Campaign Finance

We Must Amend the Constitution to Help Donna Edwards Stay in Office

|

Here is Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Md.) explaining why she is introducing a constitutional amendment in response to Citizens United:

Justice Brandeis got it right: democracy, or wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but not both. And that's truer today as the United States Supreme Court just wiped away decades of legal precedent, allowing corporations to spend unlimited money from their treasuries on our elections. The American people already believe that corporate special interests and their lobbyists run the show around here. I mean, the halls are crawling with them. But that's not enough. Now the Court says to the big banks, to the drug companies, to the insurance companies, "Hey, all bets are off, and it's open season. Our elections are for sale."

So that's right, if the [corporations don't] like what this congresswoman is doing, they'll just forget the voters, buy TV ads, send robocalls, send a lot of mail, and beat her in November. A law won't fix this; we have to fix it in the Constitution. So today I'll introduce a constitutional amendment so that we the people can take back our elections and our democracy. This is not the People's House Inc. We are the people. It's our house, it's our Constitution, and it's our election. And we plan to take it back from the United States Supreme Court.

Shorter version: We need to amend the constitution because the public already has a low opinion of Congress, and allowing people to criticize us more will make us look even worse; I might even lose an election. Not the most compelling reasons, assuming you are not a member of Congress. Here is the text of the Speech for People Amendment:

Amendment XXVIII

Section 1.  The sovereign right of the people to govern being essential to a free democracy, the First Amendment shall not be construed to limit the authority of Congress and the States to define, regulate, and restrict the spending and other activity of any corporation, limited liability entity, or other corporate entity created by state or federal law or the law of another nation.

Section 2.  Nothing contained in this Article shall be construed to abridge the freedom of the press.

Section 2 is presumably intended to protect media corporations (such as those that own the corporation-bashing New York Times and Washington Post) from whatever restrictions on "spending and other activity" Congress dreams up. According to Free Speech for People, which put together the amendment and provided the video of Edwards, the amendment "will do nothing to infringe freedom of speech or of the press." How so? "The First Amendment clearly prevents government suppression of 'the press,' whether a corporation or not, and that is as it should be." The First Amendment also says "freedom of speech," with no qualifier indicating that it does not apply to individuals organized as corporations, but they want to change that part. Why not restrict "freedom of the press" too?

In any event, the distinction means that officially recognized members of the media get to speak more freely than mere citizens who join together as corporations, even (especially?) if the main goal of their group is to affect public policy. If you work for The New York Times or The Washington Post (or Reason—whew!), you can speak your mind without worrying about how soon the election is or whether you are making voters more or less likely to support a particular candidate. But if you work for the National Rifle Association, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Sierra Club, or a small business, you'd better watch what you say when you speak on behalf of your employer. Aside from the blatant injustice of this two-class approach to the First Amendment, there is the problem of telling the difference between a media corporation and a nonmedia corporation, as the Supreme Court noted in Citizens United:

There is no precedent supporting laws that attempt to distinguish between corporations which are deemed to be exempt as media corporations and those which are not. "We have consistently rejected the proposition that the institutional press has any constitutional privilege beyond that of other speakers."With the advent of the Internet and the decline of print and broadcast media, moreover, the line between the media and others who wish to comment on political and social issues becomes far more blurred.

The law's exception for media corporations is, on its own terms, all but an admission of the invalidity of the antidistortion rationale. And the exemption results in a further, separate reason for finding this law invalid: Again by its own terms, the law exempts some corporations but covers others, even though both have the need or the motive to communicate their views. The exemption applies to media corporations owned or controlled by corporations that have diverse and substantial investments and participate in endeavors other than news. So even assuming the most doubtful proposition that a news organization has a right to speak when others do not, the exemption would allow a conglomerate that owns both a media business and an unrelated business to influence or control the media in order to advance its overall business interest. At the same time, some other corporation, with an identical business interest but no media outlet in its ownership structure, would be forbidden to speak or inform the public about the same issue. This differential treatment cannot be squared with the First Amendment.

Obviously, if we incorporated the differential treatment into the First Amendment by changing the Constitution, then it could be squared. But that would not make it fair or wise.

Today Stanford law professor Lawrence Lessig and his group, Change Congress, endorsed the idea of amending the Constitution to overturn Citizens United, although it's not clear what language he supports. Previous Reason coverage of the idea here and here.

NEXT: Let Us Be Clear: Reason Editors To Live-Blog Obama's State of the Union

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.

  1. HAHAHAHAHAHA

    Have fun getting 3/4 of state legislatures to sign off on this, Donna.

    She should be mocked relentlessly for this, but as we’ve seen, at least the NYT–if not other major media outlets–agrees with her.

    1. Wow, she’s smart!

      By the way, did our astronauts ever retrieve the flag we left on Mars back in the Apollo days?

