Q: When Do Proposed Constitutional Amendments Deserve Derision?

A: When they aim to restrict, rather than expand, freedom. See: flag-burning, homo-marrying, fetus-aborting, etc.  

In the wake of Citizens United v. FEC, the following people and institutions are contemplating a constitutional amendment to once again empower the federal government to censor political documentaries during election season: In addition to the aforementioned Public Citizen, you have Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA.), Rep. Leonard Boswell (D-IA.), Maryland State Senator (and constitutional law professor) Jamie Raskin, future-person Lawrence Lessig, name showoff Zephyr Teachout, The Nation's John Nichols, The Progressive's Matthew Rothschild, People for the American Way, the Center for Media & Democracy, the Campaign to Legalize Democracy, FairVote.org**, the Brennan Center for Justice, Friends of the Earth, and FreeSpeechForPeople.org, for starters.

Oh–and all the people who signed this petition. I recognize Howard Zinn, Jeff Cohen, Jim Hightower, Mark Crispin Miller, Norman Solomon, and Tom Hayden. The latter of whom, of course, rose to initial prominence as a leader of Berkeley's celebrated Free Speech Movement.*

* UPDATE: Bzzzt! Wrong. Hayden was SDS, not FSM, which I should know better. Apologies to Mario Savio and Paul Krassner and everyone else.

** UPDATE II: FairVote's Rob Richie writes: "Predicting serious talk of constitutional change (as I did in The Hill) and suggesting that we should not be afraid of such conversations (for instance, on certain electoral forms we support)  is not he same thing as calling for it."

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • ||

    Yeah, let's just leave what's left of our freedoms alone, shall we?

  • Suki||

    That's fine until Obama earthquakes you and you lose an eye!

  • Mother||

    Its all fun and games...

  • ||

    Oh–and all the people who signed this petition

    A never more aptly named group: DUHC

  • JB||

    Fascist Fucks against Freedom

  • Knee-Jerk Liberal Mo-Ron||

    Dred Scott! Dred Scott!

  • brotherben||

    No need for the fake handle. We know it's you Olberman.

  • Pro-life Pro-gay Atheist||

    "When they aim to restrict, rather than expand, freedom. See: flag-burning, homo-marrying, fetus-aborting, etc."

    What does "fetus-aborting" have to do with the other two? A flag is an inanimate object. No one is harmed when to gay guys (or lesbians) get hitched. The question of abortion is very different from either of these two. This is a question of when life begins. If a fetus is alive it has rights. It did not choose to come into existance.

  • Esoteric||

    Have to agree with this point, even as someone who is pro-choice and violently opposed to any sort of Constitutional abortion amendment. The precise reason that the abortion issue is such a tougher nut to crack than stuff like flag-burning or gay marriage is because there really IS a strong argument to be made about the rights of the unborn. One that I ultimately feel fails to carry the day in a balancing test, but a real one nonetheless.

  • Pro-life Pro-gay Atheist||

    Thank you. At least we can agree on that. There is some misunderstanding about the motivations behind some of us pro-lifers because so much of the energy and funding for the prolife movement is from religious organizations that also have strong views on gay marriage and other culturally conservative issues.

  • Sudden||

    Thank you guys for stealing my points about this before I got to the thread.

  • Suki||

    Me too :(

  • Michael Ejercito||

    There is some misunderstanding about the motivations behind some of us pro-lifers because so much of the energy and funding for the prolife movement is from religious organizations that also have strong views on gay marriage and other culturally conservative issues.


    It is probably because religious people have more motivation to advocate their views; they are on a holy mission from God. And it just so happens that the religions with the largest followings view same-sex "marriage" and abortion as taboos.

  • PIRS||

    From what I have read the attitude about gay people comes from opposition to fertility faiths that the writers of the Torah encountered. These fertility faiths celebrated sex and were major competition to the temple priests.

  • zoltan||

    That's definitely why most religious folk today oppose homosexuals.

  • Mad Max||

    Makes sense - fertility is so quintisentially gay, and traditional religions *hate* fertility.

  • Mad Max||

    But I greatly appreciate prolife gay atheist's defense of the rights of the unborn.

    I tend to prefer prolife gay atheists over pro-abortion straight religious types. In the order of priorities, defending life is one of the few things which is is of higher importance than defending the traditional family.

    I brought a prolife gay speaker to my school, but the administration wouldn't let her on campus and the student government wouldn't fund her.

  • ||

    Of course not. A lesbian isn't going to get preggers unless she wants to, and therefore lesbians are not allowed to have an opinion on abortion.

    The only people with valid opinions on abortion are people who are in the process of getting one.

  • ||

    "The only people with valid opinions on abortion are people who are in the process of getting one."

    And the only people with a valid opinion on murder are those in the process of committing one!

  • Ratko||

    A high incidence of accidental pregnancy via turkey baster does seem a little unlikely now that you mention it.

  • ||

    Some refer to pro-life people as anti-abortion or anti-choice. Some refer to pro-choice people as anti-life or pro-abortion advocates.

    For me, I think the respectful term to use is the one that the advocates prefer: generally, "pro-life" or "pro-choice." Besides, I think people on both sides understand that there are strong and valid reasons for each stance.

    For the first half of my life, I was pro-life (mainly because I was a devout Christian). For the rest of my years (so far), I have been and still am and expect to remain pro-choice (probably because I discovered that I was an agnostic; and since then, I gradually came to value the freedom of a thinking, human being to make their own life decisions over the life of an embryo or fetus which has no developmental possibility of experiencing thought or consciousness until the outer layer of the cortex has developed--which takes place well into the third trimester).

  • PIRS||

    I am referring to specific religions in the Middle East at the time. There were sex related fertility rights. Some of these rights involved homosexual acts.

    http://www.bible-history.com/resource/ff_baal.htm

  • Mad Max||

    Here are the sex-ritual references I found in that article:

    '"Base sex worship was prevalent, and religious prostitution even commanded; human sacrifice was common; and it was a frequent practice--in an effort to placate their gods--to kill young children and bury them in the foundations of a house or public building at the time of construction . . ."'

    '""Baal, one of the sons of El [the chief god of the Canaanites], was the executive god of the pantheon, the god of thunder and winter storms, the dynamic warrior god who champions the divine order against the menacing forces of chaos. He is also identified with vegetation and the seasonal fertility cycle...Baal is sometimes called the 'son of Dagon'. Dagon was also a god of vegetation, specifically corn, which is what his name means....As the summer drew to an end and the rains were due, the peasants would suffer a crisis of anxiety - would the rains come? By calling upon Baal, the rain god, and encouraging his intervention by rituals of imitative magic involving sexual union, their tensions were released and purged."'

    There's nothing here about gay sex - it looks like kinky hetero stuff. Am I missing something?

  • Mad Max||

    If Baal really *were* gay, would that be a point in favor of gay liberation, or against it?

  • zoltan||

    PIRS is coming from a time where sodomy means any non-vaginal intercourse sex.

  • PIRS||

    I am not from such a time but the writers of the Torah were.

  • ||

    There's so much wrong here that you need another source. As for "base sex worship " being prevalent and "religious prostitution commanded," no, it's just not there. Prove it. From the primary sources. Oh, here it is!:

    "Religious Texts from Ugarit" by N. Wyatt .

    There is nothing there that resembles what your source describes.

  • Alan Kellogg||

    It's good enough for Dagon
    A conservative old pagan
    Who still votes for Ronald Reagan
    And it's good enough for me
    "That Real Old Time Religion"

  • ||

    "It is probably because religious people . . ."

    This comment is a load of crap, but it's the kind that allows the maker to feel so much more morally superior to the caricature created.

  • Abdul Alhazred||

    Religion only lets you kill people for disagreeing with you, since fetuses don't have opinions or beliefs yet they oppose it.

    Prove that there is a gay gene and maybe you can renegotiate with them.

  • ||

    Islam lets you kill people for disagreeing with you, since infidels don't have rights.

    Fixed it for you.

    As for Roman Catholicism, we only let you kill in self-defense. No more autos da fe, no more inquisitors torturing people. Just a lot of ecumenical outreach and Kumbaya.

    And, before you start to discuss the role of the military, read Saint Augustine's justifications for military force, and the Church's teachings.

  • Sudden||

    One that I ultimately feel fails to carry the day in a balancing test, but a real one nonetheless.

    I'm going to write that off as a poor choice of words. Given the context of the whole comment, I'm assuming you meant that you didn't find the case for a fetus as distinctly human and therefore worthy of constitutional protection rather than in balancing between the mother's choice (after already failing to choose to fornicate responsibly) and the life of an innocent human.

  • YOU: Poster-Boy for Abortion||

    This is a question of when life begins.

    Life begins when the owner of the womb says so up until the point the fetus attempts to free itself from the womb on its own. Any forced extraction is the business of the womb's owner and should be required by law to choose either live birth or abortion; I can accept a legal assumption that without prior declaration, the choice is "live birth". After live birth, the newborn person has rights.

    All the talk about "when life begins" is a busybody's attempt to interfere in something that isn't his business, even if its his own sperm or egg.

  • Pro-life Pro-gay Atheist||

    Do you support the death penalty for accidental trespass? To be very clear, by accidental, I mean not the fault of the trespasser, not even by negligence.

  • Sudden||

    Considering the fetus that resides within said womb has a distinctly different DNA than the owner of the womb, your argument fails. The fetus in there is a seperate genetic entity from the mother, and would therefore not be part of her self-ownership as it is not herself.

    The mother's property in this case would merely be her womb and the fluids that are nourishing the child. Presumably, she could consider the fetus an unwanted tenant and choose to evict said tenant, but the tenant has rights to be evicted in a way that will not do it harm (namely being vacuum-sucked and torn apart into itsy little bits).

  • ||

    Life begins when the owner of the womb says so...All the talk about "when life begins" is a busybody's attempt to interfere in something that isn't his business, even if its his own sperm or egg.

    I don't know anything about you but based on your attitude I do not believe you would spend a nanojoule of energy defending a woman's right to sell her kidney, prostitute herself, take drugs or sell her labor below your idea of what a living wage is.

  • Suki||

    As long as she is not killing anybody doing all that (even at the same time!) it is fine with me.

  • ||

    it is fine with me.

    Making you an extreme outlier amongst pro-choicers. In the progressive interpretation choice involves only abortion. Every other consensual use of the female body is exploitation and requires constant governance.

  • Suki||

    Those people are strange. If you want to sell sex, experiment with chemicals, whatever. Fine. Just don't hurt anybody else with it, including the baby.

  • oaktownadam||

    I think your inclusion of prostitution is not a fair characterization of most of the liberals I know.

    Some of them, sure, like the kinds who think that marijuana should be legal, but no other drugs.

    But I can think of many off the top of my head who are both pro-choice and pro-legal-prostitution.

  • robc||

    There were more than 2 items in the list. How many do you know that are pro-choice, pro-legal-prostitution, and anti-minimum wage? And that leaves off kidney harvesting and drugs.

    Finding 2 of the 5 together isnt that hard. Finding a consistency of view is harder.

  • ||

    "But I can think of many off the top of my head who are both pro-choice and pro-legal-prostitution."

    That's exactly what swillfredo was pointing out.

  • Soonerliberty||

    And, of course, we must remember that this frees the father from paying any form of child support. If the woman owns the property in her, then there is no reason for the father to all of a sudden have obligations when it is born but not before.

    I disagree with your busybody comment. The question is whether the fetus is alive. If it is, it has its own rights which cannot be violated. If it is not, it does not. That is a difficult legal question, especially given manslaughter of wanted babies cases.

  • Sudden||

    If you murder a pregnant woman who is en route to an abortion clinic, is it still considered a double homicide?

  • Soonerliberty||

    That's a good question. Your whole legal analysis, under current law, depends on the status of the fetus. The absurdity of this is that the only thing that then defines whether it is human or not is whether it is wanted or not. So, any way we look at this issue, someone has to arbitrarily say when life begins. I don't believe you get double homicide, but probably manslaughter for the baby. For homicide, the murderer would have had to knowingly and intentionally kill the baby. However, the murderer probably saw the belly. Therefore, even if he knowingly and intentionally killed the mother, he more than likely only knowingly and recklessly (saw the belly, knew that killing the mother would probably result in the fetus's death, but acted anyways) killed the baby.

    I see two possible libertarian arguments here (I'm open to both):

    1) If the fetus has no rights of its own, it is the property of the mother and can be destroyed at will. But this is curious. When does it develop its own rights? At birth? Before? When it is viable? Lots of logical problems here.

    Under this view, though, it could also be argued that the father has joint property rights. So, if the mother destroys the joint property, would she be liable to the father? Or could the father force the mother to bring the child to term?

    2) Because it is an unknown when life begins, it cannot arbitrarily be said by law. Therefore, we err on the side of life and assume the fetus has its own rights. In that case, the mother cannot violate its rights. It is its own property.

  • ||

    Was her choice irrevocable when she started the car?

  • Brian Sorgatz||

    As a matter of fact, Soonerliberty, I agree with former NOW president Karen DeCrow that paternity suits should be abolished for the sake of equity between female and male reproductive choice. You say it with irony; I say it without.

    I'm willing to admit abortion may be morally ambiguous. But since almost no pro-lifer wants to charge women who have abortions with first-degree murder, although that's the necessary conclusion to their premise, I have to take the pro-choice side. I don't question pro-lifers' motives; I question the integrity of their argument.

  • Michael Ejercito||

    I'm willing to admit abortion may be morally ambiguous. But since almost no pro-lifer wants to charge women who have abortions with first-degree murder, although that's the necessary conclusion to their premise, I have to take the pro-choice side. I don't question pro-lifers' motives; I question the integrity of their argument.


    Was abortion treated as first-degree murder before 1973?

  • zoltan||

    If women have 9 months to decide whether they want a child, men have 9 months to decide whether they want to pay for it or not.

  • Soonerliberty||

    I would agree with your first conclusion. However, if, as I stated above in a reply, the father also has property rights in the child, this doesn't work. I think these sorts of paternity issues can be solved better contractually, as with prenuptial agreements.

    As for the second point, I'm not sure that it applies to a property view. The real problem is this. If a mother destroys a baby that has rights and the father also rejects property rights in it, in a libertarian society who could determine damages? To whom could they be paid? There is no state to speak of. So, you probably end up with your result. However, I don't like the principle of it. Someone arbitrarily decides when life begins, and then one person (theoretically, of course, b/c I don't know when life begins) destroys the rights of another over his own body. It's a bit of an exception in libertarian thought.

  • ||

    "Life begins when the owner of the womb says so up..."

    What's with hese fucking half-way measures?! Let's take the Roman route: you have a right to your life when the owner of your house says so! (The pater familias could kill anyone in his household for any reason.)

    If the little shits can't try to escape the house on their own, they're fair game!

  • ||

    And anyone who would interfere is a "busybody"!

  • ||

    Once you agree a fetus is a living human, what could possibly outbalance the right that person has to not be killed. Thanks for the calm attitude, but please tell me what your right to live is worth. Is there any other citizen in the country that has a packet of rights that would "carry the day in a balancing test" against your very right to live? I'd like to know who and why. If not, then why should an unborn person not be treated equally to you?

    Also, can someone please explain the logic in how the State of California can convict or even charge Scott Peterson with homicide for killing the unborn baby his wife was carrying, when she could have walked into any of a thousand clinics and upon demand had the child killed herself pursuant to her "rights." As concerns the unborn child/fetus (not the wife), Scott Peterson did nothing different than is done a million times a year in this country. Someone please explain the moral and logical inconsistency that seems so glaringly obvious to me.

  • EJ||

    took the words right out of my mouth

  • ||

    +1. The issue deserves more than Matt's smart ass childish snark.

  • ||

    But ... But ... John - how else would Matt establish his cosmo cred?

  • B||

    Have to agree. The inclusion of fetus-aborting was gratuitous and stupid. Never mind the fact Roe vs. Wade has no Constitutional foundation at all.

  • OMG||

    +1, and +1

  • Michael Ejercito||

    The irony is that many of these groups are corporations.

  • Esoteric||

    This is good actually, because it assembles the names of the enemies of freedom into one convenient hogtrough of swill.

  • alan||

    Didn't see your comment when I posted below. Yes, indeed, thy aim be true.

  • Pete||

    Tom Hayden "rose to initial prominence as a leader of Berkeley's celebrated Free Speech Movement"? #fail

  • Gene Berkman||

    Actually Tom Hayden rose to prominence as a leader of Students for a Democratic Society, organizer of protests in Chicago at the Democratic National Convention, and as a defendent in the Chicago 8 (later Chicago 7) conspiracy trial.

    I think Matt has confused Tom Hayden with Mario Savio, the actual spokesman for the Free Speech Movement.

  • Pete||

    Exactly. The irony is if Matt bothered to click through on the articles his search-link yielded he might have learned this.

