BILL MOYERS: This week on Moyers & Company…

JAMIE RASKIN: One person, one vote is the principle of democracy. But we're moving into a "may the highest bidder wins" regime.

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: This election could determine not only the future of the court for generations to come but the shape of our democracy.

BILL MOYERS: And the secret kingdom of Karl Rove.

CRAIG UNGER: Most people thought he was a creature of the Bush family. And I think he's a force that’s more powerful than that.


When five conservative members of the Supreme Court handed corporations and the super-rich the right to overwhelm our elections with tsunamis of cash, they moved America further from representative government toward outright plutocracy, where political power derived from wealth is devoted to protecting wealth.

We saw it first in the mid-term elections of 2010, and we’re seeing it in spades in this year’s elections – organized money, much of it dark money, given secretly So it can’t be traced, enveloping the campaign for president, Congressional campaigns, and state legislative and judicial races. There’s never been anything like it in our history – not on this scale, and not this sinister. We’ll take a look at this radical threat to democracy in our next two broadcasts – how it’s happening, and what can be done about it.

We’ll begin with this current issue of "The Nation" magazine, “The One Percent Court,” devoted entirely to the United States Supreme Court. It’s one you’ll not want to miss – and not because it opens with an article jointly written by me and the historian Bernard Weisberger. Our mission was simply to remind the reader of what’s obvious: that because of the partisan gridlock paralyzing both president and Congress, more than ever the court has become the most powerful branch of government, and the center of a controversy which may shape the fate of democracy for generations to come.

With me to talk about this is "The Nation" magazine’s editor and publisher Katrina vanden Heuvel. She’s a frequent presence on the talk news shows and a familiar byline in major publications. She has been one of those out in front, calling the president to task for orphaning his values and promises, as can be seen in her most recent book, "The Change I Believe In: Fighting for Progress in the Age of Obama."

The prolific Jamie Raskin also joins us. One of the country's leading scholars on constitutional law, he teaches at American University and is a Maryland State Senator, where in his first legislative session alone he managed to see more than a dozen of his bills pass into law. He's been described as “one of the nation’s most talented state legislators.” His many writings include a centerpiece article in this special issue of "The Nation."

Welcome to you both.

JAMIE RASKIN: Thanks so much.

BILL MOYERS: Okay, let’s play the numbers. What comes to mind when I call out 79, 76, 75, and 73?

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: The age of the four oldest justices on the court. And one of the reasons we did this issue is that as we enter this election season, this election could determine not only the future of the court for generations to come but the shape of our democracy for generations to come.

BILL MOYERS: You've devoted whole editions of the magazine, in the past, to the Supreme Court. What makes this one different?

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: I think we're at a moment, Bill, where we are witnessing the unprecedented concentration of power, wealth, and income. It is reminiscent not just of The Gilded Age, but of the New Deal period, when you had a Supreme Court which wanted to invalidate and dismantle the New Deal legislation that President Roosevelt was putting forward.

There's always been a threat. The court has always been important. But now we've seen a spate of 5-4 cases, 5-4, 5-4, 5-4, on the core issues that this magazine grapples with. The A.C.A. health care decision, in my mind, Jamie I'm sure has--

BILL MOYERS: Obamacare decision?


BILL MOYERS: Judge Roberts voting with the majority?

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: I think at that point partly because Citizens United has awakened Americans to the understanding that this court favors corporate interests. It's burgeoning. It's latent, but it's there. And I think Judge Roberts decided to be an institutionalist and wanted to save the court to come back to a next session and perhaps do some damage on voting rights, affirmative action, and other issues.

BILL MOYERS: You could have chosen any subject to write for Katrina, in this issue. But you chose Citizens United. Why?

JAMIE RASKIN: The way I look at it is, we'd had a decade of right-wing derailment of the Supreme Court and the politics of the country. In Bush vs. Gore in 2000, we had a 5-4 decision which took victory away from Vice President Gore, who had more than a half million votes more than Bush did and gave it to George W. Bush by intervening to stop the counting of ballots, for the first time in American history. And the history all of us know with the Iraq War and Afghan War and the corruption and so on.

That was the last decade. Now in 2010, a decade later a 5-4 coalition on the court, the right-wing block gets together and says, "Corporations, for the first time in American history, are declared to have the political free speech rights of the people, such that they can take money directly out of the corporate treasury and put it into politics."

Well, that threatens a total capsizing of democratic relationships that we've known before. And it completely upends what the Supreme Court has always said about what a corporation is. Because you can go back to Chief Justice John Marshall in the Dartmouth College case who said, "A corporation is an artificial entity. It's an instrument set up by the state legislatures for economic purposes." He said, "It's invisible. It's intangible. It exists only in contemplation of law. And it has all of these rights and benefits conferred upon it. But it must remain under the control of the government, essentially."

And that has been standard conservative doctrine on the Supreme Court all the way through Chief Justice Rehnquist. Justice White who said, "We give them limited liability. We give them perpetual life. But in return, we ask them to stay out of politics." And there's a beautiful sentence from Justice White dissenting in a case called First National Bank of Boston vs. Bellotti, where he said, "The state need not permit its own creature to consume it." And yet, this court is saying that, "We must permit the creation of the state legislatures to consume our politics." And so to me, the Citizens United case is the emblem for the whole era we're in. We're living in the Citizens United Era, I think.

BILL MOYERS: But before Citizens United, wealthy people were funneling money into politics, corporations were forming political action committees. And CEOs of those corporations were lavishing money on selected favored political candidates.

JAMIE RASKIN: Absolutely right, the corporate voice was never missing. And that's something, you know, Justice Stevens has pointed out. He said, "There were many faults to American politics. But nobody thought that a lack or a dearth of corporate voices was among the vices." But there was still a radical change effectuated by the majority--

BILL MOYERS: How so? Radical?

JAMIE RASKIN: --in Citizens United.

BILL MOYERS: What do you mean?

JAMIE RASKIN: Because before corporations could have issue ads. They could take out an ad in the New York Times on something. Before the CEOs and executives, as you say, could put their own money into campaigns. They could spend to the heavens of their own money. And they could contribute directly to candidates. But the one thing that couldn't happen was the CEOs could not take money directly out of the treasury and funnel it into campaigns,

ExxonMobil for example. I mean, in 2008, ExxonMobil had a political action committee. And that was money that was given directly by executives. People wrote checks for it. And they raised about a million dollars, which is not chump change. And they were able to spread it around.

But if ExxonMobil had been able to take money directly out of the corporate treasury, their profits in that year were $45 billion. If they had taken a modest 10 percent of their profits to spend in politics, it would have been more than the Obama campaign, the McCain campaign, the DNC, and the RNC, and every congressional campaign in the country. One corporation in the Fortune 500.

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: What Jamie is describing is the reason we have unprecedented inequality today and why we don't hear people's voices. We're hearing the voices of money. Money is the realm, the coin of power in this country. But, you know, one of the reasons we did this issue was because of the trajectory of this court. Because it is true that this is a radical shift. But we could see more dismantling of the frail structures of campaign finance reform that remain.

BILL MOYERS: There's hardly anything--

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: There's hardly anything left. But it has been a terrible downward spiral. But the clean money legislation in states like Arizona, the ban on corporate spending in Montana. These are other steps that this court could take if it moved to not a 5-4, but if you had more right-wing justices on this court. But it--

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: There's no question that the arc, as Jamie said, from Bush v. Gore, which in so many ways was a right-wing coup. When you talk to people outside this country, they saw it as that. I mean, you had the brother of the governor overseeing the decision and the justices shutting down democratic votes to this decision.

BILL MOYERS: Do you agree with Jamie that Citizens United is a game changer?


JAMIE RASKIN: But it's also emblematic of what's going on in the court. If you look at the 2011, last year's Supreme Court term, the court wiped out a very important class action suit brought by women in the Wal-Mart stores. A million and a half women brought a class action, again, a 5-4 decision saying that they didn't have enough in common with each other. They had not alleged a sufficiently common element to their complaint. The sex discrimination wasn't enough. They didn't have the same supervisor, for example.

Of course, they were all over the country. We saw another major blowout decision against consumers in-- AT&T Mobile versus Concepcion, where a family responded to an ad saying, "Get a free phone." And then after they got a free phone, they got a bill for $30, which was to go for taxes. They brought a suit. It was consolidated with a class-action suit. And AT&T said, "Well, you've signed our boilerplate adhesion contract which says you've got to go to independent arbitration."

That was appealed. And the Ninth Circuit said that you can't do that to people. This is unconscionable to steer them away from the ability to get judicial relief. Well, 5-4 decision reverses that in AT&T versus Concepcion. And the court said it was preempted by the Federal Arbitration Act.

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: And also the court siding with management against labor. Basically invalidating the National Labor Relations Act. And we saw in this decision which was underreported, because it was just on the eve of the Obamacare health care decision, Knox vs. S.E.I.U., Service Employee International Union.

Some called that the Scott Walker decision, because it placed such an undue burden on public employees that it has made collective bargaining more difficult. Dahlia Lithwick, has a piece in the issue, builds on what Jamie was saying, which is that in some ways the move to arbitration has closed off the possibilities of class action. Which has been an avenue for ordinary citizens to challenge corporate power, corporations, their malfeasance. And that is a trend which I believe we need to bring more attention to. It may seem dry, but again, it affects everyday lives.

BILL MOYERS: You open your article with a quote from the announcer in The Hunger Games. "And may the odds be ever in your favor." What are you trying to tell us?

JAMIE RASKIN: Well, in the Citizens United era, we're moving dangerously close into a kind of corporate state mentality, where the corporations operate with impunity in the Supreme Court. And they're now endowed not with personhood rights, as some people think, but super personhood rights. Because they have all kinds of protections that ordinary human beings don't have, like limited liability and perpetual life. And they continue to, you know, accrue wealth through the generations.

But now they're given political free speech rights that people theoretically have. But of course, most American citizens don't have millions of dollars to spend in politics. But the corporations do. And it’s, you know, a matter of chump change for them to put several million dollars into a campaign that could, you know, very much affect the direction of public policy.

BILL MOYERS: You live in New York, Katrina, if you were explaining to another straphanger on a moving subway the impact on that person's life of Citizens United, what would you tell her before the next stop?

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: What's misunderstood is that money is not an abstraction. Money will decide how people live, how their children are raised and treated, and how you're treated by corporations. I mean, if you're defrauded by AT&T and you don't have access to a fair legal system, you're not living in a fair democracy.

JAMIE RASKIN: And it's a fundamental distortion of a fair market, too. That's the other thing. It's not just an offense to Thomas Jefferson. It's an offense to Adam Smith.

BILL MOYERS: And by the way, this is why some conservatives I've talked to are distressed by Citizens United. They do not see it as a boon to--

JAMIE RASKIN: Corporations should compete based on the ingenuity of their engineers, their ability to come up with better products, not based on an army of lobbyists that they send to Washington or the amount of money they can put into politics to get their guy elected to office.

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: You know, what I really dislike about the current campaign is this idea if you raise a question of corporate power that you're antibusiness.

We're not antibusiness. We're simply saying that you need to have labor. You need to have organized citizens given the same rights as corporations are now being given. The rights of free association are being limited while the rights of corporations are being enhanced. So that countervailing power, which was at the heart of an American politics and system, is being diminished and dismantled.

So the fact that the federal district and appellate courts are deciding so much, and those have been so seriously already reshaped by Bush, by the right. It's a long game that the right has played. And that it's not too late but it's almost too late--

BILL MOYERS: You've been publishing about this. You've been writing about this for some time now. You both have seen this coming. You've written about how the court has been taking the side of corporations against regulators. And as you said a moment ago, the corporations against citizens. So wasn't Citizens United the logical next step to this trend that has--

JAMIE RASKIN: Oh, it absolutely was. I mean, Justice Powell was a key figure here. He wrote this memorandum as a private lawyer for the Chamber of Commerce in 1971 saying, "We need a counter-attack against the environmentalists and the labor unions and so on." And developed a whole strategy for kind of a corporate takeover of the judiciary and politic.

BILL MOYERS: By the way, you said something very important. Justice Lewis Powell, then a lawyer in Virginia, wrote this for the Chamber of Commerce, later became appointed by Richard Nixon to the Supreme Court.

JAMIE RASKIN: Just several months later.

BILL MOYERS: Many people look at the Powell Memo as the charter--

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: The foundational, the foundational document.

JAMIE RASKIN: And the first big case in this direction was the First National Bank of Boston vs. Bellotti case, which he wrote the decision on. And what it said was corporations -- the identity of the speaker is irrelevant, which becomes the key--

BILL MOYERS: What does that mean?

JAMIE RASKIN: What it means is you can't tell corporations that they can't put their money into politics just because they're a corporation. Which has, I guess, a surface plausibility to it. But then would you say that, for example, the City of New York can put money into an election--

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: That could be the next step.

JAMIE RASKIN: --to tell people how to vote?

BILL MOYERS: If we had any money. City of New York is broke.

JAMIE RASKIN: Can churches put their money in? I mean, if the identity of the speaker is really irrelevant. And even the court itself has not gone with that notion, because the next step was the right-wing lawyers who are pushing this today like James Bopp said, "Well, then we should have a right to give money directly to campaigns." Corporate contributions are next. And the court, at least at this point, is unwilling to go that far. So it doesn't totally buy the rhetoric of the identity of the speaker is irrelevant. But the First Amendment is being used today the way that the Lochner Court in the attack on the New Deal used due process.

BILL MOYERS: Back in the '30s.

JAMIE RASKIN: Which is you get everything through the First Amendment. For example, this outrageous case from 2011 from Vermont, Sorrell's decision, which struck down a patient and physician confidentiality law, which said that pharmacies and insurance companies could not sell-- information about patients being prescribed particular drugs by doctors directly to pharmaceutical companies. And the Supreme Court struck that down as a violation of the First Amendment, which is incredible that the data that's being collected by physicians somehow is free speech. And the pharmaceuticals have a right to it.

BILL MOYERS: So you could tell the straphanger on the subway that the data she gives her physician about her health could be sold by him to some corporate cause--

JAMIE RASKIN: Absolutely.

BILL MOYERS: --to some corporate subscriber.

JAMIE RASKIN: Now her name wouldn't be in it, at least in this variation.

BILL MOYERS: But it does change the relationship.

JAMIE RASKIN: It changes the relationship. And the point is that the First Amendment is being used by corporations to get everything that they want, including the right, basically, to own campaigns.

BILL MOYERS: Is your position that corporations do not have quote "free speech" under the First Amendment?

JAMIE RASKIN: They have commercial speech rights. And this is a point that Justice Breyer makes very effectively in the Vermont decision. He says, "What's happening is the majority is confusing the political speech, free speech rights of the citizenry with the commercial speech rights of businesses."

And those rights are constricted. For example, we say that states can punish businesses for lying and defrauding people. But we don't say that in politics. Politicians get up and say almost anything. And you can't sue them for fraud, basically. But commercial speech is a much lesser notion, because corporations are instrumentalities of the state. And they're endowed with all of these great rights and privileges that have made them fantastic accumulators of wealth and investors of money. But everybody from Chief Justice Marshall to Rehnquist to Justice White said, "You don't let them convert their economic power into political power."

And that is the fateful step that's been taken by the Roberts Court.

BILL MOYERS: Justice Scalia would disagree with you. I want to show you Justice Scalia earlier this summer on CNN.

PIERS MORGAN: At that moment, under your interpretation, I believe, of the Constitution, you should be allowed to raise money for a political party. The problem, as I see it and many critics see it, is that it has no limitation to it. So what you've now got are these super PACS funded by billionaires effectively trying to buy elections. And that cannot be what the Founding Fathers intended. Thomas Jefferson didn't sit there constructing something which was going to be abused in that kind of way. And I do think it's been abused, don't you?

ANTONIN SCALIA: No. I think Thomas Jefferson would have said the more speech, the better. That's what the First Amendment is all about. So long as the people know where the speech is coming from.

PIERS MORGAN: But it's not speech when it's...

ANTONIN SCALIA: The first...

PIERS MORGAN: -- it's ultimately about money to back up the speech.

ANTONIN SCALIA: You can't separate speech from the money that facilitates the speech.

PIERS MORGAN: Can't you?

ANTONIN SCALIA: It's utterly impossible.

Could you tell newspaper publishers you can only spend so much money in the publication of your newspaper? Would they not say this is abridging my speech?

PIERS MORGAN: Yes, but newspaper publishers aren't buying elections. I mean to -- you know, the election of a president, as you know better than anybody else, you've served under many of them...


PIERS MORGAN: -- is an incredibly important thing.

ANTONIN SCALIA: Newspapers...

PIERS MORGAN: And it shouldn't be susceptible to the highest bidder, should it?