  2. I’ll trade them the 28th for the repeal of the 16th and 17th.

  3. there is the problem of telling the difference between a media corporation and a nonmedia corporation,

    No kidding. My first suggestion to any corporation would be to drop its PR function into a wholly-owned subsidiary, and claim that the subsidiary, as a separate corporation engaged in communication, is entitled to freedom of the press and publish all the scurrilous screeds about half-witted politicians that it wants, whenever it wants.

    Lets see Our Masters distinguish the corporate subsidiary of GE engaged in communication and entitled to freedom of the press (that would be NBC, now owned jointly by ComCast and GE), from the corporate subsidiary of the NRA.

    1. Yes, that’s what I don’t get about all this. People are claiming we have to overturn this to stop Exxon from buying all future elections, but of course there needs to be an exception for “media corporations” like the NY Times and CBS. Well, in what sense is Citizens United not a “media corporation”? Didn’t they form to make a documentary? How are they essentially different from a corporation that produces a newspaper or magazine or TV show or any other sort of film?

    2. I was thinking the same thing. This would be frighteningly easy to circumvent as you described.

      Amendments XXX through CLVII will handle the details of who is really “the press.”

      1. …Amendments XXX through CLVII…

        *shudder*

    3. R C, you’ve got the answer.

      This amendment could save the struggling newspaper (and radio) industry. Using the MS-NBC precedent, every corporation in the U.S. could buy a struggling newspaper to use as their official mouthpiece. If the paper continued to lose money it’s even better because the losses from their media subsidiary would help offset profits from their other businesses. They could bash politicians at will and save on taxes at the same time.

      The absurdity of what I just wrote demonstrates how little the amendment folks have thought about the implications of their proposal. Ready-fire-aim.

  4. Amendment XXIX

    Section 1. Unions either.

  5. I love how the start of this amendment has a distinctly 2nd amendment feel.

  6. The Amendment essentially reads:

    “We have to ban free speech in order to protect it.”

  7. No one ever puts all of the liberal positions on political speech together. If you do, it is pretty disturbing. The same people who want this amendment also worry about the “corporate controlled media”. If given the chance, they would have the government control who owned media outlets and via the fairness doctrine have the government have a large say in the content those media outlets put out.

    Put it all together and it is a pretty grim picture. If people like Edwards got their way, non-media corporations would basically be banned from engaging in political speech. Meanwhile, the government would exert strict control over media corporations by having approval over who owned them via anti-trust law and approval over their content via vigorous enforcement of the fairness doctrine.

    Yeah, that sounds like a recipe for a free and open society.

    1. and you want mcdonald’s and exxon to run the country.

      or am I overreaching a bit?

      1. I do believe that nearly all of your posts, so far, are overreaching of your ability to grasp the simple idea of free speech.

        Begone troll.

        1. Or perhaps they’re beyond your naive view of free speech and 1st amendment principles.

          But even as labeled a so-called ‘troll’, that’s not going to stop me from posting – and i’m sure you’ll support me while doing so.

          1. I think you suck.

          2. Yes, you’ve demonstrated a commanding expertise in parroting and failing to understand even the most fundamental aspects of the 1st Amendment.

            Go nuts, sport. You’ll be fun to mock.

          3. You might as well be a troll.

            1. He seems more like an elf (or maybe a fairy), but not a troll

      2. and you want mcdonald’s and exxon to run the country

        Did you know that seats in the Senate, like front-row seats at Bon Jovi, have always been for sale, and the only reason that we hold elections is that no one ever comes up with enough cash?

        It’s in the Constitution.

      3. and you want mcdonald’s and exxon to run the country.

        or am I overreaching a bit?

        I wouldn’t call it so much over-reaching as under-thinking

        You mean as opposed to the current situation were we have different versions of the DMV “running the country”.

        Yeah, I will take McDonalds and Exxon.

      4. and you want mcdonald’s and exxon to run the country.

        McDonalds has a PAC. Exxon has a PAC. You’re the one who said that the law was ok because corporations can have PACs.

        Big corporations have PACs; nonprofits and small businesses don’t.

        Since you supported the BCRA, I guess that means that you “want Mcdonald’s and exxon to run the country,” by your logic?

      5. So, NBC and MSNBC as subsidiaries of GE are being used to run the country, right?

  8. This ruling is a joke. Roberts is a joke.

    I didn’t even think Bush v. Gore was that bad. If liberals had the court they would have done the same thing.

    The Florida Supreme Court (Democrats) trumped the Florida Sec. of State. (Republican). The US Supreme Court trumped them, so Bush won.

    The Citizens United ruling opens up the flood gates. The US will soon be the most corrupt country on the planet.

    “My first suggestion to any corporation would be to drop its PR function into a wholly-owned subsidiary, and claim that the subsidiary, as a separate corporation engaged in communication, is entitled to freedom of the press and publish all the scurrilous screeds about half-witted politicians that it wants, whenever it wants.”

    You mean Fox News?

    1. Pete you really think that it is consistent with a free society for the government censor a documentary about a politician? I mean ban the thing and keep it from being seen close to the election? That is to you what “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech” means?