  • ||

    Anyone who tries to refute an argument by writing "Fail" is condemned to Dante's circle of hell for cliche propagators.

  • ¢||

    I recognize "Medea Benjamin, co-founder, Code Pink" from that time when some local tea party organizers' rejection of an alliance with her organization was held up, right here, at Drink! magazine, as eternally damning proof that the TBAGRZ are viciously anti-libertarian Buchananite something somethings.

    Good times.

    (This is the last time I'll remember that, I promise.)

  • ||

    We'll see if this is just the weekly tantrum, but if they start putting some sweat into their little amendment...
    aah pity the fools.

  • B.P.||

    The mask hasn't slipped; they've completely ripped it from their heads.

  • hmm||

  • alan||

    At least, come the Revolution we have a really good enemies list to focus on.

  • ||

    Matt Welch: Hero of the revolution!

    I have to admit, I had a similar thought.

  • ||

    Libertarian tolerance: to establish the correct enemies list!

  • Invisible Finger||

    Getting a beatdown in MA wasn't enough, these sado-masochists want to be beaten by the rest of the nation.

  • Attorney||

    Good. It's like when Spock asked the ship's computer to compute pi to the last digit.

  • alan||

    The leftist are, of course, retarded as usual, letting the rest of us see their true colors when they blow up over this issue. I haven't seen one rational reaction from that side, but only bent logic defining the first amendment down, and defining Armageddon downward as well. As if the possibility of advertisements and advocacy by corporations is going to quote a lefty advocate 'turn our democracy in a plutocracy'. They fully expect this to happen, and they are fucking morons for doing so.

    Think about it, even Goddamned dirty hippies spend money (not usually their own, but they do spend it), and it is only prudent for corporations to do as little to piss off their customers of any political stripe.

    Unlike, labor unions who tend to cut off the head to spite the nose every chance they get, corporations tend to act rationally.

    'Wal-Mart endorses candidate x!'

    That is not going to happen for the reasons I stated. You assume it will because you assume the rest of us live by the same craven irrationality that informs your world order. We don't, we are better than that.

  • Attorney||

    I haven't seen one rational reaction from that side, but only bent logic defining the first amendment down, and defining Armageddon downward as well.

    I know! How the freak do they think the Republic survived before McCain-Feingold?

  • alan||

    On Love, Attorney. As the Aquarian 60s drifted away from us, McCain-Feingold became necessary to fill the void where we once had hearts.

  • ||

    When Michael Jordan was asked why he didn't speak out about politics he replied "Republicans buy sneakers too".

  • Ratko||

    Michael Jordan has keen capitalistic instincts.

  • ||

    Really? His Hall of Fame induction speech pissed off a lot of people, including me. He didn't seem concerned that people would stop buying his underwear or sports drinks that time.

  • Boston||

    You forgot Mimi Kennedy, aka the mother on Dharma and Greg thank you very much!!!

  • Boston||

    Dharma's mother that is

  • Lexicon||

    But what about Greg's dad?

    "Ball and chain has gone away, doo-dah, doo-dah. 'Drink Martinis Naked' day. Dah-di-doo-dah-day!

  • alan||

    some prepositions got away from the corral.

    As if the possibility of advertisements and advocacy by corporations is going to, to quote a lefty advocate, 'turn our democracy in to a plutocracy'

  • ||

    future-person Lawrence Lessig

    not surprised but I wonder if I should at all be disappointed in Professor Lessig.

  • ||

    disappointed in that i would have expected him to voice in any other way.

  • hmm||

    I guess he's all for free expression until it's political.

  • Attorney||

    He's an academic. 'Nuff said.

  • Craig||

    I'm surprised he could sign the petition before he's even a person, and even more surprised that you know what this future-person's future profession will be....

  • B||

    His article at the HuffingtonPost is fully of a bunch of nonsensical hyperbole.

  • ||

    Considering the way he utterly botched the Eldred (Bono copyright law) case, arguing a takings suit on the basis of some weird 1st Amendment claim, it's not surprising that he's on the wrong side of the 1st amendment here.

    He's just like all the reset of the liberal pseudo-libertarians: all gung ho on liberty until it impacts their true socialist ideas.

  • Jordan||

    When push comes to shove, leftists will choose activist government over liberty every time.

  • Tony||

    And when it comes down to it libertarians choose corporate power over liberty every time they conflict.

  • Jeffersonian||

    Exactly how does that work, comrade? I have yet to see a single corporate stormtrooper stick a gun in someone's face and demand they buy their firm's software, salami or silly putty.

  • RM||

    Tony forgets that one of the legitimate purposes of government is to prevent that from happening.

  • Old Mexican||

    And when it comes down to it libertarians choose corporate power over liberty every time they conflict.

    Bullshit. The statement "[...]leftists will choose activist government over liberty every time" has been proven time and time again through history by the complicity of leftists to the State's crimes; instead, your assertion lacks any historical evidence - I dare you to cite any instances where Libertarians have acquiesced to corporate power. I D A R E Y O U.

  • B||

    The more fundamental question is, how in the world does allowing corporations to spend money on campaign ads infringe upon "liberty".

  • Craig||

    How does allowing groups of individuals to spend more on political advertising reduce anyone's liberty? Information on all of the candidates is readily available online, and any voter can choose to make an informed decision, regardless of how many commercials run and how persuasive they are.

    You don't still eat Lucky Charms for breakfast, do you?

  • leprechaun||

    Trix are for kids you silly rabbit.

  • Ratko||

    Lucky Charms was the finest cereal to ever fill a bowl, I didn't need a commercial to tell me that, nor could have any amount of negative commercials convinced me otherwise. It was the FDA's decision banning the delicious "toxic" chemicals used to make the little stars and moons that ultimately led to my complete loss of interest in Lucky Charms. Seems trillions of dollars invested into commercials could never have carried the clout of one little decision by an unelected Washington bureaucrat.

  • ||

    good ol' populism... damn that shit sells!

  • Maverick||

    I'd like to see a poll where the only topic polled is a picture of the Democrats' mascot followed by this question, "Does this look like a jackass? Yes or no." Then, extrapolate that into something that reads: _____ Poll shows that 90% of Americans think that Democrats are jackasses (margin of error 3.5%).

  • brotherben||

    That was funny!

  • Brian Sorgatz||

    The latter of whom...

    Matt Welch doesn't necessarily feel a need for my grammar coaching, but oh well, here goes:

    Latter is for a group of two; last is for a group of three or more.

  • ||

    Correcting someone's grammar is a little like performing a proctological exam. Unless the recipient has made arrangements with you in advance, you might be considered presumptuous.

  • ||

    When they aim to restrict, rather than expand, freedom. See: flag-burning, homo-marrying, fetus-aborting, etc.

    Holy question-begging, Batman!

  • Iggmaillion||

    Was wondering where this crowd would chime in on this. Whether or not constitutional rights are limited to individuals or can be extended to the various collectives they form as well.
    I guess the prevailing collectivism isn't that surprising. Still, a dissenting voice from people who at least pretend to care about rights and freedoms would be interesting to hear.
    These various collectives, will they be asserting amendment #5 next to forestall any imposed disclosure requirements, or do they go straight for #2 to wrap up this little shindig?

    Your freedom ends where mine begins, as they say...

  • Craig||

    It's not a difficult question at all, since the freedom to peaceably assemble is also in the first amendment....

  • the sheep's vote||

    I think a lot of the criticism has missed the mark. I don't have a problem with people pooling their resources to reach a larger audience. But a corporation -- or any other entity created out of thin air, not unlike fiat money -- should not have rights. What's next, the right to vote?

    As a libertarian I'm fond of slippery slope arguments. First smoking, then trans fats, now salt. Same rationale. Well, if you're going to give made-up entities some rights then some people are going to suggest they should have other rights. I don't see where it ends.

  • Ratko||

    What's to miss "Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech..." is there any possible way it could be stated more clearly? Why make yourself see so simple a thing as complex beyond comprehension. If you believe there should be exceptions then have the Constitution amended, otherwise it's accept or reject the Constitution. Accepting parts you like, rejecting those you don't, twisting others to suit your desires, aren't options. Congress made a law abridging the freedom of speech, doing such was without question in clear violation of the limitations placed on Congress under the Constitution and redundantly in the amendments called the Bill of Rights. SCOTUS for once upheld the Constitution as all in the three branches swore an oath to do. As a result those who would diminish our liberties are upset and already scheming. For the time being the tide on this issue, by the just ruling, is in our favor. Liberty stands. It really is that simple.

