Editorials: The Uniqueness Of The 2012 Election | NPR All U.S. presidential elections “are unique in some fashion,” says John G. Geer, a political science professor at Vanderbilt University. Sure, but what about 2012? What exactly will make the 2012 election between President Obama and Mitt Romney truly unique? For one thing, though the candidates have many…
All U.S. presidential elections “are unique in some fashion,” says John G. Geer, a political science professor at Vanderbilt University. Sure, but what about 2012? What exactly will make the 2012 election between President Obama and Mitt Romney truly unique? For one thing, though the candidates have many similarities, as noted by NPR and The New York Times, there is a clear-cut choice between directions the country might take. And there are other — what shall we call them? — uniquities. Carol S. Weissert, director of the LeRoy Collins Institute — a nonpartisan public policy think tank in Tallahassee, Fla. — points out that the presidential election in November will be the first since the 2010 Citizens United Supreme Court opinion that opened the barn door to unregulated spending in all political campaigns — but especially presidential campaigns.
he Supreme Court does not often become a foil for late-night television comedians, and the nation’s complicated campaign finance laws are an unlikely source for comedy. But there was Stephen Colbert on a recent episode of The Colbert Report opening with a mini-seminar. “Folks, it seems like these days, everyone is talking about super PACs, which, thanks to the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling, can collect and spend unlimited money on political advertising,” Colbert told his viewers, some of whom had already contributed to his own super PAC creation: Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow.
National: Mystery of Citizens United Sequel Is Format, Not Ending – How Justices Rule May Be an Issue Itself | NYTimes.com
At their private conference, the justices of the Supreme Court are scheduled to decide Thursday whether and how to take a second look at the Citizens United campaign finance decision. The usual odds that the Supreme Court will agree to hear a case are about one in a hundred. This one is pretty much a sure thing. The justices have already temporarily blocked a lower court decision in the case. In that decision, the Montana Supreme Court seemed to defy the higher court by saying that a state law regulating corporate political spending was constitutional notwithstanding Citizens United. Two dissenting State Supreme Court justices said they would have liked to vote with their colleagues but did not believe they were entitled to ignore the United States Supreme Court. “I find myself in the distasteful position of having to defend the applicability of a controlling precedent with which I profoundly disagree,” wrote one of them, Justice James C. Nelson.
Editorials: Montana case gives campaign reformers best shot at undermining Citizens United | NationalJournal.com
The way conservatives tell it, President Obama’s White House tenure has resulted in a near-death experience for federalism. A tidal wave of Obama-inspired federal regulation has turned autonomous states into captives of the national bureaucracy, a perversion, they say, of the Constitution and the Founders’ vision of the “laboratories of democracy.” States’ rights, then, are of paramount concern for conservatives—except, it turns out, when the discussion turns to campaign finance and another principle near and dear to their hearts: free speech. As a case before the Supreme Court this month demonstrates, some on the Right might profess to love the 10th Amendment, but they’re willing to push it aside to embrace the First—at least in this context. The case, American Tradition Partnership, Inc. v. Bullock, centers on a century-old Montana law that prohibits corporations from spending money on political campaigns. The U.S. Supreme Court appeared to have rendered the state law unconstitutional in 2010 in its ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission that allowed unlimited corporate and union spending on elections; but the Montana Supreme Court unexpectedly upheld the ban last year.
The difference between President Obama and presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney when it comes to fundraising is not only that Mr. Romney managed to outraise the president last month. A more troubling difference is that Mr. Romney provided almost no information about the key “bundlers” who helped his campaign vacuum up such huge sums. This omission distinguishes the former Massachusetts governor not only from his Democratic counterpart but from his two Republican predecessors. Both President George W. Bush, during his two campaigns, and Arizona Sen. John McCain, during his 2008 presidential race, released lists of their key fundraisers and, at least within general parameters, some indication of their hauls. But Mr. Romney’s campaign has repeatedly dismissed suggestions that he follow suit. The campaign has said that it has complied with campaign finance laws, which do not mandate such information except in the case of registered federal lobbyists.
The Federal Election Commission on Monday night unanimously voted to allow Americans to make political donations via text message, making Androids, iPhones and Blackberries the newest weapon in the battle to raise unprecedented amounts of money. Both parties, as well as campaign finance reform advocates, say the move will allow Americans of modest means to play a greater role in a democratic process dominated this election cycle by billionaires and multi-millionaires and political organizations such as super PACs that may raise and spend money without restriction. The decision will take effect immediately, although it may be days or weeks before the system is fully functional. Individual phone numbers will be capped at $50 worth of donations per billing cycle per political candidate or committee.
President Obama and former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) aren’t on the ballot in Tuesday’s special election, but the two have become central figures in the fight for control of the southern Arizona district. From the start of the race, Republicans attempted to make the contest about Obama and Democrat Ron Barber’s support for the president and his policies. But in recent weeks, as the national fight between the two parties has escalated, the race has taken on a larger significance for both.
Hollywood produced “Ishtar” and, more recently, Disney’s “John Carter.” But it has never made a bomb quite like Tuesday’s California elections. Expectations were high. California’s political reformers told us that this would be the year everything changed. After a decade and a half of reform efforts, a new system of less partisan elections was finally in place, and fairly drawn legislative districts and a new top-two primary system would usher in a new era of democracy. Voters would be engaged, competition would be spurred, independents would get a boost and California would see the kind of big policy debates necessary to find solutions to the state’s persistent governance crisis. Oh, well. But give the reformers credit; they did make change. In place of our old system, we got something that preserves many of our worst political traditions — while making things a little bit worse.
