By Dave Donaldson
Alaskans are still trying to understand the full effects of a U-S Supreme Court decision yesterday (Thursday) that will allow Corporations to become more involved in electioneering and political campaigns.
The decision overturned parts of the 2002 McCain-Feingold Act – and its own earlier rulings – that prohibited corporations from using their own money to make and run advertisements for or against issues or individual candidates.
Alaska has corporate restrictions in place for state campaigns, and Senate Judiciary Chairman Hollis French announced on the Senate floor today that he will initiate hearings on the decision to find out exactly how it will affect Alaska politics. He called the ruling “disastrous for the future of democracy.”
Sixty years of jurisprudence yesterday was thrown out on a five-four decision from a bitterly divided supreme court. – led by an individual who many point out, Justice John Roberts, during his confirmation hearings to simply call balls and strikes. It was a narrow case that never raised these issues. The court more or less brought them up on its own and asked for a further briefing, surprising many legal observers. And now we have a ruling that is going to blast a hole, not only in federal laws, but our laws here in the state of Alaska. Our restrictions on corporate spending are now pushed aside.
French says he will hold hearings as soon as he can schedule them — presenting expert testimony on how widespread the decision might be … and what restrictions the state can put on campaign spending in future campaigns.
My understanding is that it will apply to both state and federal elections because the supreme law of the land is the United States Constitution and the rulings that come out of the Supreme Court. So we’ve got to first hash out whether or not – and how deeply – it applies to state elections. That’s going to be my focus, but I’m deeply concerned that you’re going to have direct corporate spending to influence the election of candidates as early as this Fall.
Following French’s announcement of hearings, Anchorage Republican Con Bunde said that he believes that money does not buy elections.
Perhaps in Alaska, if not in other parts of the other United States, money may be a factor. But it is not the only factor. Integrity and talent and willingness to serve still may serve people who wish to run for office.
Attorney General Dan Sullivan has yet to make a statement concerning the decision’s effects on Alaska.