  • the sheep's vote||

    I don't see this case any differently than I would if there were a law abridging the tooth fairy's speech. The point is that the tooth fairy is imaginary and cannot speak.

  • Jeffrey Gandee||

    If corporations are imaginary, then why worry about giving them rights?

  • ||

    Whether or not constitutional rights are limited to individuals or can be extended to the various collectives they form as well.

    The limitations on the power of government expressed in the Constitution are not negated when people form groups to engage in certain activities.

  • ||

    Democracy Unlimited of Humboldt County is a juggernaut.

  • ||

    Fetus aborting. What a charming way to put it. There is nothing pro freedom about the freedom to chose to kill someone. And if anything think that life begins as birth, I would encourage you to look at an ultrasound sometime. Ribs, lungs, hearts, fingers, toes and the ability to feel and react to pain. Yeah, it is just a bunch of tissue. UGH!!

  • zoltan||

    Waaaaaaaaah, I'm a giant pussy. Ugh, John, get off it.

  • Mad Max||

    Yeah, John doesn't have the guts to support the killing of tiny human beings. John must be a pussy.

    John needs to be a man and stand up to those unborn baby punks. Who do they think they are, living and being inconvenient and everything?

  • oaktownadam||

    http://www.southparkstudios.com/clips/103547/

  • oaktownadam||

    sorry, this is the one...
    http://www.southparkstudios.com/clips/153547/

    "when you get that many babies together, they can be like piranhas"

  • zoltan||

    My first comment was going to be "Goddamn it, John, thanks for Mad Maxing the thread again." Ugh, you've been summoned yet again when anything abortion-related is discussed. Go back to your hole and read your catechisms.

  • RM||

    By the same argument, putting animals to sleep is tantamount to murder.

    Not saying you don't have a point, in general. Just carrying it to the end of the logical extreme.

  • Old Mexican||

    By the same argument, putting animals to sleep is tantamount to murder.

    You're equivocating - animals do not have rights.

  • Ron||

    Neither do unborn foetuses.

  • OMG||

    On what basis? Because you say so? If we start with the premise that all HUMAN BEINGS have inherent rights (which is what I believe most libertarians believe), then the relevant question is when does that human life start. Just saying unborn fetuses have no rights is as valid as me saying you have none.

  • B||

    "Not saying you don't have a point, in general. Just carrying it to the end of the logical extreme."

    Quite the contrary. Your "argument" doesn't have a fucking shred of logic.

  • SM||

    I thought we had rights? Either women have the right to their ENTIRE body, or they don't, in which case you reject the entirety of libertarianism. Which is it? You can't be "half absolute." Do we still have liberty or do you support statism and tyranny?

  • B||

    So those who believe live begins at conception and thus that the state shouldn't sanction the murder of the innocent can't be libertarians? And here I was, trying to figure out why libertarians can't attract enough people to their banner to gain any real political power. It certainly couldn't be because of fucking retarded and ridiculously rigid ideological statements made by complete moronsm now could it?

  • B||

    That first sentence should read "life", not "live" and the last sentence should be "morons", not "moronsm".

  • nebby||

    I find your argument moronsmic.

  • Banjos Kick Ass!||

    Your comment gave me a moronasm.

  • SM||

    Yeah, maybe we need to bend the rules so that we can allow others to join...i have an idea...how about those who want to give welfare to others, we'll consider an exception to that...

    Maybe you don't realize, but when you bend the rules of "libertarianism" you become a "democrat" or "republican." Wake up.

  • Corporate Stormtrooper ||

    Buy my firm's software, salami or silly putty.

  • SW, Salami & Silly Putty Mgmt||

    What, no gun in the face? Who trained you?

  • ||

    So I stopped by for my daily guffaw that is the stupidity of Andrew Sullivan only to find that he thinks the Court's decision will lead to fascism. One assumes we can add one more stupid to the list of supporters...

  • SM||

    I'm still confused as to how we forced people to allow other people into THEIR places, ie, if i don't like you because you stink, you look funny, or youre black, i shouldn't have to let you in to my business. Why did we have to pass a constitutional amendment to outlaw discrimination? Shouldn't we all be free to discriminate? Why is my right to CHOOSE lesser than their right to not be descriminated against? On its face, in the beginning, i have that right - and they took it from me to "create" some right for someone else. Its garbage.

    And if someone wants to sell themselve into involuntary servitude, why is that banned by the constitution? Seems half the constitution is about taking away rights from me to give them to someone else...its terrible...half of the constitution needs to go...at least half of it...too many rights for others...not enough of mine...

  • Corduroy Rocks||

    I will not feed the troll.

    I will not feed the troll.

    I will not feed the troll.

    ...

  • SM||

    I guess that's easier than actually explaining why we're so quick to voilate my rights now a days...

  • ||

    How can one sell himself into involuntary servitude? Is that not a contradiction?

    I can buy selling oneself into servitude, but not involuntary servitude.

    However, suppose A sells himself into servitude. B is now his owner. But, if A decides that he wants to break the contract, do you think that B should be able to use the force of law to enforce the terms of the contract?

    Part of civilization is the recognition that the state can't solve all of life's problems. It is a proposition that too many posters here do no understand and cannot accept. Many of the folk that cream in their jeans over soldier boys, naval fleets, trillion dollar military budgets, empire building,etc. take utter leave of their senses in thinking that they have "a right to a common defense" such that the state can come and take your property and throw you in jail in furtherance of such a "right."

  • SM||

    Once sold into servitude, the moment one wants out, it is involuntary from that point forth...

    "But, if A decides that he wants to break the contract, do you think that B should be able to use the force of law to enforce the terms of the contract?"

    If you are a libertarian, you have to agree to this, that the force of law must enforce the terms of the contract.

    I agree, a libertarian cannot support a military by government either. In fact, you must accept anarchism, because anything more than that is YOU agreeing to TAKE MY RIGHTS.

    I like how some libertarians think its ok for some to want to give up more rights than others, but anyone who wants to give up more rights than THEY do, is wrong, a supporter of facism, tyranny, etc, etc, etc...what gives?

  • ||

    Some of this is semantics...however, imo, libertarianism, in and of itself, does not stand for the proposition that A has the right to use the coercive power of the state, up to and including physical force, incarceration, confiscation of property, etc., in order to enforce a contract.

    Moreover, too many libertarians think that liberty must accept the state having a monopoly on the administration of justice. Some even posit that liberty cannot exist without the state having a monopoly on the administration of justice.

    Of course, I contend that liberty cannot be tied to the state having a monopoly on the administration of justice. The results certainly favor my view as all one has to do is look at the millions of folks murdered by the uninted states government in the last 150 years for proof.

    Today, take the war on drugs. If there is no monopoly on the administration of justice, there is no war on drugs and there would not have been tens of thousands of needless, premature deaths due to botched drug raids, gang turf battles, seek and destroy missions, impure/fake/dangerous black market product, break-ins, robberies, muggings as well as deaths in prison. How about all of the lives ruined by incarceration for possession of some drug? How about the horrendous misallocation of resources? The state employing legions of yellow bellied cannon fodder to conduct the war-remember that DEA, FBI, state and local pigs, all are feeding at the public trought not making or producing anything. What about the lost productivity of those incarcerated for drug beefs?

    I call the above state of affairs one of chaos/mayhem/despair/lawllessness. Too many libertarians think that the abolition of the state or the abrogation of the state's monopoly on the administration of justice would lead to "anarchy." They can point to no empirical evidence to support their rank speculation-particularly in view of the abundance of evidence that exists which demonstrates that the state's monopolization of the administration of justice leads to mass murder and mayhem.

  • SM||

    I meant "anarchy" not in the condition that results, but in the form of government - none. Just as you say they cannot have a monopoly on the administration of government, they cannot have a monopoly on anything. IE, they cannot exist. The moment someone else says they should exist and i should have to pay my share is the moment i lose my freedom.

  • ||

    Totally agree.

  • oaktownadam||


    Today, take the war on drugs. If there is no monopoly on the administration of justice, there is no war on drugs and there would not have been tens of thousands of needless, premature deaths due to botched drug raids, gang turf battles, seek and destroy missions, impure/fake/dangerous black market product, break-ins, robberies, muggings as well as deaths in prison.

    In fact, it is the government's failing to use its power to enforce contracts that has caused much of the violence associated with drugs.

    If buyers and sellers were able to resolve their conflicts in court, they would not resort to tit-for-tat retributions.

