WASHINGTON - With all the discussion at Elena Kagan's confirmation hearing of the
recent Supreme Court ruling in the Citizens United case, many Americans
are probably in need of an easy primer to understand the decision, which
holds that corporations, like individual citizens, can make unlimited
political contributions. According to Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), the top
Republican on the Judiciary committee, it's just like the time the
Supreme Court desegregated public schools!
Last night, elaborating on his criticisms
of former Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, Sessions made
the unusual comparison of Citizens United v. FEC to Brown
v. Board of Education of Topeka.
"[Marshall] was right on Brown v. Board of Education. It's
akin in my view to the Citizen's United case. The court sat down and we
went back to first principles--What does the Constitution say? Everybody
should be equal protection of the laws," Sessions told me after a
Senate vote last night.
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"Is it treating people equally to say you can go to this school
because of the color of your skin and you can't?" Sessions asked
rhetorically. "We've now honestly concluded and fairly concluded that it
violates the equal protection clause."
How is that like Citizens United? "I think this Court, when they said
'Wait a minute! If you're talking about a precedent that says the
government can deny the right to publish pamphlets, then we've got get
rid of this one outlier case Austin -- 100 years of precedent -- and go
back to what the Constitution [says].' I don't think that's activism."
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how the prohibition on direct
corporate expenditures to campaigns is exactly like forcing
African-Americans to endure segregation, if you are Senator Jeff