"I got involved with PFAW through their lobbying efforts, which I believe are critical. People don't realize that the power of government really is in the hands of the people, and PFAW gets more individuals involved with that decision-making process."
The corporations who consistently value greed over the health and safety of workers, consumers, the environment and our economy are pulling out all the stops to put Republicans back in power this fall.
While the Republicans have always been unapologetic about being the party of Big Business, campaign finance laws have at least mitigated some of the edge that having access to endless corporate cash would give to Republican candidates. But the Roberts Court's disastrous 5-4 decision in Citizens United v. FEC in January completely tilted the playing field. Now, the party of Big Business -- which also happens to be the party of the Religious Right, Tea Party extremists and FOX News -- can receive unlimited electoral support from the industries for which they are so eager to throw everyday Americans under the bus.
If our democracy is for sale to the highest bidder, then it's not a democracy at all. As you'll see in July's newsletter, People For's Campaign to Preserve Government By the People has had a very busy month. Every day, we see more challenges stack up in front of us, but every day, we're inspired by the energy and activism of PFAW members and the progressive grassroots to rise up and meet these challenges.
Thank you for standing with us.
All the best,
Netroots Nation Takes on Citizens United
Our panel discussion at Netroots Nation on fixing Citizens United was among the best attended events at the conference, generating passion by both the speakers and the audience. From left to right: PFAW's Marge Baker, Robert Weissman of Public Citizen, US. Reps. Donna Edwards (D-MD) and Alan Grayson (D-FL), and Lisa Graves of the Center for Media and Democracy.
Results of a poll conducted by Hart Research Associates for People For the American Way revealed that Americans across the political spectrum are intensely concerned about corporate influence in our democracy and disagree with the Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United v. FEC.
In addition, more than three-quarters of voters said that they support a Constitutional Amendment if one is necessary to limit the amount that corporations can spend in elections. A similar majority are inclined to support a candidate who has spoken out in favor of an amendment. The support cuts across party and ideology, with majorities of Democrats, Republicans and Independents in support of the measure.
The reckless policies and practices of Republicans and corporations have added to the struggles of Americans -- now those same right-wing interests are trying to manipulate voters' frustration to retake power. Help us stop them.
The Consequences of Citizens United
Ever since the Supreme Court issued its ruling in the Citizens United case in January, we've been warning that the decision would empower corporations to funnel unlimited donations through shadow advocacy groups to directly influence elections.
And guess what? It's begun.
Just as we (and President Obama) predicted, corporations are already forming and funding political action groups with innocuous sounding names to anonymously support candidates they like and attack candidates they don't.
The Senate failed to end a Republican filibuster of the DISCLOSE Act, a bill that would tighten campaign spending disclosure rules for corporations and unions, and limit which corporations are able to spend money to influence elections. The bill was intended to mitigate the damages of the Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United v. FEC, which allowed corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money to influence elections.
After the vote, Sen. Max Baucus announced that he would introduce a Constitutional Amendment to reverse Citizens United.
Federal Judge Blocks Portions of Arizona's SB 1070
A federal judge blocked some of the most controversial provisions in the draconian anti-immigrant law Arizona's governor signed into law in April.
U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton temporarily blocked portions of the law including those requiring law enforcement officers to determine the immigration status of individuals they stop and making it a crime to be without immigration papers, holding that these provisions are unlikely to hold up in federal court.
This ruling is a victory for civil liberties, for public safety and for common sense. SB 1070 stripped away basic civil liberties and essentially mandated racial profiling by state police, while creating a culture of fear and suspicion that would make it harder for law enforcement officers to do their jobs.
People For the American Way, Public Citizen Launch Constitutional Amendment Pledge Campaign to Undo Citizens United
People For the American Way and Public Citizen announced a campaign calling on candidates for Congress to pledge to support an amendment to the Constitution to reverse the U.S. Supreme Court's dangerous decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. The decision, which allows corporations to spend unlimited money from their corporate treasuries to support or defeat a candidate, undercuts the First Amendment and gives corporations enormous influence in elections.
The two groups are asking all candidates for the House of Representatives and Senate to sign a pledge promising to support an amendment to restore democracy to our system.
Federal Court Rules DOMA's Section 3 Unconstitutional
A federal judge in Massachusetts struck down a key part of the Defense of Marriage Act on two separate constitutional challenges. Judge Joseph Tauro, a Nixon appointee, ruled that the provision banning the federal government from recognizing gay people's marriages violates the Constitution's guarantee of equal protection, and the principle of state sovereignty.