ANTONIN SCALIA: Newspapers endorse political candidates all the time. What do you mean -- they're almost in the business of doing that.


ANTONIN SCALIA: And are you going to limit the amount of money they can spend on it?

PIERS MORGAN: Do you think the...


PIERS MORGAN: Do you think, perhaps, they should be?

ANTONIN SCALIA: Oh, I certainly think not. I think, as I think the framers thought, that the more speech, the better.

JAMIE RASKIN: Well first of all, the freedom of the press is just an irrelevant distraction from this. And that's an easy question, not that difficult a question. The good justice betrays either an ignorance of what Thomas Jefferson's position was or a willful defiance of it. Because Jefferson wrote several times about how afraid he was about an encroaching corporate tyranny and corporations who already, with their charters would bid fair to the laws of the land, in attempt to go off in their own direction.

BILL MOYERS: You actually quote Jefferson on the rise of a quote "single and splendid government of an aristocracy founded on banking institutions and incorporations." He said they would ride and rule over the plundered ploughman and beggared yeomanry. The ordinary citizen, right?

JAMIE RASKIN: Well, look, our founders understood power. And one thing that Jefferson really believed in, he invented the phrase "the wall of separation between Church and State," was dividing power up. And one way we've divided power up over the last century is building a kind of wall of separation between corporate treasury, wealth, and public elections.

That wall has been bulldozed by the Roberts Court. And now they're letting the corporate money flow in. And everybody knows, I think, across the country, what that means, from Montana to Florida. You know, what that means to have corporations directly involved in politics. And look, we should want corporations out competing and prospering and thriving and profiting. But we shouldn't want corporations to govern, because that inverts the proper democratic relationship.

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: Part of what Scalia and these originalist judges have done, and the right, is appropriate the language, is take the language. And we haven't found a narrative and a language to explain the importance of the court. They use terms like "freedom" and "liberty" and "activist judges.” And the importance of talking about the fairness and the balance and how these kinds of decisions infringe on the individual liberty of people.

It seems to me an important mission, as well as working with those in Congress to hold accountable State Senators, to hold accountable a president, to appoint and deepen the bench of those who understand the fairness and balance. And the values of freedom, of opportunity, of equality, that are at the core of our country's purpose and constitution.

BILL MOYERS: You include in here some very specific, concrete examples. I was especially taken with a particular case that you make in your centerpiece, where you say that the 2010 election should have been framed by three major events. They were?

JAMIE RASKIN: Corporate catastrophes.

BILL MOYERS: They were?

JAMIE RASKIN: The BP oil spill, which destroyed an entire ecosystem and created billions of dollars worth of damage. The Massey Corporation's collapsing coal mines, which caused the deaths of 29 people and--

BILL MOYERS: In West Virginia.

JAMIE RASKIN: --suffering in West Virginia. And then, of course, the biggest of them all, which was the subprime mortgage meltdown, which destroyed trillions of dollars of wealth for the American people, in terms of people's retirement incomes, their home values, and so on. That should have been what the campaign was about.

BILL MOYERS: But they weren't--


BILL MOYERS: --what the campaign was about, because?

JAMIE RASKIN: Well, we saw, because of Citizens United and an infusion of hundreds of millions of dollars, an unprecedented amount of corporate money coming in, not just through Super PACs, but as The Nation pointed out, through 501c4's and c6's, what we saw was a complete reframing of the issue to the big culprit being regulation. And so the theme of the campaign was corporate deregulation being the solution to all of our problems. It was like a parallel universe.

BILL MOYERS: And it worked because the Republicans, funded by many of these corporations and billionaires, took control of the House. Sixty-three votes, I think they won then. And fulfilled the wishes of their funders for deregulation.

JAMIE RASKIN: And the corporate-funded Tea Party caucus in the Republican Party, in the House has basically been driving the train of government, which is why we've had near, you know, financial collapses again through these various debt controversies that have been taking place.

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: But let me broaden it. I agree with Jamie that those are the three disasters which should have been at the focus of our attention. But it is the case that across the board, at the moment, the idea that we need austerity in this country, that jobs aren't the great crisis of our-- you know, the joblessness isn't the great crisis of our time, but debt and deficits. That's also a function of the .01 percent who are the big players, who have the money, Democrat and Republican, who are funding these elections.

Because if it wasn't that kind of money in our system, you would hear more of the people's voices and those who lost their wealth through the terrible subprime mortgage disaster, those who are seeking jobs, 26 million people in this country either underemployed or unemployed. Those voices aren't heard, because of the din of money in the system. You know the story, what is it, seven lobbyists for every representative. It may be ten, at this stage.

And one thing that isn't paid as much attention to. You have the lobbyists. But this National Chamber Litigation Center, the N.C.L.C., started by the Chamber of Commerce, again an outgrowth of the Powell Memo. Its record is better than the solicitor general. And if you want to track the court--

BILL MOYERS: They've won more cases before the court.

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: They've won more cases before the court. And a nonpartisan group, The Constitutional Accountability Center documented this. And in the last, I think it was 2010-2011, their record was unblemished, meaning they won all the cases brought before the court. And this is the Chamber's specialized litigation bar. Now there are good environmental consumer civil rights, civil liberties groups working.

But you don’t have that coherence. And you certainly don't have foundations and individuals in this country supporting those groups in the way that the right has supported the Chamber of Commerce and this kind of bar. That distorts justice. It's about money. And what's always shocking, and not to diminish the amount of this money in the system, is for some of these people this is chump change that they're putting into the system, in terms of investment on return, because they will buy the deregulation, the low taxes, the ability to pollute, the ability literally to kill, as was the case in the Massey mine disaster, 29 miners killed because of the deregulation and the lax oversight. Why is that? Partly because of the starving of government, but also because the money in the system gives them the power.

JAMIE RASKIN: Well, and the Massey Company's exactly what Thomas Jefferson was talking about, a company that defied the law, had hundreds of violations written up--


JAMIE RASKIN: --against it. Constantly litigated and gone against the government. Put millions of dollars into politics, in order to have its way, and continues to be a major political actor, despite its being essentially a criminal corporation, in terms of its disregard of human life and its defiance of the law.

BILL MOYERS: I talked to a well-known, a leading, and a very thoughtful conservative yesterday about the magazine. And he said, "Katrina is hyperbolic about this. We've only taken a small step to the right, trying to reverse the pendulum that swung so far, not only under Roosevelt, but under Lyndon Johnson and that period of the '60s when the conservatives had to grit their teeth and the only thing they could do was say, 'Let's impeach Earl Warren,' because all of what he called the social liberal causes that the court was trying to push down our throats." He says, "We're just correcting history." That was what he said.

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: No, first of all, what's interesting about this issue in my mind is we're not dealing with some of the important cultural issues, which often rile up the right and rile up so many. Abortion--


KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: The schools, guns.

BILL MOYERS: Guns. Gay rights.

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: The whole-- but I think on the corporate front, this is an extremist court. A court that has shifted so far to the right that it is beyond just the backlash to the Warren and Berger courts, and moving in a direction that has very little check on it. And I don't believe it's hyperbolic.

In fact, you know, very sober commentators in commenting on the Roberts Court on the eve of the health care decision, noted how extremist, how radical the four or five-- I won't call them conservative, the right-wing justices on the court were in terms of literally-- one thing Jamie hasn't talked about is Citizens United, and he will express this far better than I do, they literally called back the case in order to open a jurisprudence--

JAMIE RASKIN: You talk about judicial activists.

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: Activism, that's right.

JAMIE RASKIN: Well, judicial-- I mean, for one thing, the masterpiece of judicial activism was, of course, Bush vs. Gore, where the Supreme Court intervened in democratic politics to stop the counting of ballots. Then a decade later, we get Citizens United, where the court says, "You know, we don't like the questions presented, even by this conservative group, Citizens United."

All they were saying was, "Don't treat our made for TV pay-per-view movie like a TV ad." And I think anybody could have gone along with that. They said, "That's not quite sweeping enough for us. We want to know, does every corporation in America have political free speech rights, such that they can take money out of the treasury and put it into politics. Go brief that." They briefed it. They came back. They reargued it. And what do you know, five justices say, "Yeah, they've got that right."

BILL MOYERS: Alito and Roberts both come out of a corporate background, either serving corporations as lawyers or teaching corporate law.