The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division is planning to sue the state of Florida for purging voters from its rolls in violation of federal law, Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez said in a letter to Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner Monday. DOJ warned Florida last month that its efforts to purge individuals believed to be noncitizens from the voter rolls would violate federal law because the process had not been cleared by either the Justice Department or a federal court, and because the purge was taking place too close to Florida’s August primary. Perez wrote Monday that he “authorized the initiation of an enforcement action against Florida in federal court” because the state had “indicated its unwillingness to comply” with federal laws.
Florida is locked in battle with the U.S. Justice Department over the state’s efforts to scrub its voter rolls. At Republican Governor Rick Scott’s direction, the state cross-referenced driver’s licenses and voter registrations to compile a list of more than 180,000 Floridians it said were suspect. It then sent to county election supervisors a first cut of more than 2,600 registrants. They were to be notified by certified mail and given 30 days to prove their citizenship before being stricken from the rolls and barred from voting this fall. An analysis by the Miami Herald found the vast majority were, in fact, citizens (including 91-year-old Bill Internicola, a World War II veteran born in New York who was none too happy about his civic demotion). Last week, a federal court in Tallahassee blocked the state from imposing new restrictions on voter registration, including a law requiring registration forms be submitted to state officials within 48 hours. The law previously had allowed 10 days for submissions. Florida was never able to explain why a two-day rush was suddenly necessary, particularly when voter registration is often conducted by volunteers.
My sharp-eyed colleague, Ron Snell, noticed a bit of federalism trivia that had previously slipped by us in the 90 Day Report, a summary of the work of the 2012 Maryland General Assembly: Maryland ratified the 17th Amendment to the Constitution–the direct election of U.S. senators–during its legislative session earlier this year. Thirty-seven other states–the required three-fourths majority of states in those days–had ratified the amendment in 1913. Alabama ratified it in 2002 and Delaware in 2010. Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Rhode Island, South Carolinia, Utah and Virginia are the eight states that have not ratified the amendment. Utah is the only state explicitly to have rejected the amendment, according toWikipedia. In looking up this information, I was intrigued to read about a 1997 law review article, “Ulysses at the Mast: Democracy, Federalism, and the Sirens’ Song of the Seventeenth Amendment,” by Judge Jay Bybee in which he argues that the state legtislatures’ ratification of the 17th Amendment, giving up the power to elect U.S. senators, led to a gradual “slide into ignominy” for state legislatures. I don’t buy the “slide into ignominy,” but I agree with Bybee that the 17th Amendment significantly hindered the role of state legislatures in the federal system.
The Minnesota Supreme Court will decide next month whether or not the proposed voter photo ID constitutional amendment stays on the ballot. At issue is whether the question, as worded on the ballot, omits important information voters need to know before voting it up or down. That wording is simple enough, to wit: “Shall the constitution be amended to require all voters to present photo identification to vote and to require the state to provide free identification to eligible voters?” Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer, the former Secretary of State who was chief author of the voter ID amendment in the Minnesota House, defends the wording. “This really changes the system from an after-the-fact check-you-out, to a before-you-cast-your-ballot let’s verify,” Rep. Kiffmeyer said. “This is a very modest one section, and the core of the whole constitutional change is requiring photo ID.”
The citizens of Wisconsin have just had to endure the most contentious election in our state’s history only to have a governor elected for a second time in his first term. Now this never-ending cycle of recalls must come to an end. Wisconsin has had 15 attempts to recall a state official in less than a year. It has become a political circus with taxpayer dollars being thrown around like confetti. Thankfully, it has become crystal clear that people across our state have had enough; it’s time to recall the recalls. Exit polls June 5 found that 60% of voters say recall elections are appropriate only for official misconduct. It’s understandable that there’s voter fatigue. This is the second round of recall elections in a year, and voters will go to the polls four times in five months. We need to limit recalls to a malfeasance in office; they should not be used as a political tactic. That clearly was not the intention of those who put it in our constitution nearly 100 years ago.
Texas is preparing for a legal showdown next month in federal court over a new voter photo ID law passed by the Legislature but blocked by the Justice Department which cited discrimination against minority voters. “We objected to a photo ID requirement in Texas because it would have had a disproportionate impact on Hispanic voters,” U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder told a recent conference of black clergy. Despite legal maneuvering by Texas and Justice Department lawyers, a three-judge U.S. District Court panel has cleared the docket for a July 9 trial. And it remains highly questionable whether the new law could be implemented in Texas by the November general election.
A movement to boycott this week’s runoff presidential election is gaining momentum, threatening Egypt’s restive transition to democracy and revealing a sharpening disdain by voters over the choice between a conservative Islamist and a holdover from the old guard. That dilemma highlights the polarizing struggle between political Islam and the secular police state. The state has handily won this battle since the 1950s. But the country’s first free presidential election shows Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohamed Morsi in a tight race with Ahmed Shafik, a remnant of ousted leader Hosni Mubarak’s government. Between their camps lies a chasm of disaffected Egyptians demanding adherence to the ideals that have spurred uprisings across the Arab world since early last year. These voters — representing a slight majority of those who cast ballots in the first round last month — are liberals, socialists, moderate Islamists and others who fear a landmark moment for democracy is being lost to established, unimaginative voices. “It does not make sense to choose between two wrongs,” Mona Ammar, a protester on Tahrir Square, said of Morsi and Shafik. “If Shafik wins we will rise against him, but it could even be more dangerous if Morsi wins because he will try and use religion to placate and stall the people.”
Now it is official. Hugo Chavez and Henrique Capriles will contest Venezuela’s presidential election in October. In fact, the formal registration of the two candidates – Mr Capriles on Sunday and Mr Chavez by Monday’s deadline – merely confirms what had long been expected. But the registration removes any lingering, albeit tiny, doubt over whether President Chavez, beset by health problems, would be on the ballot. Although campaigning does not officially begin until 1 July, there have already been plenty of election-related events.