Tauro's opinion in the equal protection case includes some strong words on the motivation behind DOMA, the 1996 law designed to push back against states granting marriage equality. The main purpose of the law was to disadvantage a particular set of people simply out of dislike for them, he writes…and that sort of motivation doesn't pass constitutional muster.
The Senate Judiciary Committee approved the nomination of Solicitor General Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court. Kagan received the support of all the Democrats on the committee, but was opposed by all but one Republican member. Her nomination will now go to the Senate floor and is soon expected to receive a vote.
The vote was a step towards achieving a Supreme Court that understands the way the law affects individual Americans. In her hearings, Solicitor General Kagan made clear that, unlike the current Court, she understands that corporate interests shouldn't be allowed to run rampant over the rights of individual Americans.
GOP Blocks 20 Judicial Nominees, Rebuffs Goodwin Liu Again
Nine Democratic senators went to the Senate floor today to call for up-or-down votes on the confirmation of 20 federal judicial nominees, many of whom have been waiting months to be confirmed and several of whom passed out of the Judiciary Committee with little or no opposition from members of either party.
The House Financial Services Committee approved the Shareholder Protection Act. The Act would require corporations to receive permission from a majority of shareholders before setting aside a budget for campaign expenditures, and would require all large election-related expenditures to be disclosed to shareholders and the public.
Since the Citizens United decision, corporations have been allowed to spend unlimited amounts of money to influence elections, but have not been required to disclose those expenditures to their shareholders.
Despite predictions to the contrary, last month's Senate Confirmation Hearings for Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan presented the best public discussion of judging, the courts, and the Constitution in decades. We've selected some of the most interesting moments from four days of hearings.
In a new op-ed in the Huffington Post, Michael Keegan, People For's president, asks why the GOP spent so much of Elena Kagan's Supreme Court confirmation hearings defending the nearly-dead Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy. The answer? They just can't seem to quit gay people.
Right Wing Watch: FRC's Webcast Exposes The Fatuous Fraudulence of Their Don't Ask Don't tell Campaign
The Family Research Council hosted a webcast entitled "Mission Compromised: How the military is being used to advance a radical agenda" which featured several members of Congress along with Religious Right activists discussing both efforts to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell and efforts to allow abortion at military facilities.
In one clip, Oliver North tells Tony Perkins that conservative, home-schooled kids who read the Bible instead of looking at porn will stop joining the military if DADT is repealed because it will eventually lead to NAMBLA members being allowed to serve. We've got several of the clips up.
As we witness the growing influx of corporate spending in elections from Kentucky to Minnesota as a result of the Citizens United ruling, campaigns across the country are bracing for a barrage of corporate spending. Senate Republicans claim that by refusing to allow the DISCLOSE Act to come up for a vote, they are defending free speech rights established by the Court.
Right Wing Watch: Dominionism and The Religious Right: The Merger Is Complete
For weeks we've had regular posts on the increasing intersection between the "mainstream" Religious Right and Dominionist prophetic intercessors like Lou Engle, Cindy Jacobs, Rick Joyner and others. And we've noted that just because the more "mainstream" leaders have been joining forces with these self-proclaims prophets and apostles, it didn't mean that they necessarily shared their Dominionist agenda.
But it is now probably fair to say that we no longer need to be so careful, as the leaders of the Religious Right have now openly embraced Seven Mountains Dominionist theology.
This month, we were treated to an appalling spectacle in which conservative activist-journalist Andrew Breitbart launched a racially-charged attack against USDA employee Shirley Sherrod, creating a media storm and getting her fired from her job before anyone noticed that his smear was a calculated lie. Breitbart's ploy confirmed once again his place on the extremist, reactionary, and not altogether honest end of the Right.
Maybe it would be too much to ask for the Republican establishment to repudiate (or even refudiate) Breitbart, since they stand to gain politically from his smear campaigns... but you'd think they'd be savvy enough not to publically embrace him.
Right Wing Watch: Omniscient Bus Driver Reserves Right To Refuse Service Based Entirely On Own Imagination
The explanation for why Texas bus driver Edwin Graning refused to transport a woman to Planned Parenthood keeps changing.
First he said that his wife called the facility and heard a message directing callers to call 911 in case of abortion complications and so he refused to go. Then he said that he called the facility and heard abortion listed among the services they provide, so he refused to go. Both of those claims turned out to be demonstrably false, as no such messages exist.
So that left Graning's ACLJ attorney with no choice but to admit that his client really had no idea what reason this woman may have had for wanting to go to Planned Parenthood, but he assumed it was for an abortion, so he was justified in refusing to transport her.