  • OMG||

    For a legal point of view, very few contracts give rise to specific performance as a remedy. In most instances, the law recognizes what amounts to an "efficient breach"; that is, where a breach of contract produces a greater net benefit than the fulfillment of one. This is why remedies at law are almost always monetary; it actually encourages efficient breach.

  • ||

    ZNo doubt about it dude, thats like totally insane when you think about it.

    Jess
    www.total-anonymity.de.tc

  • ||

    SAdly, I think the COnstitution was tossed out the window on 9/12/2001 and has been lost since.

    Jess
    www.total-anonymity.de.tc

  • Nuanced Liberal||

    Only individuals have rights and the Second Amendment protects a collective right.

  • Corduroy Rocks||

    And the Constitution establishes limits on the government. The powers of the government do not begin where the rights of the individual end.

  • The Libertarian Guy||

    But... but... Obama can't do His Will under those conditions!

  • ||

    Just as an individual's right to freely associate trumps race relations. A's right to exclude blacks from not only his home, but his business as well trumps B's right to force A to include blacks.

  • SM||

    I couldn't have said it better myself. There is nothing wrong with racism, its just exercising my rights.

  • ||

    SM-

    Well, yes there is because, in my view, racism is strictly the use of state power to achieve a racial outcome-like affirmative action, the slaughter of the native american, the internment of the japanese, etc.

    Sure, there are different conceptions/definitions of racism, but the oldest and often the first definition one will find, is "a government policy or program based on race."

    If a white guy thinks that black chicks are not as physically attractive as asian gals, that is not racism. No question, many folks would say it is-but I think that they are wrong and are expanding the meaning of the word.

  • ||

    But, even libertarians have become infected with the mucous of multiculturalism. If liberty is to thrive, it cannot be with its proponents condemning those who choose not to associate with others with different melanin.

  • OMG||

    I am not making an argument that the government should be able to force you to associate with anyone that you do not want to. However, I have to say that the reason that I think that most libertarians don't much care for "those who choose not to associate with others with different melanin" is because racists, homophobes, anti-semites, etc tend to not have much respect for liberty and limited government.

    Just saying

  • ||

    Like the Congressional Black caucas.

    Part of it OMG is that libertarians should expend more energy condemning ACTUAL statists who use coercion to impose their will; demonizing those who voluntarily choose to associate with others upon the basis of melanin and who do not seek to impose such a choice on others is a fool's errand supported by ACTUAL statists.

    Next, you make this great big giant generalization, linking racists togerher with anti-semites and homophobes. Not really the point of the thread, mind you as we are talking about the right to freely assoiciate and its impairment by those who claim that they have the right to impose racist based association.

    Thus, your post is a non-sequitur. Those that champion multiculturalism and those that favor special recognition and sympathy for a certain group tend to be racists and tend to be supporters of socialism.

  • Nemo||

    I simply don't get you guys.

    Exactly what part of "Congress shall make no law" do you guys not understand? It says nothing about individuals, it simply says "...abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press". There's no asterisk with a footnote that says "Unless you really want to".

  • the sheep's vote||

    I understand that part perfectly. What I'm saying is that corporations can't speak -- only individuals can. So if they can't speak then laws restricting their 'speech' don't abridge anything.

  • OMG||

    Ever hear of a chorus? People can and do band together in association to achieve common goals. I believe we call one of those groupings the Democratic party. By your dumb ass logic, since political parties aren't "individuals", they can't speak - so restricting any Democrat party add 30 days before an election would be fine, right?

    Don't you even try to think things through, or does you mind stop at "corporations evil"

  • the sheep's vote||

    I don't have a problem with people pooling their resources to reach a larger audience. And I don't have a problem with referring to them however they want. So if you and a group of friends want to get together and call yourselves the Democratic Party, fine. Speak. Speak all you want. My issue is with corporations themselves, and the idea that you can create an entity out of thin air and then give it rights. But only some rights! Speech, OK. Voting, NO. I fail to see how this makes sense.

    I wrote a little more about it here. You might try reading it -- it's not just some lefty ranting.

  • ||

    Since only individuals can speak, doesn't this mean that any "corporate speech" is really individuals speaking on behalf of a corporation, and SCOTUS got it right?

  • the sheep's vote||

    Not if the corporation is, well, incorporated. Entities created out of thin air do not have rights. People have rights. Call your group whatever you want, and for shorthand or ease of communication or whatever say it's "this group's" speech. But let's not pretend that entities created out of thin air have rights or are even capable of human actions.

  • Jeffrey||

    Seriously, try responding to RC's point.

    This isn't about giving rights to anyone, the issue at hand is whether or not political advertising is speech. Are you willing to argue that a paid advertisement is not speech?

    The first amendment doesn't grant rights to anybody, it simply states that "congress shall make no law...."

  • ||

    This is the most overhyped issue ever. Let's get real and admit that how compaigns are financed is unimportant in the great scheme of things.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Iggmaillion|1.22.10 @ 8:48PM|#

    Was wondering where this crowd would chime in on this. Whether or not constitutional rights are limited to individuals or can be extended to the various collectives they form as well.
    I guess the prevailing collectivism isn't that surprising.

    I think this gets at the main issue that most people are reacting in regards to this issue.

    To treat a contractual entity as equivalently endowed with rights as a flesh and blood individual rubs most people the wrong way. Corporations are collections of individuals, but they do not act according to the same types of motivations as individual humans because of the contractual obligation to make profit. It skews the moral questions in much different ways.

    It is not a straight forward issue, but to say that there are no rational arguments against treating corporations as people is a bit disingenuous.

    If collectives have collective rights, then corporations, which are collectives, can reasonably seen as having rights. If only individuals have rights, then corporations can have their actions restricted in ways that individuals can't.

  • ||

    If collectives have collective rights, then corporations, which are collectives, can reasonably seen as having rights. If only individuals have rights, then corporations can have their actions restricted in ways that individuals can't.


    The Episcopalian Church? The Urban League? The UAW? The New York Times? Monsanto? The Democratic and Republican parties? DailyKos? The New York Kennel Club? None of these organizations are individuals, should they all be prohibited from opining on the issues of the day?

    I emphatically assert that none should be so prohibited. Only taxpayer money should be prohibited from paying for campaigns.

  • Neu Mejican||

    I haven't personally made up my mind on this issue, but you are saying, yes, collectives have rights that are equivalent to individuals.

    Perhaps.

    One of the issues is how a particular collective "speaks" for its members...what process of accountability assures that the monies are allocated according to the wishes of the members of the collective? In some of the organizations you mention, things are pretty straight forward. Not so much for others.

  • Neu Mejican||

    So, JsubD,

    Is there a difference between restricting the actions of, say, the Episcopal church and restricting the actions of a member of that church? That gets to the heart of this. It seems.

  • ||

    I don't see one. Ditto for the Dems and GOP.

    If we can restrict organizations from political speech, it seems to me it follows that we can outlaw political parties.

  • B||

    "It is not a straight forward issue, but to say that there are no rational arguments against treating corporations as people is a bit disingenuous."

    As is the argument of the naysayers that this will have some sort of deleterious effect on democracy in this country. The problem is corrupt politicians, not whether corporations are entities that are entitled to Constitutional protections or not; it is best to err on the side of broader protections. Of course that question has now been rendered moot, unless the Constitution can be amended.

  • OMG||

    "Corporations are collections of individuals, but they do not act according to the same types of motivations as individual humans because of the contractual obligation to make profit."

    Congratulations! You win the prize for the stupidest comment of the year. What planet do you live on. So teachers don't vote for candidates that promise more spending on … wait for it … schools and teachers. Old people don't vote for politicians that promise to "protect" (read increase to amounts greater than inflation) their medicare. Home owners don't vote for politicians that promise them property tax rebates, farmers don't vote for politicians that promise farm subsidies.

    "If only individuals have rights, then corporations can have their actions restricted in ways that individuals can't."

    If I follow your logic to its conclusion, then the political speech of political parties can apparently be curtailed, right? Political parties aren't individuals.

    I really think that there is no good argument on the other side of this issue other than, "corporations are evil, they will use their bags of money to screw us".

  • Neu Mejican||

    So teachers don't vote for candidates that promise more spending on … wait for it … schools and teachers. Old people don't vote for politicians that promise to "protect" (read increase to amounts greater than inflation) their medicare. Home owners don't vote for politicians that promise them property tax rebates, farmers don't vote for politicians that promise farm subsidies.