    2. Exactly. That’s what this whole post was about.

    3. The Citizens United ruling opens up the flood gates. The US will soon be the most corrupt country on the planet.

      I’m gonna rise up, gonna kick a little ass. Gonna kick some ass in the USA. Gonna climb a mountain, gonna sew a flag, gonna fly on an eagle. I’m gonna kick some butt, gonna drive a big truck. I’m gonna rule this world. I’m gonna kick some ass. I’m gonna rise up, gonna kick a little ass. Rock, flag, and eagle!

      1. It’s about time someone here went America all over everybody’s ass.

    4. Have you ever been to a really corrupt country?

      1. yes, and I recommend carrying 20 dollar bills stashed in various places all over your body.

    5. Corruption as in taking over large corporations to save union jobs while screwing the senior bondholders, or exempting union healthcare plans from taxation?

    6. The US will soon be the most corrupt country on the planet.

      We’ve got a long ways to go before we catch up to our neighbor to the south. Bet you’ve never been there.

  9. Related issue:
    http://www.tnr.com/article/boo…..ansparency
    In which Mr. Lessig argues that pure campaign donation transparency would allow the rubes (taxpayers) to come to wrong conclusions.
    The obvious solution: Why, have the incumbents decide who gets contributions! That’ll level the playing field!

  10. Citizens United blew a hole in the side of the left’s collective head and the worms of a bizarre alien animus of hatred have been oozing out ever since.

    Get that festering head wound treated commies, it is an ugly thing for us non zombies to have to witness.

  11. Pete|1.27.10 @ 4:38PM|#
    “The Citizens United ruling opens up the flood gates. The US will soon be the most corrupt country on the planet.”

    Yep, those darn people actually haveng the right to speech! It’s the end of the world!

  12. Go fuck yourself Lawrence Lessig.

    1. Maybe he is too busy fornicating with his horse.

      1. You’re thinking of joeshmo, our newest Chony Morris clone.

  13. “The American people already believe that corporate special interests and their lobbyists run the show around here. I mean, the halls are crawling with them.”

    Well, Ms. Edwards, they don’t run the show unless the congress-critters are doing their bidding…so, isn’t congress really the problem?

    1. Exactly, and the halls will ALWAYS be full of lobbyists no matter what restrictions on free speech Congress comes up with. Don’t you liberals see that Congress will always be owned by special interests until their corrupted powers are taken away?

  14. I mean, lobbyists can’t write laws or pass them, right?

    1. But you can’t actually expect Congresscritters to do the right thing at the cost of potentially losing an elections.

    2. The American people already believe that corporate special interests and their lobbyists run the show around here.

      This reminds me of one of those “how’d that happen?” letters that appear in Savage Love:

      “I’m not gay, but whenever I go to a bathhouse some guy ends up bending me over. How do I get them to stop? Am I sending the wrong signals?”

  15. Why do people think that “the press” refers only to serious news media, or something like that. It seems to me that “the press” is any media put out my any person or entity, not just news organizations. Therefore, anything published by any person or entity at any time ought to receive protection under the first amendment.
    THey way I look at it, “speech” means speech, i.e. people talking. “press” means any other means of mass communication which is available (since when the 1st amendment was written, the printing press was about the only such thing going).

    1. Very good point. Someone mentioned on a thread yesterday the issue of in-flight magazines. Are they not media? Would they be prohibited from taking political stands? If not why not?

      1. Exactly. If an airline publishes a magazine, then insofar as they publish the magazine (or pamphlet or TV spot), they are the press.

        1. We’ll cover that little technicality in Amendment XXX.

      2. No they wouldn’t.

        Because there was no legislation to limit that material.

        1. Holy shit schmuck. Is this what you’ll be spamming us with? Your inch-deep analysis and careful recitation of the painfully obvious?

        2. No they wouldn’t.

          Because there was no legislation to limit that material.

          But you agree that it would be Constitutional to ban them, just there’s no legislation?

          1. On that question, i don’t know.

            Fact is, the legislation did not restrict that activity. And saying so is untruthful and disingenuous.

            If one is concerned that their government has ‘violated rights’, it behooves to be aware of how and in what circumstance.

            One can always apply slippery-slope logic – allowing rule x will lead to rule y and rule z. By extension, we should pack up shop and have no government at all – since said government may end up squashing every right worth having.

            1. “By extension, we should pack up shop and have no government at all – since said government may end up squashing every right worth having.”

              EXACTLY (although we only need to get rid of the law-making part in order for this to make sense)! Congratulations, you just became a libertarian.

            2. Fact is, the legislation did not restrict that activity. And saying so is untruthful and disingenuous.

              Really? becasue that’s exactly what the govt. said in court: They could ban books.

              “To this, the Deputy Solicitor General was backed against the wall, and did not retreat from his earlier pro-government regulatory position. “[A] corporation could be barred from using its general treasury funds to publish the book and could be required to … raise funds to publish the book using its PAC” with contribution limited by campaign finance law, Stewart insisted.

