In a brazen display of partisan zealotry, Chief Justice John Roberts, Jr. assumed all the corporate stooges would be Republicans, and once again led the five-man charge to shred Bill of Rights. Roberts wrote, "Laws like Arizona's matching funds provision that inhibit robust and wide open political debate without sufficient justification cannot stand." Roberts apparently believed that the Arizona law inhibited the robust and wide open buying of political offices, and moved decisively to stop such nonsense.
Roberts and his pals on the High Court's ideological right consider corporations to be people, and cash to be speech. It was not immediately known exactly how many conversations Roberts and his cohort, Antonin Scalia, Samuel Alito, Jr., Clarence Thomas, and Anthony Kennedy, got for their decision.
In a mind-bending rationalization of their toadying to the ultra-wealthy, the right-wing Supreme Corporates reasoned that big-money interests might be discouraged from monopolizing all the TV airtime, radio spots, campaign flyers and phone calls in an election if they knew that, whatever they spent, the other side would get public funds to match them. The Roberts Court essentially said free speech meant that not only do the very rich get to speak, they get to prevent others from speaking because the others might make the very rich shy. Roberts and his pals certainly earned many conversations with those acrobatic musings.
Apparently, to Roberts and his cohort, the only free speech is paid corporate speech.
The Arizona 1998 Citizens Clean Elections Act had allowed candidates to opt out of unlimited privately-funded campaigns and accept public financing instead. To level the playing field, as long as the candidate participated in a debate and agreed to give back any money she didn't need, the state would match the amount well-heeled private donors lavished on pet candidates opposing her.
In her dissent, Justice Elena Kagen, one of the four non-partisan judges arrayed against the five corporate activist ideologues, wrote for the minority,
"The First Amendment's core purpose is to foster a healthy, vibrant political system full of robust discussion and debate. Nothing in Arizona's anti-corruption statute, The Arizona Citizens Clean Elections Act, violates this constitutional protection. To the contrary, the act promotes the values underlying both the First Amendment and our entire Constitution by enhancing the 'opportunity for free political discussion to the end that government may be responsive to the will of the people.'"As usual, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Stephen Breyer, and Sonia Sotomayor joined in the dissent.
"What the law does...is fund more speech," Kagan said.
Roberts wasn't interested in more speech. Roberts only cared about speech pushing the ultra-wealthy's agenda. "Levelling the playing field can sound like a good thing," Roberts said of something that was as good as it sounded. "But in a democracy, campaigning for office is not a game." Roberts did not specify what it was instead, although his decision implied some sort of auction.
As they did with their infamous Citizens United case in 2009, the Roberts Court figured the candidates with the most money behind them should win all the elections. Roberts and his gang refused to countenance the notion that poorly-funded candidates and issues had any business trying to get their message out to the electorate.
Roberts didn't say when his cohort planned on dispensing with elections all together, and moving to a system in which the candidate backed by the largest corporations would simply be anointed.
In the 2009 Citizens United case, the same Roberts Court gang of five struck down decades of precedent and unleashed unlimited corporate funding of elections. Laws in 24 states that prohibited corporations smothering elections with mountains of cash fell before the juggernaut of right-wing plutocratization.
Roberts, Scalia, Alito, Kennedy and Thomas appeared confident Republicans would always get the lion's share of corporate patronage, but the Chief Justice hedged a bit against the day the GOP figured out how to plunder public campaign funds. "We do not today call into question the wisdom of public financing as a means of funding political candidacy," Roberts elevated himself to the royal plural. "That is not our business."
The business of the Supreme Court is, apparently, Business.