Friday, January 22, 2010

A Supreme Court Decision

The New York Times is running an article entitled, "Lobbyists Get Potent Weapon in Campaign Finance Ruling." The article begins, "The Supreme Court has handed lobbyists a new weapon. A lobbyist can now tell any elected official: if you vote wrong, my company, labor union or interest group will spend unlimited sums explicitly advertising against your re-election." It continues, "'We have got a million we can spend advertising for you or against you — whichever one you want,’ a lobbyist can tell lawmakers, said Lawrence M. Noble, a lawyer at Skadden Arps in Washington and former general counsel of the Federal Election Commission."

Questions for Discussion:

1. Do you think that corporations should be allowed to spend unlimited amounts of money to support political candidates? Why or why not? Try and argue both sides of this question.

2. Imagine that you were a United States Congressman who did not want to be beholden to large corporations and lobbyists. What plan might you develop to ensure your re-election despite these powerful campaign funders?

3. Imagine that you were a board member of a powerful corporation. What three "business-smart" reasons might you have for not supporting corporate contributions to political campaigns?

4. Do you think that the Supreme Court of the United States should have the ability to overturn precedent decided by former supreme courts? Why or why not? Should this power be limited? If so, how? (Remember, in 1954 when the Supreme Court ruled that segregated schools were inherently unequal they overturned a previous decision.)

Questions for Younger Children and Everybody Else:

1. Describe a time in which you had to make a difficult decision? What did you decide? Why was this decision difficult?

2. What do you think are the most important things for a judge, or a sports referee or umpire, to keep in mind when they are doing their job? Why?

3. If you could tell people not to do one thing that many people do today, what would you tell them not to do? Why?


  1. As I watch the American political system fall on its own sword, I am more and more convinced that there needs to be developed a new, post-democratic, form of government.

  2. So, what do you have in mind? Karl Marx believed the same thing more than 150 years ago. But then again, he would not have said post-democracy he would have said post-capitalism.

    Thanks for contributing!!