E.J. Dionne's Screed Against Free Speech

Washington Post left-wing columnist E.J. Dionne explains today that people with whom he disagrees should not be able to buy ad space to explain their political views and candidate preferences to the public. Of course, Dionne is merely expressing the dismay that the Left's decades-long efforts to shut up political discourse that offends its minions or challenges their policies was overturned in what he calls the "outrageous" Supreme Court Citizens United decision. As Dionne expostulates:

The Citizens United justices were not required to think through the practical consequences of sweeping aside decades of work by legislators, going back to the passage of the landmark Tillman Act in 1907, who sought to prevent untoward influence-peddling and indirect bribery.

If ever a court majority legislated from the bench (with Bush’s own appointees leading the way), it was the bunch that voted forCitizens United. Did a single justice in the majority even imagine a world of super PACs and phony corporations set up for the sole purpose of disguising a donor’s identity? Did they think that a presidential candidacy might be kept alive largely through the generosity of a Las Vegas gambling magnate with important financial interests in China? Did they consider that the democratizing gains made in the last presidential campaign through the rise of small online contributors might be wiped out by the brute force of millionaires and billionaires determined to have their way?

“The appearance of influence or access, furthermore, will not cause the electorate to lose faith in our democracy.” Those were Justice Anthony Kennedy’s words in his majority opinion. How did he know that? Did he consult the electorate? Did he think this would be true just because he said it?

Actually, Dionne is right. In fact, the "justices were not required to think through the practical consequences of sweeping aside decades of work by legislators." What the justices are "required" to do is to determine if the laws conform to the restrictions established by the U.S. constitution. In this case, the Court correctly decided that the campaign finance laws violated the First Amendment. As the Court decided [PDF]:

Although the First Amendment provides that “Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech,” §441b’s [McCain-Feingold campaign finance law's] prohibition on corporate independent expenditures is an outright ban on speech, backed by criminal sanctions [emphasis added]. It is a ban notwithstanding the fact that a [political action committee] PAC created by a corporation can still speak, for a PAC is a separate association from the corporation. Because speech is an essential mechanism of democracy—it is the means to hold officials accountable to the people—political speech must prevail against laws that would suppress it by design or inadvertence.

Dionne ends his screed against free speech:

In the long run, we have to hope that a future Supreme Court will overturn this monstrosity, remembering that the first words of our Constitution are “We the People,” not “We the Rich.” 

Why do Dionne and his ilk have such a hard time remembering the plain words of the First Amendment?:

Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press....

What's so hard to understand about the phrase "Congress shall make no law"? 

For lots of insightful Reason coverage on free speech and campaign finance go here. 

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  • Fluffy||

    The SuperPACS and the Adelson spend have improved democracy. (Not that "democracy" is the end value here. Democracy is a tool, not an end.)

    The SuperPACS have provided the GOP electorate with more information than they would otherwise have had. Nobody else seriously examined or critiqued any candidate's record. The press sure as fuck didn't.

    And there are a shitload of Freepers who hate Romney and want to vote for Gingrich. Adelson keeping Gingrich in the race helps give those people the opportunity to vote for their candidate. How would "democracy" be improved by the primary season ending the moment the press declares one candidate "inevitable"?

  • Paul||

    . (Not that "democracy" is the end value here. Democracy is a tool, not an end.)

    You just confused 97% of journalists in the MSM with that statement.

  • kiwi dave||

    (Not that "democracy" is the end value here. Democracy is a tool, not an end.)

    +1. This is the salient issue, and the biggest fissure that was revealed by Citizens United. Most of the left (with some honourable exceptions, such as Greenwald) see constitutional liberties as only of instrumental value in making democracy (i.e., electoral politics) work better. That was emphatically not the view of the framers, or the point of free speech (at least as Mill or Milton understood it). Freedom of speech and thought is prior to and independent of the system of government.

    It's frustrating that so few (actually, none, as far as I'm aware) political defenders of SCOTUS's decision in CU have articulated that. That;s not surprising, though: most Republicans share the basic majoritarian impulse of the left, it just comes out on different issues (viz. Gingrich et al in their attacks on "activist judges" protecting rights against majoritarian bigotry).

  • ||

    My favorite line is this

    Did they think that a presidential candidacy might be kept alive largely through the generosity of a Las Vegas gambling magnate with important financial interests in China?

    Double bonus points for the cheap appeal to jingoism. The underlying assumption is that Gingrich's candidacy is by its very nature illegitimate because one guy is keeping it afloat.

    First, Gingrich love him or hate him has a lot of voters who like him. So it is hardly one guy who is keeping him afloat. The voters, that Dione thinks are so important are who is keeping him afloat.

    Second, even if it was, who cares? What makes Gingrich a bad candidate is the content of his views. The nature of his donors has nothing to do with it.

    And Dione has no problems with billionaires using their own money to run for President. If someone whom Dione found acceptable like Nanny Bloomburg ran using his own considerable wealth, Dione would be the first in line to promote. Yet, it would be wrong for Bloomburg to use his money to help someone else run but okay to use it for his own run? That is nonsense.

    In the end, Dione hates money in politics because it diminishes his power. Your are damned right the media didn't critique the candidates' record. They critique who they want how they want. And they don't want anyone else having the power to get their message out.

  • Brett L||

    Hungarian billionaires are fine, but those with Chinese ties, no good!

  • ||

    This depends on exactly how dark the eyebrows of the hungarians are.

  • ||

    and how much they look like caterpillars.

  • adam||

    Actually, according to Dione, it is fine for a rich person to spend his money on political advertising so long as he doesn't run the money through a Super-PAC. Why this matters, I have no idea. But that seems to be what he's saying.

  • ||

    It matters because if he doesn't run it through a super pac, it is subject to the campaign finance limitations. You can only give $1000 to any one candidate.

  • adam||

    The rich guy can just buy ads on his own without using a super-pac with no dollar limits. That was legal before and after Citizens United. If he gives to the candidate, dollar limits apply. But you don't have to give to run an ad.

  • ||

    I guess so. So yeah, I have no idea what the hell Dione means. I am not sure he does.

  • ||

    well said

  • Paul||

    The Citizens United justices were not required to think through the practical consequences of sweeping aside decades of work by legislators

    You know who else was annoyed about decades of work being swept aside?

  • Anonymous Coward||

    Segregationists?

  • Rev. Blue Moon ||

    myspace?

  • ||

    Screw you, man. myspace is still the No. 1 social networking site for teenage Vietnamese transvestites, an accomplishment none of your snark can take away from them!

  • Rev. Blue Moon ||

    Really? Now I gotta go get a myspace account, I guess. Already got banned from trans*LOver*cOM....

  • The Question of Auban||

    As well as Juggalos and Juggalettes.

  • The Question of Auban||

  • ||

    Borders?

  • Killazontherun||

    It's amazing how pissed off the left is at Citizen's United. The usual reaction from them is in the form of a harsh sarcasm that doesn't actually convey the absolute truism they are attempting. I feel like I'm observing a Martian from a hive mind with no history of living under the American constitutional order to draw from. It's simple really, make no law means congress doesn't possess the power to tell a Martian to shut up, or make it a condition upon which citizens organizing as a corporation must abide.

  • Fluffy||

    “The appearance of influence or access, furthermore, will not cause the electorate to lose faith in our democracy.” Those were Justice Anthony Kennedy’s words in his majority opinion. How did he know that? Did he consult the electorate? Did he think this would be true just because he said it?

    And this doesn't matter anyway and the Court that wrote the infamous "appearance of corruption" decision was a quisling court.

    We take away people's rights for corruption proven beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. Full stop. If you can prove corruption in a court of law, prove it. If not, fuck you. Nobody should lose the merest particle of an enumerated right because of your feelings about how things appear. Fuck you and your fucking feelings.

  • Egregious Jackal Freak Zone||

    Everybody has a right to my opinion.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    Did they consider that the democratizing gains made in the last presidential campaign through the rise of small online contributors might be wiped out by the brute force of millionaires and billionaires determined to have their way?

    Yeah, you tell'em, E.J.! Just look at the way Meg Whitman bought the governorship of California!

    Sometimes, I can't tell if the Beltway press is in an echo chamber, a circlejerk, or if they have a circlejerk while in an echo chamber.

  • kiwi dave||

    Yeah, you tell'em, E.J.! Just look at the way Meg Whitman bought the governorship of California!

    Yup; if the electorate are such numbskulls that they will simply vote American Idol-style for the campaign with the shiniest ads and the glossiest flyers, doesn't that mean that popular democracy is a bad idea? Accepting that logic, at most, campaign finance reform can solve one factor (i.e. excessive spending) causing "bad" voting, but it doesn't deal with the underlying fecklessness of the masses. I simply don't understand people who simultaneously have so much contempt for voters yet want more of our economy and society to be controlled through electoral politics.

  • ryan||

    Because when you're a liberal, people are stupid unless they vote for your guy.

  • kiwi dave||

    I suppose that is the Thomas Frank approach to politics.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    I simply don't understand people who simultaneously have so much contempt for voters yet want more of our economy and society to be controlled through electoral politics.

    Because the next logical step, after giving the D.C. mandarins the power to decide who may or may not spend money on an election is to give them the power to decide who may or may not run for office.

    See the Senate's own avowed Socialist, Bernie Sanders for confirmation:

    Congress and the States shall have the power to regulate and set limits on all election contributions and expenditures, including a candidate’s own spending, and to authorize the establishment of political committees to receive, spend, and publicly disclose the sources of those contributions and expenditures."

    The Saving American Democracy

  • ||

    Saving American Democracy. Newspeak is not just in that novel. Wow.

  • killazontherun||

    Saving American Democracy means those corporation that had only one choice, pay up to get the socialist politicians off there back (one popular trick of the pro-regulators is to pretend to get bills that hurt a targeted industry into conference and then withdraw it after the shakedown works), now have another option, work towards getting the socialist unelected. That is what makes the left quake in their boots.

  • killazontherun||

    Strike pretend from above, I didn't complete the thought, 'pretend they mean to come down on an industry'. Sheldon Richman's organization had an excellent paper many years ago detailing the practice I mentioned above.

  • ||

    The reality is that Bernie Sanders' amendment would auction free speech to the highest bidder, all others be damned, a process we already saw in motion with McCain-Feingold, which exempted heavy contributors in the media. When I point this out to lefty advocates of this amendment, or who decry Citizens United, they either go mute, deny it with a naked gainsaying (i.e., "no it wouldn't"), or lapse into apoplectic cant about the horrors of allowing people free speech. It's genuinely depressing.

  • Loki||

    My bet's on "circlejerk while in an echo chamber". What's the point of an MSM circle jerk if they can't hear the echo of their spooge spattering on the floor?

  • o3||

    if money is free speech, then politicans can hand money directly to voters.

  • Rev. Blue Moon ||

    If money isn't free speech, newspapers should be illegal, especially editorial endorsements published right before elections.

  • ||

    I understand that corporations publishing newspapers have frequently used editorial columns to actually endorse specific candidates! Influence peddling! Must be stopped!

  • Rev. Blue Moon ||

    FAUX NEWS OWNS THE WALL STREET JOURNAL! CONSPIRACY!

  • Paul||

    if money is free speech, then politicans can hand money directly to voters

    You mean more than they already do?

  • Fluffy||

    Actually, any legal theory that held that bribery of individual voters was a crime would be unsound.

    Bribery requires that the party receiving a bribe have a duty to act for some objective interest. For example, a judge is supposed to impartially administer justice. If a judge accepts money to give a ruling different from the one demanded by justice, he has been "bribed".

    But there is no external measurement we can apply to the act of voting to say what the "right" vote was. The voter owes no one anything, and there is no objective outside interest to whom he is responsible. He can vote frivolously or deliberately absurdly and no one can say a damn thing about it. If Ralph Nader gives me $100 and I vote for him, that's really too damn bad, because there is no "objective vote process" being subverted if I can make up my mind how to vote based on any damn thing I choose.

  • UAW||

    Obama's got our vote!

  • ||

    Damn, that is a compelling argument. Has it been tested in a higher court?

  • o3||

    interesting & on-point fluffy. also any attempt to limit contributions may be seen as infringement on free speech. and left-over campaign funds would not have restrictions.

  • Teh IRS||

    What?

  • ryan||

    As if the unsoundness of legal theories has stopped them...

  • Paul||

    Did they think that a presidential candidacy might be kept alive largely through the generosity of a Las Vegas gambling magnate with important financial interests in China?

    Dionne mentioned "China". Should we get concerned now?

  • Hugh Akston||

    Let's do the checklist:

    Citizens United? Check.

    Undoing Progressive-era legislation? Check.

    BusHitler W. McChimpiburton reference? Check.

    Evil korporate influence peddling? Check.

    China? Check.

    Netroots activism being wiped out by evil bemonocled billionaires? Check.

    Appeals to silent majority in determining legality? Check.

    If you haven't shit your pants with fear by now, you're probably already dead.

  • tarran||

    BusHitler W. McChimpiburton reference

    My monitor now has tea dripping down it. Thanks! :)

  • Paul||

    I too laughed out loud. But I don't like to encourage Mr. Akston. His ego needs no stroking. Plus I like to stay off his 'insult radar'. Once he has a lock on you...

  • Hugh Akston||

    ...I'm on your tail like Iceman in Top Gun.

  • Paul||

  • ||

    Highway to the DANGER ZONE!

  • cynical||

    It depends. Are we talking about China as an example of a technocratic system to be emulated, e.g. in solar panels, birth control, and high speed rail; or as a bogeyman to trot out to disingenuously use protectionist or nationalistic rhetoric, e.g. debt, military threat, or cheap labor?

  • Joe M||

    You lost me at "E.J. Dionne". That guy is one of the most vile and sickening leftists in the country. He also operates at the shallowest level of discussion.

  • Paul||

    Fuck you. He sits with the towering David Brooks on NPR. N.P.fuckingR.

  • Brandon||

    I would actually donate to them if they sent me a tote that said "NPfuckingR."

  • Pope Jimbo||

    Sorry Brandon, you really aren't NPR's target market.

  • fish||

    Did they think that a presidential candidacy might be kept alive largely through the generosity of a Las Vegas gambling magnate with important financial interests in China?

    Dionne has been paying attention to the republican circular firing squad...err... I mean the republican primaries hasn't he? He knows that Gingrich isn't going to be the nominee and that Adelson is wasting his money doesn't he?

    I would have thought a delicate sensitive demcrat like Dionne would think it was fitting that a wealthy plutocrat would be wasting his money so foolishly!

