Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority opinion in the 2010 Citizens United case that struck down campaign spending limitations by corporations and unions. “Independent expenditures, including those made by corporations, do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption,” wrote Kennedy. But many feel Citizens United breeds corruption not only in the campaigns of elected representatives, but also in judicial campaigns. In its May 2010 report “Buying Justice,” The Brennan Center for Justice argues “the most severe impact of Citizens United may be felt in state judicial elections.”
All of which makes Kennedy’s comments a decade prior in the 1999 Frontline report “Justice for Sale” curious. In the documentary (which featured Bill Moyers), Kennedy condemns the destructive impact of judicial campaign contributions on the integrity of our court system. “Money in elections presents us with a tremendous challenge, a tremendous problem,” Kennedy tells Moyers. “And we are remiss if we don’t at once address it and correct it.”
Watch that exchange between Moyers and Kennedy in this 1999 Moyers Moment — excerpted from “Justice for Sale” — which also includes Justice Stephen Breyer. Bill kicks things off with a question just as relevant and foreboding today as it was then: “Isn’t the verdict in from the people — that they cannot trust the judicial system anymore?”
Watch the complete version of “Justice for Sale“
As we close in on the fourth anniversary of the start of the financial crisis (Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy on September 15), it’s important to focus not only on institutional causes, but also catalysts related to the dark side of human nature. In this 2009 Moyers Moment from Bill Moyers Journal, veteran bank regulator and watchdog William Black describes the environment of fraud, deceit and deliberate betrayal that set disastrous events in motion.
“There’s no more effective acid against trust than fraud, especially fraud by top elites,” Black tells Bill. “And that’s what we have.”
Watch Bill’s full conversation with William Black.
The word “socialist” has been tossed around by right-wing pundits and politicians unhappy with President Obama’s healthcare and economic policies, but does the charge stick? In this Moyers Moment from a 2012 episode of Moyers & Company, Bill asks Senator Bernie Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist, to explain what it means to be a socialist and assess if Obama is one.
Watch the full conversation between Bill and Senator Sanders.
After his epic series of interviews with Joseph Campbell in 1988′s The Power of Myth, Bill Moyers returned to Skywalker Ranch to interview George Lucas, whose Star Wars franchise was heavily influenced by Campbell’s work. In this Moyers Moment from The Mythology of Star Wars, George Lucas talks candidly about his personal mentors — including Campbell and Francis Ford Coppola — as well as the role religion plays in Star Wars mythology.
Was the Occupy movement a study in failure or a trigger for future change in our systems of power? Quite possibly both. In this Moyers Moment from a 2012 episode of Moyers & Company, journalist Chris Hedges describes how Occupy Wall Street changed his mind about the futility of popular revolt — even as it fizzled — and how he now feels nonviolent civil disobedience is “our only hope.” MORE
JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon’s hearings before Congress last month were strikingly similar — in circumstances if hardly in results — to the 1930s Senate Banking Committee hearings known as the Pecora Commission. Headed by Sicilian immigrant Ferdinand Pecora, the investigation into the causes of the Wall Street crash of 1929 resulted in, among other regulatory checks, the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 and the founding of the Securities and Exchange Commission.
In this 2009 Moyers Moment from Bill Moyers Journal, Bill talks to Pecora’s biographer, Michael Perino, about the son of a shoemaker who overcame stereotypes to take on big Wall Street bankers, leaving a long-standing legacy of effective banking oversight.
In this Moyers Moment from a 2010 episode of Bill Moyers Journal, AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka says there are two economies in this country: a financial economy that passes around complex instruments to create capital, and a real economy that actually makes things. Once an enabler of the real economy, the financial economy now overshadows it, to the detriment of the American worker, says Trumka.
Watch the full conversation between Bill Moyers and Richard Trumka.
In 1993, author Maxine Hong Kingston asked veterans and their families to turn their wartime experiences into poems, novels and essays. Some were collected in Kingston’s book, Veterans of War; Veterans of Peace. In this 2007 Moyers Moment from Bill Moyers Journal, we hear the first-person account of Pauline Laurent, who was pregnant when she was told her husband was killed in Vietnam. In the clip, Moyers and Kingston read from Laurent’s personal essay, but we also hear from Laurent herself.
Watch the full conversation between Bill Moyers and Maxine Hong Kingston.
In this Moyers Moment from Bill Moyers’ documentary special Facing the Truth (1999), Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who headed South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission after the abolition of apartheid, says there’s catharsis in recounting the horrors of the past.
The full film is available on DVD.
JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon has been one of the most outspoken critics of the Volcker Rule, a section of the Dodd-Frank Act that aims to keep the banks in which you deposit your money from gambling it on their own sometimes-risky investments. Now Dimon has announced that risky trades have cost his company $2 billion in losses. In this April 22, 2012 Moyers Moment from Moyers & Company, Paul Volcker himself responds to Jamie Dimon’s complaints about the rule and its effects.
Watch the full conversation between Bill Moyers and Paul Volcker.