    Congrats, you win the award for the most stupid comment of the thread. Of course individuals vote based on self-interest. What's that got to do with what I said? Are you claiming that corporations have the same range of motivations as individuals?

    If I follow your logic to its conclusion, then the political speech of political parties can apparently be curtailed, right? Political parties aren't individuals.

    Under the hypothetical presented, sure...collectives could have their actions limited in ways that individuals couldn't. As I have already said, I haven't made up my mind on this issue, but certainly not all collectives are created equal (even as all individuals are).

  • Pedantula||

    Clever, but you fail to distinguish between voluntary associations and collectives held together by...some other means.

  • ||

    Neu is clever and a good writer. He also has collectivist sympathies.

  • Neu Mejican||

    I also have individualist sympathies. On this issue, I seem to be more skeptical of the rights of the collective (the corporation) than you...

    The constitutional "right to assembly" seems to admit the concept of collective rights, certainly. But whether that extends to contractually entities like corporations doesn't seem a straightforward proposition to me. If I buy stock in a phone company with a contract that says, basically, "you can use my money to provide phone services as long as I get a cut of your profits" I am not sure that extend to saying "you can use my money to lobby the government on my behalf." My interest in profits from our agreement may conflict with my interests on a particular political issue.

    These issues, of course, are case specific. But are more complex with large corporations that have very tenuous relationships to their individual stock holders.

  • OMG||

    You obviously have never read a share agreement, and have no concept of what a corporation is. When you buy a share of a phone company you are not signing a contact that the phone company will be a phone company. You are granted a fractional share of ownership in a entity - the only contract that limits the function of the corporation is the corporate charter, and that will 999 our of 1000 times say that the corporation is formed to engage in any legal business.

    Look, if you don't like the "speech" of a corporation and its support of one political issue or another, you can sell the stock.

  • ||

    One crucial distinction between a corporation and a union is that one elects to purchase an interest in the former whereas one is repeatedly forced to contribute to the latter.

    Thus, logically, in addressing Neu's point about collective rights, one must first identify the nature of the collective in assessing whether the entity has first amendment protection for its speech.

    Obviously, one has the option (pun intended) to unload one's shares in a company the political expression of which one finds objectionable. The only option one has with a union is the loss of one's employment.

  • OMG||

    I think that your point has merit. I agree that it is ironic that those who argue that corporations "spend the money of their unwilling shareholders" have no problem with union members who tend to be trapped in their position much more than shareholders. And can you imagine the situation under card check.

    But I have to say, rights and the Constitution, are not always clean. I would say that I would not be willing to curtail free speech for unions, even if it is true that they are using member money in a way that they might not want.

  • Neu Mejican||

    OMG,

    You obviously have never read a share agreement, and have no concept of what a corporation is.

    Untrue
    When you buy a share of a phone company you are not signing a contact that the phone company will be a phone company.

    Of course not. You are being over-literal.

    You are granted a fractional share of ownership in a entity - the only contract that limits the function of the corporation is the corporate charter, and that will 999 our of 1000 times say that the corporation is formed to engage in any legal business.

    Which, of course, supports my point. As long as we are talking vague generalities and not distinguishing between types of corporations, when share-holders buy shares in a company they are providing material support to the business activities of the company. The political activities of the company are not, typically, addressed in the contract.

    Look, if you don't like the "speech" of a corporation and its support of one political issue or another, you can sell the stock.

    Yes, of course. The vigilance required to do this for my whole portfolia including all the mutual funds might be a pretty daunting task, of course. And this, again, gets to my point. I am not investing in these companies to support their collusion with government...I am investing in the money making activities. Sure, collusion in government may help the company make more money, but that doesn't mean I support that collusion. Individual results may vary.

    Libertymike,

    One crucial distinction between a corporation and a union is that one elects to purchase an interest in the former whereas one is repeatedly forced to contribute to the latter.

    Forced to contribute? Depends upon the state and the level of government involvement. When contributions are mandatory under the law, you are correct...another typical distinction is the level of direct involvement in policy. Unions are much more likely to a process that encourages member input than a corporation. Sure, both with have a process, but if you look at the level of internal debate, a union membership will be much more involved in the process than typical stockholders in a large corporation.

    Thus, logically, in addressing Neu's point about collective rights, one must first identify the nature of the collective in assessing whether the entity has first amendment protection for its speech.

    Indeed, to repeat, all collectives are not created equal. Even though their members are.

  • B||

    The people signing the above mentioned petition now appear as clueless as the celebrity clowns who took out the ad in the NY Times in 2001 asserting the non-existent precedence the Constitution accords the nationwide popular vote over that of the Electoral College in Presidential elections.

    Something tells me a broad swath of the American public will be unmoved by left-wing hack pop historians and liberal radio hosts with miniscule audiences.

  • Banjos Kick Ass!||

    Don't you know B that we plebes are nothing more than ignorant sheep in desperate need of the heavy (yet paternal) hand of the enlightened elite to help guide us through this tumultuous world?

  • ||

    It’s all a twist on the old lefty game. Everyone else (but us lefty ideological based groups) are ‘special interests’ and don’t deserve free speech rights…

    One way to end this, very stupid, argument is to make it clear to them that they too are special interests and any proposed rules will be applied to them too.

  • ||

    What's the point in being a liberal if you can't be a hypocrite?

    Time to amend the Constitution to ban idiots from serving in Congress or in the White House. That should reduce expenditures, with the Capitol and the White House permanently empty.

  • Lame Duck Powers Amendment||

    Or at least limit theirs powers during the Lame Duck period of their terms.

  • ed||

    One may, in these times, judge the worth of a concept by how vociferously Democrats rail against it. I just heard a soundbite from Chucky Schumer wherin he bemoaned the corrupting influences of corporate money. He admitted, without seeming to notice the damning irony, that he and his cronies could be bought.

  • OMG||

    I don't think any whore is ever under the illusion that they are anything other than what they are

  • ||

    If women have abortion rights up until birth, then men should have abortion rights after birth, up until about age 18 I think. If the fetus does not do its homework, pay attention, or take out the garbage, the father should be able to take it down to the local clinic and have it aborted, or put to sleep as they say. After all, fair is fair. Goose, Gander, same, same.

  • ||

    The problem is corrupt politicians, not whether corporations are entities that are entitled to Constitutional protections or not
    And of course, leaving a trail of hundred-dollar bills up the corridors of the capital, hoping some very human person starts picking them up and following the trail, is just the way to keep those corrupt politicians from acting on their baser impulses.
    Right.
    And we didn't see priests diddling kids, and the church (an uncorruptible organization, you might think) covering it up.
    Oh, and not to mention the Abramoff/Cunningham crowd. Or what's his name from LA with the freezer full of hundreds.
    Human beings yield to temptation, without regard to an end of the spectrum or a party or even a career choice. All the ideology in the world isn't going to bring ponies and unicorns to our politics.

    There's a very simple solution (which will never happen). A one-line Constitutional amendment which reads: "Nothing in this document shall be construed to equate the raising or expenditure of money to speech."
    Bravo. Problem solved.

  • ||

    The problem is corrupt politicians, not whether corporations are entities that are entitled to Constitutional protections or not
    And of course, leaving a trail of hundred-dollar bills up the corridors of the capital, hoping some very human person starts picking them up and following the trail, is just the way to keep those corrupt politicians from acting on their baser impulses.
    Right.
    And we didn't see priests diddling kids, and the church (an uncorruptible organization, you might think) covering it up.
    Oh, and not to mention the Abramoff/Cunningham crowd. Or what's his name from LA with the freezer full of hundreds.
    Human beings yield to temptation, without regard to an end of the spectrum or a party or even a career choice. All the ideology in the world isn't going to bring ponies and unicorns to our politics.

    There's a very simple solution (which will never happen). A one-line Constitutional amendment which reads: "Nothing in this document shall be construed to equate the raising or expenditure of money to speech."
    Bravo. Problem solved.

  • oaktownadam||

    I don't think you've thought through your "solution" very much. In fact, not at all past the "EVIL CORPORATIONS" step.

    What you're talking about is removing the economic liberties that Americans enjoy.

    That amendment could very well be used to pass laws regulating how any person may spend their money.

    How about you pass that, and then we pass a law which says "Donations to leftist causes is now illegal." Screw you, PETA; Screw you, Greenpeace; Screw you, EFF; Screw you, NAACP; Screw you, Every Single Organization On The List Above.

    Try to wake up and realize that the enumerated rights are there to protect minorities, not majorities.

