Sunday 24 September 2017

Hugh O’Flaherty: Supreme Court may be the uniting force

THE Supreme Court of the United States is a powerful institution. With its power to strike down legislation, its decisions can have very far-reaching effects. Take the 2010 decision in Citizens United where it was held there should be no restrictions on the amount of money corporations can give for political advertising because such restrictions impede the constitutional guarantee of free speech.

The court is perceived as being split into four conservative and four liberal wings, with one "swing" vote. So it was in the Citizens United case. It was thought that the decision would favour the Republican Party since it generally did best in getting donations from rich business interests.

President Obama was not pleased and used his State of the Union address to voice his disagreement. He said: "With all due deference to separation of powers, last week the Supreme Court reversed a century of law that I believe will open the floodgates for special interests including foreign corporations to spend without limit on our elections. I don't think American elections should be bankrolled by America's most powerful interests, or worse, by foreign entities."

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