The effect of the Citizen's United ruling was obvious in the Republican primaries as individual donors gave large amounts and the anonymous SuperPACs started spending large amounts for their preferred candidates. Whether they had a bearing on the outcomes of the primaries is an another issue. The establishment candidate, Mitt Romney, ended up the victor which suggests the money wasn't destabilizing to the expected outcome.
Citizen's United vs FEC started as a specialized ruling of the McCain-Feingold Act on whether a documentary critical of a candidate could air prior to an election. The FEC said no. The Roberts court decided not to give a ruling on this particular instance of the law and instead reconvened to re-assess whether it was constitutional for corporations, non-profits or unions to be restricted from spending on elections, however they are restricted in their ability to give money to candidates and parties.
As always wiki has excellent coverage
of all the issues, and the new yorker has an excellent article
on the events leading to the decision in the case.
McCloskey's book The American Supreme Court
makes obvious that the court's decisions have the politics of the time as distinct boundaries. The court will not make decisions beyond the point that the politics of the time will accept. The interesting part though is that the court is an intrinsically political institution and does not operate in the area of intrinsic law and rights that the myths of constitutionalism would expect.
The Citizen's United decision by the Roberts Court over turns several other previous decisions by the Supreme Court. It was also done in a manner that was activist in nature by reframing the questions rather than answering the original narrow question of the case. This form of conservative judicial activism has without doubt become politically possible and defensible due to the rise of the radical Republican Party right over the last twenty years which has the message discipline and media outlet avenues to support the Roberts court decision.
Polls show that not everyone is aware of the Citizen's United decision, but those that have believe it will have a large negative effect
on political campaigns. That is understandable. Democracy is inherently an egalitarian affair in the 20thC with one person one vote now a rule rather than an exception. The idea of one dollar one vote seems unfair, especially in a time of rising inequality where the 1% appears to have the political ear already.
The Citizen's United is also being satired by Stephen Colbert who has his own Super PAC. As Colbert joked at a recent dinner; "I was particularly excited to meet David Koch earlier tonight because I have a Super PAC, Colbert Super PAC, and I am happy to announce Mr. Koch has pledged $5 million to my Super PAC. And the great thing is, thanks to federal election law, there's no way for you to ever know whether that's a joke."
One of the areas where Citizens United has had an effect is that they have become an arm of the candidates political campaigns. Many of the SuperPACs during the South Carolina primaries were run by the candidates former advisors, aides and political directors. The money funding these SuperPACs is from corporations which have been freed of limits courtesy of the Citizen's United ruling.
Starting a corporation is quick and cheap in the United States which does not want to thwart the promise of entrepreneurism. However, there have been instances of wealthy individuals creating a shell company purely for the purpose of donating to a candidates SuperPAC. The company is dissolved almost immediately after. Some media sleuthing has managed to discover the identity of these donors.
According to AEI
, in the recent Republican primaries; "Outside groups are outspending candidates by more than 2-to-1, and candidates for the presidency and other office are beginning to see one of the more pernicious side effects of Citizens United -- that the candidates are increasingly being crowded out of the prime television ad spots they want and need to get their messages across."
We are also yet to go through a general election where the spending and effects on each of the parties, Republican and Democratic, can be determined. If the Republican primaries are anything to go by, the establishment and expected candidate will be the one that wins. It is doubtful that an outsider will win, but it may give them greater legs in a campaign than they would otherwise. Gingrich being an example.
Democracy is a messy and mass scale technology. It is also right more often than it is wrong. The Roberts Supreme Court is able to dabble in conservative judicial activism due to the nature of radical right wing politics and its supporting political and media institutions.
The Roberts' style of conservative judicial activism will become the norm while the politics support it. The only way to flush it out of the system will be for Republican voters to eschew the radical candidates in their party, or alternatively for voters to choose Democratic candidates - who are definitely more centrist - and moderate Republicans at the ballot box.
This appears a bit of a forlorn hope, as the history of the last twenty years has suggested the opposite and with the election of Barack Obama the Republican Party and its Tea Party faction have become increasing radicalized. Hopefully democracy and voters get it right soon and some of the worst excesses are diminished or vanish.
Phoenix Eats Out
is the restaurant review site for Phoenix
and Old Town Scottsdale
which lists the modernist and contemporary restaurants, taverns and bars in the greater Phoenix area.
This is the list of the most popular restaurants pages from phoenixeatsout.com that have been viewed the most;
My personal favourite restaurants in Phoenix are AZ88
, Humble Pie
, Orange Table
, The Vig
and others coming close behind. View the complete list with the photo-journalistic style images on phoenixeatsout.com
Arizona is an outdoor state and has lots of hiking in the city and around the state. Phoenix is unusual for most cities in having several large mountains in the center of the city with great hiking. Anyone who comes to Phoenix has to do the Echo Canyon trail on Camelback
and the Summit Hike on Squaw Peak
or Piesta Peak. The views of the city, suburbs and surrounding mountains are wonderful from Camelback and Piesta Peak.
For more experienced hikers there is the McDowell Mountains in North Scottsdale that has several difficult and strenuous hikes in Tom's Thumb
and Bell Pass
. Alternatively, you can hike the highest mountain in Arizona. At 12,600 feet Humphrey's Peak
is a long and difficult hike.
Between 2004 and 2009 this site, southsearepublic.org
, was a constitutional blog based on scoop which focused on Australian and global constitutional issues.
One of the strongest aspects of it was the development of constitutions by those involved in the blog. These constitutions are the outcome:
The constitutions were built using principles from Montesquieu's separation of powers, the enlightnment's universal political rights and the ancient Athenian technology of sortition and choice by lot.
I am an Australian living in the United States as a permanent resident.
I am a software developer by trade and mostly work in Java and jump between middleware and front end.
I originally worked in the New York area of the United States in telecommunications before moving to Washington DC and
working in a mix of telecommunications, energy and ITS. I started my own software company before heading out to
Arizona and working with Shutterfly. Since then I have joined a startup in the Phoenix area and am thoroughly enjoying myself.
I do a lot of photography which I post on this website, but also on flickr. I have a photo-journalistic website which lists
the modernist and contemporary restaurants in phoenix. I have a site on the Australian Flying Corps [AFC]
which has been around since the 1990s and which I unfortunately
lost the .org URL to during a life event; however, it is under the www.australianflyingcorps.com
The AFC website has gone through several iterations since the 90s and the two most recent are Australian Flying Corps Archives(2004-2002)
Australian Flying Corps Archives(2002-1999)
which are good places to start.