The Supreme Court threw out a 63-year-old law designed to restrain the influence of big business and unions on elections Thursday, ruling that corporations may spend as freely as they like to support or oppose candidates for president and Congress. . . .
The justices also struck down part of the landmark McCain-Feingold campaign finance bill that barred union- and corporate-paid issue ads in the closing days of election campaigns.
Justice Anthony Kennedy, speaking for the four other conservative justices, had the audacity to characterize the thin framework of campaign finance regulation in this country as "censorship" that was "vast in its reach." Let me try to understand this reasoning: Setting up a framework to keep multi-billion dollar corporations from literally purchasing their candidates of choice is censorship, but ignoring voting irregularities in Florida in the 2000 presidential election is not censorship, somehow.
I agree with Justice John Paul Stevens, who wrote in his dissent Thursday that "The court's ruling threatens to undermine the integrity of elected institutions around the nation." It is precisely these kinds of Supreme Court decisions that erode the fundamental meaning of "democracy." This decision fosters and perpetuates inequality by eroding even the thin veil of illusion that elections in this country are open, fair, and representative. Because corporations are considered legal entities, they are afforded access to the election system that is equal to any citizen of this country. To put it in stark terms: The Supreme Court has just ruled that multi-billion dollar corporation Wal*Mart has the same right to contribute to election campaigns as the single mother of two children living in poverty and receiving food stamps. It takes no specialist in political science to see that this "equality" is, in fact, state-sanctioned egregious inequality.
This kind of Supreme Court decision is vastly more relevant than any kind of restriction on Second Amendment rights, yet will likely not receive anywhere near the public outcry that, say, an attempt to remove the "gun show loophole." It is more relevant because a political system open only to the rich will establish policies and influence media representations to perpetuate this restrictive system, and the fact that there are tens of thousands of people scattered throughout the country with white-knuckled grip on their pistols and rifles, concerned only with protecting their selves and small fiefdoms, will matter not a whit -- particularly if these gun owners are convinced to continue to vote to support the system because the media they receive about elections is not balanced in any meaningful way by a functional campaign finance reform structure.
 Others include: Plessy v. Ferguson (1896); Texas' 2003 congressional redistricting plan; and, of course, Bush v. Gore (2000).