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Time Magazine Makes Own Ruling in Supreme Court's Citizens United Decision

Forget about Elena Kagan. Better make room for Time magazine’s Adam Cohen on the Supreme Court.


In a July 7 “Case Study” article for Time magazine, reporter Cohen bemoaned the Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision from January in which the court voted 5-4 to give corporations and unions “sweeping new rights to spend money to elect candidates to office.”


Cohen noted the five member conservative majority’s justification in the third paragraph, but devoted eight paragraphs to supporting Justice John Paul Stevens’s dissenting opinion claiming that the ruling “undermines the integrity of elected institutions across the nation.” Cohen also used familiar liberal big-business punching bags ExxonMobil and Wal-Mart as examples of reckless campaign-influencing corporations.


“Now, ExxonMobil or Walmart can simply go into the district of a member of Congress who is giving them a hard time and spend as much money as it wants to defeat him,” Cohen said. “The amount of money that is available is staggering.”


It wasn’t until the twelfth paragraph that Cohen even mentioned support for the ruling: “Supporters of corporate spending insist those fears are overblown. They argue that corporations are likely to be wary about abusing their new powers, and that in any case, more speech is a good thing.”


While Cohen fretted about corporations’ abilities to “throw their weight around” in elections, he didn’t express any criticism of Time Warner, Time Magazine’s parent company, contributing over $590,000 to Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign or over $500,000 to Democratic candidates during the current 2010 election cycle. Cohen also didn’t mention that media corporations donated to Democratic candidates 100 times more than Republicans.


Additionally, the Citizens United ruling included both corporations and unions but Cohen failed to attack unions “throwing their weight around,” such as the UAW’s $1.14 million contribution to bailout proponents during the 2008 election cycle or the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) spending over $60 million to help elect Obama in 2008.


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