Yesterday, the Supreme Court ended its term with a bang with a ruling in McDonald v. City of Chicagothat state gun control regulations can be struck down by federal courts based on the Second Amendment. While the number and scale of blockbuster decisions was not so high this session, the singular impact of the Citizens Unitedcase earlier in the term unleashing unregulated corporate money on elections, combined with the dangerous implications of the Rent-A-Center, West v. Jacksonarbitration decision, emphasizes the pro-corporate bias the Supreme Court has increasingly exercised in recent years.
The Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission
(FEC) decision earlier this year gave corporations the same First
Amendment rights as citizens with regard to advocating for or against
political candidates, unleashing
a flood of new corporate cash into state races and a range of new
state policy initiatives that aim to protect the integrity of their
elections. In response, states are pursuing other reforms, such as
requiring shareholder approval for corporations spending election cash,
tighter public disclosure and attribution in ads, public financing of
elections, and calling for a federal constitutional amendment to reverse
the Citizens United decision.
With one former Governor in jail for racketeering and another removed
and indicted for selling political appointments for large campaign
donations, now might just be the time that Illinois finally reforms its
government. The new governor, Pat Quinn, has formed the Illinois Reform Commission. The
Commission is tasked with making recommendations within 100 days on how
to reform the government and finally stemming the corruption for which
the state has long been famous. The commission has already identified loose
campaign finance regulations and the lack of transparency as the
primary drivers of corruption in state government. Now they are
traveling around the state to hear from experts and citizens on what
they think needs to be done.