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: Well, this is an-- I mean, in the issue, there's a piece by Sherrilyn Ifill which is interesting, because on the face of it, the court looks diverse. But when you look at their actual professional backgrounds, I believe that eight come out of the appellate court system. Elena Kagan, solicitor general. But you don't have a Thurgood Marshall, who had experience in civil rights or practical--

BILL MOYERS: Real life experience.

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: --experience and real life experience that could connect to ordinary citizens. And so I think that diversity is something we've lost and has been an--

JAMIE RASKIN: And what's interesting--

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: --important part of the court.

JAMIE RASKIN: --is that it's not a partisan question that Katrina is raising here. I mean, my two favorite justices were Republican appointees, Justice Souter and Justice Stevens. They were incredible. They were evenhanded. They were serious and sober. They never would have gone along with this and didn't go along with this idea that somehow corporations should be treated like citizens for the purposes of political free speech--

BILL MOYERS: So what's happened?

JAMIE RASKIN: Well, part of it is this story of the extremism of the Republican Party today. Because after Justice Souter was named to the court, the slogan, the mantra within the Republican Party was "No more Souters." They really are imposing a very strict litmus test, not just on the right to privacy and abortion but also on these corporate questions.

They want to see that you’re going to be, down the line, just voting with corporate, you know, big corporations regardless of what it is that they're saying. And that's not justice. We don't want justices who are pro-corporate or anti-corporate. We want people who are going to--


JAMIE RASKIN: --enforce the rule of law.


JAMIE RASKIN: And here, what we've got is a complete derailment of the rule of law, just like we have a derailment of democracy. Because we have one part of society that's gotten too much power. And, you know, the economists, conservative economists talk about the difference between societies where the economy is closed and you have extractive industries that are taking money for themselves. And they end up closing politics at the same time. Versus societies that are open, that have open free markets and open politics. And we're moving to a closed kind of economy and a closed kind of society.

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: And I would say, you know, Jamie talks about the extremism of the Republican Party, yes. But go back 40 years, because it was the revolt of the plutocrats, which was part of the Powell Memo and the reason for the Powell Memo. And that revolt is winning now. It was class war waged from the top down. And I think we're seeing the culmination of the Powell doctrine so to speak, which is that corporations should not be checked, should not be fettered, and that they have free reign of the land. And that--

BILL MOYERS: What puzzles me, Katrina, is that that's not a conservative position necessarily.

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: No, it's an extremist. I don't-- I believe in conservatism. I believe that there is a role for conservatives. I believe that there's a role for a conservative Republican Party in this country. And we can talk about Edmund Burke and all of that. But at the moment, we're witnessing an extremist Republican Party willing to ravage and savage the freedoms and liberties in the name of-- they want to say greater good, but it essentially is a corporate good.

And I would argue that we're now going to witness a court next session, and Jamie follows this more closely that there is a well-funded, right-wing intellectual and corporate campaign now to try and really gut the Voting Rights Act, which I see linked to this, because I think more voices, more diversity in our political system can counter some of this corporate power. And if that's gutted, we are at great risk of a monotone political system.

JAMIE RASKIN: And that's why I invoke The Hunger Games. Because I think it doesn't have anything to do with conservatism. It has to do with corporatism. And that's a completely different philosophy of government.

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: Or Jamie has this great term, "jurist corporatists."

JAMIE RASKIN: Jurist corporatists.

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: Jurist corporatists. Jurist corporatists.

BILL MOYERS: So The Hunger Games announcer is, in effect, speaking for the corporate state, right?

JAMIE RASKIN: Yeah, I mean, she's basically saying, "May the odds be ever in your favor," wink, wink. "But everything is stacked against you once you arrive here."

BILL MOYERS: And are the odds now in the favor of corporations on the Supreme Court?

JAMIE RASKIN: You know, if you check out the People for the American Way website, where I follow the Supreme Court decisions, you will see case after case, where the court is throwing out tort verdicts against large corporations, jury verdicts for plaintiffs, throwing them out, because it's preempted by this federal law or that federal law or "You messed up the class-action mechanism below." There's always a reason why the little guy's got to lose.

BILL MOYERS: Well, you have written that over history the people have turned against the court and amended the Constitution 16-17 times when the enemies of democracy were slaveholders or people trying to prevent a minimum wage or stop women from voting and right on down. Is it feasible to expect that another amendment could reverse Citizens United?

JAMIE RASKIN: You know, we've had 17 amendments since the Bill of Rights. Most of them have been suffrage expanding, democracy enlarging amendments, where in a number of cases the people had to confront the court. So the court says in the Dred Scott decision that African Americans can never be citizens and persons within the meaning of the Constitution.

And it took a civil war and a whole bunch of constitutional amendments to reverse that. The Supreme Court said, "Women don't have the right to vote." In Minor vs. Happersett, despite the 14th Amendment. That got reversed by the 19th Amendment. The Supreme Court upheld poll taxes and that got reversed by the 24th Amendment.

So there are a whole bunch of cases where the people have said, "You know what? The court is a fundamentally conservative institution, often times reactionary. And we've got to confront their power and tell them what the Constitution really means. Because the first three words of the Constitution are 'We the people,' not 'We the court' not 'We the corporations' but the people."

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: I mean, the struggle in the country today is between "of, by, and for the people" and "of, by, and for the one percent," speaking about the corporate powers. And I think the importance of framing the debate about the future of the court, as this issue tries to do, between those who would roll back the civilizing advances of this country, economically, politically, socially against those who want to build a more just, fair, and diverse country.

And in the future of this country, the demographic shifts, for example, I do think the right looks out at this country, doesn't like what it sees, which is why you see the influx of money and the voting right suppression. And those two fused may give them a last hurrah, but there is a struggle moving forward in a different country that they may not be able to win.

BILL MOYERS: One of my colleagues asked me to tweet to her the essence of your magazine. Would this be an accurate expression of the essence of what you've done here? "The Supreme Court is now a corporate court that by giving big business the advantage is shrinking access to justice for everyday citizens."

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: Most beautiful 140 characters I've heard.

BILL MOYERS: Right out of your magazine, too. Jamie Raskin, Katrina vanden Heuvel, thank you very much for being with me.

JAMIE RASKIN: Thanks for having us.

BILL MOYERS: If you want to see the personification of how the Citizens United decision is playing out in this campaign, look no further than Karl Rove. Yes, that Karl Rove, the political strategist once known as Bush’s Brain. Rove was a big winner in 2000, when the court’s conservative majority gave the presidency to his client, George W. Bush. Rove went with Bush to the White House as his political czar, but left seven years later as damaged goods. He was enmeshed in the president’s failures and in scandals of his own, including millions of missing emails, congressional hearings, and a near indictment over leaks that outed covert CIA agent Valerie Plame and exposed her to danger.

But then the five conservatives on the Supreme Court – three of whom had been appointed by Rove’s two Bush patrons, Bush the First and Bush the Second – came down with the Citizens United decision, giving Karl Rove a second lease on life as a bagman – the biggest in town.

You could see him at the Republican National Convention, backslapping and glad-handing plutocrats and politicos. He told a private breakfast meeting during the convention that the super PAC he helped create, American Crossroads, plans to spend $200 million dollars on the presidential race and another $100 million dollars on this year’s Senate and House campaigns.

Then there’s his affiliated nonprofit, Crossroads GPS, that’s a 501(c)4 where all donations are anonymous, perfectly cozy and covert. Just a few days ago, Crossroads GPS bought $2.6 million worth of TV ads in Nevada, Ohio and Virginia, three states where Republicans hope to grab Senate seats, and bring them that much closer to the permanent GOP majority of Karl Rove’s dreams.

Bush's Brain has become Boss Rove, virtuoso of what BusinessWeek calls “partisan money management,” the undisputed maestro of the politics of plutocracy.

How does he do it? Investigative journalist Craig Unger has been on the case for years. The author of two books on the Bush dynasty, he’s now written this account of an astonishing comeback, "BOSS ROVE: Inside Karl Rove's Secret Kingdom of Power."

Craig, welcome to the show.

CRAIG UNGER: Thanks for having me, Bill.

BILL MOYERS: You've taken on Karl Rove in this latest book. What prompted that?

CRAIG UNGER: It was really, once the Citizens United came down, I saw him go into action. And I could see what was happening was not being followed by the mainstream press. And I thought, "Here is going to be one of the great untold stories of the 2012 election." And we saw it start to play out in 2010. And the Republicans won, I believe, with 63 seats in that. It was a tremendous victory for them.

