It almost seemed like part of a pre-holiday news dump, didn't it? I mean, who didn't think that Tom DeLay was at best a sleazy pay-for-play kind of politician? But when the news came down that he's been convicted on two felony counts and now faced the possibility of life in prison, well, for some of us, this seemed like Christmas in November.
And while I certainly don't have any sympathy for DeLay (and in fact would characterize my most generous emotion towards him as outright contempt), I do have to wonder if DeLay is in fact a victim of some terrible timing.
That's because the underlying conduct that got him convicted--funneling corporate money to candidates--is pretty much a-okay these days thanks to the Citizens United decision. And that raises a whole host of interesting (and depressing) questions about the scope and impact of that decision, let alone the challenge our democracy now faces.
Because thanks to the Roberts Court, the very conduct that gave DeLay the opportunity to trade his dancing shoes for an orange jumpsuit is now not only acceptable it is enshrined as a constitutional right. So when DeLay and his lawyers railed against the verdict as political payback I have to admit in some ways I agreed with him. After all, by today's standards he was merely facilitating corporate political speech rights.
That also raises the question of just whether or not the conviction will stick. If I was DeLay's attorney you'd better believe I'd appeal this conviction, and continue to in hopes of getting it before a sympathetic Roberts Court where the case can be made that DeLay was not a felon but a man ahead of the times, a politician on the cutting edge of constitutional jurisprudence.
And that right there should be proof enough of just how damaging, just how disastrous, Citizens United really is.