    Sad to see these guys continue to pontificate after the mind goes!

  • Brett L||

    No. That money could be confiscated to pay for programs that make him feel even more self-righteous.

  • ||

    You know, I really don't get it. Are the Dionnes of the world scared to just come out and say, "OK, OK. Look, I simply don't think the Constitution works"?

    Because there's no way they don't understand what "Congress shall make no law" means. They get what it means; they just dislike it, and think it should be abandoned. But they're scared of appearing heretical by denouncing the Constitution, so they make up all these weird convoluted arguments with all these seeming blind spots.

  • Paul||

    Are the Dionnes of the world scared to just come out and say, "OK, OK. Look, I simply don't think the Constitution works"?

    Mmmnope. It's been 1994 all over again the last few months. None of it matters because Dead Slave-owning White Men and all that.

  • ||

    It's been 1994 all over again

    Oooh -- Ace of Base is back?

  • Rev. Blue Moon ||

  • ||

    Please no.

  • ||

    Is The Sign stuck in your head yet? How about now? Give in to the power of the 90's.

  • robc||

    Damn you...Im following a trail of 90s chick music on youtube now.

    Ace of Base->Sixpence None the Richer->Natalie Imbruglie->Fiona Apple

  • Brett L||

    Mmm. I watched the "Criminal" video a couple of weeks ago. At the dawn of the internets age, that was prime material right there.

  • robc||

    Hopefully she made enough money to buy a sammich.

  • Rev. Blue Moon ||

    Did you make it to Alanis Morisette yet?

    Just saw that SATC episode where she makes out with SJP, and I HAD THE WEIRDEST ERECTION.

  • robc||

    I avoided Alanis...ive drifted into the 80s. When Our Lips Are Sealed ends Im moving on to Nu Shooz.

  • ||

    Squeeze, the ultimate 80s pop band.

  • robc||

    Patty Smyth is married to John McEnroe? How did I not know this?

  • Rev. Blue Moon ||

    I am partial to Tears for Fears, myself.

  • ||

    Yup. She turned into the 50 something soccer mom.

  • Rev. Blue Moon ||

    I am partial to Tears for Fears, myself.

  • ||

    They were quite good for two records anyway. I also like Simple Minds. 80s pop wasn't bad.

  • Rev. Blue Moon ||

    I am partial to Tears for Fears, myself.

  • Rev. Blue Moon ||

    The squirrels HATE Tears for Fears!

  • mad libertarian guy||

    Fuck you and your 90s video.

    Let go with some Ambient Black Metal.

  • Rev. Blue Moon ||

    &9834; Aaaall that she wants
    is another bay-bay
    She's gone tomorrow boy &9835;

  • Rev. Blue Moon ||

    Damn HTML fail

    ♪ Aaaall that she wants
    is another bay-bay
    She's gone tomorrow boy ♫

  • ||

    Rev., I did not know they had new material out! I hope they still do the wacky hand movements when they dance.

  • Rev. Blue Moon ||

    I keep abreast of their career. I bought Da Capo when it came out. I have way more Ace of Base songs than any one man should have, and it is awesome.

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    Wow. Just, wow.

  • Rev. Blue Moon ||

    Wow. Just, wow.

    That's what your mom said last night! #backto1994

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    Don't make fun of my mom! You suck Rev! I'm leaving this website, and never coming back!

  • Rev. Blue Moon ||

    Cancel my subscription! Waiter, another Zima over here!

  • Brett L||

    You can all rot in hell. Now I have to find "We're not gonna take it", or alternatively, listen to "Ice Ice Baby" and then "Under Pressure" to find something to kill the AoB earworm.

  • Rev. Blue Moon ||

    ♪ Don't turn around
    'Cause you're gonna see my heart breaaakin'
    Don't turn around
    I don't want you seeing me cryy-ay ♫

  • ||

    ♪ It's a beautiful life
    Oh oh oh oh
    It's a beautiful li-i-ife
    Oh oh oh oh ♫

  • ||

    Rev, you are my kind of people. Did you check out any of Robyn's comeback stuff? Yay for cheesy 90's Swede-pop revival.

  • Rev. Blue Moon ||

    Saw her on SNL not too long ago. I suddenly felt like roller skating.

  • robc||

    secret to earworms...their is a universal head clearer:

    Sing All Good People by Yes. Its line lengths are longer than brain buffer size so nothing sticks.

    You can thank me later.

  • ||

    Didn't work. Just have Roundabout stuck in my head instead.

  • robc||

    Didn't work. Just have Roundabout stuck in my head instead.

    Seems like problem solved to me.

  • ||

    Yeah, but it's a Roundabout / The Sign hip-hop mash-up with the bass line from Super Freak.

    Must reach iPhone. Must play The Clash.

  • ||

    Sug, provide me with a link to that immediately. WANT.

  • ||

    How can I provide you a link of what's in my brain?!?

    Besides, the cleansing fire of "What's My Name" has expunged it.

  • ||

    How can I provide you a link of what's in my brain?!?

    Are you near a computer? Quickly make it for me, 'kay?

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    Also, Ready To Take A Chance Again by Barry Manilow will fix it.

  • ||

    Which version of Cruel Summer is more awesome: Bananarama or Ace of Base? Discuss.

  • Rev. Blue Moon ||

    Ace of Base, especially the "Cruel Summer (Big Bonus Mix)." Roller skateability: high.

    Now, which version of "Freak Like Me": Adina Howard or the Sugababes?

  • ||

    Ace of Base Dagny. Bananarama were always just the Bangles ugly English cousins.

  • ryan||

    old people

  • ryan||

    go vote for newt gingrich or mitt romney like you people do

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    Mmmm. Susanna Hoffs.

  • ||

    What is wrong with sets of beautiful Swedish sisters?

  • Zeb||

    Their music?

  • G-Love||

    Does this mean I must revisit Ace Ventura: Pet detective? *Sad Face*

  • Hugh Akston||

    It also means you get to revisit The Mask.

  • Paul||

    I thought Cher was really good in that.

  • Rev. Blue Moon ||

    Was she the deformed guy?

  • ||

    No. Biker trash mom with a golden heart and deformed kid.

  • Sudden||

    And no relation between child's deformity and crystal meth manufacturing history of biker chick mentioned, merely implied.

  • Rocky Dennis||

    I was still better looking than that ginger, Eric Stoltz.

  • Hugh Akston||

    Interesting bit of trivia: Most people think Eric Stoltz needed extensive prosthetic makeup for that role. In fact, he has needed extensive prosthetic makeup for every role except that one.

  • Loki||

    You guys are thinking of Mask, The Mask was the Jim Carrey movie where he's transformed into some kind of over the top living cartoon character/ vigilante. It's one redeeming quality was that it introduced the world to Cameran Diaz.

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    ...the Jim Carrey movie where he's transformed into some kind of over the top living cartoon character...

    Which one is that not?

  • Paul||

    You guys are thinking of Mask, The Mask was the Jim Carrey movie where he's transformed into some kind of over the top living cartoon character/ vigilante. It's one redeeming quality was that it introduced the world to Cameran Diaz.

    I uhm. It was subtle but... never mind. You're right. I was thinking of the wrong movie.

  • ||

    Oooh -- Ace of Base is back?

    Sure, in the sense that Lady GaGa is ripping them off (like everyone else from the 90s).

