A Blow for Free Speech

Why are progressives so willing to throw the First Amendment under the bus?

From the commentary in the mainstream media, I thought there had been a coup d'etat in Washington.

The New York Times said what happened "strikes at the heart of democracy."

The Washington Post quoted an authority who warned it "threatens to undermine the integrity of elected institutions across the nation."

No, not the Scott Brown victory. The media were upset because the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that forbidding corporations and labor unions to spend money on political speech before elections is unconstitutional. A horrendous section of the abomination known as McCain-Feingold campaign-finance "reform" had bitten the dust. It was long overdue.

The case grew out of a documentary critical of Hillary Clinton that Citizens United, a nonprofit corporation, planned to show on cable television during the 2008 presidential primary season. The law said that was illegal.

The 5-4 majority consisted of the four conservative justices and the swing justice, Anthony Kennedy, who wrote the main opinion. He couldn't have been more clear: "When Government seeks to use its full power, including the criminal law, to command where a person may get his or her information or what distrusted source he or she may not hear, it uses censorship to control thought. This is unlawful. ... The First Amendment confirms the freedom to think for ourselves."

He also said, "Because speech is an essential mechanism of democracy—it is the means to hold officials accountable to the people—political speech must prevail against laws that would suppress it."

And, "We find no basis for the proposition that, in the context of political speech, the Government may impose restrictions on certain disfavored speakers."

Of course, the "progressive media" condemned the majority for its judicial activism because the ruling overturned two precedents. I thought progressives favored judicial activism and dumping bad precedents. I also thought they favored free speech. Wrong. (To its credit, the ACLU was on Citizen United's side.)

It depends on whose ox is gored.

In condemning the decision, the offended progressives engaged in amazing mental contortions. It "was wrong because nothing in the First Amendment dictates that corporations must be treated identically to people," the Post editorialist wrote.

I guess the writer is unfamiliar with the obscure opening phrase of the First Amendment: "Congress shall make no law." And apparently the outraged progressives don't realize that corporations and unions are associations of individual who have rights. Dissenting Justice John Paul Stevens didn't get it, either.

The media outrage is almost funny. Under McCain-Feingold, media corporations were exempt from the prohibition—which suits the Washington Post and New York Times just fine. But people with common sense already knew what Justice Kennedy found it necessary to say: "This differential treatment (between media and nonmedia corporations) cannot be squared with the First Amendment."

So now we are being served dire warnings that "corporate money ... may now overwhelm both the contributions of individuals and the faith they may harbor in their democracy." (Are similarly freed wealthy labor unions potted plants?) But the same Post editorial conceded that corporate money was "never lacking in the American political process." So what's the difference?

Besides, as John Samples and Ilya Shapiro of the Cato Institute write: "Before McCain-Feingold, both (corporations and unions) could spend freely on advertising about candidates for federal office. Such spending made up a relatively small part of election-related speech, and no one group dominated ... the political arena."

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  • ||

    Because their 'principles' are more or less whatever suit their personal desires at any given moment.

  • Barry Loberfeld||

    From here:

    And the same egalitarian collectivism that compelled liberals to embrace this majoritarianism's opposition to "constitutional protections of property," now compels outright socialists to embrace its opposition to constitutional protections of speech. Commercial speech, sexual speech, "hate speech" (i.e., speech the Hate Left hates), and even political speech -- the sole form that [Robert] Bork deigned to defend -- have increasingly been attacked as conflicting with "progressive" imperatives, which leaves no doubt what must yield to what. Ideas, it seems, follow their implications ...
  • ||

    Excellent quote.

    Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn was also excellent on the issue of runaway egalitarianism.

    http://www.conservativeclassics.com/books/libertybk/BK08.PDF

  • ||

    That said, I don't think most of the people reacting violently against this decision are motivated by high-minded ideals run amok. I suspect the majority couldn't even describe why they feel the way they do, they're simply running more on hatred of their perceived enemies, and those who're in the way of what they want.

  • Barry Loberfeld||

    Thank you.

  • ||

    Huh. Being somewhat slow-minded, I just realized you are the owner and author of that site (which I've run across before).

    Altogether, great stuff.

  • Slut Bunwalla||

    Most of the people reacting vehemently to this decision don't even know what it's about. They think it's about corporations donating money to politicians.

  • ||

    Agree fully with 1st sentence. They also seem to fear that "foreign" corporations (that seem, oddly, to be Arab) will buy political office through massive contributions to their favored candidates. I have more faith in the electorate's ability to figure things out. Of course, that may require an unbiased media, but that's another story...

  • Ratko||

    +1 Great comment

  • ||

    A Democrat friend who I argue with by emails sent a mass howl of outrage one after this was decided. There was such apocalyptic, populist fuming, and so many hearty agreement emails followed. It was so bizarre.

    Dig that very last sentence, Stossel. Very nice.

  • ||

    Yes, good article, and the 'Stache went out on a high note.

  • ||

    The last sentence is the key. It's government power and the high-level corruptibility of government officials that makes lobbying effective. No force in the universe will stop it. Do you think sitting politicians want to cut off their access to money?

    The only way out is to limit government power.

  • ||

    I would just like to say, here and now, that as an individual, unincorporated and an American citizen not foreign-born, that my 1st Amendment rights are for sale.

    Any corporation that would like to pay me large sums of money to use my own individual free speech rights to convey their message as my own, is more than welcome to do so, assuming that Amendment XXIX is passed and becomes part of the Constitution.

    I will use a sliding scale of fees, but my minimum fee is $1,000,000 for a 30-second speech. I also offer a wide variety of personalization services, so that your speech can be uniquely identified as speech of fine upbringing, standing high above in a sea of rabble.

  • ||

    I'm cheaper. And I'll throw in a complimentary rabble-rousing revolutionary rant.

  • ||

    I'm a true capitalist. I'll even accept socialist customers.

  • ||

    Fearing businesses more than a runaway government is irrational. In fact, it may demonstrate a mass psychotic break with reality.

  • ||

    Sounds like a scam to me.

  • ||

    Indeed!

  • stuartl||

    If it is a scam, don't we need a government commission to investigate it and protect us?

  • ||

    Who scams the scammers?

  • ||

    Yes. It kind of is. We have any number of examples of runaway governments killing and enslaving millions. But liberals are obsessed with the evils that corporations do. When exactly has there ever been a country where people were enslaved or killed by the private sector? The Antebellum South I guess, but that had government sanction and that is getting to be an awfully long time ago.

  • skr||

    I'll toss the East India Trading Company into that ring for conquering India. Sure they had the backing of the English Empire but still.

  • ||

    And that was in the 18th Century. And they had to beat the French and the Dutch governments to do it.

  • peachy||

    And it was backed by a legally-enforced government monopoly, and functioned until after the Mutiny as a de facto (and in many ways de jure) sovereign state, albeit subject to the supervision of the Crown. I don't believe there's any modern corporation that compares to the HEIC or its contemporary equivalents (in particular the VOC, which got there first and was much nastier.)

  • ||

    It's a favorite theme in Hollywood. Alas, some of these folks have trouble distinguishing fiction from reality.

  • David Watkins||

    Wasn't there a financial meltdown recently sparked by irresponsibles actions of the private sector? Didn't that sector promote its own deregulation by contributions to Congress election campaigns? Haven't the retirement funds of hundreds of thousands been devastated to finance the income of elite of that private sector?

  • ||

    What deregulation? The deregulation cited in connection with the latest economic trouble had little to do with it. And, of course, every small step towards less regulation in one area was countered with giant regulatory leaps in others.

  • ||

    And losing your retirement is the same as geting locked up in a camp and stuck in an oven?

  • robc||

    FED FED FED FED FED

    Not exactly private sector.

  • Steven||

    Yes, it is the private sector. Please read the inscriptions on your American dollar. Property of teh Federal Reserve. Just because they use the term Federal doesn't mean they are government.

  • GenericBrand||

    I wish it was as easy as your argument, because if that was the case then the FED would be abolished in a second as unconstitutional.

    Only Congress has the power "To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures." Therefore all these notes the Federal Reserve is pumping out, if it is as private as you say, are illegal.

  • ||

    No.

    There was a financial meltdown sparked by irresponsible government. But that has nothing to do with what we are discussing here.

  • Barney Frank||

    That's a lie! We had nothing to do with it!

  • Ratko||

    Thank you for your confession, Barney. We haven't forgot you and the huge role you played in the melt down.

  • Michael Ejercito||

    Wasn't there a financial meltdown recently sparked by irresponsibles actions of the private sector?


    Even if there was, only people in the financial sector suffered.

    How would Microsoft or Apple be affected by the woes of AIG or Washington Mutual?

  • David Watkins||

    Gee,
    With unemployment at >10% I suspect more people than those in the financial sector suffered.

  • robc||

    Union Carbide is the best example I can come up with.

  • OMG||

    I don't think that UC had a strategy to go ahead and kill thousands of people.

    Where they negligent, even criminally reckless - yes. So you are arguing that corporations (usually ones that don't survive) are sometimes stupid, reckless and lazy. And their actions may hurt others.

    Ok.

    But those things occur because corporations are collections of people who are stupid, reckless and lazy. Such is the human condition.

  • ||

    The Jim Crow laws had more than government "sanction." They were government laws, widely opposed by the private sector. http://historyhalf.com/jim-crow-and-capitalism/

  • Steven||

    Seriously, Jim Crow laws were opposed by the private sector. Read the article, utter nonsense.

  • ||

    I think Chiquita Brands International(ne United Fruit Company) might be an example.

  • Tim||

    Also Jardine Matheson in the 18th century.

  • ComradeZero||

  • ||

    What? Don't you remember the great Bonanza Steak House-Outback Steak House War of 1972? Didn't the Home Depot Rebellion in 1987 teach you anything?

    Those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat the Quake/Quisp Massacre.

  • ||

    That was in response to ProL upthread.

    Grumblegrumble...threaded comments...

  • ||

    And, of course, the Cola War. There were no innocents in that one.

  • Nipplemancer||

    Yea, after Classic Coke melded with the sandworm to become New Coke, man that shit was harsh. fucking tyrant.

  • ||

    Did Quisp ever come out of the closet?

  • VoxPatriota||

    "If government has no favors to sell, no one will spend money trying to win them."

    Ahh to dream...

  • Dello||

    I argued with some Libs about this too. They said that corporations will now buy elections by lying to the masses to get the Republicans elected.

    I said "So, the majority of the US population is so stupid that they'll blindly vote for whomever they're told? The same majority that elected Obama Jr. (turns out he's a Junior)?"

    They never responded.

  • ||

    And, um, all corporations give all of their money to the Republicans? And, in their infinite and unstoppable power the Democrats are in power how?

  • Tim||

    They give plenty to the Democrats too.

  • ||

    Many give to both sides. Its a win/win/lose/lose situation.

  • DRATER||

    Maybe the are just trying to maintain the advantage they currently enjoy:
    http://www.opensecrets.org/ind.....cycle=2010

    A scan of the list shows they Dems did pretty well with their corporate/union fundraising. Quick hit: for the 2010 Congressional elections, if you look at the top 20 (by amount given)the GOP only breaks 50% once (at #15).

  • DRATER||

  • Dan Number One||

    That link appears to be broken -- try again? The data sounds useful.

  • ||

    Why are progressives so willing to throw the First Amendment under the bus?
    uh..they're assh*les?

  • spencer||

    ha.. i live in fresno

  • one tree hill season 8||

    Great share! if you look at the top 20 (by amount given)the GOP only breaks 50% once (at #15).

  • ||

    Why are they willing to throw the First Amendment under the bus? For the same reason they are willing to shut Republicans out of the "conference" about health care reform bills, to attempt to impose deadlines for the passage of legislation, to sponsor legislation which isn't written down in violation of centuries of legislative tradition, and to sneak last-minute amendments into bills - and if 3 am of the day for the final up-and-down vote doesn't quality as last-minute I'll be damned. Simply because they don't want any of us peons to have any contrary views to hear or read or consider about their glorious plan to make us healthy, happy and moral citizens of the new Socialst States of America. Tyrants despise the light of day, just like cockroaches do.

  • joeshmo||

    If this site is a reflection of true libertarian thinking in america - we are in trouble - not that this is news.

    Where are the principles to back the rhetoric? Where are the facts to back the innuendo.

    With our present laws and our current system of government - it takes very convoluted reasoning to see this as a libertarian ruling.

    If you want to do away with government - that's fine. If you believe in free market principles that's fine. If you believe in free-speech principles - great!

    But this ruling does nothing to advance those causes, except on a most absurdly superficial level.

    The ruling increases corporate talking power in America. Simple as that.

    Corporations are created by the government. Without government and its regulations, there IS NO corporation.

    Speech belongs to the people, not state-created entities.

  • Yeah, yeah, yeahyeahyeah||

    But this ruling does nothing to advance those causes, except on a most absurdly superficial level.



    Where are the facts to back the innuendo.
  • Soonerliberty||

    It's fine to oppose the creation of corporations. However, what is idiotic is to say that only individuals have a right to free speech. As soon as they organize into groups that we don't like, they have no more free speech rights. That is just absurd. Second, if they weren't allowed to form as corporations, how would the leftist trial bar sue the fuck out of a corporation to save the idiot peons from exploitation? Which leftist goal do we want? To kill corporate influence or massive lawsuits in the name of consumer protection? This kind of thinking just shows the irrationality of leftism.

    If you want to end the influence of corporations, stop taxing the fuck out of all of us, thus creating a 4 trillion dollar "Obama stash" that is redistributed in the form of favors. If you get the politics out of our money, the politics will leave the money alone.

  • MercuryChaos||

    Which leftist goal do we want? To kill corporate influence or massive lawsuits in the name of consumer protection?

    I can't speak for all progressives (which I assume is what you mean by "leftists") but personally, I would like to see an end to the massive consumer protection lawsuits, and to the irresponsible behavior on the part of corporations that makes them necessary. I don't mind corporations per se, nor do most progressives I know - it's when they do things that are illegal and unethical that we have a problem.

  • one tree hill season 8 episode||

    But this ruling does nothing to advance those causes, except on a most absurdly superficial level.

  • ||

    Joesmo,
    If you could begin your tirades with the phrase, "for a magazine/site called REASON" it would be much appreciated.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    +1 (double)

  • Joe M||

    I was going to say close enough, DRINK!

  • ||

    So, a conservative activist group airing an anti-Hillary-Clinton film is the functional equivalent of a faceless giant corporation buying up all the ad space and bombing the airwaves with ads for their favorite candidate?

    Should politically active individuals be allowed to form LLC's to finance their political speech ?
    Perhaps we should ban citizens from gathering in groups to hold signs too.

  • ||

    You miss the entire point. In the question of constitutionality, it doesn't matter whether it is good or bad that corporations are producing political advertising. "It's really important" is not a constitutional argument.

    If it is in fact "really important" to decrease "corporate talking power", then all you have to do is pass an amendment to the constitution allowing the government to do so. This is one of the most simple, black-and-white constitutional decisions of all time. Anyone who can read should be able to render this decision in a matter of seconds.

    The fact that there are four members of the Supreme Court who fail this simple test is alarming. What they should have done is voted with the majority and issued a concurring opinion that states their view that this speech should in fact be regulated, and calling on congress and the states to produce an amendment to the constitution to allow the government to do so. Voting that restrictions on political speech are allowable just because you can see that this form of speech poses a danger to the system is Tyranny, plain and simple. These kind of people are the very reason we have a written constitution in the first place.

  • ||

    And it interfered with my right to see "Breakfast with Bonzo" on election day.

  • watch one tree hill season 8||

    The fact that there are four members of the Supreme Court who fail this simple test is alarming. What they should have done is voted with the majority and issued a concurring opinion that states their view that this speech should in fact be regulated

  • Buzz Saw||

    We have the freedom to assemble; we just can't talk about it.

    God I love me some Progressive Freedoms!

  • Thorbie||

    Zing! lol.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Joeshmo,

    If this site is a reflection of true libertarian thinking in [A]merica - we are in trouble - not that this is news.

    And if it is not, then "we" are not, right?

    With our present laws and our current system of government - it takes very convoluted reasoning to see this as a libertarian ruling.

    Who said it is a libertarian ruling? It is a ruling consistent with the 1st Amendment, that's all.

    But this ruling does nothing to advance those causes[...]
    The ruling increases corporate talking power in America. Simple as that.

    What is "talking power"?

    Corporations are created by the government. Without government and its regulations, there IS NO corporation.

    Corporations are entities created by individuals, like any other voluntary organization. Governments only provide a regulatory framework to deal with them, just as they do when they deal with individuals - both are defoliated by government in some way.

    Speech belongs to the people, not state-created entities.

    You're being quite the demoagogue here, joeshmo - corporations are made of people.

  • ||

    "What is "talking power"?"

    LOL...I found myself baffled by that one myself.

  • Kiwi Dave||

    corporations are made of people.

    Kind of like soylent green.

  • ||

    @Joeshmo: "Speech belongs to the people, not state-created entities."
    Two points: 1) When the Constitution wants to single out persons, it knows how and does. The wording protects "free speech"- not "free speech of persons" or some wording like that. 2) News media (corporations, mostly) have been exempt from speech regulations imposed by campaign finance laws for some time. Legislators, presidents and courts have apparently agreed during that time that the speech of at least some corporations deserves protection.

    CB.

  • Michael Ejercito||

    The ruling increases corporate talking power in America. Simple as that.


    To descrease corporate talking power, you would have to give the government power to censor corporations, such as the corporations that own the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, CNN, MSNBC....

  • The Libertarian Guy||

    My boss just recently became a corporation. He is president, secretary, and treasurer of said corporation, and he and I are the only employees.

    So, does that make him an evil capitalist pig, joe? "Yes, of course it does." There, I answered it so you don't have to.

  • ||

    So some groups of people have more rights than other groups of people.

    How quaintly fascist.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    If joeschmo is a real person and not a sock puppet, we are all in trouble -- not that this is news.

  • ||

    I know what you mean. Spooky. It almost seems human.

  • one tree hill ||

    Are ads really that powerful anymore? I record everything to my DVR and FF through commercials. I listen to my iPod in the car, commercial-free.

  • cmace||

    "Speech belongs to the people, not state-created entities."

    Like unions.

  • Johnny Longtorso||

    Since when did liberals have an issue with "state created entities"?

  • Kevin||

    Are ads really that powerful anymore? I record everything to my DVR and FF through commercials. I listen to my iPod in the car, commercial-free. And I let Reason tell me who to vote for. Technology is making this a moot point.

    When corporations can buy off The Jacket, THEN we've got a problem.

  • ||

    I've made this point before. I never see an In and Out Burger ad on TV. I am absolutely inundated with Taco Bell ads.

    But whenever I go to In and Out Burger to eat the place is jam packed, and whenever I go into Taco Bell to use the bathroom, the place is empty.

    People aren't nearly as dumb as folks would like you to believe. I think the effectiveness of advertising has been vastly over-stated, and unsurprisingly the people doing the most overstating are ad agencies.

  • Michael Ejercito||

    But whenever I go to In and Out Burger to eat the place is jam packed, and whenever I go into Taco Bell to use the bathroom, the place is empty.

    People aren't nearly as dumb as folks would like you to believe. I think the effectiveness of advertising has been vastly over-stated, and unsurprisingly the people doing the most overstating are ad agencies.


    It has a lot to do with referrals.

    My company, World Financial Group, rarely puts money into TV or radio advertising. They use direct marketing.

  • ||

    And food quality, one suspects...

  • ||

    That's because of their brilliant advertisement campaign, in which IN AND OUT BURGER stickers were easily modified with scissors to say IN AND OUT URGE.

  • ||

    Similar to a Pittsburgh radio station's campaign with stickers of a life size hand flashing the "V" sign into you know what.

  • ||

    One of my favorite ice cream place is mom-and-pop. They barely advertise, and it's a horrible location, on a gravel road, in the middle of a lot of industrial properties. But every April 1st, when they open for the season, there are hundreds of people who show up.

  • ||

    I can't remember the last time when I *didn't* change the channel or mute the volume when a campaign ad came on the telly.

    I'd sooner watch Sham-wow infomercials than a campaign ad.

  • The Libertarian Guy||

    There's a difference between Shamwow ads and campaign commercials?

  • ||

    Vince. He seems trustworthy in comparison.

  • The Libertarian Guy||

    I prefer the YouTube parody versions. But you do have a point.

  • Pope Jimbo||

    Think New Coke.

    I'd appreciate it if the liberals would explain to me how corporations are able to brainwash everyone via their nefarious ads into voting for crypto-fascists, but couldn't talk them into buying a 6-pack of New Coke.

  • ||

    All true. But it's a Progressive article of faith that we, the non-Progressive or un-radicalized, are completely brainwashed by corporate advertising and government (when there's a Republican president) propaganda. We're not just influenced in some vague way - we're completely taken in and we've lost our ability to think for ourselves. It's sort of the old "false consciousness" idea, still alive and well and propping up lefties' sense of superiority after all these years.

  • Brian Trust||

    To liberals, the first amendment only applies individuals, unions and media corporations.

    The second amendment, however, is meant not for individuals, but only for people collectively in a militia.

    No logical inconsistency there, nope nope nope...

  • ||

    Brilliant. We need to start hammering this point.

  • ||

    The second amendment, however, is meant not for individuals, but only for people collectively in a militia employees of the state.

    Fixed. But otherwise, spot on.

  • ||

    I actually see the Citizens United case as an obvious example of how threatening to free speech the restrictions were.

    Citizens United's film is clearly not the caricature of WalMart or Berkshire-Hathaway bombing the airwaves with ads right before an election that progressives think would happen.

    It's clearly an example of a group of politically active people attempting to make political speech. Which the FEC came and attempted to censor, because ... why? Were they threatening to a major political parties prospects perhaps?

    The whole thing is obviously horribly abusive and NOT the intent of the law at all. How is it that progressive can't see hat a consivative activist should be allowed to air their darn film? How can they NOT see that stopping an activist group from airing political speech of their own creation is a horrific, awful, tyrannical, grotesque violation of the specific intent of the first amendment?

  • anonymous||

    Because they come from universities, where progressives are given free reign to use all power and influence at their disposal to crush any intellectual or ideological dissent?

  • ||

    +1

  • ||

    Absolutely. Seems to me that most corporations spend their time playing both sides, except most media corporations.

  • Thorbie||

    You are 100% correct. No sane profit driven corporation would explicitly alienate 50% of the electorate from buying their products or services.

  • ||

    The Washington Post quoted an authority who warned it "threatens to undermine the integrity of elected institutions across the nation."

    This "authority" must be a comedian. The elected institutions have no integrity; how can something be undermined when it doesn't exist?

  • ||

    Why is this so hard to understand? "Congress shall make no law... "

    Not "make no law (unless they say it is really important)...." Come on, it is plain English, and one simple sentence.

    If you want to ban corporate money from political speech, they've already given you a mechanism. Just pass an amendment to the constitution allowing you to do so. Why do we allow these bozos to torture logic so that they can substitute "good and just" for "allowed by the constitution". It is not the same thing at all. In fact, that is the point of writing it down in a controlling document in the first place - so that some person's opinion of "just and proper" is not the controlling law of the land.

  • Thorbie||

    Dead on.

  • ||

    In the case itself, it wasn't the money that was at issue, it was the content. Banning political speech by anyone prior to an election is clearly and obviously unconstitutional. Congress should've never passed the bill, Bush should've never signed it (sighing and regretting the bill's unconstitutionality and still signing it is not acting within the scope of the Constitution), and the Court should've killed it the first chance it got.

    This is about OUR rights, not some abstract, bogeyman corporations'.

  • ||

    JoeShmoe, this ruling also allows unions to buy ads, also.

    Do you wish to deprive union members their collective 1st amendment rights?

  • Brandon Keim||

    Since John wants to play the "Congress will make no law..." game, I expect he'll next be encouraging people to yell "Fire!" in crowded theaters, just for fun, and broadcasting secret troop locations.

    I also imagine that, if he could go back in time, he'd encourage Thomas Jefferson and the rest of the Founding Fathers to quit pushing around the East India Company — because corporations are people, too.

    http://www.earthlab.net/#/p=210

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Brandon Klein,

    Since John wants to play the "Congress will make no law..." game, I expect he'll next be encouraging people to yell "Fire!" in crowded theaters, just for fun, and broadcasting secret troop locations.

    I can perfectly yell "Fire" in a crowded theather, but I would be violating an agreement between I and the theather operators to peacefully watch the show with no undue disturbances (yes, Oliver Wendell Holmes was wrong.)

    And I should be able to broadcast troop locations - who said the government should work in secret?

    I also imagine that, if he could go back in time, he'd encourage Thomas Jefferson and the rest of the Founding Fathers to quit pushing around the East India Company — because corporations are people, too.

    Were they pushing around the East India Company? And what does that have to do with speech?

  • ||

    It's deja-vu all over again isn't it Brandon?

  • ||

    A group of people formed an LLC and made a movie expressing their opinion about a political figure before an election. And the government not censured the movie but declared making it a crime.

    You act like corporations are some alien entity. They are not. They are associations of people. If you can't express yourself in association, then you do not have freedom of speech.

  • ||

    "A group of people formed an LLC and made a movie expressing their opinion about a political figure before an election. And the government not censured the movie but declared making it a crime."

    Whoa! So is the point they were an "LLC", and therefore a "Corporate" entity? What if they were a partnership (non-Corporate)? Would it still be a "crime"?

    If they were smart, they would have sold or transferred all of the Hillary movie rights to one individual. Done deal!

    The point of all of this: a workaround exists for just about everything.

  • roystgnr||

    he'll next be encouraging people to yell "Fire!" in crowded theaters

    You know that example comes from a court case that punished people for publicly opposing the draft, right? Is that really a cause you're proud to champion?

  • Citizen Nothing||

    I wish I could go back in time and tell Brandon Keim's father, "Pull out! For the love of God, pull out!!!"

  • Mikey||

    Or lend his mother the money for an abortion.

  • ||

    Or hold a benefit concert to pay for it.

  • ||

    It is shameful that progressives are willing to throw free speech under the bus in their devotion to big government.

    True, but unsurprising given their history. One minor quibble, the ultimate goal of progressives is social justice (equality of outcome); big government is just their currently-favored means for accomplishing that goal.

    There is a simple way to get corporate money out of politics: get the government out of our lives and economic affairs. If government has no favors to sell, no one will spend money trying to win them.

    Brilliant and succinct. Libertarians realize that, as do some conservatives. Progressives can never embrace that position because it does nothing to influence, or attempt to influence, outcome.

  • Duncan||

    It's a shame that Stossel can't see the connection between rent seeking by corporations and corporate giving. Acknowledging reality and contradictions takes a level of honesty I haven't seen here in a while. Many corporations were happy with McCain-Feingold b/c politicians were playing one group against another and policy went to the highest bidder. You want, pure, unfettered corporate giving considered speech...fine, but accept the consequences. Anyone who doesn't see the connection between the massive increase in lobbying and the increasing regulation and rent seeking is blind to reality. It's not a one way street with corporations pushing politicians to do things...politicians (see Larry Lesig's presentation at Cato) can threaten companies or play one company off against another to get contributions. McCain-Feingold allowed companies to say, sorry, but the law won't allow us to do that. It's not about corruption, it's about rent seeking.

  • ||

    "You want, pure, unfettered corporate giving considered speech...fine, but accept the consequences."

    I think the argument is that it's impossible to stop without also stopping, say, a documentary about a person currently running for office.

    If you allow the latter, you leave a loophole the size of the Grand Canyon for the former. And if you close that loophole enough to stop the former, you either stop or at least severely restrict the latter.

    And that somehow the New York Times and Fox and NBC should get a special exemption from all of this is equally silly. Obviosuly they _have_ to get one or the obviousness of the shredding of the 1st Amendment overwhelms everybody, but there's no actual reason for them to get one.

  • Duncan||

    It just bothers me when people like Stossel will constantly rant about rent seeking and corporations seeking special favors (or be threatened with special regulations) in Washington, but then fail to acknowledge the connection to lobbying when it suits their arguement. We will pay a price for this dedication to free speech as what is already a problem.
    I would say the one idea supporting the idea of special treatment of the press is that the first ammendment specifically cites the people and the press, but doesn't cite corporations.

  • ||

    If you are sick of rent-seeking corporation, who isn't, then I suggest that you seek ways to reduce the guvmint's power to grant special favors to their friends, instead of butchering the Constitution.

    Problem solved.

  • Duncan||

    How do you reduce the government's power when that power is directly connected to politicians' ability to raise money?

  • roystgnr||

    How do you reduce the government's power when that power is directly connected to politicians' ability to raise money?

    It's not. It's directly connected to politicians ability to obtain votes. That can be accomplished by raising money to spend on convincing ads, but power abhors a vacuum, and won't go away just because some of the ads do. The politicians themselves are much cheaper than their ad campaigns, so all that the Incumbent Protection Acts accomplish is to make buying them more affordable.

  • ||

    I think what he's trying to say is that corporations can lobby the government to increase it's powers.

    That why (IMO) we need strong constitutional limitations on federal power. It's much harder to pass a constitutional amendment than a new law empowering the government to regulate X.

    That's where the campaign finance laws go wrong. By weakening constitutional protections for speech, it enables the government, at the behest of interest groups, to put it's foot into who can make political speech and who cannot. Which is clearly the case in this instance, and which is a far more insidious problem than corporations using their lobbying power to rent-seek.

    Imagine corporations using their lobbying power to not only get favorable regulatory treatment, but also to censor political speakers that oppose them.

    We already have a situation where the two major parties have effectively performed "regulatory capture" on the FEC. What the campaign finance laws do is effectively tighten the grip of established interests, by enabling them to censor disfavored speakers.

  • ||

    Stop voting for people who promise you free ponies.

    It's a start.

  • ||

    "There is a simple way to get corporate money out of politics: get the government out of our lives and economic affairs. If government has no favors to sell, no one will spend money trying to win them."

    Duncan, how does Stossel's above quote not address lobbying & crony capitalism?

  • Ratko||

    John Stossel is absolutely correct. A government has no legal right to sell favors, the opposite. We may have to amend the Constitution to make this more clear to the dim, and to attach criminal penalties to get their attention in Washington. Unfortunately, the only problem is they are standing between us and our constitution. On the bright side Obama attempted to radically expand executive privilege to dictator proportions by intimidating the justices into not doing their job, in the long run this is going to most likely fair very poorly for him and all his ilk who seek to over throw our republic.

  • Ratko||

    *Our (not "A")

  • Michael Ejercito||


    I would say the one idea supporting the idea of special treatment of the press is that the first ammendment specifically cites the people and the press, but doesn't cite corporations.


    And any corporation can buy a printer, TV station, or radio station and become part of the press.

    Hell, today they just need a computer server with an Internet connection.

  • Ratko||

    “A journalistic purpose could be someone with a Xerox machine in a basement.”
    -Antonin Scalia

  • ||

    I would say the one idea supporting the idea of special treatment of the press is that the first ammendment specifically cites the people and the press, but doesn't cite corporations.

    Corporations are collections of people. The speech and the press is what's free. Who owns it and the methods of ownership are indeed not mentioned, so they're immaterial.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Duncan,

    Many corporations were happy with McCain-Feingold b/c politicians were playing one group against another and policy went to the highest bidder. You want, pure, unfettered corporate giving considered speech...fine,


    All of this is irrelevant - if the law is unconstitutional (and it IS), then no platitudes or hissy fits changes that fact.

    McCain-Feingold allowed companies to say, sorry, but the law won't allow us to do that. It's not about corruption, it's about rent seeking.


    Tough. Write better laws or limit yourself to making sausages (and I don't mean you, I mean Congress people.)
  • Duncan||

    Old Mexican,
    Fine, I'll accept your idea that the law is unconstitutional if you accept that crony capitalism is directly connected to politicians' need to raise money. A libertarian/limited government would treat all companies equally and couldn't extract contributions by threatening/offering special regulations/incentives. Libertarian leaning candidates have a hard time raising money and competing if they're unwilling to make such deals. This is not an imaginary or small price that we pay in the current environment and will probably get worse under the new rules.

  • ||

    You do know this case had nothing to do with campaign contributions, right?

  • Ratko||

    We don't barter with filth attempting to over throw our constitutional republic.

  • ||

    Where did all these people (Joe/Chad/sockpuppet etc.) come from? Was this linked on Fark or something?

    ...true libertarian thinking in [A]merica - we are in trouble...

    Because "we" always have such a huge voting impact, right?

    On the other hand, I guess I should feel honored that he is/they are afraid of us!

    Once again, thank all of you for having more time than I to respond to the pointless drivel(ers?). Your existence gives me strength. Seriously.

  • Chad||

    I am always here, laughing at you guys.

    As always, it seems to exceed your comprehension (and this case, 5/9 of SCOTUS) that rights can conflict. In this case, we have the idiot libertarians fighting for a very low-value extremist element of the right to free speech, which destroys a very big part of our right to free and fair elections and a reasonbly non-corrupt government.

    Small part of Right A

  • ||

    TV ads are infringing on your right to a free and fair election? My you must be weak.

    For the second part of your comment, any corruption you see in the government has to be derived from its power. So all you're really saying is that our government has too much power. Glad to see you're coming around...

  • Chad||

    I barely watch TV, and when I do, it is only so that I can further understand how it is corrupting most everyone else.

    TV political ads are beyond worthless: you cannot make an intelligent argument in that format, and their incredible expense poisons the whole political process. They are a lose-lose phenomenon.

  • ||

    What exactly is this "low value extremist element of the right to free speech"? Is there some fringe form of speech that really doesn't deserve first amendment protection, if only to promoate an election process seemingly out of an affirmative action playbook? Besides the "Yelling FIRE in a crowded theater" variety, I mean?

    If the police plumb forgot about the constitution and arrested the KKK marching outside of my house, for the sake of "free and fair" society (or something) I wouldn't lose any sleep. But that's not how the first amendment works.

    The Mccain Feingold regulation apparently forbids political documentaries, publications, and ads too close to election days. I'd say that's violation of the first amendment.

  • The Libertarian Guy||

    Snicker. We have a Chicago-politics trained POTUS, with lots of like-minded henchmen... and you want a "reasonably non-corrupt government". And it figures you'd be on the side of allowing government the power to determine the when, how, and content of political advertising, because we surely can't leave that up to filthy individuals, can we?

    At least you didn't corrupt a thread about free speech with your usual global-warming drivel... this time.

  • Ratko||

    You're obviously a person who spends the day laughing and drooling on your self (whenever not licking the windows), I seriously doubt you need any reason to do such.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Duncan,

    Fine, I'll accept your idea that the law is unconstitutional if you accept that crony capitalism is directly connected to politicians' need to raise money.

    You will have no argument from me on the second part, Duncan. But don't confuse a ruling based on the constitutionality of a law with wanting to have crony capitalism. If the Congress really wanted to stop cronyism, they would simply stop doling out favors.

    A libertarian/limited government would treat all companies equally and couldn't extract contributions by threatening/offering special regulations/incentives.

    Agreed. However, i have to remind you that the ruling has nothing to do with intentions, but with the constitutionality of limiting the freedom of speech of organizations.

    Libertarian leaning candidates have a hard time raising money and competing if they're unwilling to make such deals.

    Thay may be true, and then again, it may not be in all cases. I would even suggest that McCain-Feingold exacerbated this problem more than it helped 3rd party candidates: By limiting the contributions, companies would have to hedge their bets and back up only the well connected, establishment candidates, instead of backing up those they would prefer (like a more libertarian, tax-reducing candidate.)

  • EscapedWestOfTheBigMuddy||

    Fine, I'll accept your idea that the law is unconstitutional if you accept that crony capitalism is directly connected to politicians' need to raise money.

    Constitutionality or lack thereof is not something that you barter with. It just is.

    And your fixation on the money confuses cause with effect. The money goes to the politicians because they already have the power, not the other way round.

    The power as we know it now derives from the SCOTUS's willingness to accept absurdly broad readings of the enumerated powers and unwillingness to read the ninth and tenth amendments (and, with some recent exceptions the first, second, fourth, fifth and sixth as well ) as they are written.

    Ergo, we need from the Court more, not less, willingness to thwart the will of congress and the president.

  • Duncan||

    Just accept that you pay a price (at the state and local level where the constitutional limits on government do not apply as well as the federal) for such unlimited giving.

  • Duncan||

    Old Mexican,
    "By limiting the contributions, companies would have to hedge their bets and back up only the well connected, establishment candidates, instead of backing up those they would prefer (like a more libertarian, tax-reducing candidate.)"
    Here's where I disagree with you a little. Many of the companies that do participate in the lobbying game are large companies that seek to establish rules that make it difficult for new competitors to enter their market/industry. Those that want minimal gov't often ignore Washington all together and don't participate in lobbying in any form.

  • Brian Trust||

    "Many of the companies that do participate in the lobbying game are large companies that seek to establish rules that make it difficult for new competitors to enter their market/industry."

    (citation needed)

  • Duncan||

    "Many of the companies that do participate in the lobbying game are large companies that seek to establish rules that make it difficult for new competitors to enter their market/industry."

    This is based on my observations of the lobbying and influence business. Lobbying is certainly skewed towards large corporations with large DC operations. If you want additional information backing this idea, see Larry Lesig's presentation at Cato. It's logical when you think about it--if you view Washington as something outside of the scope of your business, then you ignore Washington.

  • ||

    It's logical when you think about it--if you view Washington as something outside of the scope of your business, then you ignore Washington.

    So the natural conclusion is to get Washington out of the scope of businesses, right?

  • ||

    We should just pass a law allowing all citizens equal lobbying acesss to their representatives.

  • roystgnr||

    Start here:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regulatory_capture

    at least until they complete the more complete list of citations:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/All_of_human_history

  • Old Mexican||

    Duncan,

    We're not talking about lobbying - that's after the fact. We're talking about political speech and elections. By taking away the artificial limits, comopanies can now have the freedom to back up 3rd party or independent candidates that offer a better political platform than those from the two main political parties. Before they could only hope to back up the better-connected Dems or Reps.

    What do you think would have happened to the Ron Paul campaign had this ruling be available before the 2008 primaries? Or Bob Barr's?

  • Duncan||

    I think that Ron Paul and Bob Barr would have faced the same problem, companies that lobby don't want a level playing field, they want one tilted in their favor. I think that the libertarian view of companies desiring limited government might hold true for smaller companies, but larger companies don't want a fair fight.

  • BakedPenguin||

    I think that the libertarian view of companies desiring limited government might hold true for smaller companies, but larger companies don't want a fair fight.

    Duncan, most libertarians view large companies as wanting regulations to hobble their smaller competitors. This is a common theme in libertarian writings.

  • ||

    I think that the libertarian view of companies desiring limited government might hold true for smaller companies, but larger companies don't want a fair fight.

    That's not the libertarian view.

    Most big companies liked McCain-Feingold, because they can set up PACs and negotiate all the rules and regulations. They still got influenced.

  • EscapedWestOfTheBigMuddy||

    Just accept that you pay a price (at the state and local level where the constitutional limits on government do not apply as well as the federal) for such unlimited giving.

    Once again: the price you are accepting is that of barely limited power.

    The money is a consequence, not the cause. Until you understand that you will always be flailing at the wrong side of the problem.

  • Duncan||

    But how do you break the cycle of money and power without reducing the money?

  • Nipplemancer||

    reduce the power?

  • ||

    Reduce the *need* for money to begin with. Select Congressmen at random. Elect a permanent dictator. (I wonder how much money is a factor influencing government in North Korea.) On a slightly more practical note, limit all Congressmen to a single (maybe consecutive) term , though a much longer one (maybe 10 years). Once elected, they wouldn't be constantly chasing after more donations for the next election. Many are practically lifetime rulers now anyway.

  • Duncan||

    I think that liberal and libertarians both think that there is too much rent seeking (by companies, politicians, and unions) in Washington, they just view the solution differently. Stossel's attack fails to discuss the very real tradeoffs that the current level of lobbying is connected to and that any expansion of lobbying would probably increase those tradeoffs. If you're going to attack someone's views, at least honestly attack their views, not a fake strawman.

  • ||

    Stossel's attack fails to discuss the very real tradeoffs that the current level of lobbying is connected to and that any expansion of lobbying would probably increase those tradeoffs. If you're going to attack someone's views, at least honestly attack their views, not a fake strawman.

    Please do the same, and avoid strawmen. Stossel isn't calling for "an expansion of the current level of lobbying." He's saying that the entire system is broken because the interested parties will find a way around it, and all the regulations do is set up a privileged class. Small businesses and ordinary people can't navigate the regulations, but big businesses and the connected can.

    Note that with McCain-Feingold and Obama's restrictions on lobbyists, lobbying hit an all-time record this year, and that was because of companies jockeying for stimulus money and health care bill money.

    You're just as guilty of attacking a strawman.

  • Ratko||

    Score:

    John Thacker 1

    Dunkin' Dildoes 0

  • EscapedWestOfTheBigMuddy||

    Duncan:

    But how do you break the cycle of money and power without reducing the money?

    You mean other than voting the scoundrels out? (And then the scoundrels that replace them, and the ones that follow them...)

    What I already told you:

    The power as we know it now derives from the SCOTUS's willingness to accept absurdly broad readings of the enumerated powers and unwillingness to read the ninth and tenth amendments (and, with some recent exceptions the first, second, fourth, fifth and sixth as well ) as they are written.

    Ergo, we need from the Court more, not less, willingness to thwart the will of congress and the president.

    Plus, we call them on the constitutional authority of their designs at every opportunity.[+] We challenge them in court. Confront them in the town halls. Write on the blogs and never quit. Never vote for a statist, no matter how bad their opponent, but always vote. Laugh out loud when you hear an absurd political claim in public. Meet stupidity with jeering derision, but meet ignorance with gentle and caring education.

    And put the blame where it belongs: on corrupt and power hungry politicos.

    And stop trying to fuck with our fundamental freedoms.

    [+] If we're lucky Nancy Pelosi will have a stroke on the n-thousandth repetition of "Are you serious?"

  • ||

    And put the blame where it belongs: on corrupt and power hungry politicos.

    Oh, come on, voters deserve a fair share of the blame as well.

  • EscapedWestOfTheBigMuddy||

    Well, yes.

    But it is hard to rally them to punish themselves...

  • Duncan||

    "You mean other than voting the scoundrels out? (And then the scoundrels that replace them, and the ones that follow them...)"
    I think that the problem is that under the current system we keep electing people who love power (any politician) and then ask them not to do things that will help themselves get or maintain power.

  • ||

    People who don't love power don't run for office.

    The solution is to limit the powers of the government. Not to hope that some amazing power-not-loving right person will come along that we can vote for.

    Unless you like being repeatedly fooled, I guess.

  • Ratko||

    I believe that was the whole idea of choosing our constitutional republican form of government. To limit the power of government over the people.

  • ||

    I was going to comment on this post, but I've got some like-minded buddies over at my house right now, so I can't say anything. But when they leave, my free speech will return and then, as they say, 'it's on'....

  • ||

    Why are progressives so willing to throw the First Amendment under the bus?

    Because they're actually regressives, who want us all to submit to the rule of a Führer. When free speech is banned, the masses are more docile.

    -jcr

  • ||

    Why are libertarians so quick to defend a fictional paper entity created by the government and give it the exact same rights and protections they so covet for themselves?

    To answer your rhetorical question, John, because the First Amendment only applies to:
    a) U.S. Citizens
    b) HUMAN BEINGS

    Corporations ARE NOT PEOPLE.

  • Brian Trust||

    What other elements of the Constitution do individual people forfeit when they form a group? Are corporations inherently denied protection from illegal search and seizure? Do corporations automatically forfeit a right to due process upon their formation?

  • Thorbie||

    The First Amendment doesn't give anyone a right to speak. It merely prohibits Congress from passing any law that restricts any speech.

  • ||

    So 'Citizen's United' is just a fictional paper entity, and not a group of political activists trying to make political speech?

  • Ratko||

    You, sir/madam, are a fucking imbecile. I won't even ask how you arrived at your ludacris conclusions about the 1st Amendment. All it says is congress shall not make a law limiting free speech or religion or to establish a state religion such as was the Anglican church.

    I don't know what product you are using to make yourself so stupid, but it obviously works extremely well.

  • Ludacris||

    I object to my name being used like that.

  • EscapedWestOfTheBigMuddy||

    To answer your rhetorical question, John, because the First Amendment only applies to:
    a) U.S. Citizens

    What the hell gives you that idea?

    Lets see here, oh yes:

    Amendment I

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

    As I read it that applies to the Congress. Yep. It seem to say that "Congress shall make no law [...] abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press". Pretty clear. Nothing about US citizens. Lots about Congress.

  • Ratko||

    You may as well be writing to wall, reading comprehension skills are so low among these people that anytime they encounter complex sentence construction they are at a complete loss and the sentence will say whatever they are told. They are seriously learning disabled, and like many who are such, they lean strongly toward fascism. They only know what their masters tell them, and their only skill is parroting what they have been told. They make very poor Americans, but they would have been great and loyal Nazis.

    Call themselves what they may, a pile of crap by any other name would smell as shitty.

  • ||

    "Why are progressives so willing to throw the First Amendment under the bus?"

    Because the are fascists. Does anyone still doubt this?

  • Ratko||

    Some of us never doubted it. Anyone who still does doubt it clearly has conflict of interest issues involving they themselves being fascist.

  • Ballzonchin||

    I like the title "A Blow for Free Speach." That sounds like a fair trade.

  • Monica Lewinsky||

    Mmmf mgblb!*

    *"I agree!"

  • Ratko||

    Obama's despicable attempt to intimidate the Court in his SOTU was obscene. Until now I've done quite well remaining dispassionate and objective about all this. I finally do not like the man.

  • ||

    I don't have a big problem with lobbying. I do have a Very Big Problem with the acceptance of lobby MONEY. This is the crux of the argument against lobbying.

  • Brian Trust||

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

    The way the first amendment is worded is interesting. It seems that religious rights are paired together, rights meant explicitly for the people are together, and free speech and free press are together. Given that in the 18th century the only forms of communication were oral and written, is it plausible that the right to free speech was intended to be the People's right to freely express ideas, and the right to free press was meant to be the right of corporations and other like-minded groups to do the same thing? There was no radio, television, motion pictures, or internet, so it doesn't seem unlikely to me that the framers may have considered the publication of books and newspapers to be the only forms of mass communication.

  • Mr. J||

    The first amendment is a restriction on the power of congress denying it the ability to pass laws regulating speech. Speech itself is protected, the source is completely irrelevant.

  • ||

    I'm opposed to the decision. Let's see if you can debate my reasons, or if more name calling ensues.

    1. Corporate speech does not represent everyone working for the corporation. It only represents the thoughts and opinions of those in a position to authorize it's financial decisions. These people can now use the labor of those morally opposed to them to finance ads and actions that may work against their own beliefs and interests.

    2. Political speech is seldom honest speech. Lies and slander are not protected speech, nor should they be. Where is the protection against abuse? The one thing we can be sure of, is that any good idea will be wrecked by people who missed the point.

    3. In a time where progressive ads are often banned from the airwaves, while conservative ads on controversial topics are aired in widely viewed timeslots, it's hypocritical to accuse progressives of attacking free speech. No, there is no direct campaign contribution...but it's a much bigger issue than that.

    This is a question of what is being done to drown out competing speech. Whether or not it is intentional, the result remains the same.

  • Mr. J||

    1. Corporate speech ultimately reflects views of shareholders, not the workers. If a worker doesn't agree with the views of the corporation that is probably an indication they should work elsewhere.

    2. Prohibiting corporate speech would do nothing to stop libel or slander as they can originate from any source.

    3. Would you care to provide some examples? Otherwise I'm going to have to say [citation needed].

    Your arguments are disappointing as they fail to address the constitutional issues within the case. Congress has no authority to regulate political speech and the ruling affirms this.

  • ||

    Mr. J,

    The Constitution refers to real people, not fictitious people. The definition of a corporation is a fictitious entity. A corporation by law is a complete separate entity distinct from it members. Meaning by law it does not represent the rights, privileges, and liabilities of it's members. Whether we think in terms of justice under law or equal protection of the laws, it is untenable that artificial entities called corporations are given most of the constitutional rights of real humans while aggregating powers, privileges, and immunities that individuals, no matter how wealthy, could never come close to attaining.
    I agree with your premise, that Congress shall pass no law restricting free speech. You must be careful that free speech and the Constitution is reserved for real, living citizens who are also responsible for their actions.

  • Brian Trust||

    Steven, should a corporation not be protected from enumerated rights such as unreasonable search and seizure, due process, and right to legal counsel? If so, would that by extension also have to exclude groups like unions, and even local, state, and federal government entities from those same rights? Since corporations and other groups are by definition comprised of people, they must at all times retain the rights of their constituent members.

    The first amendment only specifically refers to the People in regards to their right to peaceably assemble and to petition the government for redress of grievances. If the entire Bill of Rights were intended only for the People, one would think the framers would have phrased it that way.

  • ||

    Brian,

    Check below for the response. Thanks.

  • ||

    Brian,

    Great point and I think that is why there is so much debate over the role of corporations, should they be recognized by the Constitution.
    One of the most famous events leading up to the revolution was the Boston Tea Party. The textbooks teach us that it was tax on tea, taxation without representation. In reality, some of founding fathers, like John Hancock were actually tea smugglers. The East India Company, incorporated in the 1700's, was granted a monopoly by the government for exclusive tea trading in America. In 1773, they decided to lower the tea tax by 3 cents for two reasons, fear of unrest with the colonialist and to undercut the smugglers. Smugglers up and down the East Coast realized how this would severely hamper their business, hence the Tea Party created by John Hancock. My point being from a constructionist point of view on the Constitution, l believe the framers had no intention of including corporation under the protection of the Bill of Rights. They had first hand knowledge of the undue influence corporations could have over government due to the monopolies of the day.
    I feel that corporate law should evolve with the times and realities. Corporations unlike union and other organized groups do not represent the views of their members. In today's world of finance, stockholders have little to no idea which stocks they are invested in. From mutual funds (who really reads every prospectus) to hedge funds who trade stocks by the second several times a day, the average stockholder has no say in the company. There is no way they reflect the views of the entire organization because the stockholders and managing members only care about one things, profit. While unions have their own set of problems, at least the members agree with the premise of the organization even if the organizations themselves have become corrupt.

  • Mr. J||

    It seems the conversation inevitably gets back to the legal rights of corporations, which outside the realm of speech is most certainly open to debate. It simply needs to be pointed out however that this is tangential to the constitutional issue the court ruled upon. In other words: whether or not corporations are legal persons is not relevant to whether congress can restrict their speech.

    Corporations will ultimately reflect the views of their shareholders. As an investor, it is no ones fault but your own if you invest in corporations that do not represent your views. By electing to use mutual funds you are voluntarily giving up control and thus only have oneself to blame. If there is a political or moral objection you can vote with your money and go elsewhere.

  • ||

    Mr. J,

    Since when did company or corporation ever make it into the Constitution. I must have misunderstood all the references to "we the people". I must have thought they were referring to real people. Until corporations are responsible for their actions in the manner we treat individuals, then they are not subject to the same protections granted to people by the Constitution. Therefore, Congress can create any law structure to govern the rules by which corporations can act because the corporations are not entitled to protection under the Constitution. Corporations are nothing more than charters of the state. What the state creates it can also legislate. Corporations are our servants, not masters.
    To simplify the Constitution to include corporate protections is as naive as assuming that corporations ultimately reflect the view of their shareholders. Let me give you just one example of the millions I could give. You are a teacher for 30 years, your pension fund invests in X corporation whose chemical plant explodes killing 5 employee's from negligence of proper safety protocol. Now by your simplified logic, this person a. voluntarily gave up control by investing in a pension fund or b. should have invested their money elsewhere if they disagree with the company. Please, what reality are you living in. The game is rigged by the corporations to assure no interference by stockholders especially small investors. There are cases where you can divest your money, and I agree you should always speak with your money if you disagree. However, the average investor has little options in this game and that my friend is by design. That is the reality. You argument sounds good in theory but in the real world, it's impractical at best.

  • ||

    I must have thought they were referring to real people.

    So corporations are composed of fake people?

    The First Amendment "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech"

    Congress shall not pass a low restricting freedom of speech. Not that you aren't wrong conceptually, but textually it says nothing about the nature of the speaker. It just says congress shall not restrict free speech.

    Show me the corporation that is not owned by a person or persons and you'll have an argument.

    Barring that all you are doing is trying to assert that some favored collections of people have more rights than other disfavored collections of people.

    Of course this is consistent with collectivist philosophies, but it is anathema to philosophies of freedom.

    There are certainly wealth inequities in the world.

    Corporations are one method for groups of people to try to address them. The alternative is an aristocracy where people may not pool resources for a common purpose and the individually rich will always dominate.

    Your consumption of anti-corporate hatred is misguided at best. The alternative, that only the Rothschilds, Morgans, Rockefeller's, Gates', Duponts, Heinz's, Soros's of the world shall have dominant access to free speech is much worse in my view.

    Why is one wealthy person somehow superior, or should have more rights, than a collection of people?

  • ||

    Believe me, I have no hatred of corporations. I rather believe they perform a critical function in business. They allow expansion through capital investment while decreasing the risk exposure of all members and stockholders. I just feel that they should be left out of the political arena and do not fall under the protections of the Constitution because they are not a collection of people. They are a vehicle to be used to make a business more efficient and profitable. Corporations afforded the same protections as the citizens marginalize democracy to essentially a corporate welfare state. The amount of money is staggering on both sides of the aisle. They care not for red or blue politicians, only for the one's that can be bought. Which right now is everyone inside the beltway.

  • ||

    I just feel that they should be left out of the political arena and do not fall under the protections of the Constitution because they are not a collection of people.

    Are they a collection of ants? Or bananas?

    I'm pretty sure it's people.

    They are a vehicle to be used to make a business more efficient and profitable.

    Yes because we all know there are no such thing as non-profit corporations or not for profit corporations. Because if those existed you might have to rethink your position.

    Corporations afforded the same protections as the citizens marginalize democracy to essentially a corporate welfare state.

    No restricting the free speech of some afford the tools for the very thing you fear. Haven't the results of the abrogation of free speech that you lament losing been pretty evident?

    Do you suppose corporations have less influence than they did before these laws were passed? I think you'd have to twist yourself up pretty well to make that assertion.

    Government power attracts temporal power, and in direct proportion. Abrogation of freedoms is especially tempting.

    The bottom line is these laws, along with being an unconstitutional encroachment of freedom have done nothing to prevent influence by the rich whether corporations or individuals.

    They just set up front groups. There are front groups all over the place who place adds and you have no idea who they really represent, but you can be sure it's not you.

    So you've accomplished not one thing except give away yet another freedom that will be used by those who have a tropism to power against you.

    I just feel that..

    No offense, but stop feeling. Start thinking.

  • ||

    "Are they a collection of ants? Or bananas?
    I'm pretty sure it's people."

    I guess if corporations are people then they can run for office like you and me, I can't wait to elect Exxon to represent my district. Or is that point moot because they can spend enough money now to pretty much buy that seat.

    "Yes because we all know there are no such thing as non-profit corporations or not for profit corporations. Because if those existed you might have to rethink your position."

    Is this how little you know about corporations in general. Non-profit corporations operate under a very different legal framework than for-profit corporations per the IRS. First and foremost they are very transparent, legally they must disclose all expenditures and the books are public. Also the non-profit corp technically (legally as well) belongs to the public at large. Please refer to the lengthy list of non-profit requirements at the www.irs.gov. They only have one similarity with for-profit, limited liability. I apologize for not mentioning this earlier, but there is distinction between for-profit corporation vs non-profit corporation which the Supreme Court could have easily distinguished by allowing non-profit IRS sanctioned corporations free speech like Citizens United. This would bring some real transparency to the system. The non-profits books and records are open to the public domain, following the money trail would be much easier. Congress then would be enable to enact laws for full disclosure in all TV, print, and other advertisements. The purpose of the non-profit must be clearly stated, if it deviates from this purpose it can no longer be non-profit.

    I agree that McCain-Feingold campaign finance is worthless for more than just the corporate part the Supreme Court disagreed with, it actually is prohibitive to grassroots campaigns but that's another story.

    "Abrogation of freedoms is especially tempting"

    Read the Patriot Act, then we can discuss abrogation of freedoms. Restricting the voice of a for-profit corporation, in no way shape or form restricts the freedoms laid out for individuals. In today's reality, you know the real world where actual people live, not your fantasy world, corporate power corrupts, the Supreme Court just allowed them carte blanche to suppress the voice of the real people the Constitution is supposed to protect.

  • ||

    I guess if corporations are people then they can run for office like you and me

    Typical brain dead NPRBot analogy. f you said no one could run for office because they were members of a corporation your analogy would be correct.

    Though I'm sure that would be your next step.

    but there is distinction between for-profit corporation vs non-profit corporation which the Supreme Court could have easily distinguished by allowing non-profit IRS sanctioned corporations free speech like Citizens United..

    And they didn't because they understand some things you do not. Saliently that the sin of making a profit isn't an argument against your right to free speech.

    Read the Patriot Act, then we can discuss abrogation of freedoms.

    Please statist, get your rhetoric in line with your venue.

    I could make a better argument against the patriot act than you could, and have.

    Your whole argument here boils down to some people have more rights than others because of a supposed association or class distinction. This is at the core of the entire progressive/statist philosophy.

    Your problem is that equal rights impedes the states ability to enforce results that you like.

  • Mr. J||

    Steven,

    I addressed only the first amendment as it applies to Congress. As noted in the ruling, speech itself is protected, no matter the source. The rest of the Constitution is beyond the scope of the ruling.

    If it is naive to assume corporations reflect the view of their shareholders, then perhaps you should enlighten us as to the true voice?

    I've owned many stocks, but never any funds. Your example suggests that the pension was aware of the fact that safety regulations were being ignored when in reality such prior knowledge is rarely the case.

    A good investor is rarely an average investor for long in terms of wealth and influence. The reality however is most people are not, as with just about anything. They are lazy, or disinterested, or scared to make decisions on their own.

    Placing investment money in the hands of others is simply another risk incurred, which is why I avoid it. I have no sympathy for those who do not.

  • Steven||

    Wow, the hubris.

    I'm holding my breath to hear how much you made in the stock market the past 3 year, 25%, no I bet 50%. Then you won a no holds barred jello wrestling match against Jim Cramer. Way to go!

    The average investor does not have the time, tools, or experience to individually invest in the modern market. Maybe because the average lazy investor is too busy actually working. It would be great if we all had the free time of Mr. J. otherwise some average investors need to have faith in the system or their would be no "stock market".

    Lastly, your arrogance belies your ignorance. Have you ever started a corporation? You get to write the by-laws, you get to appoint the board members (when you write the by-laws you get to determine who "elects" the board members), and the board members determine your salary and bonus. Stokcholders have no say in the company, unless your Warren Buffet, but aren't we all.

  • ||

    Americans are willing to just give away their 1st Amendment rights and here is proof:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v.....r_embedded

  • ||

    Great, give personhood to entities dedicated entirely to their bottom lines.

    Call deep-pockets bribing / blackmailing (because they can also threaten to finance a politician's adversary) "free speech".

    Ignore the age old wisdom of the love of money being the root of all evil, that is to say, the corruptive power of lucre. Even though you all know it's true, sensationally true, you prefer to stick to your insane definition of freedom (ranging from endless sky to bottomless pit) and ignore any "framing" (limiting) sense of social responsibility... Hell no, you mustn't ever feel oppressed.

    This court legislation (hard to call it a ruling) legitimizes plutocracy.

    Now I wonder. An important decision needs to be made for the good of millions of people. What does the money of a private organization "ontologically" (by its very being) dedicated to profit, bring to the matter? Well what would it bring to a referee's decision to a close boxing match? Or to a figure skating contest? Something clean, honest, principled? Oh sure, bribes are free speech (in a way). Freedom is more important than morality - even morality for dummies.

    By Royal decree "Money talks, bullshit walks" no longer applies to the United States.

    Let's face it, if corporations were people (and their personhood is the real question), they'd be certifiably insane for a great number of reasons.

    Instead of making rules, let's just surrender to corruption. Problem solved.

    How odd that in the age of Internet, emails, facebooks, twitters, youtubes, our representatives need MORE money and not less to get their ideas across. Well it's not about ideas anymore, is it? It's about marketing.

    If politicians need the help of corporate money to feel the needs and pains of those they Represent (real live human beings) then it's revolution time.

  • ||

    jake the rake, you are retarded.

    "love of money is the root of all evil" is the dumbest thing an adult can say. what you call evil existed long before money, you retarded chimp!

    that quote you love to parrot is the same thing as saying that the love of cheeseburgers is the root of all obesity. You must think rape is not evil. or that murder is never committed for any reason other than for the love of money.

    oh, and before mcain feingold, can you point to the times corporations used their speech to adversely affect democracy?

    you should leave . . . the earth

  • Steven||

    Wow, Blake, you need to make a better arguement than calling someone retarded. Your rebuttal is poorly worded, yet it speaks volumes for your education level.
    I think your being way too literal. Per the discussion, money is the root fucntion of corporations, so his use of the statement is appropriate in this context as the evil done by corporations. The problem isn't that all corporations are bad, the problem is that the system is set-up to protect the neglegent managing members from any liability which allows these corrupt members to pursue profit without regards to saftey. Their is no personal penalty for their negligence.

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    Now I wonder. An important decision needs to be made for the good of millions of people. What does the money of a private organization "ontologically" (by its very being) dedicated to profit, bring to the matter? Well what would it bring to a referee's decision to a close boxing match? Or to a figurereplica IWC skating contest? Something clean, honest, principled? Oh sure, bribes are free speech (in a way). Freedom is more important than morality - even morality for dummies.

  • Finnish Spitz||

    Because whenever would organization as well as organization ever before ensure it is in to the Constitution. wolves gray I have to own misunderstood the many sources to "we that people". I have to own notion they were with reference to actual men and women. Right until businesses tend to be accountable for its decisions in the way most people cure men and women, then it isn't at the mercy of a similar rights pleasant relief to the people because of the Constitution. Therefore, Congress may make any legislations construction to control that regulations that businesses may action because of the driving Car businesses usually are not entitled to safety within that Constitution. Businesses tend to be almost nothing more than charters in the state. Just what that state produces it may possibly also legislate. Businesses tend to be some of our servants, not professionals.

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