              Then the Chief Justice chimed in, asking whether that would be true if the book contained only “one use of the candidate’s name”?

              “That’s correct,” Stewart responded a few interchanges later, further explaining, “Yes, [the government’s] position would be that [any] corporation could be required to use PAC funds rather than general treasury funds.”

              “And if they didn’t, you could ban it?” the Chief Justice made crystal clear.

              “If they didn’t, we could prohibit the publication of the book,” Stewart agreed.

              So, you’re saying that the govt’s lawyer was being “untruthful and disingenuous?”

              You might want to check that slope before getting on.

              1. Wrong – JW.

                What you are quoting from is an article that has taken quotes from oral arguments in the case. At this point in the proceeding, the cheif justice was asking the government attorney to extropolate, or infer whether the government could pursue treasury-funded regulation on books similar to its treasury-funded regulation on TV broadcasts. He asked him to make this extrapolation based on his understanding of the current legislation and constitutional law.

                The lawyer for the government speculated that a treasury-funded regulation of books was a logical inference should the government pursue that legislation.

                As I responded to the question above about the regulation of books and litterture – I said the case at hand did not overturn regulation of books and litterature, and that I don’t know if there would be future legislation to that end.

                At this point, the government has not pursued that legislation. I then went on to say that because the government passes law X, this doesn’t mean it will expand upon it to pass law Y.

                1. Sure. Whatever you say short-stuff.

                  It’s only the state’s own attorney admiting in court that yes, the law, as written, could be used to ban certain books. No new legislation needed. All they need to do is change their focus a little bit.

                  Nothing to see here. Move along, move along.

                2. At this point, the government has not pursued that legislation.

                  Now, it can’t.

                  And that, in a nutshell, is why the decision was good.

                3. Dear God, I’d rather read LoneWacko than this moron!

        3. Right, your position is that it’s ok to allow huge corporations that can afford to set up PACs to contribute, but not non-profits expressly set up to produce media, or small businesses that don’t lobby a lot, etc.

          Just big business, that’s who joeshmo likes.

          1. BUT, BUT ?. THE CORPORATIONS ARE EVIL! THEY MUST BE STOPPED. MY MASTERS, THE REPTILIAN OVERLORDS HAVE TOLD ME SO AND I OBEY

    2. IIRC, back when the first amendment was written, the press was essentially very biased pamphleteers.

    3. I think Volokh was dead-on in his analysis of “The Press = The Technology for the Delivery of Speech” and not “The Press = A Select Group of People who Publish News”

      1. People have come to confuse the broad, functional use of “press” in the constitution (as short for printing press) with the our now more narrow, colloquial use of “press” to refer to the news media.

        Many people aren’t curious enough to wonder about the difference and lazily assume the colloquial definition holds.

  16. I mean, the halls are crawling with them. But that’s not enough.

    Translated: Not enough of them are greasing my palms.

  17. What does this matter? It has no chance of passing. None. Zero. Zippo. Even Edwards must know this. She’s just trying to get publicity to help keep her in office.

    And you guys are helping her.

  18. It gave me the willies just reading Amendment XXVIII. Brrrr. I wish Edwards lived in my state just so I could vote against her.

    1. She’s my rep. Allow me, not that it will do any good in this shit-addled district of minorities and gummint workers.

      I already voted against her once. I can do that all day.

      1. If only there were an amendment to take care of those minorities.

        1. Oh gosh, if only. Do you have something in mind?

      2. Vote early, vote often.

        The S. stands for slow, of course.

      3. If only you could.

  19. What does this matter? It has no chance of passing. None. Zero. Zippo.

    No chance today. But since about three seconds after Citizens United was decided, the idea’s being drilled into every drillable head, over and over again, and it’ll keep being drilled, over and over again, until it becomes the default position of “everyone.” It’ll probably take years before that translates into law, but it’ll happen.

    Shitty ideas are unstoppable. Good ones suck at life.

    1. Sadly, my friend you are probably right.

  20. I saw her on C-SPAN this morning. Just when you think you’ve seen the stupidest Congressthing ever, another steps up to the podium.

  21. People people people… It’s a Democrat from Maryland for pete’s sake. Did you expect anything other than rabid genital touching?

    I of course fart in her general direction.

    1. Are you sure you want to do that, since she might try to attach a special provision in the Climate Change bill that specifically prohibits individuals such as yourself, from doing just that. You are releasing carbon, doncha know?

    2. You mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries!

  22. A similar conundrum:
    There’s a conference in Cuba this summer I might want to attend, and since I’m a member of the “press,” I could probably use that to get permission from the U.S. State Department. But I’ve always wondered how it is that our government can determine who the “press” is in this (or any other) case.
    Ya’ll are all welcome to press cards from the Citizen Nothing Press Association, by the way.

  23. Justice Brandeis got it right: democracy, or wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but not both.

    Which makes Justice Brandeis the Grand Wizard of the false dichotomy, and Rep. Donna Edwards his acolyte.

  24. “Justice Brandeis got it right: democracy, or wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but not both. ”

    Like FDR, who financed his own campaign from his inherited wealth, then set up his corporate friends with sweetheart price-fixing, non-competition agreements and tariffs, aka “The New Deal”.

    1. There’s an awesome new FDR fact I learned today:
      He claimed on his tax returns that he could pay the tax rates in effect when he took office, not the higher rates that he signed. He claimed that the Compensation Clause applied to post-tax compensation, in other words.

  25. Oh, and fuck the U.S. government for trying to tell me I can’t travel to any fucking place where I’m welcome.

    1. No they should tell you that. But you also shouldn’t want to give a plug nickel that goes into the pockets of the criminals who run that place.

      1. I mean they should not tell you that you can’t go to Cuba. You just shouldn’t want to go.

        1. Damn it John. The below stands regardless.

          1. I just forgot to type the “not” ok. Sorry about that I agree with you. People should be free to travel to whatever country will have them.

      2. No John, they shouldn’t. If I or anyone else wants to travel at will and line the pockets of despots for whatever reason, they should be free to do so. Anything less is an affront to the basics of liberty.

        1. I agree completely on the right to travel, but “I am giving money to despots in the name of liberty” is a bit rich.

    2. OK, you can go to Cuba. You are just not welcome back.

  26. Section 1. The sovereign right of the people to govern being essential to a free democracy, the First Amendment shall not be construed to limit the authority of Congress and the States to define, regulate, and restrict the spending and other activity of any corporation, limited liability entity, or other corporate entity created by state or federal law or the law of another nation.

    You don’t need this amendment to control the spending of corporations (since it does not define which spending). Just appeal to the omnipotent powers of the Interstate Clause and save yourself some time, Ms. Edwards.

  27. Rep. Edwards has enjoyed a diverse career as a nonprofit public interest and in the private sector on NASA’s Spacelab project.

    Not only is Donna a “nonprofit public interest,” she loves what she believes to be the private sector.

  28. Why not just write a simple amendment defining an individual? The interpretation of the 14th as applying to a corporation was ridiculous and so is this ruling. So why not just be clear that a human is a human and corporation is a collection of humans and if they want a vote, well they each already have a vote, they just don’t have it as a collective.

    1. Why not just write a simple amendment defining an individual? The interpretation of the 14th as applying to a corporation was ridiculous and so is this ruling. So why not just be clear that a human is a human and corporation is a collection of humans and if they want a vote, well they each already have a vote, they just don’t have it as a collective.

      Because that has nothing to do with the ruling. The ruling is not about “a corporation is an individual.” The ruling is about “individuals don’t lose their right to free speech because they band together.”

      A corporation is a collection of humans. Humans have free speech, even as a collective.

    2. This is so retarded. Where does an individual lose his Creator Endowed right to speak when he joins a corporation?!

      I agree that corporations are legal entities. Individuals that make up corporations do not forfeit their right to speak freely, or to pool their money to do so, just because they work for a corporation.

      You are free to say the government sucks. On what basis would one lose this right once you start working for someone, or start their own company?

      It is a shame that people are no longer taught that envy is a terrible thing.

      1. My comment is directed at “Mega” John, I obviously agree with you.

      2. “I agree that corporations are legal entities. Individuals that make up corporations do not forfeit their right to speak freely, or to pool their money to do so, just because they work for a corporation.”

        People on both sides agree with you. What you proclaim as fair was never against the law. There has never been a ban on a corporation’s freedom of speech.

        What was regulated: A corporation’s treasury – which accrues through state-sponsored favorable laws.

        1. “There has never been a ban on a corporation’s freedom of speech.”

          Yeah Citizen’s United could have showed their documentary at any time. They just chose not to. DUR.

          1. Wicked burn, heller. Too bad it will fall upon the deaf eyes of joseschmuck and his ilk.

          2. Sorry you’re wrong, and either are choosing to ignore the facts of the case or don’t know the case at all.

            The movie was being aired – there was no attempt at blocking distribution of the movie.

            At issue were ads promoting the movie. The company (Citizens Untied) deliberately found a scenario whereby they would break the law in order to make a challenge against the law in court. They were looking for a fight.

            Furthermore, the company had a mechanism and the financial wherewithal through its PAC (which was bursting with $$$) to fund those ads that broke the law – but they chose not to take that avenue – for reasons I just stated.

            You are only correct, if by ‘banned’ you mean – deliberately ignoring lawful avenues to exercise free speech.

            1. to clarify – they had the means to funds those ads legally.

              1. Government had no business banning advertising for the movie, joe. You, however, seem to think that was a justifiable action.

                1. as I just explained above, there was NO ban of the the movie. Similarly – there was no ban on the ads for the movie.

                  Banning in this context means to disallow.

                  There were restrictions (PAC funds vs treasury funds) on how the company could fund the ads – this is not a ban!

                  There has never been a ban on corporate speech in america. The SC decision overturned narrow legislative restriction of it.

                  1. Banning in this context means to disallow.

                    There were restrictions (PAC funds vs treasury funds) on how the company could fund the ads – this is not a ban!

                    Only big corporations have PACs, since it’s time-consuming and difficult to set them up, and it’s only worth it if you do a lot of lobbying every year. The little guy doesn’t have PACs, and certainly not groups formed by concerned citizens who suddenly want to get involved.

                    Why do you love big corporations so much, joeshmo?

                    Also, while money isn’t speech, neither is money abortion. And yet a law banning the spending of money on abortion, and insisting that abortions could only be performed for free, would rightly be understood as putting a restriction on abortion.

                    Next joeshmo will be explaining why a law that requires all op-eds to be submitted to the US Government first for perusal doesn’t violate free speech, since it’s not really a ban.

            2. Sorry you’re wrong, and either are choosing to ignore the facts of the case or don’t know the case at all.

              Again, really? Are you sure you’re not the one who’s talking out of his ass? Lets go to the opinion:

              The regulatory scheme at issue may not be a
              prior restraint in the strict sense. However, given its complexity and
              the deference courts show to administrative determinations, a
              speaker wishing to avoid criminal liability threats and the heavy
              costs of defending against FEC enforcement must ask a governmen-
              tal agency for prior permission to speak. The restrictions thus func-
              tion as the equivalent of a prior restraint, giving the FEC power
              analogous to the type of government practices that the First Amend-
              ment was drawn to prohibit. The ongoing chill on speech makes it
              necessary to invoke the earlier precedents that a statute that chills
              speech can and must be invalidated where its facial invalidity has
              been demonstrated.

              Look at that will ya; *prior restraint*. Sounds pretty cut and dried to me.

              Keep digging schmo.

            3. The company (Citizens Untied) deliberately found a scenario whereby they would break the law in order to make a challenge against the law in court. They were looking for a fight.

              You say this like it’s a bad thing.

            4. At issue were ads promoting the movie. The company (Citizens Untied) deliberately found a scenario whereby they would break the law in order to make a challenge against the law in court. They were looking for a fight.

              You are only correct, if by ‘banned’ you mean – deliberately ignoring lawful avenues to exercise free speech.

              And those youngsters who sat down at the white’s counter in Woolworth’s in Greensboro? They deliberately ignored lawful avenues to exercise their right to be served. They were just looking for a fight.

              Same with Rosa Parks, too.

        2. Are you familiar with the phrase “a distinction without a difference”? Do you realize you’ve provided a prime example of one?

          Any entity that does not have the freedom to use it’s resources to fund it’s speech does not have freedom of speech. That formulation is tired and not terribly clever.

    3. In what retarded sense are votes and free speech the same, anyway?

      If you get an extra vote, or vote when you’re not supposed to, that diminishes my vote. But the cure for speech is more speech.

      Some felons lose the right to vote; they don’t (and shouldn’t, perhaps there are stupid laws out there) lose the right to speech.

    4. The ruling has nothing to do with voting.

      Either you have the right to speak or you don’t. Which way do you want it?

    5. Just to be super duper clear to those of you who haven’t read the Constitution, the First Amendment makes no reference to individuals in its clause protecting free speech. It limits the actions of Congress. That is all.

      1. Ah, but you forget the Declaration of Independence where the Founding Father declared to “mutually pledge each other their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor, to the extent not incorporated, or part of a limited liability entity.”

  29. Gee! No it’s G.E. or is that NBC or MSNBC or Obamas economic financial advisor or the recipient of Obama’s billions cash for healthcare research a.k.a. Propaganda adds to promote his leftist agenda.

    “the exemption would allow a conglomerate that owns both a media business and an unrelated business to influence or control the media in order to advance its overall business interest. At the same time, some other corporation, with an identical business interest but no media outlet in its ownership structure, would be forbidden to speak ”
    Get it !!

  30. According to liberals, the following giant corporations may express their views at will: Time Warner, Comcast, General Electric, Disney, Fox, Microsoft, National Amusements (who?). The rest of you are screwed. GE: now that’s people power!

  31. So that’s right, if the [corporations don’t] like what this congresswoman is doing, they’ll just forget the voters, buy TV ads, send robocalls, send a lot of mail, and beat her in November.

    This sounds rather like the underpants gnomes’ scheme from South Park.

    1. Forget the voters
    2.
    3. Win the election

    How the fuck does one win an election by “forgetting” the voters?

      1. not an honest answer btw

  32. Man.
    You guys really don’t get it do you.
    Campaign finance reform is needed – not only for liberals, but also for conservatives.

    Money corrupts.

    1. Campaign finance reform is needed – not only for liberals, but also for conservatives.

      Money corrupts.

      I can’t take seriously anyone, like the President, who claims to support campaign finance reform and less lobbying, and yet supports the stimulus.

      1. The Citizen’s United case was not about money donations to candidates, it was about a corporate entity being able to produce and distribute media critical of politician within the prohibited time frame. No money was being given to a politican or politcial party.

    2. You just don’t get it ? as long as the government is involved in picking winners and losers, determining what energy is the right energy for us to use, what industries and favored and takes up more and more of the national economy, corporations will line up to get a piece of the pie. You can pass all the restrictions that you want, they will find a way.

      The true way to get money out of politics, the the government out of the private economy

    3. Money corrupts.

      Actually, no, it’s power that corrupts. Money is just an avenue, a tool if you will.

      How many more rules do you think we’lll need to get the money out of politics? Hmmm? 25? 50? 1,000? How many more years? It’s been almost 4 decades of tweaking and manipulating. You’d think they would have gotten it right by now.

      Anyone who think that you can “get the money” out of politics is rapidly approaching infinity in terms of self-delusion.

    4. You do understand that this case had nothing to do with campaign contributions. Right? RIGHT?

      You also understand that we’re not conservatives. RIGHT?

    5. “Campaign finance reform is needed – not only for liberals, but also for conservatives.”

      Or more succinctly, for incumbents.

      “Money corrupts.”

      Let’s ban money!

  33. Campaign finance reform is needed – not only for liberals, but also for conservatives.

    Money corrupts.

    Not so much as power.

    Which would be why many of us keep suggesting that Congress should remain limited to the enumerated powers. That perhaps, “Congress shall make no law [] abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press”.

    Just a thought.

  34. So that’s right, if the [corporations don’t] like what this congresswoman is doing, they’ll just forget the voters, buy TV ads, send robocalls, send a lot of mail, and beat her in November.

    If you haven’t recognized this as one of the most incoherent statements made in the last year, please take the time to read it again.

    1. d’oh. Close tag.

    2. Incoherent is a generous description, it is self-contradictory. To whom are the robocalls and mail being sent?

  35. allowing corporations to spend unlimited money from their treasuries on our elections.

    This is egregiously (mindbogglingly!) absurd.

    It’s all about defending the advantages of incumbency.

    1. nevermind that those corporations are acutely aware of the limits of their treasuries.

  36. …and other activity…

    Holy shit! That’s a loophole big enough to drive a blimp through! This gives government to right to completely and utterly screw over corporations at will.

    1. Oh don’t act so surprised. I’m sure that’s not accidental.

    2. that’s a feature

  37. You know what else Congress should do, in the interest of “free and open and honest” political speech?

    They should make it illegal to quote any past statements made by politicians, if the intent is to make the speaker look stupid. Because it’s not fair.

    1. We’re working on that. Be patient, peasant.

    2. “They should make it illegal to quote any past statements made by politicians, if the intent is to make the speaker look stupid.”

      Stupid, but not racist. It will actually be mandatory to quote past statements by politicians which hint that they might have a soupcon of racism. Unless, of course, they have demonstrated by their political affiliation, whoops, I meant political activities that they favor the advancement of minorities.

  38. without ever reading much about him, I always had a vague notion that Lawrence Lessig was a “smart” guy and more or less on the right on most things. Dunno where I got that impression.

    But now I realize he’s a tool.

    1. Another advantage of not infringing people’s right to free speech.

  39. You either believe that free speech is an inherent civil right that a just government cannot infringe upon or you believe that free speech is a government granted privilege which can be revoked when it fails to facilitate government goals like “democracy”. That’s the only way one can rationalize that corporate entities like the New York Times is free to express opinions but others are not.

    I suppose Rep Edwards does not know how to define “the press” but she knows it when she sees it.

  40. Free speech is only for corporations that can afford to buy a newspaper!

    1. $0.50 on weekdays, $2.00 on Sunday?

      Not a problem then, even if you’re very slow.

  41. The problem (and I think the subversion of language was innocuous rather than insidious) is that “the press” to most people now means institutional journalism and professional journalists, so that this isn’t as obviously screwed up as it is if you assume press has more to do with the act of publication, or the technology, or the property, or whatever.

    The first thing is to get people to accept that “freedom of the press” is the old-timey version of “freedom of the Internet” — that is, that the phrase was intended to prevent politicians from pretending that newfangled technology was socially disruptive enough to excuse their censorship. Once they make that connection, and accept that that’s what the phrase means, then everything is downhill from here. Once you do that, then it’s back to an individual right that applies to everyone, which means you either take it away from all corporations, including news media, or you give it to all corporations.

    Assuming freedom of the press also protects any other similar technology (disc-or-tape based movies and music and internet communications at a minimum), then clearly Citizen’s United was in fact exercising a press right rather than a speech right. As such, the proposed amendment wouldn’t actually address the case anyway.

    1. I think we can make a definitive case the “freedom of the press” means “freedom of recorded media” whatever form that may take.

  42. This amendment seems flawed. It restricts “spending or other activity”, not “political spending” or “contributions to political groups” or “lobbying”. As written it would make any regulatory legislation whatsoever constitutional. The government could prohibit the hiring of non-union workers, or demand all companies pay for worker’s health care in any way Congress deems appropriate.

    1. You are right, but somehow I don’t think Edwards sees that as a flaw.

  43. Here’s an old case:

    http://supreme.justia.com/us/360/167/case.html

    . . . where the Supreme Court describes a lower federal court evilly backing a well-funded interstate corporatey corporatistic corporation’s political and legislative machinations despite the heroic efforts of the good corporate regulators of Virginia to stand for rectitude:

    National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Incorporated . . ., appellees herein, are organizations engaged in furthering the rights of colored citizens. Both are membership corporations organized under the laws of New York, and have registered under the laws of Virginia as foreign corporations doing business within the State. NAACP’s principal relevant activities in Virginia are appearing before legislative bodies and commissions in support of, or opposition to, measures affecting the status of the Negro race within the State, . . . .

    Those public-spirited Virginian legislators tried to block Meddlesome Evil Corporatey Corporation:

    Specifically, under ? 2 of this [Virginia Statute] Chapter, annual filings are required of
    “[e]very . . . or association, whether by or through its agents, servants, employees, officers, or voluntary workers or associates, who or which engages as one of its principal functions or activities in the promoting or opposing in any manner the passage of legislation by the General Assembly in behalf of any race or color, or who or which has as one of its principal functions or activities the advocating of racial integration or segregation or whose activities cause or tend to cause racial conflicts or violence. . .

    Can you believe it, the federal court below, tried to suggest that a corporatish Corporate corporation may actually be protected under free speech from the heroic Virginia legislators. I mean, after all, they only wanted the Evil Corporation to do simple disclosure, that’s all, of “names and addresses of the officers, directors, . . . members, agents . . . the sources of its income, however derived, including the names and addresses of contributors or donors”:

    The majority below held Chapters 31 and 32 [Footnote 2] unconstitutional . . . In essence, ? 2 was found to infringe rights assured under the Fourteenth Amendment in that, taken in conjunction with the registration requirements of the statute, (1) the clause relating to the promoting or opposing of racial legislation invaded rights of free speech. . . .

    My God, what kind of evil benighted Republican-logic fools would ever want to protect corporational corporatey free speech?

    1. Ooops, left out that the statute specifically said “every… corporation”,as well as association, was required to register.

  44. If You Are Tired of Wasting All Your Money on Online Advertising for Your Websites? “Discover the Proven and Simple Methods Used By the Pros to Get 100% Free Online Advertising Traffic Your Website!” It does not matter if your looking for just a couple of hundred extra hits a month or to pump your website full of as much traffic as you possibly.

    on line marketing

  45. “they’ll just forget the voters, buy TV ads, send robocalls, send a lot of mail,”

    Is this some sort of doublethink? Was I the only one struck by the mind-bending stupidity of that clause? Is this woman really voting on laws that affect how I must live my life?

    I’ll not be able to read Kafka, or Orwell, again without thinking that they were a little naive.

  46. You lot sound like a washed up high school Forensics team. Those glory days are over. I just stumbled upon this hellhole of a webpage and have to say that most of these comments are full of childish self-righteousness. Stop hating your parents.

    1. Quite right. Daddy and Mommy know best.

  47. “the corporation-bashing New York Times and Washington Post.” hahaha. i almost laughed my pants off reading this inane post, and perhaps most of all at this line. why don’t you do a quick check sometime on the “washington post family,” which includes quite a diverse array of entities. could you be any more of a fool?

  48. The solution to the problem is to limit campaign contributions to citizens who reside in the respective jurisdiction. If you are not human (a corporation, llc or union) or a citizen (no potential to vote for that candidate) then no campaign contribution.

  49. Tell me, my dear Very Intelligent Fellow:

    A TV ad costs quite a lot of money. Why do you want to prevent me and several of my “resident citizen” friends decide to pool our money to buy an ad?

  50. Vote for whom? They are all bred and raised by Mama Corp. We need to resurrect our constitutional rights and work toward adding a measure to the ballot. Don’t worry about voting Democrat, Republican, Independent, or anything else. Let’s vote to take budget approval out of government. The budget and it’s appropriations should be approved by the voters. The buck stops with us. One person one vote let corporate America deal with that. Let the 1% outvote the rest of us. Then see who the politicians suddenly cater too. Let’s control the money that they want to use for backroom deals with business. Let’s control the fate of their of our own country. The responsibility for this mess is ours but we continue to let those we trusted with our money to play with it. How many deadlines have they used to bicker. How much have they ruined our reputation around the world and what have they done to our credit? The only thing the American people should vote for in the next election is an write in amendment to the constitution removing budget approval from our government. With today’s technology we as a nation could vote and pass the budget faster than they ever could.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.