  • ||

    In Dionne's world, the constitution works the way he thinks it should work.

    And anything harshing that mellow annoys him.

  • ||

    Freedom: It's just not practical.

  • Joe M||

    What's so hard to understand about the phrase "Congress shall make no law"?

    I think it's the "no" part.

  • Sparky||

    Look, these people aren't Constitutional scholars. You can't have just anybody thinking they know what the words of the Constitution mean.

  • ||

    I get into regular disputes about this on Facebook and Boing Boing. What I hear constantly: "Corporations are not people." "Money is not speech." "The corporations/rich will drown out other voices." The facts that McCain-Feingold could actually ban political books, and that putting politicians and their appointees in charge of deciding who gets to say what about politicians, are just swept aside.

    I also love the irony of the same people who will argue all day long that free speech includes burning flags and camping in urban parks and blocking streets, but if some tiny non-profit puts out a DVD about Hillary Clinton, OMG the government must stop things like that or we're all doomed!!1!!!

  • ||

    I've gotten some lulz by pointing out that, if corporations have no First Amendment protection, wouldn't that mean that newspapers lose their First Amendment protection if they are incorporated?

  • ||

    And of course if corporations are not people and have no rights, it affects a lot more than freedom of speech. If the constitutional limitations on government don't apply to corporations, then Congress could take their property without compensation or due process, past ex post facto laws against them and so forth.

    Now the liberals like Dione don't actually support that. They seem to think that the 1st Amendment is somehow different that the rest of the document. They don't know why. They just know they don't like corporations saying things they disagree with and want it stopped.

  • Paul||

    The newspapers are imbued with the magical categorizational statefulness known as "the press". Their incorporationing doesn't count.

  • ||

    True, and it's also funny to hear bloggers and such argue that "the press" is such a formal and limited concept.

  • ||

    The "press" gets excluded from all of this. Of course people like Dione get to decide what constitutes the "press". So in the end, Dione is advocating only those he approves of have free speech rights.

  • Zeb||

    I fucking hate that. "The press" is the medium of mass communication, not some special group of serious, legitimate journalists.

  • Pappy O'Dannel||

    We's MASS Communicatin' here! Not one-at-a-timin' it!

  • ||

    An argument I've heard is that journalists are speaking their own opinion's when they express themselves for a corporate newspaper.

    Yeah, I know.

  • Paul||

    So when the Times endorses so-and-so, it's just that guy, you know, that typed up the editorial? Not an organizational endorsement?

  • ||

    Yeah, that's bull, of course.

  • ||

    So, an opinion is only deserving of 1A protection if its sincerely held by the person who actually typed it out, originally, before publication?

    They are, of course, morons. And that is an opinion this is sincerely held by the person who actually typed it out.

  • Paul||

    R C Dean, Inc?

  • Brett L||

    Screw boingboing. Those guys would let the government ship citizens to concentration camps as long as they had internet access. I'm so tired of their faux freedom stances.

  • ||

    +infinity

  • ||

    Arguments I've made that just get ignored:

    Just as religious freedom does not disappear when people organize themselves into a non-profit corporation called a church, neither should freedom of speech disappear when people organize themselves in the same way. (Exceptions: 501(c)3 non-profits forbidden to do political activity.)

    To restrict the spending of money is to restrict freedom. What if you had "freedom of movement" but were forbidden to spend money on anything with wheels or wings or anything that floats, or even shoes?

    It's impossible to "drown out" other voices in the internet age.

  • ||

    All valid. And the other argument to make is that if the 1st Amendment doesn't apply to corporations, whey do protections like equal protection and due process apply? Why are corporations people for every other purpose in the Constitution except the free speech?

  • mad libertarian guy||

    Your assuming, John, that leftists agree that corporations should have those rights.

  • ||

    Fair enough. But I doubt they would publicly admit that.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    Go read the comments here and get back to me.

    This case has rendered the vast majority of leftists in full retard mode. Some are literally asking what harm a little suppression of free speech would do? You know, because it has been determined by The Right People™ that, in the case of speech, sometimes a little suppression can go a long way to furthering their goals of a "fair" society.

  • Jumbie||

    Aren't churches prohibited from political speech though? Or outright endorsement of a candidate at any rate?

    I'm surprised that hasn't been knocked down by the supreme court.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    It's because of their tax-free status, not because they don't have an inherent right to speak. They willingly traded that right in order to be tax-free. They are more than welcome to engage in any political speech they see fit if they give up their status.

    That said, every church I have ever gone to has engaged in very thinly veiled political speech. One of those fucking signs in a church parking lot in North Florida read "Don't get left behind. Be sure to choose the right path." If that isn't blatant enough, I'm not sure what is.

  • ||

    I get into regular disputes about this on Facebook and Boing Boing.

    Dear Zod, why?

    Life's. Too. Short.

  • ||

    It sharpens my rhetorical skills, and presents some ideas to people they may not have been exposed to. I get some "Likes" in both places, but usually not as many as my opponents.

  • ||

    Masterful alt-text, Ron.

  • Isaac Bartram||

    ...politicans can hand money directly to voters...


    ...

    They already do.

    What else are all those entitlements and subsidies?

    If anyone is woried about undue influence they should be concerned about the influence that incumbency buys.

  • Liberty||

    ... as a liberal, I do like to bring Citizens United up when some wingtard goes all: "Derp, Obamacare must be repealed because it polls unpopularly!"

    ... personally, I don't really have a problem with Citizens United. It's only going to last until it costs a Republican the White House anyway, then the Supreme Court will shoot it down.

  • Rev. Blue Moon ||

    Try not to flame her too hard, folks. She probably bought this without a hint of irony.

  • ||

    Why do you ......eeaaase into your comments?

  • Hugh Akston||

    It's the typographical equivalent of that condescending tone lefties use when they explain something to the jugheads who disagree with them.

  • o3||

    since tone is nuance, its easier to just use smaller words w wingnuts.

  • Paul||

    Or eschew capitalization and punctuation.

  • o3||

    whats a smaller word for pendantic boar?

  • AHAHAHHAAHAH||

    "boar?"

    AHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAH

    boar

    AHAHAHAHAAHAHAAHAHAAHAHAAHAHAHAHAAHAHAAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHHAAH @ U

  • Hugh Akston||

    A persnickety pig?

  • T||

    I think a pendantic boar is a pig necklace.

  • fish||

    Ummm....o3?

  • Hi rether||

    .

  • No one says that||

    "when some wingtard goes all: "Derp, Obamacare must be repealed because it polls unpopularly!"

    No one says that. At least not before they point out that it's unconstitutional.

  • Paul||

    At least not before they point out that it's unconstitutional.

    Dead slave-owning white guys!

  • Jeff||

    Dear E.J.,

    The Washington Post is a corporation.

    Your friend,

    Jeff

  • Brett L||

    This is different! They pay him to publish HIS opinion. Although, I am uncertain why they do this. Which is different in some ineffable way.

  • wef||

    So? Can we call this powerworshiping lewinsky a fascist, or not? I would not want to exaggerate or to seem hyperbolic or anythimg. But this thuggish chatterturd is such a powersuckup.

  • ||

    Yes. If one can be an absolutist on the Establishment Clause (no law means no law) the same applies to Free Speech (or commercial speech). Porn is a good another example. "NO LAW" is the operative phrase.