And this was at a time when Rove was supposedly out of it. And there he was behind the scenes with these super PACs, with American Crossroads. And I could see that he was preparing himself for 2012. And not just 2012, but beyond. That he was something other than people had thought he was. Most people thought he was a creature of the Bush family. And I think he's a force that’s more powerful than that.

BILL MOYERS: I actually mapped the connections where you place Rove. From the Republicans in Congress to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which is the largest business lobby in America. To multibillionaires like the Koch Brothers, to the Tea Party, to the Christian Right, Ralph Reed. To Grover Norquist. To the National Rifle Association. To Rupert Murdoch, the Wall Street Journal. Fox News, to the super PACs, by which he directs multimillions of dollars. How does he hold it all together? What's his secret?

CRAIG UNGER: Well, a lot of it, you know, I go back to the early days in the '80s, when he was really sort of a nobody. And the Texan Republican party was not powerful then. The big business people in Texas said, "Well, why should we give to the Republicans. The Democrats are doing everything we need." And Rove made his entree there through the issue of tort reform.

BILL MOYERS: He was actually working for Phillip Morris back in nineteen, the late '70s, early '80s. And you say in here and outline how he, in effect, transformed the Texas State Supreme Court into a pro-corporate, anti-tort court. And that became, as you say, a cash cow. How did he turn this tort campaign into a cash cow?

CRAIG UNGER: He went to big companies and said, "Look, you risk billions and billions of dollars in product liability lawsuits. Let me help you out. All you have to do is contribute a few million dollars to political action committees for my candidates."

And he managed to get a lot of people elected to the Texas State Legislature. He managed to get George W. Bush elected governor. And in doing that, he managed to turn the Texas Supreme Court, which had been almost entirely Democratic, and flip it so it was entirely Republican.

He was getting millions of dollars in donations from these huge corporations who were benefiting from tort reform bills that were passing the Texas legislature. I mean, there were an enormous number, over 40 bills passed to Texas legislature that hindered, that were along his lines. And tort reform—

BILL MOYERS: Made it harder for average Joes to sue corporations, right?

CRAIG UNGER: Exactly. And through this, he was able to cultivate, his first donors were people like Bob Perry, who is no relation to Rick Perry, but was a billionaire Texas builder. And Harold Simmons, another Texas billionaire. And they’ve stuck with him. And if you look at the political action committees today, and who the big donors are, a lot of the people were with Rove back in the '80s.

BILL MOYERS As you say, the health care industry, the petrol chemical and energy industry, land developers, corporate lawyers, tobacco companies, they’re the ones who supported him then and they’re doing it now, right?

CRAIG UNGER: Absolutely. He's building institutions that have enduring power and can have real consequence for the future. I think if you look at some of his campaigns, like voter suppression, there are movements in dozens of states to require voters to have IDs and so forth that will suppress the vote among pop, among groups that are largely Democratic. That can have an effect for many elections to come.

BILL MOYERS: Do you find any of Rove's fingerprints on those voter ID campaigns?

CRAIG UNGER: Absolutely. You go back to 2004, and he talked about it publicly on Fox News. In a state like Ohio, there's a tactic called caging. And what the Republicans did in Ohio is they would send out hundreds of thousands of letters, and they might focus these especially in minority neighborhoods and so forth. These were letters requiring or asking for a response. And if they didn't get a response, the voters could be challenged at the polls as not having that residency. Once your voter registration's challenged, you're given a provisional ballot, which is not always counted in the case of Ohio.

But he also had deputies who were going around the country filing suits in various states, introducing bills in state legislature.

BILL MOYERS It's clear from reading this that Karl Rove could not be doing what he's doing without Fox News and the Wall Street Journal. Is that right?

CRAIG UNGER: It is enormously helpful for a number of reasons. One, simply is, it provides him with an economic base, and a powerful platform. But Fox News is something special in American journalism, if that's the right place to put it. And I went back to the Nixon administration, and Roger Ailes was in the, who's the chairman of Fox News, was in the Nixon administration.

BILL MOYERS: He was Nixon's television advisor.

CRAIG UNGER: Absolutely. And he had a proposal back then that he called GOP TV. And today, he has it effectively. This is the Republican TV network. And at one time during this campaign there were five potential presidential candidates in the Republican party, that is, if you include people like Sarah Palin who was potentially a candidate, but never declared.

Who were on Fox News payroll. So, when you see them on TV, these are not mere commentators. These are actors in the Republican party. And Rove is being the party boss. And when he and Sarah Palin have a tiff—

KARL ROVE: She is all upset about this, saying I’m somehow trying to sabotage her, sabotage her in some way—

CRAIG UNGER: That is Karl Rove, the party boss, shutting down Sarah Palin.

BILL MOYERS: Well, let me walk you through this, because it's a fascinating part of your book. You've indicated that during the Republican primaries this spring, he'd be on TV picking off one Republican candidate after another. Palin, Cain, Bachmann, Gingrich. Rick Perry, Trump—

KARL ROVE: You know, now a, you know, a joke candidate, let him go ahead and announce for election on the apprentice. The American people aren’t going to be hiring him and certainly the Republicans are not going to be hiring him in the Republican primary.

BILL MOYERS: Then he would write a column about it in the Wall Street Journal, actually fulfilling the strategy he had spelled out.

CRAIG UNGER: One by one, another Republican candidate would surge ahead of Romney. There was Rick Perry, there was Santorum and so forth. And just as they surged, Rove would strike out at them, and sometimes it was very discretely, and it would be through putting millions and millions of dollars into an anti-Santorum campaign.

BILL MOYERS: Most people have probably forgotten that the press ran with the story that Romney won the Iowa caucus, when a few days later Santorum turned out to be the real winner.

CHRIS WALLACE: Karl, you've just gotten some word from a source in the Republican National Committee. Tell us what it is.

BILL MOYERS: He was on Fox News with Chris Wallace. And he says, in fact, "Romney's going to come out the champion here," when in fact, Santorum was winning.

KARL ROVE: And that it will show an 18 vote victory in that precinct for Mitt Romney, which will give him a statewide victory of 14 votes over Rick Santorum. […]

CHRIS WALLACE: Now, I, you know, this is obviously pretty big thing. That Romney is going to win the Iowa Caucuses by 14 votes.

KARL ROVE: By 14 votes.

CHRIS WALLACE: How solid is your evidence for your...

KARL ROVE: From a pretty good, reliable source.

CRAIG UNGER: So, he is able to almost literally count the votes, even though he's not counting correctly.

BILL MOYERS: And he then writes a column to the effect in the Wall Street Journal that Romney won, even though the votes are still not all counted. And then, he directs his super PACs to go after that candidate, after Santorum. So, in effect, he's naming the winner before the votes are counted, and then carrying his story out into the public.

CRAIG UNGER: Right. He does two things. He directs the funding, but he's also creating a narrative, and he's brilliant at crafting a narrative, and having not just Fox News, but large portions of the press run with it as well.

BILL MOYERS: Rove once personified the Republican establishment that the Tea Party detested. Now you say he's coopted them, defanged their uncontrollable elements, marginalized their leaders, and seized their resources. How did he do that?

CRAIG UNGER: Well, he did it partly because he got the candidate and they had nowhere else to turn. He also, you see it playing out in a very interesting way now with the Todd Akin case, the fiasco, really, in Missouri that's going on now. Because here you have a real Tea Party candidate and Rove was pouring money in. If you looked at the Akin campaign, and he was leading Claire McCaskill by about five points.

BILL MOYERS: Rove was pouring money behind Akin?

CAMPAIGN ADS: Here’s Claire McCaskill, using special interest cash to hide the fact she’s voted against what’s best for Missouri. […] Obamacare? More like Obama Claire. […] Sorry Senator McCaskill. No more reckless spending . No new taxes. And no more blank checks.

CRAIG UNGER: Akin's campaign had about $2.2 million if I'm not mistaken. Rove's super PACs had put in more than $5 million in the campaign. So, they were crucial to its success. And now, what happened immediately after the episode came to light, Rove acted swiftly and brutally. And he said, “Akin’s got a lot of explaining to do.” He immediately pulled the plug on all funding. And again, this is the party boss announcing on national TV, "You are finished, we're not giving you another dime."

BILL MOYERS: And he has no public office of, for himself. He's not elected to any office.

CRAIG UNGER: He's not elected to any office even within the Republican party. He—

BILL MOYERS: Yet, he's the boss as you said.

CRAIG UNGER: He is. Absolutely.

He's brutal, he's ruthless, he, it's a scorched earth kind of partisanship. If you're not on his side 100 percent, he will destroy you. There are Republican, other strategists who were with him 95 percent and they found their careers destroyed. And he will go after you. And he, but he's managed to retain the loyalty of these multibillionaires for decades.

BILL MOYERS: What does it mean, Craig, that a man like Karl Rove can keep secret the sources of huge sums of money coming into his control?

CRAIG UNGER: I think if there's no transparency, then there's no accountability. And here you have billionaires, really, who are funding a political party, a political candidate, and they want certain favors in return. And I think Rove is playing a very, very long game. And he's sort of in a win-win position. That is, Romney is a deeply flawed candidate.

The Republicans are probably at a disadvantage and may well not win. If Rove pulls it out of the fire, Rove, he'll be declared a genius. And if Romney loses, Rove can blame it on the undisciplined behavior of Tea Party candidates like Akin. He can blame it on their extremism. And come back in 2016 with none other than Jeb Bush.

BILL MOYERS: The book is, Boss Rove: Inside Karl Rove's Secret Kingdom of Power. Craig Unger, thanks for being with me.

CRAIG UNGER: Thanks for having me, Bill.

BILL MOYERS: That’s it for now. Next week we’ll consider some ways to get our democracy back from the plutocrats with our guest will be Trevor Potter, the noted lawyer who helped Stephen Colbert set up his own super PAC and still stay out of jail.

That’s next week’s broadcast. Meanwhile, go to You’ll find an exclusive advance look at articles from "The Nation’s" special issue on “The One Percent Court.”

That's at See you there, and see you here next time.

Watch By Segment

The One Percent Court

September 14, 2012

Because of partisan gridlock in Washington, the Supreme Court has become the most powerful and outspoken branch of government – decisions they make shape our democracy’s fate for generations to come. Now, one has only to look at Bush v. Gore, Citizens United, and the Affordable Care Act rulings to understand why some call it a “one-percent Court” — dedicated by majority rule to preserving the power and influence of a minority of wealthy special interests.

In this episode, The Nation editor Katrina vanden Heuvel and Jamie Raskin, constitutional law professor and Maryland state senator, join Bill to discuss how the uncontested power of the Supreme Court is changing our elections, our country, and our lives. The two joined forces for a special upcoming issue of The Nation entitled “The One Percent Court.”

“We wanted to bring attention to how this court has empowered the 1% at the expense of the 99%,” says vanden Heuvel. “How it is now working for big business, for corporate power against the interests of ordinary citizens in this country.”

Also on the program, Bill talks with Craig Unger, author of Boss Rove: Inside Karl Rove’s Secret Kingdom of Power, about Rove’s behind-the-scenes maneuvering to once again affect the outcome of a presidential election.

“Most people thought he was a creature of the Bush family,” Unger tells Bill. “I think he’s a force more powerful than that.”

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  • Anonymous

    you just convinced me in my suspicion, that we are on the road of corporatism [ Mussolini had a description of that system and we know where will it bring us..]


    are you aware that your program ==THE ONE PER CENT SOLUTION was so disjointed that iI gave up trying to listen and watch! CHECK IT OUT .

  • Anonymous

    More important than political bribery during elections is the bribery used to override our votes AFTER the election. Once the American people speak, the money then begins the bribery process of corrupting those we elect.
    Take a representative who wants to actually do the right thing for his constituents. A lobbyist walks into his office and says “My corporate client has $1M to invest in the next election in your district. Did you want that $1M invested to support your reelection or invested to elect your challenger?” That’s actually $2M bribery leverage. If the representative holds the line and refuses to take the bribe, then the representative is most likely kicked out of office from $1M worth of advertising slander being throw against him. So either way, the lobbyist/briber/corporation gets what they want. Either the representative does what the briber wants, or the represented is replaced.

  • Denise

    Another great show. Couldn’t agree more with your guests!!

  • Guest

    EXCELLENT piece, Mr. Moyers & crew. You just don’t see this type of
    thoughtful journalism on TV any more. Oddly (or maybe not so oddly?),
    this Bill Moyers show was pulled from my local PBS affiliate (KLRU,
    Austin TX) lineup tonight. Normally the show runs at 8 PM Friday nights. Not
    tonight. Thank you for making it available online, and please keep up
    the good work.

  • Diane

    EXCELLENT piece, Mr. Moyers & crew. You just don’t see this type of thoughtful journalism on TV any more. Oddly (or maybe not so oddly?), this show was pulled from my local PBS affiliate (KLRU, Austin TX) lineup tonight. Normally it runs at 8 PM Friday nights. Not tonight. Thank you for making it available online, and please keep up the good work.

  • Martha Swaim

    It seems clear to me that Money can be speech, but Money is not free and so is not free speech. Voting in a Free and Fair election is free. If there is money involved, the speech is bought and paid for and therefore the speech is not Free! I keep hearing people on both sides of this issue use Free Speech where money is involved. Some speech is money talking and some speech is free and therefore free of influence of money or any other influence. The decision in People vs. United tries to marry the influence of money and speech so that will be the only speech that is heard. It will not be free speech. Free speech is being silenced by the power of money.

  • waterguy

    Why would anyone be “surprised” by Citizens United? Roberts declared fairly early on in his tenure that he is a plutocrat. Recall the twin decisions on “free speech”, one the “bong hits for Jesus” case, and the other having to do, if I recall correctly, some corporate funding on an issue in Wisconsin. Roberts asserted that in the case of ACTUAL speech, even one entailing nothing more “nefarious” than a teenage prank which everyone was free to ignore at no peril — this was most definitely not in the same universe as yelling “FIRE!” in a crowded theater — that “controls” on speech were essential to ensuring a greater public good. But in the case of figurative speech, the contribution of cash to create a louder bullhorn for a corporate interest, Roberts asserted that any infringement on THAT sort of “speech” would spell the end of our democracy. I was extremely disappointed at the lack of outcry over that chilling double standard at the time. You might say that was the harbinger of Citizens United. (Where were you when we needed you, Katrina and Jamie?) Bottom line, if money is speech, then if you ain’t got money, you ain’t got speech — so we are a plutocracy, not a democracy.

  • David O’Brien

    Thank you Mr. Moyers

  • Michael Hanna

    I never miss this show.Yet again, you guys hit the nail on the head.Kudos to the writers and Mr. Moyers.

  • Citizen

    Keep UNCOVERING the news.

  • Boss Rove

    I was deeply disappointed at how I was
    exposed during your show. I mean come on, everything I do is for the
    greater good. Sure, sure, sure, I’m an ego maniac with multiple
    complexes but I work through all that, for you. I only do it for you.
    I want to see us all living in huge, mega-mansions. Of course, you
    all will be living in the crowded damp basement and I’ll be upstairs
    being waited on hand and foot, but we’ll be in this all together.
    We’ll be one great big happy family!…..seriously folks… We’re
    going to have to get another Constitutional Amendment going. We ARE
    the people. Great show, Bill

  • Terry Allen

    Bill, your show always give me the best education I could ever attained when it comes to Politics. I always learning something new and rewarding. Your September 14, show really hit the point, concerning Republican Parties corrupt ways. Its just a damn shame that “Coporate Greed’ is GOD on earth!

  • Coming Apart

    Does money really have a label of D or R? Aren’t Congressmen of both parties paid for by the same

    Couldn’t you easily find as many “left leaning” corporations as “right leaning” corporations, no matter how you define leaning?

    Isn’t the problem as much with regulators as with the regulations? Isn’t a major problem in going after these horrendous actions of these corporations the fact that our regulators were there as the horrendous actions were occurring? How do you prosecute if the government was there?

    In order to solve the problem and arrive at a solution, don’t we need to correctly identify the problem first?

    Isn’t it simply, “We the People (D&R)” vs Corporations?

    Where am I wrong Ms Katrina vanden Heuvel?

  • Worden Report

    The lawyer’s suggestion that corporate “wealth-speech” in politics can be upended by constitutional amendment implies that all that plutocrat wealth-power would somehow not be put to use to defeat ratitification. For more on the American plutocracy, pls see my essays at where it is argued that corporate power is too well ensconsed to be expunged by We the People any time soon.

  • Laurie H. Rogers

    This last year, an organization – funded in part by school districts – sued the State of Washington, claiming that the state wasn’t “amply” funding education.

    This was a difficult argument to make, considering that about $17 billion was already being spent on K-12 education in Washington State, not including money from foundations and private organizations. In addition, the definition in monetary terms of the word “amply” is subjective. Also, no one has said HOW MUCH money it takes to teach a child. Homeschoolers know it doesn’t take much, whereas school districts spend more than $10,000-$20,000 per child and can’t get the job done. Finally, no one has articulated exactly where all of the previous taxpayer money went — it didn’t sufficiently educate the students — but it did go for things like promoting elections and levies, funding this lawsuit, designing new buildings, SMART boards, professional development for teachers, raises for administrators, and the federal government’s obscenely expensive (and still unproved) vision for education.

    Nevertheless, the argument won the day, and the Supreme Court decided to retain jurisdiction over the case, muddying the separation of powers. The Court left the plaintiff in charge of determing which amount of money WAS “ample.” This situation must have delighted the school districts.

    No one gave an ample argument for why the school administrators — many of which had wasted so much money before, without showing ample academic results — should get more money or even still be in charge. No one asked for an accounting. Eventually, it was decided that it would take at least (and I want to emphasize their careful wording on that) $1 billion more.

    This was inappropriate behavior for the Court. Despite the partisan comments in the article above, the Supreme Court in Washington made a clear and insufficiently supported decision on behalf of the districts/unions/administration — Most of those groups are planted firmly on the left side of the political fence.

    Where are the taxpayers, students and parents in all of this? We foot the $17 billion bill, the additional bill – including the lawsuit – and then we foot yet another bill — some of us — for remedial help and tutoring for our children. And our children pay for it in other, completely different sorts of ways. Their futures are: Hampered by a lack of academics; hampered by a struggling economy that feeds the 1% (unions/administrators/legislators/lawyers); limited by the non-accountable people in charge; and then left to hold the bag on a national debt that they will never be able to repay.

    Too bad the Supreme Court in Washington failed to “amply” take all of that into account.

    Laurie H. Rogers
    Author of “Betrayed: How the Education Establishment Has Betrayed America and What You Can Do about it”
    and the blog: “Betrayed” – a blog on education:
    My email:

  • Richard Leighton

    Thank you, Bill Moyers, for going where nobody else treads, and for doing the job journalists are paid to, but seldom, do.

  • Anonymous

    I would also like to hear how the Unions infulence the outcome of elections/law/legislation etc. They have as much power as corporations? Where do they fall into this? Great show, thanks

  • Anne J. Bushnell

    Bill Moyers is a must on my week. I record it so that I do not miss it. Always thought provoking and always good journalism.

  • dael v escher

    more volume please! Literally, I can hardly hear this and my volume is up all the way in every respect and my windows sound meter is barely getting above 2

  • droogle

    The conversation on this show ranges in opinion from Y-Z.

    Why the hostility to corporations?

    They make things we want to buy versus the government entities that tax us for things we may or not want, as consumers.

    I trust Exxon Mobil more than the Commonwealth of Massachusetts or Bill Moyers.

    Corporations are accountable to shareholders, without demagoguery. I want corporations to have the right to free speech. Thank God for the Sheldon Adelsons of the world.

    I will never buy car insurance from Progressive or Liberty Mutual because their senior management is PC-fascist.

  • Mike

    I found it very sad that no mention was made of Buckley vs. Valeo, etc.. Clearly, the “Cash~Coup D’Etat” didn’t just begin in January of 2010.

  • jan

    I would never consider myself or any other single individual, for that matter, to be capable of educating a child adequately via homeschooling. I might also point out that the only person I knew who was homeschooled was obviously very bright but was unable to pass the GED. In other words, you get what you pay for.

    My kids were public school educated. I kept contact with their teachers and, if they had ever brought home less than a C, would have grounded them till they brought their grades up. They’re college graduates and doing well. Public school works if parents work with the teachers.

    The attacks on teachers are short sighted as is the “let’s privatize the schools” thing. Congress has shown themselves to be very unreliable lately. They want to stop funding social security, medicare, and medicaid. Eventually, probably sooner rather than later, they’re going to want to stop funding school vouchers. You might want to stop and think about that for a while.

  • Lyn

    Thank you, Bill for all you do. Exposure and Education. Your show actually gives me hope. It is impossible to sift through all the marketing to find the truth. So, I look to you for facts and what lies (pun intended) beneath all the rhetoric. I appreciate you very, very much.

  • SpkUp

    This court also ruled in favor of IBM, did it not, in abridging the pensions of millions of employees through the cash balance scam that since then so many other corporations have now implemented?

  • SpkUp

    Why is it allowed for corporations to record my speech when I call them but doesn’t obligate them to let me record also if I choose to ?

  • Lorie Levine

    Many famous people were home schooled

  • MP

    Thank you for making this available online. This is important.

  • susanpub

    Justice Scalia appears to use Jefferson’s statements the way
    some people use statements in the Bible – pick & choose as it suits his
    arguments & pointedly leave out things that show opposition to his
    arguments. Wonder what he would say back
    to that quote from Jefferson? He’d
    probably lecture that the authors of the article misinterpreted. After all, we know that Scalia knows it all
    about the constitution & the inner thoughts & intentions of the
    founding fathers. Who are we to question
    what he says?

    Oh yes, we must adjust for the extremes of the Johnson
    administration – the Civil Rights act, the war on poverty. We really must fix those things. “Correcting” history? Correcting?!?! Holy… moly.
    Correct those civil rights extremes!

    Wait. So the court
    said (in Citizens United) “this isn’t what we want to hear, isn’t what we want
    to judge – go back & bring us this case instead?”!!!!! And no one pointed that out to us out here? It looks very like the Supreme Court is
    simply no longer valid. We are truly
    screwed with such a court – not to mention with such helpful watchdogs.

    Too many lines (including the recent voter restriction
    legislation) are converging on a very bad-looking end.

    I’ve been saying all over the internet & in comments to
    radio programs for a long time now – If we don’t find a way to achieve public
    funding of elections and get all this money out of them, we will NEVER balance
    this country again.

    Rove… what a scumbag.
    “Special interest money” criticizing McCaskill for using special interest money.

  • susanpub

    More kids than you realize are home schooled. There are good materials & programs to follow out there.

  • susanpub


  • skip3house

    Your super show today ‘The one percent…..,’ 9/16/2012 failed to follow up
    on a muttered aside from Justice Scalia. He added ‘as long as we know who is
    funding these ads from PAC….or similar’.

    Well, we do not know. Please find out and inform us all who these .01%

    (age 74)


    North Brunswick, NJ 08902
    ps – you might wonder why a split vote of 5-4, or even 6-3, is acceptable
    when the brightest minds are there?

  • Dennis Graves

    A fabulous interview re Citizens United. Every American should hear the truth that Raskin and vanden Heuvel are speaking to unfettered corporate fiscal power and to the abusive judicial power of the “Scalia wing” of the Supreme Court. As a member of the Bar of the US Supreme Court, I am embarrassed by the political nature of the Scalia wing, as exemplified by Bush v Gore and Citizens United. I believe Citizens United ultimately will prove to be the most damaging judicial decision in US history.

  • Anonymous

    Citizens United was a sad commentary on our election process.. In ’08 Obama spent twice as much as McCain in winning the election..The liberals have another big factor on their side for the conservatives to tolerate..The main street media which give free promotion to the liberals..Thus Fox has been created.. CBS, NBC, MSNBC, ABC, CNN, NYTimes, Wash Post, LA Times; Boston Globe all give generous support to the liberals. Was the court trying to even the score, I hope not..The Unions gave 450 Million dollars in 08 to the liberals. re The money comes from too many places of power for it to be a healthy election. The Bush vs Gore verdict has been questioned by liberals for years even tho every investigation of the vote count in Fla confirms Bush carried the state. Mr Unger coverage of Rove was interesting.. mainly from the power he has accrued.. It reminds me of the Tide Foundation with all its sub organizations headed by George Soros.. It would make for an interesting topic for a later date..Mr Soros is the a major supporter of a world bank & currency..His support for demomcrats I believe is greater than Mr Rove’s support for conservatives. Here again the transparency is lacking to be sure. Mr Moyers your guests are always thought provoking..Thank you

  • Ed Spalding

    This is a great show and needs to be listened to. Thanks for your work.

  • Arianna

    Two words: EXXON VALDEZ

  • jan

    Do you really think any one person is capable of teaching all the classes they need at a level that will allow them to enter college with everything they need to know? I could probably have presented english and associated classes at pretty high level because I was always years ahead of my peers in that area but I could never have taught them geometry, trigonometry and the advanced math classes. I don’t think I’m alone in that.

    Teachers are professionals. They’ve been taught how to teach effectively and I might add that of all the teachers my kids had in public school, there was only one teacher who probably should have made a different career choice. Contrast that with the kid I knew who was obviously quite bright and his inability to pass the GED and ask yourself why you would ever take a chance on homeschooling when it could be a disaster for your child’s future.

  • WOW

    Some of our Supremes are following another Master Plan, not the aged, tattered, words of our forefathers.
    Citizens United made legal corporate personhood. With this law comes corporate protections unlike any before: corporate welfare, corporate warfare.
    This decision was necessary for a global govt.
    We’ve seen the changes already.
    Chic-fil-a has the “individual” right to voice and fund (push) fundamentally unconstitutional beliefs.
    Soon, when KFC is attacked abroad (bricks and mortar), our army (sons and daughters) will be used to protect the business, which is now a person–a fellow American.
    And stateside, persistently high unemployment will reliably feed our “all volunteer” army.
    Off we go.

  • Andy B.

    Yes, first fund election campaigns though public financing. But then the voting system needs to change from the winner-takes-all system we currently have to instant runoff voting. Check out Wikipedia “Duverger’s Law” and “Instant Runoff Voting”. Third, mandated voting for everybody with penalties for those who vote, and a national holiday so people don’t have to take time off work.

  • Pamela W

    Oh how I wish this would be heard by the Fox Noise crowd. Unfortunately, you’re preaching to the choir. Excellent program.

  • Bob H.

    I don’t need 7 figures. Or even 6. I would just like a piece of the action. Why do TV networks get all that political money? Why can’t I sell my vote – directly to the highest bidder, and leave out the middle man?

  • Anonymous

    I agree with your post..Wall St gave 65 % of their campaign funds to Obama in 08… this year I hear it’s reverved.. Either way the other party gets 35%.We have aways been suspect of big corps & banks (big money) They have been addited to greed for a long time..The BIG point being is the politican does NOT have to accept the bribe..Will Rogers said it best… We have the finest politicans money can buy. These same politicans write & regulate the laws that govern these big money interests.. How did that work out with Fanny & Freddie;, repealling GlassSeegell to name a couple of many. The system has come to the point that Adam Smith & De Toquiville warranted us about..Big govt in cahots with Big money…we are there.

  • Frank Luke

    Is there a potential and / or real problem where all the directors of Central Banks globally are of the 1% and they form economic policies, Ben Bernanke included ? Can their decisions be seen to favor Wall St and Big Banks, can this be avoided ?

  • Frank Luke

    Hear, hear ! Amen and amen ! Impressive and audacious shows consistently. We the People are absolutely beholden, Bill Moyers & Co. !!

  • tiranuf

    The point was made that corporations spend more money on lobbying then making a good and safe non-environmental damaging product.

  • Jeff K

    Yes I would take a chance on homeschooling. My son graduated from a top flight college in four years. He completed his homeschooling and graduated from HS at 15 years of age. My daughter, also homeschooled, struggles with dyslexia, reads voraciously, and is a senior in college and has little trouble completing her classes. She also completed her HS years ahead of schedule. Though I respect teachers, the system is a huge waste of time. My daughter completed all her work before noon. When she did spend a semester at the local HS, which is considered an excellent public HS, she wanted back out because it took 8 hours to what she got done in 4. My experience with my own children worked out just fine.

  • Guy

    “The more speech the better.”- Wow, Scalia you are a manipulative scoundrel.

  • Mary Karnia

    this is more than thought-provoking journalism, it is action-stimulating. What has happened to our democracy, where the individual vote meant something? How did campaign finance reform get so totally derailed? Be aware – soon our democracy will no longer be democrat vs. republican, it will be citizenry vs. corporations. I am sending this link to others, hoping to illuminate what is happening here. Thanks Bill. Keep up the great work!

  • Steve Marquardt

    I have long believed that we are toilers in the economic and political mine, but now I have come to believe that we in the middle class are the material that is being mined.

  • JonThomas

    Until corporations are made unacceptable there will always be problems.

    As Mr. Raskin alluded, a corporation is by definition a “Limited Liability” entity. Therefore, again by definition, it can never be held fully accountable for it’s actions.

    Even the people in this interview expressed the opinion that corporations are acceptable entities.

    Sorry, but if you want to believe that corporations should be acceptable entities, you aren’t following the logic all the way through. You will seal your own fate.

    People seem to think that corporations can be “reigned in” by the same type of legislation that created them.

    This is impossible. In the same way you can’t take life from a living being and still expect it to be alive, you can’t hold an entity to which you assigned limited liability to and hold it liable. This is why people who have power use corporations. If they acted on their own they could be held liable! It’s a conjured bulwork

    imbued with power.

    I do not suggest that enterprise is, in itself, wrong. Rather the artificial entity, the corporation, is a damaging artifact powered by a irresponsible idea. That idea… that liability, and therefore, responsibility, can be sidestepped in a rational world… will only lead down a road that will continue to cause trouble and run hazard over the rights of true beings.

    Private enterprise and individually owned companies are fine (I include partnerships also.) These (in a healthy society) are held in check by the system of justice which holds individuals accountable for their actions.

    Corporations can never be fully held accountable. As long as such entities are allowed to continue, money and power will always trump justice and individual rights.

    If any want to continue to make half apologies for the corporate system, they will find themselves always fighting the same battles in one form or another. Liabilty and repsponsibility are inseperable!

  • Anonymous

    I am waiting to see an avalanche of in depth discussions on a much greater threat that dove tails the supreme courts working to allow corporations to run the US. The 2 trade deals in question are CETA and TPP (Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement and the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement). The TPP is especially lethal to taxpayers/citizens as it is believed to be designed to allow corporations to control the internet, control drug patents and prices, and general privatize and or reduce governmental services at the total expense of taxpayers—much the way TARP transfer bank debt and losses to individual taxpayers. Both of the trade deals have been negotiated in secret and are alleged to permanently alter and reduce individual rights and the ability to have a functioning democracy. We should all be holding a collective breath.

  • Anonymous

    “The Supreme Court is now a corporate court that by giving big business the advantage is shrinking access to justice for everyday citizens.”

    That is a shocking conclusion.


    In citizens united the supreme court laid down a law that says Money = Speech so therefore the more money you have the more influence over politics and legislation you have. BIG Bank CEO’s commit crime after crime yet they don’t have to go to jail because they can afford to pay the 300 million dollar fines those crimes entail, AND STILL THE GOVERNMENT GIVES THEM MILLIONS TO BILLIONS OF TAX PAYERS MONEY EVERY YEAR and completely ignore any bank or business that isn’t a multi millionaire or billionaire!!! IN 2008 THE GOVERNMENT BAILED OUT MASSIVE BANKS THAT WERE ABOUT TO GO BANKRUPT BECAUSE OF THEIR OWN RISKY INVESTMENTS, THE MONEY THEY USED WAS TAXPAYER MONEY, BY 2009 THE BANKS WERE TO BIG TO JAIL. IF YOUR TIRED OF THE RICH PLAYING BY THEIR OWN SET OF RULES THAT THEY PASS THROUGH CONGRESS BY WAY OF LOBBYISTS THAT SHOWER SENATORS WITH MONEY THEN SHARE THIS WITH YOUR FRIENDS AND GET THE WORD OUT THAT WE WONT BE LOOKED DOWN UPON AND WONT LET THOSE MASSIVE CORPORATIONS BE IMMUNE FROM THE LAW!!!!!!!!!!

  • Ipatrol

    You folks are all angry; you should be. But, there is something missing: action. The 1% will not be displaced at the ballot box, nor will all the words in the world shake them. They control the economy and all corners of the government. If you join to displace their two puppet parties, they will not hesitate to strip off democracy’s veneer and bring fascism to America. No, only by the force of arms can we succeed. Use the second amendment while you can, and prepare to end the tyranny of the wealthy.

    Workers of the world, you must prepare for action. When this loathsome enemy of freedom raises its head, you must strike, and strike to kill!

  • Anonymous

    Much more than a 1% court the minute lawyer lobbyists became the norm for law rewriting that enabled the carte Blanche court to rubberstamp courtroom prerogatives. Isn’t that how the no-evidence Summary Judgement came into being?

    Inside counsel advocating for employers is the legal equivalent of closing the door to all outsiders because of Work product doctrine, and Attorney Client Privilege with operates by Agency Law for the Employing Company, and all manner of back room dealing between inside and outside attorneys, the ultimate triangulation deal, and mostly undiscoverable.