( – promoted by lowkell)
Some thoughts about the press release that my wife, April Moore, put out earlier this week. In it, she challenged her opponent – Virginia State Senator (and apparent would-be-Virginia’s Scott Walker), Mark Obenshain – to condemn the suit threatened by corporate powerhouse ALEC against the League of Conservation Voters.
ALEC’s attempt to intimidate the LCV represents should be understood as part of the larger picture of how the Big Money Power is subverting American democracy.
This particular abuse of money power is not directly connected with the electoral process. Rather it is an attempt of Big Money to strangle the public discourse on which a healthy democracy depends, the flow of information and ideas that helps the American people give informed consent to their government.
Bringing such a suit – or even just threatening it – represents a serious abuse of the legal system to silence those people who are doing for the nation precisely what our founders had in mind when they constructed the American system of liberty: telling the public the truth about what’s going on.
This kind of abuse of the legal system has a name: SLAPP, Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation.
Although America’s founders set up the court system as a means for achieving justice, in suits like this, that purpose is turned on its head. “Justice for all” is what is implied by the blindfold that Lady Justice wears. When Justice weighs the facts and the law in its scales, it is blind to who is powerful and who is weak. Thus the Courts are supposed to be the one place – besides also the ballot box – where the weak have equal standing.
A SLAPP suit works to bring inequality of power to bear even in that legal system. Because it takes money to conduct a protracted legal struggle, the Big Money Power can defeat – through a war of attrition — those who lack such deep pockets who would stand up against it.
This perversion of our fundamental democratic values is part of the same picture as the buying of elections. ALEC’s effort to intimidate the League of Conservation Voters should be seen as part of the same pattern of plutocratic abuses as the Citizens United decision, voter suppression, and the propaganda work of Fox News et al. by which the Big Money Power drives millions of our countrymen into fear and confusion and misunderstanding.
As bad as all SLAPP suits are, this one — even the threat of this one — is particularly egregious. For it is on the subject of climate change that ALEC is seeking to silence its critics. Not, of course, by cleaning up its own act, but by intimidating those who are calling out their dirty ways. Nowhere is the darkness of this destructive force on the right more evident than in its willingness to sacrifice the most vital needs of our children and grandchildren for its own short-term enrichment.
(This is the force that is the focus in my forthcoming book What We’re Up Against: The Destructive Force at Work in Our World– and How We Can Defeat It.)
April’s campaign against Mark Obenshain is a clear microcosm of the large battle that we must fight and win. April Moore is running to restore power to the people, and Mark Obenshain has a record of being an apparently willing servant of the Big Money force that is destroying government for and by the people. (Mr. Obenshain has introduced ALEC’s bills into the legislature, he’s received a $60,000 campaign contribution from the Koch Brothers, he’s done the bidding of Dominion Power.)
It will be interesting to see how Senator Obenshain responds to this challenge. Will he meet the challenge, and denounce the corporate power that seems to have picked him to be their guy (perhaps in the Virginia Governor’s mansion)? Or will he hold fast to that allegiance, and bring into clearer public view his service to Big Money in its degradation of the gift of democracy that our founders bequeathed to us?