  • ||

    So you would have no problem with a law prohibiting anyone from spending their own money to buy an ad, print a flyer, rent a hall, or buy toner and ink for their computer, in order to express their political views.

  • Neu Mejican||

    RC,

    Do you see a meaningful distinction between spending money to produce a book, movie, ad, whatever, (i.e., to spend money needed to "speak") and direct contributions to a candidate?

  • oaktownadam||

    I do.

    When you spend money to speak for yourself, you control the expenditure, and the content.

    When you give money to a candidate, you are also paying for things which have nothing to do with speech, such as paying the candidates' salaries:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2002/11.....aigns.html

    Quid pro quo is also so much clearer when you are talking about a direct transfer of funds.

  • oaktownadam||

    Also, it's worth noting that almost no for-profit companies would dare flatly come out in support for a certain candidate.

    Most play both sides of the field, hedging their bets so that they are covered no matter which side wins.

    Companies like that are much more likely to take a firm stand on a particular policy, and don't really care which party ends up supporting that policy.

  • ||

    don't know why it double-posted, sorry.

  • hmm||

    Way to kick the abortion turd and make it all stinky again.

  • ||

    The "free speech" movement of the 60s was never about free speech or any other type of freedom. Hayden and his ilk were hard leftists who would have denied free speech to anyone other than themselves. He still is.

  • vnjagvet||

    Funny that the majority opinion pretty much tracked the ACLU's amicus brief on corporations' or unions' rights of free speech, and the technical interpretation of the portion of M/F which the court found was inconsistent with the First Amendment. In addition, the Solicitor General was forced to back off the position necessary to uphold that portion of the statute by some of the Justices' very astute questioning.

  • Mondo||

    Matt,

    Examples that lump "flag-burning and homo-marrying" in with "fetus-aborting" is one reason I'm a "conservative with libertarian leanings" instead of the other way around.

    Of course, you are completely right in the main point of your article. But, I had to go back and remind myself what your thrust was because of the editorial decision to muddy the waters.

    Still, very good points on the free speech message.

  • OMG||

    I am a libertarian with conservative leanings … but take your point and agree with you comment 100%

  • OMG||

    For me, there are so many strong arguments on the side of the majority opinion it isn't even funny. The biggest one for me, is when they got the FCC to admit that, under their interpretation of MF, they could ban books, BOOKS G-DAMMIT, from sale during the restricted period; even if it was a 10,000 page book about zombies, but the last sentence said, "oh yeh, vote for Hillary".

  • OMG||

    Did I say FCC, meant FEC

  • Mr. J||

    It is troubling how so many people apparently view the 1st amendment as granting a right when it is in fact quite clearly a restriction on the power of congress.

  • OMG||

    +1. True dat

  • joeschmo||

    and beyond semantics Mr. J, what difference does it make if people see it as a right as opposed to a limit on legislative infringement of freedom of speech. are you suggesting that this is why many people seem to think the SCOTUS decision is a bunch of bullshit?

    i think you worry about the unimportant.

    why not concern yourself with the fact that the SCOTUS is now just an extension of the polarized 2 party political system.

    I think that is much more troubling.

  • OMG||

    Your wrong. If your rights pre-exist, then if a right is not expressly limited, you own it and can freely exercise it. On the other hand, if rights are granted under the Constitution, it strongly implies two things: (i) those rights not expressly granted do not lie with the individual and (ii) rights are very pliable and can easily be granted, expanded, contracted or rescinded by the government on a whim (whereas something that is inherent and pre-existing can only be limited (and not completely denied) for justifiable reasons).

    Imagine if your freedom of speech was as pliable or as easily expanded or curtailed as the speed limit.

    This is not something pedantic or theoretical … study the history of the Constitution a bit (one of the only collateral benefits of having attended law school), the founders discussed the issue and PURPOSEFULLY structured the Constitution's scope as to rights as "negative" (i.e. limits on government) rather than "positive" grants of rights. If memory serves me right, some were even opposed to the bill of rights because the (apparently, and sadly, correctly) worried that some (such as you) might incorrectly interpret them as limiting our rights to only those expressly in the amendments to the Constitution.

  • joeschmo||

    OMG, aka moron.

    Read before you respond.

    I made no assertion as to whether the bill of rights was enacted to grant rights vs a limit to legislative infringement on them.

    Thanks for the great lesson though.

    My point was about americans, our government, and our common desire to uphold the concept of free speech while guarding against practical problems that may conflict with that goal.

    You and your highly educated pals in law school can banter about the nature of the 1st amendment and lecture us as to why the (bare) majority 5 in the SCOPUS were justified in overruling legal precedent and long standing legislative measures.

    However, most people, even educated ones, implicitly understand the recent decision is bogus, and devoid of common sense.

    PERIOD.

  • OMG||

    So your reply to a reasoned argument is …

    - call me a moron;
    - argue that the decision is wrong because the "desire" of most americans (as if the Constitution can be over ridden by a poll) goes against it ;
    - say that americans "implicitly" understand that the decision is wrong.

    Since you don't bother to make a counter argument, I take "Implicitly" to mean, "even though I don't have a reasonable argument against what you've said, I'm right anyway". Citing the desires of most americans doesn't override the Constitution.

    Finally, I'm proud of the fact that I entered law school as ignorant as you are and actually managed to learn something about civics and the Constitution. No thanks to the left leaning professors whose "desires" are pretty close to yours, but by actually reading the text of the Constitution (which you may actually want to do some time in your life before forming an opinion on in) and the Federalist Papers

  • ||

    @OMG: Applause.

  • joeschmo||

    no dumbass, i called you a moron, because among other things, you haven't yet mastered the use of you're vs your.

    I could care less whether you went to law school, and why does that have any relevance to our discussion? Make your points - they should stand on their own merit.

    Finally, you aren't addressing my argument, is it outside your grasp?

    Let me summarize:

    a) a good understanding of the constitution does not lend to one position or the other on this issue. If so, this decision wouldn't conflict so sharply with numerous other SC decisions of the past. Or in your view, are the present 5 majority judges better constitutional scholars than past members of the court? or the four members in the minority?

    b) one need not be a constitutional scholar to appreciate the potential corruptive influence of corporate spending in politics, especially elections. Seems most every other democracy in the world has come to recognize this.

    c) The decision is overreaching, it directly conflicts with numerous past SC decisions on the issue, it repudiates the collective wisdom of legislators at federal, state and municipal levels and it stinks of partisan-driven intellectual dishonesty.

    Our SC's credibility has taken a huge hit.

  • oaktownadam||

    Thankfully, we are a nation of laws, and not polls.

    It doesn't really matter what "most Americans" want, what matters is the language of the law, in this case, the 1st Amendment.

    Corporations existed in the time of the Founding Generation, so they clearly could have included exceptions in the Constitution if they wanted to prevent collective rights.

    Surely someone of such amazing reasoning powers as yourself can understand the plain language of the 1st Amendment.....

  • oaktownadam||

    "Seems most every other democracy in the world has come to recognize this."

    You'll also note that no other democracy has gone as far as us in protecting individual rights.

    It's not that corporations have fewer rights in those other countries, so much as it is that *everyone* has fewer rights.

    Frankly, I agree with Jefferson when he wrote "I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than those attending too small a degree of it."

  • joeschmo||

    agreed oaktown on poll-driven policies.

    However, as a stated above (point a), the 'plain language of the 1st amendmant' did not seem to get in the way of SC-endorsed judicial control of corporate spending in the past.

    So the new 5-member majority has special insight on the bill of rights?

    Where is the continuity?

    Roberts, in his confirmation hearings, emphasized the importance of continuity in the judicial process, as well as the importance of consensus-building on the SC.

    What happened?

  • oaktownadam||

    The SCOTUS is not infallible, like the Pope....I'm not sure where you got that idea from.

    Remember Dredd Scott? Don't you agree that was a bad decision? (So why, then, is Obama using it to deny habeus corpus to gitmo prisoners?)

    What about the Slaughterhouse Cases?

    The court has reversed itself many times in its history; this is neither the first nor the most extreme example.

  • brotherben||

    b) one need not be a constitutional scholar to appreciate the potential corruptive influence of corporate spending in politics, especially elections. Seems most every other democracy in the world has come to recognize this.

    1) How many of those democracies use our constitution in their government?

    2)Do we do all our constitutional interpretation based on what "most every other democracy in the world" is doing?

