Nation's Leading Paper Says Democracy Imperiled by First Amendment Victory

Irony or hypocrisy? A lead editorial in the nation's premier newspaper condemns a free speech victory in the Supreme Court as a "radical decision, which strikes at the heart of democracy."

Friday's lead editorial didn't mince words about the Supreme Court's "disastrous" ruling expanding free speech in political campaigns: "The Court's Blow to Democracy." The editorial magnified the dour tone of the paper's news stories, saying the decision "strikes at the heart of democracy" and claiming that the free speech argument was disingenuous.

Apparently only liberal newspapers can be trusted to make their political opinions known without restrictions.

With a single, disastrous 5-to-4 ruling, the Supreme Court has thrust politics back to the robber-baron era of the 19th century. Disingenuously waving the flag of the First Amendment, the court's conservative majority has paved the way for corporations to use their vast treasuries to overwhelm elections and intimidate elected officials into doing their bidding.

Congress must act immediately to limit the damage of this radical decision, which strikes at the heart of democracy.

As a result of Thursday's ruling, corporations have been unleashed from the longstanding ban against their spending directly on political campaigns and will be free to spend as much money as they want to elect and defeat candidates. If a member of Congress tries to stand up to a wealthy special interest, its lobbyists can credibly threaten: We'll spend whatever it takes to defeat you.

The editorial advanced a popular left-wing argument:

The majority is deeply wrong on the law. Most wrongheaded of all is its insistence that corporations are just like people and entitled to the same First Amendment rights. It is an odd claim since companies are creations of the state that exist to make money. They are given special privileges, including different tax rates, to do just that. It was a fundamental misreading of the Constitution to say that these artificial legal constructs have the same right to spend money on politics as ordinary Americans have to speak out in support of a candidate.

But that argument rings hollow, given that the Times supports limits on how much "ordinary Americans" can donate to campaigns as well.

The Times went so far as to call for the ruling to be overturned, presumably via the retirement of a conservative justice with one appointed by Obama:

The real solution lies in getting the court's ruling overturned. The four dissenters made an eloquent case for why the decision was wrong on the law and dangerous. With one more vote, they could rescue democracy.