseating.
Furthermore, "the powerful interests" that he refers to are really just groups of people who are organized in some way (corporations, societies, labor unions, etc.) to provide their members in particular and society in general with some useful products and services.
Carl E. Tack Jr., Tarpon Springs
Supreme Court ruling
Speak out to preserve individual rights
The Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission may prove to be the most consequential decision ever handed down. On the surface it seems to be a strict interpretation of the Constitution reaffirming the right of free speech. But its underlying consequences are much more sinister.
Our Constitution ensures all of its citizens many rights, which are the foundation of our democracy, not the least of which include "the freedom of speech" in the First Amendment and "the equal protection of the laws" in the Fourteenth Amendment. These rights were intended for individual persons, not to large multinational corporations.
For more than a hundred years we have passed laws to restrict the power and influence of corporations on our politics and our elections. All of that was done away with by this one decision by the Supreme Court. Effective immediately, there is no limit to the amount of money any corporation may spend on direct advertising for or against any candidate in any election in the United States. With their billions of dollars in profits, corporations will be able to eclipse the voices of individual citizens like you and me. Forget writing letters to the editor, contributing to the candidates of your choice, or assembling grass-roots organizations. We will no longer matter.
Write, call or petition your representatives now to do whatever is necessary to overturn this decision. The rights provided us by the Constitution must be preserved for individual citizens or we will loose our voices completely.
James Frazier, Bradenton
We need a popular revolt | Jan. 26
Remember the unions
E.J. Dionne's column attacking the Supreme Court's ruling on political spending by corporations is typical of the left's response in that he does not mention union spending.
A St. Petersburg Times editorial on the same subject barely mentioned organized labor.
In order to work in my chosen profession in New York City, I had to belong to a union. I do not recall that I was ever consulted when the unions gave their financial support (my money) to politicians I could not stomach. That's okay with the left, but the liberals are aghast that the high court says corporations have the same rights.
Robert Vaughn, Oldsmar
High court overreaches | Jan. 23
A basic right
The St. Petersburg Times, that dauntless defender of free speech, thinks this ruling will permit too much free speech — for corporations.
Corporations are merely associations of people. If I can have free political speech individually, why can't I join with others by forming a corporation and enjoy the same fundamental right?
The Times' editors think only they get to do that. They are wrong.
Brett Geer, Tampa
High court overreaches | Jan. 23
A needed adjustment
How can you call the justices of the Supreme Court "activist" because of their correct interpretation of the Constitution? It is when rulings deviate from the Constitution that they become activist.
Until now, the unions and the news media were the big players in the game that consistently spewed their money and agenda slanted always to the left.
I see this ruling as a reconfirmation of our most important right and a leveling of the playing field where the left had previously enjoyed an unfair advantage. I equate this ruling to asking the dealer for a new deck!
Lance K. Piscitelli, Clearwater
Court lifts election limits | Jan. 22
Let influence wave
The recent Supreme Court decision treating corporations/unions as individuals has ensured that in the future, neither members of Congress nor the president will represent "the people." Rather, they will represent the corporations or unions that do the most for their campaigns. (Granted that this is true to some extent now, but this ruling will take the practice to entirely new lengths.)
In the interest of transparency in government, I have the following modest proposals:
• Rather than referring to members of Congress as being from a district or state (that's so "20th century"), we should refer to them as "the congressman representing AIG," "the senator representing Goldman Sachs," "the president representing Exxon," etc.
• We should alter the American flag to reflect the new reality. This means that at the beginning of every election year, the government will provide a list of the 63 corporations or unions that have spent the most money to elect candidates in state and national elections. The name of the 13 corporations or unions at the top of this list would be added to each of the 13 stripes in the flag, and the 50 stars would be replaced with the logos of the corporations or unions ranging from 14 to 63 on this list. If the flag were altered this way, our troops would know for whom they fight and possibly die, and our civilians would know to whom they pledge their allegiance. Now, that's sunshine.
Anne M. Hocutt, Lutz
Court lifts election limits | Jan. 22
Nonprofits can act
When I directed nonprofit hunger action programs in Tampa we found ways to integrate advocacy by large numbers of participants into the regular functioning of the programs. That gave people facing hunger a voice.
Many U.S. nonprofits limit advocacy to staff or boards. Many do no advocacy.
The Supreme Court has just opened the gates to a flood of big business influence-buying. Now may be the time for many nonprofits to consider advocacy by program participants. How? Organize ways for people, as they are receiving services, to speak to their elected officials from their lived experience, over and over again by the hundreds or the thousands. Emphasize that this is optional, and will not increase or decrease services provided. Focus the advocacy on legislation directly related to the mission of the program. Going beyond that opens the door to an easy slam-down by those who want to limit nonprofits to charity work.
With the Supreme Court's huge tilt to corporate influence over politicians, this may now be a key way for nonprofits to accomplish their missions.
The Rev. Warren Clark, Tampa
Fairness pushed aside
Sandra Day O'Connor, one of the few moderate voices on the Supreme Court, now retired, recently expressed her displeasure with the court's ruling on political finance rules. She stated that in the courts, fairness trumps strength. Now, we'll have the exact opposite: Strength trumps fairness, with corporate entities deciding who gets elected and who does not.
Hopefully Congress will be able to restrain this unfortunate ruling. If not, as O'Connor said: "… if both sides unleash their campaign spending monies without restrictions, then I think mutually assured destruction is the most likely outcome."
George Chase, St. Pete Beach