Grayson: "Today, the court, in effect, decided only corporations have constitutional rights"
Posted: 23 Jan 2010 06:00 AM PST
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Keith talks to Rep. Alan Grayson who has introduced five bills in anticipation of this Supreme Court ruling which gives corporations the same rights as citizens in regard to free speech and 1st Amendment rights. You can also go sign Grayson's petition Save Democracy here.
OLBERMANN: In anticipation of today`s ruling, one Democratic in Congress, Alan Grayson of Florida, having introduced five bills last week, in an effort to prevent the expected flood of corporate cash. By title, they are: the Business Should Mind Its Own Business Act, the Public Company Responsibility Act, the End Political Kickbacks Act, the Corporate Propaganda Sunshine Act, and last but certainly not least, the Ending Corporate Collusion Act.
Congressman Grayson joins us now.
Thank you once again for your time tonight, sir.
GRAYSON: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: You were in the courtroom when the Supreme Court announced this decision. What`s your reaction to the decision? What has the reaction been to your five bills?
GRAYSON: I`m shocked. I`m shocked by the decision. This is the most irresponsible decision by the Supreme Court since the Dred Scott decision.
GRAYSON: . over 100 years ago. The one that you referred to, the Dred Scott decision has some analogy to it. In the Dred Scott decision, the court decided that slaves and their free born children do not have any constitutional rights.
Today, the court, in effect, decided only corporations have constitutional rights. This will lead to a drowning flood of money from corporations in exchange for favors. And it basically institutionalizes and legalizes bribery on the largest scale imaginable. Corporations will now be able to reward the politicians that play ball with them and will be able -- they will be able to beat to death the politicians that don`t.
OLBERMANN: And the entire issue of money has just changed, has it not? I mean, a corporation and I`ll take the one that we`re on right now, G.E., because it`s the one we`re on right now. And it`d be disingenuous to leave them out this of equation, but G.E. or any other corporation of relative size could buy its own Senate, couldn`t it?
GRAYSON: Well, I think you won`t even hear people talk anymore about the senator from Kansas or the senator from Oregon. Instead, it`ll be the senator from G.E. and the senator from Microsoft. Maybe we`ll end up wearing corporate logos.
But I think we can fight back. I did introduce those bills. We`re circulating a petition on SaveDemocracy.net. We already got 20,000 people who signed the petition and we`re going to show people power. We`re going to show that you can fight back against a decision like this in very practical ways.
For instance, one of the bills that I introduced says that if a corporation is going to try to buy an election, at least they have to get the prior authorization from their shareholders. I think that`s a practical thing to expect. We`re also -- I`ve also introduced another bill that says that if you`re going to spend money like that, you have to disclose that to the public immediately. And the Supreme Court itself said in its decision today that that`s constitutional -- the requirement of immediate disclosure.
OLBERMANN: But given the passivity of voters and nonvoters, particularly in this country, is that not the real nightmare in this, that if you pass these acts, even if you pass these acts before the midterms later this year, that the corporations can roll out the bank wads and buy your successors and roll everything back by this time next year?
GRAYSON: But it`s even worse if we do nothing. If we do nothing and allow what amounts to the facilitation of a corporate coup to rule America, you can kiss this country goodbye.
Justice Stevens wrote in the dissent, Congressman, "The framers took it as a given that corporations could be comprehensively regulated in the service of the public welfare." Why is it that judges are only called activists when they rule against what conservatives want?
GRAYSON: I wish I knew, but the same five judges today who have overturned 103 years of settled law and relied upon no precedent to do so, these are the same judges who gave us George Bush for eight years. They have their own agenda and it`s time we stopped pretending otherwise. The Supreme Court has become utterly politicized and the result of that is what you see here today.
OLBERMANN: Justice Stevens also wrote in the dissents, "Although they make enormous contributions to our society, corporations are not actually members of it. They cannot vote or run for office, because they may be managed and controlled by nonresidents. Their interests may conflict in fundamental respect with the interests of eligible voters."
Does the decision really make corporations not kind of persons but actually super-persons?
GRAYSON: Absolutely. Why should they bother to run for office or vote when they can buy and sell elected officials by the gross?
OLBERMANN: And what do you do -- if somebody is watching this who would understand the horrors and the breadth of this thing, what do they do?
GRAYSON: Well, for starters, sign our petition at SaveDemocracy.net and then monitor that site for more things to do. These six bills have to pass. And what we need to do is to get people involved. Call their congressmen, write to their congressmen. Make sure that this package to save our democracy actually gets enacted into law.
OLBERMANN: Representative Alan Grayson, Democrat of Florida -- greatest of luck on this. It is as, you suggest, vital. And great thanks for your time tonight.
GRAYSON: Thank you.