  • Rev. Blue Moon ||

    In the age of antidiscrimination statutes, you cannot uphold both the Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause, as witnessed in EEOC v. Hosanna-Tabor.

  • ||

    Interesting. I am opposed to quotas/AA but in favor of the Civil Rights Act.

    I guess that is another demerit for me on the LP purity test.

  • Well, since you're a leftist||

    "I guess that is another demerit for me on the LP purity test."

    Why do you care about that when you're clearly a leftist trying to pretend you're not?

  • Rev. Blue Moon ||

    Seriously, shrike isn't even the "classical liberal" he claims to be. Otherwise it wouldn't be all "BOOSH DID THIS" and "BOOOOSCH DID THAT"

  • ||

    BUSH MADE ME A LEFTIST!!!

  • ||

    Because I laugh at you Purity Dipshits.

    Friedman and Hayek are "leftists" in your fucked-up ZERO regulatory World of Fantasy.

  • Rev. Blue Moon ||

    Friedman and Hayek are "leftists" in your fucked-up ZERO regulatory World of Fantasy.

    Which political parties did they work for again?

  • ||

    "Friedman and Hayek are "leftists" in your fucked-up ZERO regulatory World of Fantasy."

    I KNOW WHAT EVERYONE ELSE THINKS AND ASSIGN POSITIONS TO THEM BASED ON NO INFORMATION WHATSOEVER BECAUSE I GOT OUTED AS A LEFTIST!!!!!

  • cynical||

    Really, there's a plausible legal middle ground: if the individual right to freedom of speech is not absolute (ie, obscenity, etc. are not part of it), but the first amendment restriction on Congress is absolute, then only the weaker individual right would be protected by the 14th amendment.

    States would still have to abide by any existing restrictions, but Congress would lose all capacity to regulate any type of content -- pornography, political speech, entertainment, commerical advertisment, etc. Even fraud could conceivably be off-limits.

  • ||

    What's so hard to understand about the phrase "Congress shall make no law"?

    -----------------------------------

    Dionne doesn't give a shit about the idea of constitutional republicanism, and Dionne doesn't give a shit about the Constitution of the United States. His pendulous appeal to he Supreme Court is based entirely upon a desire to see the very system that erected it eviscerated by judicial dictat issued and enforced absolutely and unequivocally counter to any notions of liberty and justice to be taken seriously.

    The only use assholes of his sort have for the supreme charter of this republic is as toilet paper.

  • Alice Bowie||

    I go with Justin Bieber

    "Never say 'Never' "

  • It's like...||

    Baby Baby Baby OHHHHH!!!!

  • Rev. Blue Moon ||

    Earworm music is thisaway ↑

  • That's right bitch||

    I know you'll always be mine.

  • ||

    If Dionne and the left and the media ar all torqued to the panty-twisting maximum over the flow of campaign money into Washington, then maybe they should consider the solution to this:

    Have the federal government do less and spend less and regulate less.

    Less money available in the trough, less reason for the hogs to assemble. Fewer regs on business, fewer lobbyists in good shoes needed to monitor them.

  • ||

    The Less Party.

  • NoVAHockey||

    As a lobbyist, that's my stock answer. Want to limit my influence? regulate my clients less.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    But without government regulating everything, we'd be just like Somalia. Don't you like buying meat without maggots?

  • cynical||

    "If Dionne and the left and the media ar all torqued to the panty-twisting maximum over the flow of campaign money into Washington,"

    They're not, they're just aggravated that other corporate entities get the same first amendment protection that the self-labelled "press" has claimed that it, and it alone, deserves. A privileged class whining about increasing legal equality, that's all it is.

  • ||

    "justices were not required to think through the practical consequences of sweeping aside decades of work by legislators." Like Roe v. Wade?

    The left wants the Supreme Court to be their back-up legislature in support of their "correct" views on (name it). And to be the final approving vote when the legislature has gotten it "right".

  • ||

    And when legislatures ban gay marriage, the left certainly have no problem sweeping that work away.

  • Influential Progressive||

    Studies show that people whose ideas don't conform with mine are stupid, mentally ill, and/or under-educated. Political writing and advertising that appeals to the stupids, mentally ill, under-educated population is counter productive to the greater good. So the government should strive to eliminate these writings and advertisements from public discourse.

    This is the true meaning of the 1st.

  • Alice Bowie||

    You must admit that the poor and the religious are being duped by the rich republicans who are using them as suckers.

  • Zeb||

    Nah. Some of them are duped by rich democrats who are using them as suckers.

  • Influential Progressive||

    Thanks for that lovely example.

  • cynical||

    True, it's not like Democrats take shittons of money from special interests and then retire to work for them. It's not like the financial reform bill touted as a great Democratic achievement is named after two Democrats retired or retiring after increased scrutiny on possible corruption in their dealings with some of the same entities that their bill will allegedly "reform".

    Irony, dude. Look it up. And if you want to follow the money, why not look at which presidential candidate is getting the least money from corporate entities and billionaires?

  • ||

    The left wants the Supreme Court to be their back-up legislature in support of their "correct" views on (name it). And to be the final approving vote when the legislature has gotten it "right".

    This is because the left also wants to believe that the USA is a democracy, not a constitutional republic, and that it's the supreme court's job to rubber stamp anything passed by Congress.

  • ||

    I don't think they believe that. They are not that consistent. They just want power. If Congress banned gay marriage or ended welfare, I guarantee you the left would not want the court rubber stamping that.

  • Jeff||

    You wrongly assume that the Left gives even that much of a shit about process. The Left wants what the Left wants, period. The ends always justify the means, and their good intentions always justify the inevitably fucked up ends.

  • Alice Bowie||

    Whether a "constitutional Republic or Democracy", Democracy CAN TRUMP the constitutional with amendments. Amendments require MAJORITY VOTE and any part of the constitution can be struck down.

  • Zeb||

    Even then, amendments are approved by state legislatures and not directly by the people.

  • Alice Bowie||

    state legislatures elected by the people...it can happen and has.

  • fish||

    Fine Alice then tell TEAM BLUE to follow the rules for once....

  • kinnath||

    super majority votes of the states.

  • cynical||

    That doesn't trump the constitution, that is the constitution.

  • ||

    I don't think they believe that. They are not that consistent.


    Oh, I never said they were consistent.

  • A Serious Man||

    Liberals are retarded, why does this come as a surprise to anyone? Citizens United is the most deliberately distorted SCOTUS ruling in history, and I wish Chief Justice Roberts would have stoood up during that State of the Union Address and told Obama and his supporters to go fuck themselves if they don't like the First Amendment.

  • ||

    If Roberts had stood up, taken over the moment and given an Eric Straten style rant about America and free speech and then walked off taking the rest of the majority in Citizens' United with him, it would have been one of the great moments in American history.

  • ||

    But it DOES allow foreign corporations the same free speech rights.

    And it should in my opinion.

  • o3||

    nope - foreign corps can be waterboarded.

  • AHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAH||

    waterboarded?

    AHAHAHAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA @ U

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Remember:

    The *ONLY* reason Citizens United happened, is because some people got together and made a movie critical of Hillary Clinton's presidential candidacy.

    Reap what you sow, fucking liberals.

  • ||

    a world of super PACs and phony corporations set up for the sole purpose of disguising a donor’s identity?

    Did they think that a presidential candidacy might be kept alive largely through the generosity of a Las Vegas gambling magnate with important financial interests in China?

    I guess that whole identity-disguising thing doesn't work too well in practice.

  • Sevo||

    John|2.6.12 @ 2:15PM|#
    "And of course if corporations are not PEOPLE..."

    I don't think this matters one bit.
    "Congress shall make no law ... abridging ... speech".
    Nowhere is that limited to actual "people"; the limit is specifically on Congress and what it may not do.

  • ||

    It matters a lot. Implicit in those protections is that they are protecting people. If you are not a "person" under the Constitution, you cannot avail yourself of the protection.

  • A Serious Man||

    Okay, but why newspapers and not PACs? Both serve the purpose of informing the public and are thus protected by both free speech and freedom of the press. There is no way you can get around the First Amendment on this issue.

  • ||

    I would say they all should get the same protection. I wouldn't have any campaign finance laws.

  • Not diasgreeing||

    "If you are not a "person" under the Constitution, you cannot avail yourself of the protection."

    What cases outline this theory?

  • ||

    I think it is implicit. For example, For example, if a state regulated the barking of dogs, the dogs wouldn't have standing to sue over it. The whole point of corporation law is that corporations are "persons' under the law.

  • Not diasgreeing||

    So, are you aware of ANY cases where this idea has been discussed?

    Full Disclosure, I don not think it's implicit, but I did (vaguely, kinda) think it had been litigated.

    Has it?

  • ||

    Not a corporation lawyer, so I don't know off hand. But corporations are legally created "people" under the law. And they are entitled to things like due process. So I am sure there is a case out there somewhere saying, "no a corporation is treated just like a person for the purposes of due process or government takings or whatever".

  • Not diasgreeing||

    "But corporations are legally created "people" under the law."

    Right, which is almost certainly the case I was thinking of.

    But as far as I'm aware, that doesn't discuss the idea that "'If you are not a "person" under the Constitution, you cannot avail yourself of the protection.'"

    I don't think the two are the same thing at all.

    And it looks like Dartmout College v Woodward started the discussion.

  • ||

    Regardless my point still stands. If corporations cannot avail themselves of the protections of the 1st Amendment, why can they avail themselves of any other protection? If Congress can limit their free speech, why can't Congress past ex post facto laws against them or take their property without due process or compensation?

    Why is the 1st Amendment different than the rest of the Constitution?

  • Not diasgreeing||

    "Regardless my point still stands."

    Um, ok? What's with the confrontational crap, I was asking you (a lawyer) if you were aware of a case where "If you are not a "person" under the Constitution, you cannot avail yourself of the protection."

    You know, since you made the claim, I was interested in reading more about it.

    Sorry if you got a bug up your ass cause you don't have a case to cite.

  • ||

    I am not being confrontational.

  • Yes you were||

    ""Regardless my point still stands."

    NO ONE WAS ARGUING THAT POINT.

    Welcome to my ignore list, demonstrate your ignorance of caselaw to someone else.

  • ||

    And I can't think of a single example where the limitations on government power apply to something besides people or their legal equivalent.

  • Not diasgreeing||

    So, do you have a case to cite or not?

  • Not diasgreeing||

    SO you don't have a case, cool.

    As an aside, I was asking you a question for my own education, and you've been obtuse and confrontational.

    If you think you accomplished anything by forwarding a point no one disputed and ignoring an honest request when "sorry, I don't think there is a case" or an equivalent would have worked, you have a problem.

  • ||

    I think the corporation cases that say that corporations have Constitutional rights necessarily mean that you have to be some kind of legal "person" to get the protections.

    I am not being confrontational. I just don't quite understand what you are saying.

  • Yes you were||

    Too late asshole.

  • ||

    Yes you were|2.6.12 @ 3:08PM|#

    Too late asshole.

    Go take your meds and go fuck yourself rather. Post under a single name, so we can ignore you okay.

  • MNG||

    Saying "x is a person" is not legally the same as saying "x, not being a person is not entitled to constitutional protection".

    Pretty easy to understand.

    And yes, you were being confrontational.

  • ||

    Saying "x is a person" is not legally the same as saying "x, not being a person is not entitled to constitutional protection".

    What exactly is entitled to protection if not people? To go to court you have to have standing. And to have standing you have to be a person under the law. That is why the law creates corporations, so that people can create entities outside of their own assets that have "personhood" meaning they can sue, be sued and have protection under the law.

    The point goes back, if corporations are not people for the purpose of the 1st Amendment, why are they people for the purposes of anything else? What is so special about the 1st Amendment.

  • MNG||

    John, you make the mistake of thinking I care about hearing you regurgitate your opinion.

    I don't, I was simply pointing out that the distinction you didn't understand but was obvious.

    For example, when asked about case law, you reply "Regardless my point still stands" as though someone were debating you.

    The case involved in the decision that says "to have standing you have to be a person under the law." would have sufficed.

    But for some reason, you meander into an imagined defense of a point no one addressed, at least not in this sub-thread.

    You were asked about caselaw, not to make a point.

    Get it? No one askled you to make or defend a point and yet you insisted in doing so, then you played ignorant when told you were being confrontational.

    Well guy, you defended a point no one attacked in a sub-thread where someone made it clear they were asking a question.

    Not every discussion is an excuse to force your point down our throats.

  • ||

    What are you even talking about MNG? And who asked you?

    The question is, why does the Constitution only protect "persons" under the law? And the answer is, well because you have to be a person to go to court and enforce said rights, so effectively they do only apply to people.

    It is a simple concept and rather was just being obtuse and annoying. But fortunately for her you managed to show up and be not only annoying but also smug.

  • MNG||

    The question is, why does the Constitution only protect "persons" under the law?

    No it wasn't. Why so much trouble with reading john?

    The question was ""If you are not a "person" under the Constitution, you cannot avail yourself of the protection."

    What cases outline this theory?

    No one asked you to make a point. Yet you confrontationally asserted John|2.6.12 @ 2:56PM|#|show direct|ignore
    Regardless my point still stands

    in response to an imagined attack.

    The question was What cases outline this theory?

    DO YOU UNDERSTAND THAT AT NO POINT DID ANYONE ASK YOU TO MAKE A POINT?

    Grow up John.

  • ||

    MNG, you really are just very unpleasant.

  • MNG||

    So, have you reached the point where you're just going to level personal attacks now?

  • All grey fucker||

    Fail to answer someone else's question cunt.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    It's not that the corporation is treated as a person, but that the individuals make up the corporation do not suddenly lose their rights because they have exercised their other first amendment protection of free association. Corporations themselves do not have rights; those who make up the corporation do.

  • ||

    MLG,

    I would say the corporations themselves have rights. It is called corporate person-hood for a reason. That corporation acts just like a person. It can sign contracts, sue, be sued, get things like due process protection. It is a person in about every sense of the legal term.

  • MNG||

    And you were ONLY EVER ASKED IF YOU WERE AWARE OF CASES THAT OUTLINED THIS AND WHAT THEY WERE.

    14 posts later, after ginning up a debate that never occurred, you still haven't said no you can't name them.

    That's all you were asked John. It's not an attack or debate.

    Stop acting like it is.

  • ||

    I am starting to think you are the griefer troll MNG. I know you are normally a prick. But it is odd you got involved in all of this.

  • MNG||

    Why can't you just answer the question you were asked John?

  • The 5th Amendment||

    "It is a person in about every sense of the legal term."

    You're an idiot John.

  • ||

    That is an interesting point MNG. You know you can just post under your own name now that I know who you are.

    But "about" doesn't mean "all". They still have due process rights and so forth. So again, why is the 1st like the 5th and the the 14th?

  • MNG||

    Of course, everyone is rather.

    Does the paranoia ever get old?

    The question was What cases outline this theory?

  • MNG||

    Alright, who the fuck are you and why are you posting under my handle? Seriously, wtf is wrong with you?

  • ||

    I don't know, that's why I spent an hour debating nothing with people who weren't disagreeing.

  • MNG||

    What kind of warped mind not only posts as me, but posts dozens of posts as me?

  • MNG||

    Nice try John, is that really how you intend to avoid admitting your issues?

  • MNG||

    For the record John, and others, I only post under the handle MNG. Why in the world people would spoof post people, especially for an entire conversation, is beyond me. Get a life people.

  • MNG||

    ^ grow up john

  • MNG||

    By the way, you'll see I'm neither debating you nor disagreeing with your points.

    Just answer the question John.

  • MNG||

    You're not talking to John, this is MNG. Who the f*ck are you? What mental imbalance has you posting under my handle?

  • MNG||

    Hi John

  • MNG||

    Dude, you blew it at 3:48. As SIV has famously pointed out I don't know how to post in bold or italics and such.

    Wtf is wrong with you?

  • MNG||

    ^spoof

  • ||

    I apologize MNG. That was really stupid of me to get sucked in like that. The griefer is at it again.

  • MNG||

    Sorry, John, but it was the real me.

    The spoofer is having fun with you now.

    So answer the question please.

  • ||

    I can't, that's why I spent a hour repeating that my point stands despite no one anywhere asking for or attempting to refute any point.

    I am actually so profoundly stupid, that when asked a simple question about the name of a related case, I spend an ENTIRE HOUR refuting something no one asserted.

    Yes, my reading skills suck.

  • MNG||

    Dude, you need to get help. I'm not kidding.

  • MNG||

    ^spoof

  • MNG||

    I can't imagine what could be wrong with a person that he/she would post under someone else's handle for hours. That's pretty f*cked up. I have half a mind to email the editors and ask them to reveal the usual handle this nut posts under...

    In the future you can count on my near total html incompetence, I never could figure out how to bold, italics and such...If you see that, it's a spoof.

  • ||

    ^spoof

  • MNG||

    STOP SPOOFING ME!

  • MNG||

    Sigh. School is out I guess..

    Have fun, deranged nut.

  • MNG||

    ^spoof

  • MNG||

    ^spoof

    And for the record I have great html skills, so if you see a post that doesn't have italics or bold posting under my name you should know it's a spoof.

  • MNG||

    ^not a spoof

  • ||

    I know this is a day late, but what the fuck people?

    I don't always agree with John, but it's pretty fucking clear from reading that entire screed that he wasn't being confrontational.

    When Not diasgreeing|2.6.12 @ 2:53PM|#

    "But corporations are legally created "people" under the law."

    Right, which is almost certainly the case I was thinking of.

    But as far as I'm aware, that doesn't discuss the idea that "'If you are not a "person" under the Constitution, you cannot avail yourself of the protection.'"

    I don't think the two are the same thing at all.

    And it looks like Dartmout College v Woodward started the discussion.

  • ||

    damn it, it helps to not hit submit before you're done typing.

    When you say:
    Right, which is almost certainly the case I was thinking of.

    But as far as I'm aware, that doesn't discuss the idea that "'If you are not a "person" under the Constitution, you cannot avail yourself of the protection.'"

    And then John says:
    Regardless my point still stands.

    It's pretty fucking obvious if your reading comprehension is above that of a 4th grader that his statement is in direct response to your statement. That's not confrontational. He's literally saying that even if it DID discuss the stated idea, his point still stands. Jesus tap dancing Christ you fucking moron.

    (Now what I just said IS confrontational)

  • Hugh Akston||

    Good luck with that argument. I keep trying to tell people that there are no references to citizenship or enemy combatants in the Eighth Amendment.

  • A Serious Man||

    Corporations are only not people in the sense that they are government created entites with particular rights (ie limited liability and tax considerations).

    Nevertheless, I've astounded many a liberal by pointing out that at its barest meaning, corporations are merely groups of people pooling their resources to achieve a common goal. Somtimes the goal is profit (ie a business), sometimes labor conessions (ie a union) and somtimes political influence (ie an advocacy group). They then proceed to twist themselves into knots trying to explain why businesses are evil and unions and certian advocaccy groups are good.

  • ||

    But they are people in the sense that they have a right to due process, privacy and the other protections in the Constitution.

  • Realist||

    E.J. Dionne one of the few "men" who can make Truman Capote look and sound like an ass kicker.

  • Richard Head||

    This is silly. Everyone knows that money can only influence an election if it comes from a public union.

  • Jerry Brown||

    I know, right?

  • Alice Bowie||

    Not All liberals believe that businesses are evil, per se.

    It comes down to rotten individuals that can exists in any group (corporation, unions, advocacy groups, etc.)

  • Jeff||

    And...? The First Amendment applies to rotten individuals just as much as it does to anyone else.

  • ||

    Of course all liberals believe that they can not only know which of these people are rotten but also have the power to silence these rotten individuals. Since they have no such power and would therefore inevitably misuse such power, it is effectively the same thing as believing businesses are evil per se.

  • A Serious Man||

    But NEVER government, right Alice? We must never question the wisdom of giving government bureaucrats large amounts of power because it is only a matter of time before the Right People descend from the heavens to guide us.

  • Tony||

    "It comes down to rotten individuals that can exists in any group (corporation, unions, advocacy groups, etc.)"

    Government! Don't leave out government!

    Wait....DISREGARD!

  • ChrisO||

    Wesley Mouch.

  • ||

    The sad part is everyone knew beforehand that the case was going to be decided for the plaintiffs. And Kagan's comments about the law allowing book banning made it even more of a sure thing. The liberals are upset that the court didn't carve out an exemption for the movie and leave the framework of McCain/Feingold. The court was wise to issue a ruling that avoided dozens of new cases testing the law.

  • ||

    People here know I'm a harsh critic of the corporate legal entity.

    At the same time, the wording of the First Amendment can't be any plainer. The premise that an individual loses free speech rights when speaking on behalf of a specific type (non-"media") of a specific type (for profit business) of a specific type of organization (corporation) is ludicrous and can not be based on anything the Constitution.

  • ||

    What is wrong with the corporate legal entity? In allowing people to shield their own assets, you got people to take risks and invest. The corporation has probably created more wealth than any other legal entity in history. If you banned corporations we would be dirt ass poor nearly over night.

  • cynical||

    Can we not rehash this argument? Speech is the subject. Corporations don't speak. Humans do. If there is speech, it is individual human speech. If a law is aimed specifically at money used for speech, it is aimed at speech. If a law was aimed specifically at restricting donations to churches, no honest court would ever claim that passed 1st amendment muster.

  • ||

    That is all true. But what the hell does it have to do with corporations? I don't see why you can't agree with all of that and still think the corporate entity is still a good idea.

    And corporations sure as hell do speak. They sign contracts and do everything else people do.

  • The 5th amendment||

    "They sign contracts and do everything else people do."

    Stop lying John.

  • MNG||

    "What is wrong with the corporate legal entity?"

    My answer is nothing, in certain contexts!

    I like corporations. As a mechanism to encourage investment and economic growth they are great.

    But I can see why people want their political activity limited. Actual people can be selfish but in theory there is some civic virtue in them to appeal to. The Founders counted on that.

    But corporations are created to ignore such things and concentrate on maximizing investor value. That's a great thing in the business realm, it keeps corporate management working for the investor. But it might be thought to be a scary mindset for a member of a polity.

    That's the argument anyway. Note though it doesn't seem to non-profs if you ask me...

  • cynical||

    "I like corporations. As a mechanism to encourage investment and economic growth they are great."

    You're confusing the legal entity with the more specific class of business entities. Particularly as regards Citizen's United (which involved a non-profit, non-business corporation), this just adds to the confusion. Corporations help people cooperate in order to do stuff. Sometimes that stuff is making money, as that's an important part of life. Sometimes it's making political documentaries.

  • ||

    As a mechanism to encourage investment and economic growth they are great.

    What about as a mechanism for charitable works or public advocacy?

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    It's interesting in that political speech really would be outside of what a corporation should do. If I'm invested in Coca-Cola, I would be pissed if they used cash flows to promote a particular candidate, as opposed to distribute it to shareholders, or for capex, etc. For that reason, I don't think the Doomsday scenario where corporations spend billions to skew the outcomes of elections will materialize. Sure, some closely held corporations may be able to spend billions on political speech. But if I'm a shareholder, and see in the 10-K that the firm has spent billions on this stuff, I'd want blood. The board would certainly have to approve this stuff, and it seems like it would really violate their fiduciary duty to shareholders.

  • ||

    Socialization of risk is great at building wealth, but bad for individual rights. Limited liability is a state market distortion, and possibly the worst one at that. It encourages businesses to play fast and loose with individual rights to maximize profits with minimum risk to the owners.

    If the corporate entity went away, they'd merely buy liability insurance to protect the owners' assets, and the insurance company will function as the check against excessive liability. Which is as it should be.

  • Inkstained Wretch||

    "Did they think that a presidential candidacy might be kept alive largely through the generosity of a Las Vegas gambling magnate with important financial interests in China?"

    This argument is stupid on its face. Yes, the Adelsons have given $10 mil (that we know of) to Gingrich. But what has that done (other than line the pockets of GOP campaign consultants)? Gingrich has a single primary victory to his credit and his campaign is rapidly deflating.
    Despite the money he is not going anywhere.

    When will liberals learn that no amount of money can make voters buy something if they don't believe it? For crissakes, people go back and re-read Eric Hoffer.

  • MNG||

    Since some deranged person has decided to spoof post as me throughout this thread, let me chime in briefly to state my position.

    I think both sides have a point. I like to read the 1st as absolutist as possible and there is no way to ignore that the law in Citizens was barring political speech. That's a pretty heavy fact its critics must lift imo.

    On the other hand I get the concern the left has. It's a simple argument:

    If money=influence and thus power, then those with more money will have more influence and power. If unequal amounts of power is bad then that is bad.

    I'm not sure how this can be resolved...

  • MNG||

    ^spoof

  • MNG||

    ^spoof

  • ||

    My apologies for not realizing you were being spoofed above.

  • Spoofers United||

    That's okay John! We have been doing an awful lot of practice recently!

  • MNG||

    No problem.

    Is that rather? Jesus that person is crazy...

  • MNG||

    ^spoof

  • MNG||

    Is that why you acted like an incoherent asshole?

  • cynical||

    If money is power, then power is money. For the sake of income equality, we must take as much power from government officials as possible.

  • ||

    That's a great, succinct translation of my philosophy.

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    If money=influence and thus power, then those with more money will have more influence and power. If unequal amounts of power is bad then that is bad.

    What if those with better rhetorical skills benefit more and accrue more influence and power from the First Amendment than those without? If unequal amounts of power is bad, letting people speak well is bad.

  • ||

    Whether corporations are people is irrelvant to the issue--The constitution says "no law."

    That being said, Dionne's screed does not mention one bad thing that has come from this decision. Why anyone bothers printing his columns or reading them is beyond me.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    Dionne is the type of twerp you remember from high school that talked like a know-it-all, but immediately folded like a cheap suit the minute anyone challenged him on his bullshit. He's a classic example of why anti-bullying laws need to be repealed post-haste.

  • Jumbie||

    People have been making the 'newspapers are corporations' argument for a while now to the left and getting back "journalists are exempt" as a standard reply.

    Maybe we could ask instead "Would you be OK with people/corporations/unions instead of buying political ads, sponsoring a news program that brought up the facts of the 'negative' ads over and over again? I mean it's been mentioned here often that the S-PACs are doing the press's job for them, so maybe it's time to just start paying for an activist press.

    They could say 'mumble mumble fairness doctrine mumble impartiality' or they could admit that such a move would make a ban on superpacs ineffective anyway.

  • ||

    "Actually, Dionne is right. In fact, the "justices were not required to think through the practical consequences of sweeping aside decades of work by legislators.""

    Dionne contradicts himself by both calling for the Justices to legislate from the bench (in support of the actual legislators who wrote McCain-Feingold) while at the same time he criticizes the Court for "legislating from the bench" against those same legislators.

  • crack||

    liberals never mention that Citizens United was about the fucking banning of a movie. even if you like the idea of campaign finance reform, if you support mccain feingold, you're also implicitly supporting government movie bans and censorship. and liberals endlessly drone on about how "corporations are not people", as if this is some fundamental challenge to the ruling. to them, the entire argument is "people have free speech rights. corporations are people. therefore corporations have speech rights." their superior liberal logic tells them "corporations don't = people, you idiot," because they sincerely believe not just that this is relevant, but that its some kind of devastating philosophical critique. there's a reason the constitution says "congress shall make no law", and not "people have free speech", yet this distinction is entirely lost on NPR listeners.
    and their resentment of advertising perfectly encapsulates snobbish paternalism: if corporations buy a million TV commercials, they can brainwash everyone (except the sophisticated, liberal information consumers) into voting for some corporation-loving pig. they're so smart that they alone can resist the corporate brainwashing apparatus, and they know who really should be elected. everyone else, however, is so dumb that they need protection from the evil commercials. if our minds aren't properly sheltered, elections will degenerate into a race between corporations to trick the most illiterates into voting for the objectively wrong person by buying advertising. but thank god we sheeple have our enlightened liberal protectors to make sure we don't get confused or tricked. the assault of dangerously persuasive advertising that would otherwise surely ensue is a risk we just can't afford to take.

  • NL_||

    "important financial interests in China"

    I'm glad we have thoughtful progressives like E.J. Dionne to protect us from those thieving, inscrutable Chinese. The New York Times will not rest until our Coke is safe!

  • NL_||

    Just to be clear, I'm aware WaPo and NYT are separate publications. I was combining them with the 'progressive' thing.

  • ||

    Funny that corporations can spend billions to market their products to us. And yet, we can somehow surf around on the internet, and find the best quality at the best price and therefore get the best deal.

    But somehow EJ is terribly, terribly worried that our stupid fragile brains won't be able to do that with a candidate.

    Funny, but if McCain had only fought back with the information known about Obama, we'd have a different president today.

    Government is a bully. Leave us alone to debate, learn and promote who we want how we want.

  • دردشه عراقية||

    Thanks

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