Citizens United Didn’t Address Public Sector Money in Politics

In 2010 the Supreme Court ruled in the Citizens United case that corporate campaign financing is a protected form of free speech, and that corporations and unions could actively advocate for or against specific candidates. However, that ruling did not address the issue of whether public sector unions can advocate for or against specific candidates. In fact, word searches of the ruling and Dissent reveal that that the words “public sector union,” SEIU, AFSCME, American Federal of Teachers and National Education Association do not exist in the ruling or dissent.

Public sector unions are of a far great concern with regard to quid pro quo issues than are corporations. This is because public sector unions can force taxpayers to finance their influence on political campaigns, private corporations can’t.

That public sector unions can use the power of government to tax and then utilize that tax revenue in order to advocate for candidates who support their public union, is a very serious threat to democracy. That this issue was not discussed by the Citizens United decision or the dissent written by Justice Stevens is itself very troubling.  

In his Citizens United dissent, Justice Stevens made a great effort to detail the influence corporate money can have on elections. As Justice Stevens noted “The legal structure of corporations allows them to amass and deploy financial resources on a scale few natural persons can match.” In writing his dissent, however, Justice Stevens made a great effort to ignore the financial resources amassed in 2010 by the four big public sector unions, and the issue influence public school teachers have in districts all across the US.

Stevens also made the troubling, narrowly-focused comment that: “Corporations…are uniquely equipped to seek laws that favor their owners, not simply because they have a lot of money but because of their legal and organization structure.” That corporations have unique access to legislators is difficult to fathom since in Illinois and other states run by liberal Democrats the biggest campaign contributors are not big corporations but teacher unions. Nationally, FEC financing reports show that four of the six biggest campaign contributors are public sector unions. The only national corporate contributor was number eight, the Las Vegas Sands.

Justice Stevens also noted “The corporate form, by contrast, ‘provides a simple way to channel rents to only those who have paid their dues, as it were. If you do not own stock, you do not benefit from the larger dividends or appreciation in the stock caused by the passage of private interest legislation.’” It is difficult to reconcile this statement with the fact that in 31 states teacher unions have had provisions put into their state constitutions mandating that public sector contracts are enforceable contracts, the benefits of which cannot be diminished or impaired. And in Illinois teachers get a three percent raise every year, regardless of the actual cost of living increase. In Illinois there are ten cities where the entire property tax amount paid by innocent homeowners goes solely into supporting the pensions of public sector unions.

Some of these educators have retirement plans as big as those of the 100 top corporate CEOs. These huge pensions are a direct result of the success public sector unions have had in getting their special interests voted into law. No corporation can force everyone, through state laws and constitutional provisions, to pay rents in any amount. Somehow SCOTUS won’t acknowledge that this money is speech.

While public sector unions are, technically, banned from directly advocating for or against any named politician, their money goes to fund Democratic campaigns which do that for them. So they pretend to avoid illegal electioneering tactics by washing their hands of direct electioneering. However, the money they give to Democrats at all levels does finance the campaigns of specific persons. Justice Stevens implies a distinction without a difference.

The most important issue is the right to free speech; freedom to both advocate for and against political candidates. But what Roberts, Scalia, Thomas, and Stevens ignored was the role of the huge donations made by public sector unions in political campaigns at all levels. And teacher unions particularly, since they have the opportunity to teach children in every public school district throughout the nation what their Party believes and the policies they advocate are particularly concerning.

Teacher unions, unlike corporations, don’t have to advocate for particular candidates or pay for TV issue ads giving their views of global warming or safe space. The dollar value of this issue advocacy has not been measured and cannot be overvalued. Today public schools go to great lengths to establish rules banning offensive language. This proves they know the effect of their issue-advocating speech.

Private PACS spend hundreds of millions during political campaign years, this amount must be reported. The dollar value of having every public sector teacher preaching the policies of their single political party is never measured. And the two largest teacher unions, the American Federation of Teachers and National Education Association give 99% of the campaign contributions to only one Party: the Democrat Party. It’s difficult to defend the notion that this is not government-mandated speech.

The Center for Responsive Politics has noted that of the six biggest campaign contributors, four are public sector unions. And the largest, ActBlue, is a pro-Democrat advocacy group. It is difficult to understand how Justice Stevens spoke of the trillions of dollars of annual revenues earned by big corporations but neglected to mention the ability of public sector unions to give many millions every year nationwide. This proves that public sector union contributions have escaped accountability even at the SCOTUS level.  

For Justice Stevens to actively deny all of these facts and focus complaints only on the money from corporations is beyond rational explanation. It can only have a political explanation.

The Supreme Court must acknowledge the power public sector unions have to influence elections. They must insist that unions no longer engage in indirect candidate and issue advocacy through campaign donations at local, state, and Federal levels.

At some point this will be seen as denial, not just by one person, Justice Stevens, but by the entire Left, the entire progressive liberal movement in politics. And since they are the ones perpetrating these violations of the First Amendment, there may be more than denial going on here. It would be interesting to see, if a challenge to these public sector union First Amendment violations goes to the Supreme Court, if opinions are divided among Justices along their affiliation with the right or left. The First Amendment has no Right or Left.

SCOTUS cannot continue to pretend that public sector union influence on elections is not nationwide and funded through government’s power to tax.  Since it is impossible to control speech in every classroom the only solution is to ban public sector unions. Public sector unions serve no useful purpose other than to violate the First Amendment; in order to enable their union to maintain the power of their political party to write laws to fund their pensions.

In 2010 the Supreme Court ruled in the Citizens United case that corporate campaign financing is a protected form of free speech, and that corporations and unions could actively advocate for or against specific candidates. However, that ruling did not address the issue of whether public sector unions can advocate for or against specific candidates. In fact, word searches of the ruling and Dissent reveal that that the words “public sector union,” SEIU, AFSCME, American Federal of Teachers and National Education Association do not exist in the ruling or dissent.

Public sector unions are of a far great concern with regard to quid pro quo issues than are corporations. This is because public sector unions can force taxpayers to finance their influence on political campaigns, private corporations can’t.

That public sector unions can use the power of government to tax and then utilize that tax revenue in order to advocate for candidates who support their public union, is a very serious threat to democracy. That this issue was not discussed by the Citizens United decision or the dissent written by Justice Stevens is itself very troubling.  

In his Citizens United dissent, Justice Stevens made a great effort to detail the influence corporate money can have on elections. As Justice Stevens noted “The legal structure of corporations allows them to amass and deploy financial resources on a scale few natural persons can match.” In writing his dissent, however, Justice Stevens made a great effort to ignore the financial resources amassed in 2010 by the four big public sector unions, and the issue influence public school teachers have in districts all across the US.

Stevens also made the troubling, narrowly-focused comment that: “Corporations…are uniquely equipped to seek laws that favor their owners, not simply because they have a lot of money but because of their legal and organization structure.” That corporations have unique access to legislators is difficult to fathom since in Illinois and other states run by liberal Democrats the biggest campaign contributors are not big corporations but teacher unions. Nationally, FEC financing reports show that four of the six biggest campaign contributors are public sector unions. The only national corporate contributor was number eight, the Las Vegas Sands.

Justice Stevens also noted “The corporate form, by contrast, ‘provides a simple way to channel rents to only those who have paid their dues, as it were. If you do not own stock, you do not benefit from the larger dividends or appreciation in the stock caused by the passage of private interest legislation.’” It is difficult to reconcile this statement with the fact that in 31 states teacher unions have had provisions put into their state constitutions mandating that public sector contracts are enforceable contracts, the benefits of which cannot be diminished or impaired. And in Illinois teachers get a three percent raise every year, regardless of the actual cost of living increase. In Illinois there are ten cities where the entire property tax amount paid by innocent homeowners goes solely into supporting the pensions of public sector unions.

Some of these educators have retirement plans as big as those of the 100 top corporate CEOs. These huge pensions are a direct result of the success public sector unions have had in getting their special interests voted into law. No corporation can force everyone, through state laws and constitutional provisions, to pay rents in any amount. Somehow SCOTUS won’t acknowledge that this money is speech.

While public sector unions are, technically, banned from directly advocating for or against any named politician, their money goes to fund Democratic campaigns which do that for them. So they pretend to avoid illegal electioneering tactics by washing their hands of direct electioneering. However, the money they give to Democrats at all levels does finance the campaigns of specific persons. Justice Stevens implies a distinction without a difference.

The most important issue is the right to free speech; freedom to both advocate for and against political candidates. But what Roberts, Scalia, Thomas, and Stevens ignored was the role of the huge donations made by public sector unions in political campaigns at all levels. And teacher unions particularly, since they have the opportunity to teach children in every public school district throughout the nation what their Party believes and the policies they advocate are particularly concerning.

Teacher unions, unlike corporations, don’t have to advocate for particular candidates or pay for TV issue ads giving their views of global warming or safe space. The dollar value of this issue advocacy has not been measured and cannot be overvalued. Today public schools go to great lengths to establish rules banning offensive language. This proves they know the effect of their issue-advocating speech.

Private PACS spend hundreds of millions during political campaign years, this amount must be reported. The dollar value of having every public sector teacher preaching the policies of their single political party is never measured. And the two largest teacher unions, the American Federation of Teachers and National Education Association give 99% of the campaign contributions to only one Party: the Democrat Party. It’s difficult to defend the notion that this is not government-mandated speech.

The Center for Responsive Politics has noted that of the six biggest campaign contributors, four are public sector unions. And the largest, ActBlue, is a pro-Democrat advocacy group. It is difficult to understand how Justice Stevens spoke of the trillions of dollars of annual revenues earned by big corporations but neglected to mention the ability of public sector unions to give many millions every year nationwide. This proves that public sector union contributions have escaped accountability even at the SCOTUS level.  

For Justice Stevens to actively deny all of these facts and focus complaints only on the money from corporations is beyond rational explanation. It can only have a political explanation.

The Supreme Court must acknowledge the power public sector unions have to influence elections. They must insist that unions no longer engage in indirect candidate and issue advocacy through campaign donations at local, state, and Federal levels.

At some point this will be seen as denial, not just by one person, Justice Stevens, but by the entire Left, the entire progressive liberal movement in politics. And since they are the ones perpetrating these violations of the First Amendment, there may be more than denial going on here. It would be interesting to see, if a challenge to these public sector union First Amendment violations goes to the Supreme Court, if opinions are divided among Justices along their affiliation with the right or left. The First Amendment has no Right or Left.

SCOTUS cannot continue to pretend that public sector union influence on elections is not nationwide and funded through government’s power to tax.  Since it is impossible to control speech in every classroom the only solution is to ban public sector unions. Public sector unions serve no useful purpose other than to violate the First Amendment; in order to enable their union to maintain the power of their political party to write laws to fund their pensions.