WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama on Saturday unloaded on a divided Supreme Court for allowing more corporate influence over elections. The White House and Democratic lawmakers scrambled to figure out how to blunt the impact of the ruling.
used his radio and Internet address as a platform to expand on
criticism Thursday's decision, which drastically alters the rules of
campaign finance going into November's congressional elections. The 5-4
decision threw out parts of a law that said companies and unions can be
prohibited from using their own money to produce and run campaign ads
that promote or target particular candidates by name.
The justices also struck down a measure that had barred union- and corporate-paid issue ads in the pivotal, closing days of election campaigns.
can't think of anything more devastating to the public interest," Obama
said. "The last thing we need to do is hand more influence to the
lobbyists in Washington, or more power to the special interests to tip
the outcome of the elections."
Obama promised a
forceful and bipartisan response with Congress, but it is unclear how
far any legislation can go in trying to undo the court's action.
are under way. Norm Eisen, special counsel to Obama for ethics and
government reform, met Friday with staff members for Sen. Chuck
Schumer, D-N.Y., and Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., the two lawmakers leading the effort for a legislative response.
the ideas under consideration are tougher disclosure requirements for
corporations that sponsor ad campaigns; a requirement that any
political ads by publicly traded companies be approved by shareholders;
and a ban on campaign spending by companies that have received federal
bailout money, according to an official familiar with the discussions
who spoke on condition of anonymity because no plans have been agreed
Obama is expected to address the broader issue in his State of the Union address on Wednesday.
The court's decision wrestled with the matter of campaign spending as free speech. The majority opinion by Justice Anthony Kennedy
made a vigorous argument for the right of the public to be exposed to a
multitude of ideas and against the ability of government to limit
Yet the president is among
those who see it as blowing open the doors to big-business influence
over democracy. He predicted that anyone who runs for election and
tries to take on powerful special interests will now be more likely to
be "under assault come election time."
Obama also said the decision will make it harder to enact financial, tax, health care and energy changes.