  • OMG||

    I don't really give a shit about punctuation and spelling when I'm responding to ignorant assholes

  • OMG||

    a) Yes.
    b) You make my point. You don't need to be a Constitutional scholar to appreciate the Constitution (but you should have at least tried skimming it first). Fuck the rest of the world. We are very unique in actually having a Constitution that means something - if I wanted to live under a British parliamentary type system, I would move to the UK.
    c) Name a decision it conflicts with. Repudiating the overreaching legislation of the Congress and actions of the Executive is the main constitutional function of the Supreme Court (why don't you try Wikipedia, 'cause I'm sure that is about as far as your research goes, and look up Marbury v Madison).

    I do have to say that I regret calling you a moron.

  • OMG||

    BTW, my mention of law school was completely irrelevant to the discussion: it's not as if I started my comment, "I went to law school so your wrong". The fact that it bothered you so much is funny because, I have to tell you, 9 out of 10 students and 99 out of 100 professors believe what you do. You would fit right in.

  • Mr. J||

    An 8 year old law is overturned and SCOTUS is suddenly now politicized?

    The government's own lawyers said books could be banned under this law, yet 4 justices still dissented.

    That I find troubling.

  • ||

    So the Bill of Rights should really be called the Bill of Restrictions on Government. I like that.

  • joeschmo||

    Wow MATT WELCH, you really know how to skew an argument from the beginning, don't you?

    You say:

    this whole business is about creating a "constitutional amendment.....to enable the government ...... to censor documentaries during election season".

    No MATT, that's not what the issue is about, nor the talk about potential legislative response to the supreme court decision.

    Go back and read a little more on the issue.

    MATT, here's a hint, to give you a little more credibility going forward. In the future:

    Do your best to lay out the opposing opinion - that which you are blogging or arguing against - in a manner that is reflective and true to that opinion.

    Otherwise your 'straw man' tactic just adds up to nothing more than intellectually dishonest drivel - like what you get from most junk political commentators these days.

  • Mr. J||

    Clearly we need to incorporate your points into an amendment so this can never happen again.

  • OMG||

    This moron doesn't even rise to the level of troll. Leave him be in his hopeless Obama Hopey Changey worship.

  • oaktownadam||

    well, "joeschmo", clearly you've bought into the mass media's portrayal of this being about letting corporations "buy elections".

    So the rest of your post is really just projection from that original straw man.

    Go read about the actual case, as opposed to all of the responses to the judgement.

    You'll notice that the case was about a nonprofit political organization, "Citizens United" (not a evil profit-mongering corporation overstepping its charter), which wished to air a documentary it had made about one of the candidates in an election, independently of any official campaign. The officers of that corporation were denied the ability to express their political views, and were threatened with possible imprisonment if they went through with their plans.

    Now, the New York Times Corporation, NBC (owned by GE), and the Washington Post Company, among others, would like to have you believe that if any corporations other than themselves were to be involved in an election, it would be the end of democracy.

    But don't let little details like those color your preferred worldview of big, bad corporations getting the right to run our government, merely through the ability to speak about political issues.

  • The Libertarian Guy||

    No, troll, that is EXACTLY what this is all about - government controlling dissent of sitting or hopeful politicians. What can be said, when it can be said, where it can be said.

    Open your eyes, or remain ignorant.

  • Lee||

    In other words, all of the usual suspects.

    The supreme court ruling simply reiterates what the constitution says in the first place: The government cannot regulate speech, especially political speech.

    The left is always a big supporter of free speech, except of course for speech they don't like.

    The correct way to deal with the expression of ideas you disagree with is to express your own ideas in response. But the left cannot do this because their own ideas are so disgusting to normal people. So instead they seek to use the power of the state to silence their critics, which is PRECISELY what the 1st amendment prohibits the state from doing.

    The left has descended into self-parody.

  • Mr. J||

    Their talk of protesting in the streets is particularly humerous as well as ironic.

  • oaktownadam||

    I wonder if the protesters would be organized by a corporate entity, like ANSWER, the puppet of the International Action Center, a communist front organization, which is actually incorporated under the name "Column Foundation, Inc".

    See? Even Communists like Corporations :)

    Of course, they try to hide it, but IAC's address is the same as this:
    http://www.taxexemptworld.com/.....?tn=134792

    Which is also the same address as the Worker's World Party, which has incorporated under the name WW Press, Inc.

    dur dur dur dur.

  • Ratko||

    So many legislators when all we really need is de-legislators.

  • Draco||

    Did the 16th Amendment expand freedom? Should it have been derided? Should it be overturned, since nothing that is derided should rule us?

  • Neu Mejican||

    Something not yet discussed here is the fact that one of the underlying reasons corporations exist in the form they currently exist is to socialize the costs of doing business. Limited liability rules allow the company to raise monies in ways that they could not without it, and spreads

    Whether that socialization of costs comes with responsibilities, or restrictions on certain behaviors that will increase the costs on society seems, to me, to be a big part of the underlying debate and underpins the sense among those that support it for a need to hold corporations accountable in ways that individuals aren't (just as individuals are accountable in ways that corporations aren't).

  • oaktownadam||

    How are you defining "[limited liability] spreads some of those costs to the society in general", as opposed to just the creditors and investors in that corporation?

    A big part of the debate, it seems to me, is that many Americans have not fully thought out their ideas beyond the reflexive dislike of "evil corporations".

    They don't contemplate how it is that we enjoy such prosperity and technological innovation.

    They just whine about "accountability", without having any ideas about alternatives.

  • Neu Mejican||

    as opposed to just the creditors and investors in that corporation

    When a large corporation fails, the investors are only on the hook for their sunk costs, not the cost that might result from the actions of the corportation. Those costs may (or may not) include costs to the larger society. A rough example*: when a mining corporation folds without cleaning up its tailing ponds or the environmental damages that resulted from its actions, the still living owners of that corporation are not liable for the costs of that damage...the artificial person that is the corporation shields them from liability. If that corporation dissolves, costs will be born by the society at large. If liability were not limited, the individual investors would be on the hook for as long as they lived. When we transfer that liability to the corporation, the costs might "kill" the corporation, but the investors live on without the burden of those costs.

    This is, generally, a good thing, because it encourages risk and is why we have the system we do. But it is another way that corporations are equivalent to people.

    *I am sure there are holes in the example...read it as a rough sketch designed to further discussion.

  • Neu Mejican||

    ummm...

    ...are not equivalent...

  • Neu Mejican||

    Hmmmm...where'd the rest of that paragraph go...

    and spreads some of those costs to the society in general.

  • The Libertarian Guy||

    Tony|1.22.10 @ 9:06PM|#

    And when it comes down to it libertarians choose corporate power over liberty every time they conflict.

    Try building your own car, from scratch. Not from parts bought from various sources... from the ground up. Tires, wheels, seats, engine, radio, window glass... all of it.

    Oh, you want corporations to do that for you? But you HATE corporations. Quite the conundrum, isn't it.

    Go whittle your next toaster out of a block of metal, then come back and tell us how you can live without companies making products like... toasters.

  • Tony||

    I don't eat toast.

  • oaktownadam||

    Tell me, did you make the shoes on your feet? Did you buy them from a craftsman who cobbled them together, by hand, from other craftsmen who individually made not only the components, but the tools to make those components?

    We can go on, ad infinitum, if you like.

  • The Libertarian Guy||

    Way to tapdance, Tony. Which still doesn't answer the fundamental question I asked above, very nicely I might add.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Tony is just bigoted against capitalism. But don't call him an elitist!

  • liamascorcaigh||

    Flag-burning is equal in triviality to "fetus-aborting".

    As an ex-fetus I would normally wish to protest strongly, but, as this magazine is called "Reason", I am eager before making a definitive judgement to hear the views of all the ex-flags out there.

    If this is an example of your Libertarian intellectual rigor I think I'll become a Scientologist!

  • d||

    the latter of which

    ==> the *last* of which (?)

  • d||

    "latter of of whom", "latter of which", whatever...

  • SM||

    This is all silly. If i or a group of chinese citizens and want to pay for ads in this country, so be it. People will just be able to sort through the nonsense. If more politicians get elected that represent some other interests, like the government of china or whatever - it doesn't matter. That's all concequentialism. All you can look at is if there is free speech. I'm tired of all you people willing to give up your rights to prevent electing a bunch more people who will take them from you. You can't worry about that.

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Progressive Puritans: From e-cigs to sex classifieds, the once transgressive left wants to criminalize fun.
  • Port Authoritarians: Chris Christie’s Bridgegate scandal
  • The Menace of Secret Government: Obama’s proposed intelligence reforms don’t safeguard civil liberties

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement