Tag Archives: Supreme Court

A Victory for Voters

Elisabeth MacNamara, president of the League of Women Voters of the U.S., calls the Supreme Court’s decision in the case Arizona v. ITCA Inc. “a strong decision protecting voters.”
“The decision is a strong endorsement of Congress’ power under the Elections Clause. In this case, Arizona overstepped by imposing restrictions on the voter registration process,” said MacNamara.
“State restrictions lost: Voters won today,” said MacNamara.
“Arizona wrongfully rejected thousands of voter registration applications,” said MacNamara. “The Court ruled that this was inconsistent with the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA).”
“The Court’s ITCA decision safeguards the voter registration process from political manipulation and will help block attempts in the states to restrict the right to vote,” MacNamara said.
“In its decision, the Court also recognized the importance of interstate voter registration drives like those conducted by the League of Women Voters.”
Arizona v. ITCA is a critically important voting rights case that examines whether the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) prevents states from passing laws that restrict the voter registration process. In this case, the League of Women Voters of the U.S. submitted an amicus brief and the League of Women Voters of Arizona was a named plaintiff.
“The NVRA was intended to and has succeeded in bringing millions more citizens into the democratic process since its passage in 1993,” said MacNamara.
“Restrictions on the use of the national voter registration application form like those tried by Arizona make it much more difficult to register eligible citizens to vote,” MacNamara said. “Independent registration drives by citizen groups like the League are often the only effective means for some voters to get registered and participate in our great democracy.”
“The Court’s ITCA decision safeguards the voter registration process from political manipulation and will help block attempts in the states to restrict the right to vote,” MacNamara said.
“This is a victory for voters plain and simple but we will need to continue to fight against limitations on the voter registration process.” concluded MacNamara. “This is an extremely important ruling that says the U.S. Congress has the power and authority to protect our right to vote.”

League Supports Ruling Against Supermajority

The League of Women Voters of Washington welcomed the State Supreme Court’s decision that an initiative requiring a two-thirds vote to raise taxes was in conflict with the state Constitution, thereby giving the Legislature the authority to pass laws by simple majority. The LWVWA filed an amicus brief which argued that the rule was inconsistent with the history and text of the Constitution—reasoning that the Court ultimately adopted!

“This is a big win for schools, for infrastructure, and especially for democracy,” said Kim Abel, Co-President of the League of Women Voters of Washington.

“The brief filed by LWVWA clearly played a key role in the majority opinion that struck down the two-thirds rule,” said attorney David Perez, who authored the LWVWA’s amicus brief pro bono. “The ruling was largely based on an understanding of the meaning of the phrase, ‘unless a majority.’ We argued that the Framers of our Constitution meant a ‘simple majority.’ And the Court agreed.”

“Voters want good schools, safe bridges and roads, clean air to breathe and clean water to drink along with trustworthy elections and safe communities—all the work of our elected officials,” says Abel.

Many are skeptical that even with the simple majority requirement the current legislature will be willing to identify additional revenue. Ms. Abel disagrees. “We believe that this decision will allow the legislature to do the job they were elected for and manage the budget in a way that meets the most basic needs of the state.”

Linnea Hirst, LWVWA Co-President, concurs: “This court ruling will help our legislators fulfill their responsibilities in accordance with the Constitution, as emphasized by the recent McCleary decision requiring full funding of public education.”

The League of Women Voters is a respected nonpartisan political organization that encourages informed and active participation in government, and influences public policy through education and advocacy.

More Reaction to Supreme Court Decision

You may have noticed President Obama’s critique of the recent Supreme Court decision on corporate spending on campaigns during his State of the Union speech.
The League shares Obama’s concerns.
Longtime League member Pam Hamon recently wrote the following letter to the editor on the recent Supreme Court decision on corporate campaign spending:

To the Editor:
It’s a sad day for democracy and the individual voter. The Supreme Court’s 5 to 4 decision now allows large corporations, banks, financial institutions and unions the ability to spend, without limits, funds from their treasuries for candidate and issue campaigns. This goes against 30 years of precedence and a century of practice. Voters will need to do more homework to be sure they fully understand the issues before casting their votes because we all know money counts and manipulates.
Pam Hamon
Poulsbo

Here is the national League position on the Supreme Court decision:

Washington, DC –The following is a statement by Mary G. Wilson, national president of the League of Women Voters on the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. FEC. The League filed an amicus brief in this case:
“The Supreme Court has made a tragic mistake. Their decision announced today in Citizens United v. FEC is constitutionally irresponsible and will surely bring about an anti-democratic revolution in how we finance elections in this country. Today, basic pillars of American democracy have been undermined – that elections should not be corrupted by vast corporate wealth and that the voters should be at the center of our democratic system.
“Justice Stevens had it right when he said, in his dissent, ‘The Court’s ruling threatens to undermine the integrity of elected institutions across the Nation. The path it has taken to reach its outcome will, I fear, do damage to this institution.’
“In creating a new constitutional right for corporations to spend unlimited amounts of their shareholder’s money to determine the outcome in candidate elections, the Court has unleashed into our elections tremendous sums of money from for-profit corporations that cannot possibly be matched in quantity by contributions from ordinary citizens. The only possible outcome of this is that big money and special interests will have an even tighter grip on our democracy.
“Congress and the President enacted campaign finance laws over a series of decades for a reason – to protect our democracy from the perverse influence of big money in our elections. In making this decision, the Court has ignored the best interests of the American public and our representative form of government.”

A Tragic Mistake by the Supreme Court

Below is an alert and request for donations issued today by the the national League of Women Voters:

The Supreme Court has made a tragic mistake.

Their decision last week in Citizens United v. FEC has created a new constitutional right for corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money to support or oppose candidates at every level of government. This throws out the protections against corporate and union spending in elections that have served our democracy for nearly a century.

In doing so, the Court has ignored the best interests of the American public and our representative form of government.

That’s why I’m asking you to make an emergency contribution so we can fight back today.

You may be asking, what does this all mean for me?

First: the Supreme Court ruling has given the green light for corporations to now intervene directly in elections — from the local school board or zoning commission to Congress and the President of the United States — taking the power away from average voters like you and me.
Second: corruption could skyrocket out of control — now that the Court has allowed unlimited corporate and union expenditures, the power of well-paid lobbyists linked with those interests will vastly increase.
Through our 90-year history, the League has fought to ensure that voters are at the center of our political process. Now we must work harder than ever before to elevate citizen voices above those of special interests and corporations.

Right now, the stakes could not be higher for people like you and me who care about open, honest government and a healthy democracy. The upcoming 2010 Census and quickly-approaching mid-term elections will shape the political landscape for the next decade — the outcome of both must reflect the diversity of our nation and NOT the pocketbooks of corporations.

We will continue to fight, despite this devastating blow to the principles protecting American democracy. And we need you with us more than ever.

As a leader in the ongoing fight to make our democracy as vibrant as ever, we will not stop, we will not give up, and we will not give in. If ever there was a moment when our democracy needed to work for all its citizens, not greedy corporations or power-hungry special interests, this is it. To succeed, we need your support.

Please, contribute today.

Thank you for standing with us.

Sincerely,

Mary G. Wilson
President, LWVUS

P.S. The Court’s ruling means that big money and special interests will have an even tighter grip on our democracy. But we can, and we will, fight back. Please join with us as we work to stop special interests and corporations from freezing Americans out of our government.

For more information go to www.lwv.org.

Reviving My Blog

Sorry this blog has been inactive for so long. I now vow to update it regularly.
You have probably seen the news about the recent Supreme Court decision on corporate spending in elections. Here is the national League of Women Voters response:

CITIZENS UNITED DECISION SETS OFF REVOLUTION IN CAMPAIGN FINANCE
Supreme Court Erred, Decision Undermines Basic Pillar of American Democracy

Washington, DC –The following is a statement by Mary G. Wilson, national president of the League of Women Voters on the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. FEC. The League filed an amicus brief in this case:

“The Supreme Court has made a tragic mistake. Their decision announced today in Citizens United v. FEC is constitutionally irresponsible and will surely bring about an anti-democratic revolution in how we finance elections in this country. Today, basic pillars of American democracy have been undermined – that elections should not be corrupted by vast corporate wealth and that the voters should be at the center of our democratic system.

“Justice Stevens had it right when he said, in his dissent, ‘The Court’s ruling threatens to undermine the integrity of elected institutions across the Nation. The path it has taken to reach its outcome will, I fear, do damage to this institution.’

“In creating a new constitutional right for corporations to spend unlimited amounts of their shareholder’s money to determine the outcome in candidate elections, the Court has unleashed into our elections tremendous sums of money from for-profit corporations that cannot possibly be matched in quantity by contributions from ordinary citizens. The only possible outcome of this is that big money and special interests will have an even tighter grip on our democracy.

“Congress and the President enacted campaign finance laws over a series of decades for a reason – to protect our democracy from the perverse influence of big money in our elections. In making this decision, the Court has ignored the best interests of the American public and our representative form of government.”

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The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan political organization, encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy.