The Citizens United Backlash Threatens Basic Rights

Censoring corporations is effectively censoring ourselves.

First there was Bush Derangement Syndrome – a loathing of George W. Bush and his policies beyond all reason. Then came Obama Derangement Syndrome, which combines the fury of BDS with outlandish conspiracy theories. Now we see a new affliction: Citizens United Derangement Syndrome – CUDS, for short.

CUDS is the most dangerous, for three reasons. First, derangement over a president ends when his administration does. Second, CUDS has gained more steam. Efforts to impeach Bush went nowhere. The same is true so far for Obama. But ostensibly serious people in positions of genuine power truly want to amend the Constitution to overturn Citizens United.

And third: Some want to go much further than that.

A quick refresher: Once upon a time a private group, Citizens United, made a political film called Hillary: The Movie. The group wanted to run TV ads for the movie and air it during the 2008 election season. But since the film was partly underwritten with corporate money, under the law in effect at the time this was forbidden. So Citizens United sued.

The case worked its way up to the Supreme Court, where Chief Justice John Roberts asked if the law also could prohibit the publication of a political book.

Deputy Solicitor General Malcolm Stewart, representing the government, said yes – the government “could prohibit the publication of the book.” Fred Wertheimer, president of Democracy 21 and former head of Common Cause, agreed: A book urging the election or defeat of a candidate “can be banned.” A five-justice majority on the court quite correctly recoiled at this, and concluded that corporations and unions could spend money to speak their minds about candidates.

The 2010 ruling produced a firestorm of outrage that continues to burn. Last week Illinois became the 14th state to endorse a constitutional amendment aimed at reversing Citizens United. Resolutions in 20 more have been introduced; some are still pending.

Some of the resolutions stipulate simply that money is not speech and that states may regulate campaign financing. This is problematic enough, as the case history shows. Yet other measures – including some that have passed – go much further.

They assert that corporations have no constitutional rights, period (Arizona); that the constitution protects “free speech and other rights of the people, not corporations” (Florida); that the Bill of Rights applies to “individual human beings” only (Illinois); that the First Amendment does not apply to corporations (Iowa); that the U.S. should “abolish corporate personhood” (Kentucky); that constitutional rights are “rights of human beings, not rights of corporations” (Montana); that constitutional rights “are the rights of natural persons only” (Minnesota); and so on.

Just so we’re clear: This would strip newspapers, magazines, television shows, and book publishers of First Amendment protection – meaning the government could tell them what to print or say, and what not to. The same would apply to universities. It means the government could order advocacy groups such as NARAL and the Sierra Club to support legislation they oppose, or vice versa. If a legislature wanted to make charitable organizations like the American Cancer Society take dictation, it could. Ditto for unions. And so on.

Of course, some of the resolutions would strip corporations not only of their First Amendment rights but of all rights. As the Cato Institute’s Ilya Shapiro explains, that would include the right against unreasonable search and seizure: The “police could search everyone’s [work] computer for any reason, or for no reason at all.” The corporate right to property would disappear as well: “The mayor of New York could say, ‘I want my office to be in Rockefeller Center,  so I’ll just take it without any compensation.’ ” And while critics of Citizens United claim (incorrectly) that it overturns a century of precedent, they are trying to overturn two. The Supreme Court first recognized corporate personhood in 1819.

This is lunacy.

Moreover, the hostility to corporations that drives this derangement is curious. In a broad sense, corporations represent almost a communitarian ideal: They are groups of people who have come together voluntarily to pursue a collective interest. The government can put a gun to your head and command you to serve it. But you go to work for Google only if you choose to.

And in a legal sense, there is a very good reason for corporations to have certain rights. As Shapiro explains, they do so “not because they are corporations, but because they are composed of rights-bearing individuals.” It is strange to think individuals should “lose all their rights”  merely because “they come together to work in unison.” Yet that is where some of those suffering from CUDS would have the country go.

The resolutions and petitions to strip corporations of their First Amendment rights, or all rights, allow only two possibilities. One is that their supporters have not given any serious thought to what they are advocating. The other is that they have. Neither is a comfort.

This article originally appeared in the Richmond-Times Dispatch.

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  • Pro Libertate||

    I love how people turn on those trying to influence government rather than on the government that's so easily influenced to do corrupt things. Where's the real problem? Our rights, or the government's corruption?

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Government needs more power to fight the corrupting influences.

  • Pro Libertate||

    [Bangs head against desk]

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  • Almanian!||

    Who are you, who is so wise in the ways of government?

  • ||

    He's a witch!

  • seguin||

    He turned me into a newt!

  • Boba Fudd||

    I got better.

  • sarcasmic||

    If only government had more power so it could control the corporations that control it. Then the People would be in charge.

  • AdamJ||

    Ha! I'm stealing this for everyday use.

  • sarcasmic||

    It sums up the stupidity and circular nature of the argument quite well, doesn't it?

  • Certified Public Asskicker||

    Me too.

  • Boba Fudd||

    The government IS the people.

  • UnCivilServant||

    Which people?

  • John||

    This is lunacy.

    It is, unless you are a fascist. In that case, it is exactly what you want. So it is not surprising leftists love these ideas.

  • Raston Bot||

    The solution to speech you disagree with is more speech to pay a uniformed government employee to put their gun against someone's head until they shut up.

  • John||

    Yes. Or if you can't go that far, pay the IRS and FBI to harass them into shutting up.

  • ansible||

    ... godwin's law
    you lose.

  • KPres||

    Godwin's law is fascist.

  • Boba Fudd||

    That merely depends upon who is invoking it. Some people CAN'T be fascist. That is exclusively a conservative flaw. Right?

  • ant1sthenes||

    Really, it would be nice if some enterprising conservatives would try to explore links between pre-CU FEC behavior and the recent IRS bullshit (aside from Lerner herself). Link the anti-CU crowd with the IRS and Obama's attacks on the press, and maybe it will die as a talking point.

  • Sevo||

    ..."maybe it will die as a talking point."...
    The argument is based on beliefs, not facts, so counter-facts are irrelevant.

  • seguin||

    Facts are counter-revolutionary, my friend. We put them up against the wall a long time ago.

  • Dweebston||

    First, derangement over a president ends when his administration does.

    You're being glib, right? According to the resident trolls, anything Bush did previously which bares passing resemblance to a policy of Obama's is perforce rationalization for the latter, because Bush did it. Their derangement knows no bounds.

  • John||

    No it doesn't. They were still bitching and moaning about Nixon in the 1990s. They will bitch about Bush until the end of the century. He will always and forever be the man who stopped all of their dreams from coming true.

  • Almanian!||

    Their derangement knows no bounds.

    I blame Bush.

  • Scarecrow Repair||

    We can certainly blame Bush I for Bush II.

  • JWatts||

    Indeed, Bush Derangement Syndrome didn't stop at the end of his Presidency. Ask a Progressive if Bush won the election of 2000. Many of them will say, despite all evidence to the contrary, that Gore won.

    There's a continuing refrain that everything bad with the economy is Bush's fault despite the limited amount of control a President has and despite Obama being in charge for the last 5 years.

  • Doctor Whom||

    Time is elastic; team loyalty isn't. Everything that happened after Reagan's first inauguration was Reagan's fault, but Clinton deserved the credit for an economic upturn that started before he took office.

  • Tony||

    It's not a rationalization, but a point of comparison.

    Among the many, many ways Bush harmed this country was to set the bar low.

  • Sevo||

    Tony| 6.5.13 @ 12:12PM |#
    "It's not a rationalization, but a point of comparison.
    Among the many, many ways Bush harmed this country was to set the bar low."

    And your fave liar promptly lowered it even more, shithead.

  • JWatts||

    That really doesn't make any sense at all. Effectively you are blaming Bush for any possible action that Obama might ever do.

    Doesn't that strike you as absurd?

  • Sevo||

    "Doesn't that strike you as absurd?"

    When you don't have logic, pound the table.
    Shithead is not at all concerned with facts; the party line is the party line.

  • Tony||

    That's not what I do. I'm saying it's fallacious to equate the two and that politics is about the better of available options.

  • Sevo||

    Tony| 6.5.13 @ 2:00PM |#
    "That's not what I do"

    Shithead, it's ALL you do. You are mendacious beyond measure, you are incapable of posting without using some form or outright dishonesty.
    You are the most dishonest person I have ever encountered. If you said 'look east for the sun rise', I'd certainly look west first.
    You are a sleazy liar.

  • Tony||

    I never lie intentionally. But never saying anything of substance is hardly a defense on your part.

  • Sevo||

    Tony| 6.5.13 @ 8:25PM |#
    "I never lie intentionally. But never saying anything of substance is hardly a defense on your part."

    Shithead, you lie always and everywhere. You are a slimy turd who is incapable of posting lies or some other form of mendacity.
    You are the most miserable example of humanity I have yet encountered. As an atheist, I don't believe in hell, but I can sure wish you go there, shithead.

  • Sevo||

    correction:
    "who is incapable of posting *without* lies or some other form of mendacity.
    Just so's you know, you slimy turd.

  • Loki||

    Among the many, many ways Bush harmed this country was to set the bar low.

    You heard it here folks, because Bush lowered the bar, anything any of his successors do from now until the end of time is perfectly excusable. Because once the bar has been lowered it can never ever be raised again. Even if a president campaigns on reversing some the worst policies of the Bush administration and then proceeds to continue or even expand those same policies once in office, they can't be held accountable for failing to live up to their campaign rhetoric because BOOOOOOSSSSSSHHHHHH!!!111!!!!! So sayeth King Shithead.

    Of course, King Shithead reserves the right to completely change his tune the minute a Rethuglican is elected again because, well... BOOOOOOSSSSSSSHHHH!!!!!!!!11!!!!!!1

  • KPres||

    At least he didn't spend $800 billion to make the economy worse.

  • Tony||

    No he spent even more than that. Please spare me your semantic excuse-making--the Bush tax cuts cost more than the stimulus and not a single metric of economic prosperity followed as a result of them. Quite the opposite.

    But if you go by real economics you understand that the stimulus actually did not make the economy worse, which is a claim you can't back up at all. We don't know exactly how the economy would have done without the stimulus, but all credible economic analysis suggests that the answer is much, much worse.

    Even ignoring your totally unsubstantiated assumptions, the economy has not gotten worse since 2008, in fact, but has improved steadily but slowly.

  • Sevo||

    Tony| 6.5.13 @ 8:29PM |#
    "Please spare me your semantic excuse-making"

    No, shiehead, please spare reasonable humans your fantasies.

  • JWatts||

    There's is so much wrong with that statement.

    "the Bush tax cuts cost more than the stimulus "

    Lowering tax rates is not a "cost". Spending money is a cost. That's basic 100 level Micro Economics .

    "not a single metric of economic prosperity followed as a result of them"

    Bush enacted his first round of tax cuts in 2001. From 1st quarter 2002 until the 1st quarter 2004, US GDP went from 0.4 to 4.1% growth.

    "Even ignoring your totally unsubstantiated assumptions, the economy has not gotten worse since 2008, in fact, but has improved steadily but slowly."

    Once again the facts don't agree with your narrative.
    US GDP growth by quarter
    2010 3rd: 2.8
    2011 3rd: 1.6
    2012 3rd: 2.1
    2013 1st: 1.7

    The economy peaked in the 3rd quarter of 2010 (and 2.8 is a pretty low standard) and hasn't gotten back to that level since. The economy is in the crapper and we haven't had "steady" improvement.

    http://www.tradingeconomics.co.....wth-annual

    Stop making up your facts out of thin air to suit your narrative and people might treat you with a little respect.

    You realize we are on the internet, right? And that it takes less than 10 minutes to prove most of your statements are complete crap? So why write stuff that everyone knows is wrong? What's the point?

  • ||

    Oh look, there's one of the resident trolls now, lapping up Obama's santorum and blaming it on Bush.

  • KPres||

    I don't remember any food strikes at guantanimo under Bush. Must be worse things than waterboarding going on there now.

  • seguin||

    I sort of remember the first one happening under Bush. Of course, I think this because I heard of food strikes happening at Gitmo from the media, ergo it couldn't have possibly happened under Obama.

  • Auric Demonocles||

    A five-justice majority on the court quite correctly recoiled at this, and concluded that corporations and unions could spend money to speak their minds about candidates.

    Not quite so correctly as it should have been, it seems.

  • Pro Libertate||

    This is interesting--the root of the word "recoil": "1175–1225; Middle English recoilen, reculen (v.) < Old French reculer, equivalent to re- re- + -culer, verbal derivative of cul rump, buttocks; see culet."

  • PapayaSF||

    That vote was absolutely frightening, wasn't it? In essence, four justices voted in favor of government censorship of political books. Remember that when some around here claim that it doesn't matter if there's a Republican or Democrat president nominating SC justices.

  • ||

    Considering the turd that Roberts shat out vis a vis Obamacare, it really doesn't matter who nominates who since they all go retarded at some point.

  • PapayaSF||

    There are no guarantees, because a lot of Republican nominees end up going left, but Democrat nominees rarely go anywhere but further left.

  • seguin||

    Hey, man, he had to politicize the Constitution to save it from politicization.

  • InlineSkate||

    Progressives don't hate CU completely, they simply hate that it applies to groups they don't like.

    Ever notice how they never dare to mention unions when it comes to their opposition of CU? Even in long winded rants about it?

    They're perfectly content with unions and advocacy groups they support using it, but as soon as someone that doesn't follow their party line uses it they're against it.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Unions and the media, okay, BAD BAD LIMITED LIABILITY FICTIONAL PERSONS BAD BAD SCARED TO SLEEP AT NIGHT CORPORATION UNDER MY BED.

  • John||

    They have dropped all pretense of being anything but fascists. The are now openly using law enforcement and the powers of government to harass and intimidate their political opponents.

    http://www.thegatewaypundit.co.....our-rally/

  • Auric Demonocles||

    Well, obviously you can't let people who the wrong ideas have free speech. If you don't understand that, you're just proving we need to be spending more money on our dreadfully underfunded schools.

  • JWatts||

    Well, obviously you can't let people who the wrong ideas have free speech.

    No, that's not Free speech! That's Hate speech. When right thinking people express themselves they are engaging in Free speech, but when the Hate mongers spread their disgusting ideas it's Hate speech. Duh!

  • Zeb||

    A lot of times I do hear unions mentioned. But never the special exception that the media got.

  • allen||

    No, it's not lunacy. It's desperation to stem the reversing tide of strict constructionism that threatens to undo, and has undone to an extent, the careful work of decades by the left to enact a dictatorship of the proletariat.

  • ||

    "This is lunacy."

    This is the left.

  • Loki||

    This is lunacy

    Lunacy? THIS IS DERPVILLE! *Kicks A. Barton Hinkle down the well*

  • NeonCat||

    "If this place was up to code there'd be a cover on that well."

  • TANSTaaFL||

    Banning corporate money in politics because politics are dirty and politicians are corrupt is like trying to ban motorists from carry cash because traffic cops are too easily bribed.

    The cognitive dissonance of the left on this issue is truly awe-inspiring.

  • JWatts||

    Sshhh! Don't give them any ideas. They'll be banning cash because it could potentially leads to tax evasion and bribery given any excuse.

  • Tony||

    A corporation is a government-fabricated legal entity, not a person.

    Since a corporation is wholly the creation of law (which is to say, it is a legal designation with the specific intention of furthering the social good by adding artificial market incentives), law should be able to decide which rights it does and does not have with respect to anything. If the outcome of the rights scheme for corporations is the wholesale demolishing of proper democratic governance, then that's a pretty good reason to reassess that scheme.

  • TANSTaaFL||

    Ya know nothin' Jon Snow!

  • LauraNo||

    You disagree that a corporation is a thing created by law? What is your belief, then? They sprang up from the primordial mud, as people did?

  • Sevo||

    LauraNo| 6.5.13 @ 1:11PM |#
    "You disagree that a corporation is a thing created by law?"

    Can you read?
    "Congress shall make no law..."
    See that "no"? It doesn't mean: 'Well if some stupid lefty thinks congress ought to...'
    Do you understand that? Or are you left enough to be beyond factual discussion?

  • ||

    Since a corporation is wholly the creation of law (which is to say, it is a legal designation with the specific intention of furthering the social good by adding artificial market incentives)

    Jesus Tapdancing Christ, you really are mentally defective, huh?

  • Tony||

    And you have no idea what you really believe, do you?

  • Sevo||

    Tony| 6.5.13 @ 2:06PM |#
    "And you have no idea what you really believe, do you?"

    Into what language does "Congress shall make no law.." need to be translated so you might get the point?
    Obviously, English is beyond your ken.

  • Tony||

    That's not the part of the amendment that needs interpretation.

  • Sevo||

    Tony| 6.5.13 @ 2:25PM |#
    "That's not the part of the amendment that needs interpretation."

    Shithead can't read:
    "Congress shall make no law..."
    Hey, shithead, see anything in NO LAW that says, 'well, maybe'?

  • Tony||

    ... Really?

  • Sevo||

    Tony| 6.5.13 @ 8:31PM |#
    "... Really?"

    Is English a language you can read, shithead? Can you read "Congress shall make no law.." shithead? Are you sentient, shithead? Is there anything about you that deserves anything but derision, shithead?

  • Sevo||

    head wrote:
    " law should be able to decide which rights it does and does not have with respect to anything."

    Shithead can't read:
    "Congress shall make no law..."
    Hey, shithead, see anything in NO LAW that says, 'well, maybe'?

  • JWatts||

    ...law should be able to decide which rights it does and does not have with respect to anything.

    And The Supreme Court says No. That's the way our Constitutional Republic works. Get over it.

  • Tony||

    Then they can shoulder the blame.

  • Sevo||

    Tony| 6.5.13 @ 2:01PM |#
    "Then they can shoulder the blame."

    Oh, they have shithead. But for this, they simply proved capable of what you can't do: Read the English language.

  • ||

    Since a corporation is wholly the creation of law ... law should be able to decide which rights it does and does not have with respect to anything.

    This implies that the law justifies itself. How circular.

  • Tony||

    A legal entitlement doesn't have rights. People do.

  • Sevo||

    Tony| 6.5.13 @ 2:06PM |#
    "A legal entitlement doesn't have rights. People do."

    Shithead can't read:
    "Congress shall make no law..."
    Hey, shithead, see anything in NO LAW that says, 'well, maybe'?

  • ||

    What we consider corporations existed before corporate law, just like marriage.

    To be consistent, then, if corporations are a creation of law, then so is marriage. This implies that the law should be able to decide what marriage rights people do and do not have. For example, hmmmm, maybe, whether or not homosexuals can get married.

    I'll let you jump through the mental hoops sorting out the special pleading exceptions for those you can feel empathy for. In the end, it all comes down to people.

  • Tony||

    Marriage is a great analogue! It's a legal invention conferring certain entitlements and responsibilities on groups of people. The law is the only thing that gets to say who can get (legally) married. You're either suggesting that homosexuals can get married even when it's against the law, or that they can get married because God says it's right (He doesn't), no matter what the law says. Is mental hoops the correct metaphor here?

  • ||

    Homosexuals can get married even though it's against the law.

    Where's my mental hoop?

  • ansible||

    the mental hoop is the fact that homosexuals do NOT have the same marital rights as heterosexuals. that they can get married is not the point. the rights that come from that legal union is.

  • ||

    Right, but this all assumes a starting position of law.

    Here's the situation: people do things. Government comes in, labels, and regulates (marriage, corporations, etc.)

    Then, we jump to the conclusion that government created these "entities", and, being the origin of all things (i.e., like God), it now ought to go about doing whatever it wants with them legally. And, we can ignore that, in the end, it's all about controlling real people.

    Just like corporations are a legal fiction, it's a fiction to believe that marriage law and corporate law don't affect people. I don't ceed justification of the government to regulate something on the basis that it already is. That's pure, circular logic.

  • ansible||

    dude, if you are gonna discriminate between groups of people with regards to what rights they "deserve" then you do need justification for that discrimination.

    or should we just have kept interracial marriage illegal?

  • ||

    You're falling into the is-ought problem.

  • Harvard||

    I have suspected, but now realize that Tony's entire essence is his gayness. He, like most others claiming to be, isn't an atheiest at all but merely mad at God. Again like most others, never realizing it isn't his perversion that condems him.

  • Sevo||

    "I have suspected, but now realize that Tony's entire essence is his gayness."

    Possibly. 'The world isn't fair, so I need an authority to MAKE it fair!'

  • Tony||

    No I'm an atheist because there almost certainly is no god.

    And I think, subjectively, anything having to do with a vagina is perversion. Tomato, tomato. Calm down sweetie.

  • Sevo||

    Tony| 6.5.13 @ 2:25PM |#
    "Marriage is a great analogue!"

    BTW, shithead, none of what you've posted here is anything other than lies and misdirection.
    The only fact that matters is the one that is beyond your supposed intelligence to understand:
    "Congress shall make no law..."
    That is all that matters. Side issues about whether corporations are 'people' or not, or my beliefs are all just so much of your constant bullshit.
    You are a slimy turd.

  • KPres||

    "Marriage is a great analogue! It's a legal invention conferring certain entitlements and responsibilities on groups of people."

    Yep, and gay people don't lose their right to free speech just because they get married.

  • Tony||

    Neither do people who form corporations.

  • Sevo||

    Tony| 6.5.13 @ 8:34PM |#
    "Neither do people who form corporations."

    Shithead, can you read, shithead?
    "Congress shall make no law..."
    Can you read, shithead?

  • hotsy totsy||

    Yes. And people have the right to form corporations and governments. "Law" doesn't give people rights. Governments, formed by people, RECOGNIZE rights and from that perspective, make laws.

    Government is not a metaphysical entity any more than a corporation is. There is no more a corporation without people than there is a government without people.

  • Tony||

    So limited liability is a right in nature that government merely recognizes?

  • KPres||

    "Since a corporation is wholly the creation of law"

    No, a corporation is a group of people who don't lose their fundamental rights just because they organize under that name.

  • John Galt||

    If those suffering acute CUDS don't heal soon we'll all end up CHUDs!

  • LauraNo||

    "Of course, some of the resolutions would strip corporations not only of their First Amendment rights but of all rights. As the Cato Institute’s Ilya Shapiro explains, that would include the right against unreasonable search and seizure..."

    Man, I wonder what corporations did before Citizens! Maybe we should just go back to that, since you paint such a scary picture. Ooops. I am sure you would paint an equally scary picture of that too.

  • ||

    Nice reading comprehension fail.

  • John||

    That is an amazing bit of stupid Laura. These bills would strip corporations of all rights, not just their free speech rights.

    Go back to trolling school and come back when you have better game.

  • LauraNo||

    Like I said, if you think these bills are so scary, you should prefer to go back to what worked forever before, before some hater wanted to make a mean ad and pretend it was a movie. It is not liberals, or solely liberals, who have taken issue with Citizens. All kinds of people, including republicans, conservatives, lawyers, constitutional lawyers, etc. have. It'd be nice to see people making their case without belittling anyone who thinks differently; that they don't seem able to do that says something about the weakness of their argument, I think.

  • Sevo||

    LauraNo| 6.5.13 @ 1:17PM |#
    ..."before some hater wanted to make a mean ad and pretend it was a movie"...

    OK, folks. Common brain-dead lefty here. Poor little Laura is terrified that someone could disagree with her abysmal ignorance!
    Hey, Laura! Stuff it!

  • InlineSkate||

    These laws do not simply go back to pre-CU.

    Not sure how often it needs to be restated.

  • ||

    "CONGRESS SHALL MAKE NO LAW..." YOU FUCKING RETARD!

  • Tony||

    And speech is whatever you say it is!

  • Sevo||

    Tony| 6.5.13 @ 2:19PM |#
    And speech is whatever you say it is!"

    Shithead can't read:
    "Congress shall make no law..."
    Hey, shithead, see anything in NO LAW that says, 'well, maybe'?

  • Sigivald||

    A movie criticising a politician (remember, CU was decided about a movie) is...

    Go on.

    What is it, if it's not speech, and indeed the sort of speech most at the heart of the First Amendment - that critical of government and politicians?

    Well?

  • KPres||

    "And speech is whatever you say it is!"

    I thought it was whatever the Supreme Court said it was. How many times have you made that very argument here?

  • Tony||

    That's right. Implicit in my opinion on what should be is that the SC got it wrong.

  • Sevo||

    Tony| 6.5.13 @ 8:36PM |#
    "That's right. Implicit in my opinion on what should be is that the SC got it wrong."

    Implicit in your "opinion" shithead is that reading the English language is not one of your skills, shithead.
    Is that clear, shithead?

  • Gadianton||

    Let's look at this. Rush Limbaugh is a man everyone loves to hate. Because of the First Amendment, no-one can arrest him for stating his views -- however much you disagree with him. However, let us assume that Rush incorporated himself and his show as Excellence in Broadcasting, Inc. Before the Citizens United decision, if Rush decided to make comments about a candidate at the end of the election season, the FEC could have ordered him off the air (and arrested him if he refused to comply) -- because as a corporation, he wasn't allowed to influence the election. If this sounds like a good idea, substitute Paul Krugman, or E.J. Dionne for Rush Limbaugh.

  • Sevo||

    "If this sounds like a good idea, substitute Paul Krugman, or E.J. Dionne for Rush Limbaugh."

    You're attempting a logical argument to convince the likes of shithead and Laura ('somebody made a nasty movie'!).
    Not going to go anywhwere.

  • JWatts||

    You are missing the point that Liberals will always claim that what Limbaugh says crosses the line, but what their guy says is perfectly acceptable. Each and every time they'll find a nitpick to claim a special exemption.

    And if you point out that by any reasonable standard both sides are the same, they'll put their fingers in their ears and start shouting "false equivalency".

  • Loki||

    you should prefer to go back to what worked forever before

    CU was in response to a provision in the McCain Feingold, which was enacted in 2002, which last I checked was not "forever" ago.

    Also, all it did was to remove the prohibition against "electioneering communications" paid for by corporations 30 days before a presidential primary and 60 days before the general election.

    So corporations (and unions) are now allowed to spend as much as they want and air as many ads as they want right up until an election. That's all it did. And those ads really just add to the amount of information available to prospective voters. It only endangers "democracy" if one considers informed voters to be a threat to democracy.

  • KPres||

    "CU was in response to a provision in the McCain Feingold, which was enacted in 2002"

    Tony's an 10 year-old. How could he know that?

  • JWatts||

    "if one considers informed voters to be a threat to democracy."

    Low information voters are a cornerstone of current politics. However current politics is a dire threat to the republic. "Low information democracy" is just the French revolution redux.

  • hotsy totsy||

    LauraNo| 6.5.13 @ 1:17PM |#
    ..."before some hater wanted to make a mean ad and pretend it was a movie"...

    Like Michael Moore, for example.

  • Mickey Rat||

    "... before some hater wanted to make a mean ad and pretend it was a movie."

    Nasty people made a film that was mean to Hilary, therefore it cannot be "legitimate" free speech. She fully saying that the government should censor content she does not like.

  • Sevo||

    "Maybe we should just go back to that, since you paint such a scary picture. Ooops. I am sure you would paint an equally scary picture of that too."

    Maybe you could come up with something other than elementary-school attempts at 'logic'.

  • johnl||

    Before that, corporations had the good sense not to make too much of Hillary's seedy past.

  • Dick Fitzwell||

    Being a musician, I have a number of liberal musician friends. Every time they start bitching about corporate personhood or corporate taxes I tell them to replace the word "corporation" with the word "band." After all, corporations are just groups of people who join together to work toward a common purpose. Like a music group. Come to think of it, many bands are in fact incorporated.

    If a collection of individuals that make up CU don't have freedom of speech then neither do the individuals that make up Green Day or Judas Priest or Body Count or whomever.

    I also like to use that logic against their corporate tax arguments. Try to get them to apply a "Band Tax" in the same manner that corporate taxes are levied. Usually gets crickets.

  • Sevo||

    "Try to get them to apply a "Band Tax" in the same manner that corporate taxes are levied. Usually gets crickets."

    Last week, the SF Chron ran a headline concerning Prop 13; 'People favor changing the business rules of Prop 13'.
    Shorter and just as accurate 'People hope to get others to pay the taxes'.
    As soon as anyone sees 'corporate taxes' as being paid by the customers, the approval drops rapidly.

  • Tony||

    A collection of individuals is not the same thing as a corporation, which is a legal entity entitled to certain privileges mere groups of people do not get. These privileges (which are actually controversial among thoughtful libertarians) are meant to be interventions in the natural market for social ends.

  • Sevo||

    Tony| 6.5.13 @ 2:04PM |#
    "A collection of individuals is not the same thing as a corporation, which is a legal entity entitled to certain privileges mere groups of people do not get."

    Purple is a color.
    Any more misdirection, shithead?

  • Tony||

    You have no idea what you believe, do you?

  • Sevo||

    Tony| 6.5.13 @ 2:18PM |#
    "You have no idea what you believe, do you?

    Shithead can't read:
    "Congress shall make no law..."
    Hey, shithead, see anything in NO LAW that says, 'well, maybe'?

  • Dick Fitzwell||

    So if my band filed the proper papers with the Secretary of State and was granted status as a corporation, you would be ok with it if our new single, "Hillary Eats Babies" was banned from the airwaves?

  • Sigivald||

    Which privileges do you have in mind?

    (Remember that Rothbard, of all people, defends things like Limited Liability as part of free contract without depending on the State or any "social end" intervention at all.

    And if you don't mean resource pooling or limited liability, what privileges do you mean?

    'cause I can't think of any - at least not any vaguely relevant ones.

    Remember that "corporation" includes not just Apple and Google and Ford, but "the local record store" and "that coffee hut on the side of the road", as well as labor unions, 501(c)(3) nonprofits, etc.

    And if they're not "collections of individuals", what in hell are they?)

  • KPres||

    "A collection of individuals is not the same thing as a corporation, which is a legal entity entitled to certain privileges mere groups of people do not get."

    So? Tons of people get special privileges. "Shall make no law" applies to them, as well.

  • Tony||

    The special privileges of corporationhood do not necessarily preclude a right to unlimited spending to affect political outcomes. That's just how it should be.

    My view is more fundamental. Money should not equal speech. If it does, then the rich will always be entitled to be louder than everyone else, which is antidemocratic, indeed plutocratic.

    Political viability should not have anything to do with the ability to raise the most money in an ideal world. It should be about reasoned appeals to popular will. To whatever extent money rather than ideas influences politics, then free speech is being subverted, no enhanced.

  • Sevo||

    Tony| 6.5.13 @ 8:41PM |#
    "The special privileges of corporationhood do not necessarily preclude a right to unlimited spending to affect political outcomes."

    Shithead, how stupid do you have to be to not be able to read:
    "Congress shall make no law..."
    Is that somehow Greek to you, shithead? Is your stupidity beyond the ability to read that, shithead?
    Please explain the level of ignorance required to 'misunderstand' that, shithead.
    Is that clear, shithead?

  • ||

    That's just how it should be.

    That's just question begging.

    If it does, then the rich will always be entitled to be louder than everyone else, which is antidemocratic, indeed plutocratic.

    Really? Literally louder? Is democracy really so fragile that it comes down to who buys the most time during prime time TV? If you have to spend this much time controlling what people are allowed to see during football commercial breaks, then you're problem is democracy, not political speech.

    Any law that requires government to determine what is or is not political speech, and how much any group can say, (even if it means buying books and airtime with money), violates the First Amendment, as well as the principle of free expression, upon which democracy is built. Having government regulate that is antidemocratic, and authoritarian.

    To whatever extent money rather than ideas influences politics, then free speech is being subverted, no enhanced.

    This implies that, whenever democrats buy a commercial, money is influencing politics, and this is subverting free speech. Is this correct?

  • Mickey Rat||

    "Money should not equal speech."

    If you think Citizen's United was decided incorrectly, then you think "Speech equals money", because what was being censored was speech "the film), not the money expended to make it.

    That whole thought that money used to create speech can be regulated while leaving the right to free speech intact is garbage logic.

  • JWatts||

    "My view is more fundamental. Money should not equal speech. "

    And yet you post on the internet, which requires money for a computer and money for an internet connection, etc. I don't see you making any effort to lower your spending on speech to the level of a remote third world villager's level.

    Really I think you just envious toward people with more money.

  • Sevo||

    "Really I think you just envious toward people with more money."

    He claims to be well-off. I figure he's simply stupid; much easier explanation.

  • halmonkey||

    Money does not equal speech--that's not the point. But sometimes speech requires that some money be spent. TV stations and book publishing houses aren't created without spending money. Even if you wanted to start on a budget, going old-school like a Thomas Paine pamphleteer, you'd have to spend money on the printer, ink, paper. Or if you want to ramp up your blogging efforts or make YouTube videos ... it takes money to reach an audience. (That's what CU did: they made a video.) If a media corporation can spend money on political speech, then so can YOU and ME. If we form a corporation, then we still have 1st amendment rights to free speech. Try creating some political yard signs without spending money, or try making brochures, or websites, or TV ads. It costs money to spread your message.

  • ansible||

    your argument relies on money being speech.

    it isn't.

  • Sevo||

    ansible| 6.5.13 @ 2:54PM |#
    "your argument relies on money being speech."

    Been settled, even if brain-dead lefties don't get it.
    It is speech.

  • Sigivald||

    Except it is.

    See how easy it is to simply assert something?

    On the plus side, money used to communicate a message (like, oh, in the Citizens United case) sure seems like speech to me, in exactly the way that denying that it's speaking is really difficult.

    So I got that going for me.

  • KPres||

    your argument relies on money being speech."

    Citizens United made absolutely no change in the amount of money anybody can donate to a campaign.

    Citizens United was about expressing opinions. Writing books, making political ads, publishing magazines, etc. It has nothing to do with political contributions.

    Do you realize that under McCain Feingold, the government had the power to ban ANY political book so long as it was published by a corporation? That's what Citizens United was about.

  • Sevo||

    "Citizens United made absolutely no change in the amount of money anybody can donate to a campaign."

    ansible knows this; ansible is a lefty trying misdirection.

  • Mickey Rat||

    The anti-CU people are actually arguing that "speech equals money".

  • Sevo||

    Mickey Rat| 6.6.13 @ 6:38AM |#
    "The anti-CU people are actually arguing that "speech equals money"."

    Only until that doesn't work at changing CU. Then they simply argue the opposite. Hypocrisy is a virtue to lefties.

  • ansible||

    is a donation to a terrorist organisation free speech?

  • LynchPin1477||

    The “police could search everyone’s [work] computer for any reason, or for no reason at all.”

    No, no, no. It would only let the police search the corporation's computers. What's that, corporations are made up of individual people? That sounds just like something a corporation would say! Corporatist!

  • ThatSkepticGuy||

    "Now we see a new affliction: Citizens United Derangement Syndrome – CUDS, for short."

    Nothing new about this.

    "First, derangement over a president ends when his administration does."

    Only if you're a Donkey. I can only presume Hinkle missed the past five years of, "Obama only ___ because of Bush!".

  • Sigivald||

    My favorite reply is to remind them that "corporate personhood" is what lets them sue a corporation.

  • Adam330||

    Actually, it is possible to sue unincorporated associations as well as non-corporate entities, such as partnerships.

  • Harvard||

    It is, but your suit is against the (two or more) partners or the individual proprietor, unlike a suit against a corporation that indemnifies the shareholders.

  • ||

    It's funny how the ACLU agrees with Citizens United, yet progressives act like it's all a Koch brothers conspiracy.

    If you're a progressive, and the ACLU agrees with the people you love to hate, I'd do some self-reflection.

  • ||

    Oh, hey: reason already pointed that out.

    I can't stand to watch anything by Aaron Sorkin. Did he make it through the whole show without pointing out that his protagonists are on the opposite side of the ACLU?

  • Robert||

    How hard would it be for all corps. to reorganize as sole proprietorships? Like, sell it to somebody for $1 and then that person just continue to manage it as it was before, except s/he pretends to own it 100%? Then it'd be clear the rights were those of an individual.

  • Sevo||

    Robert| 6.5.13 @ 10:37PM |#
    "How hard would it be for all corps. to reorganize as sole proprietorships? Like, sell it to somebody for $1 and then that person just continue to manage it as it was before, except s/he pretends to own it 100%? Then it'd be clear the rights were those of an individual."

    That's GREAT! Are you here all week? I wanna tell my friends about the act,

  • JWatts||

    And then that one person would be sued/taxed out of existence immediately. Since, anything that person did on a personal level could be used as a reason to confiscate corporate assets.

    Small Town Judge: Well Mr. lead foot Owner-of-Google, I caught you going 46 MPH in a 45 MPH zone and our brand new town ordinance allows me to fine you $10 or 1% of your net assets greater than $1 billion. I think the town needs a new NFL franchise, so we'll be going with option B.

  • elfprince13||

    I'm completely in support of corporate personhood when it refers to people being able to exercise their rights in a group just as well as individually (as happens to be the case with Citizens United). I'm completely opposed to corporate personhood as it has been abstract to allow corporations to exist as abstract legal entities shielding actual persons from responsibility for their actions (piercing the corporate veil should happen in EVERY case, not extraordinary circumstances, which is to say, there should be no corporate veil).

    It bugs me to see Reason uniformly defending corporate personhood without distinguishing between these two separate cases and meanings of the phrase.

    Furthermore, the whole bottom half of this article is a load of FUD. Ending legal recognition of corporations (as anything other than a contract between the incorporated parties) would not in any way negate the rights of the private individuals holding the property. The government could not tell newspapers what or what not to print, because a newspaper does not exist as a volitional entity. Its editors and writers are the decision making entitites, and their private rights persist. Ditto for the other examples.

    I expect better from Reason.

  • elfprince13||

    Any discussion in which we as libertarians refer to "a corporation" or "a people" as volitional entities, rather than referring to the volition of the individual persons who constitute such a collective, is one in which we've already implicitly ceded the case for methodological individualism.

  • Sevo||

    "It bugs me to see Reason uniformly defending corporate personhood without distinguishing between these two separate cases and meanings of the phrase."

    Could be that's 'cause you presume an equivalence where none exists.

  • Dan||

    It is lunacy, but those are all just meaningless resolutions. Resolutions are nothing more than a government endorsed opinion. And all it takes to pass a resolution is one person to propose the resolution and another to second it.

    They are passing resolutions that hold no legal value precisely becuase they wouldn't even come remotely close to having enough votes to pass an actual law.

    Frankly I'm more upset with the ridiculous amount of time and resources they waste coming up with these frivelous resolutions than the irrelevant content in any of them.

  • Inigo M.||

    Without defending Bush, who certainly left much to be desired, how in the hell are tax cuts a cost? Last time I checked, tax revenues are generated by people's labor, not by the government. If the government lowers taxes, in effect they are saying, "Instead of taking $X from you, the individual, I will now only take $Y." It's like the schoolyard bully who only takes half your lunch money and leaves you enough to buy a bag of chips. I guess you're supposed to be grateful for the bully's magnanimous nature in those circumstances.

    I just love how lowering taxes is now considered "spending," and what used to be considered government spending is now redefined as "investment." Where I come from, investment means saving. You invest in a house, or an education, or a stock, or a rare coin as a way of storing your excess funds with the expectation of realizing a return. Buying a fancy latte, or a car, or a new pair of shoes is NOT an investment, however, because those things do not normally increase in value over time. It's just spending. That's not to say spending is wrong, but let's be honest and not call it an investment when it's not.

    It bothers me when government redefines common words to make them mean the opposite of what they traditionally meant. It reminds me very much of Orwell's 1984, which is one of the scariest novels I ever read.

  • Tony||

    If tax cuts aren't a "cost" then neither is spending; it's all just transferring money around and words have no point.

    Cutting taxes without cutting spending to match means you have a deficit the size of the tax cut. To pretend that trillions of dollars in lost revenue under Bush as a result of the tax cuts can be ignored in a discussion about budget deficits is to torture semantics into submitting to partisan bootlicking.

  • MoMark||

    “If tax cuts aren't a "cost" then neither is spending; it's all just transferring money around and words have no point”

    Your words have no point! A reduction in a tax rate is a reduction in a tax rate, period. Your opinion that it will be a reduction in revenue is just that. Have you ever even heard of the “Laffer Curve?” If you are on the back side of the curve a reduction in rates results in greater revenues as you increase your tax base, and an increase in rates shrinks your tax base. As a business man Tony, please tell us which side of the curve you think we are on?

    Ayn Rand coined a phrase “Blank Out” referring to people who close their minds to reality, and that seems to apply to you as you keep making a point that is just not true.

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