Censorship

Enhancing Democracy by Banning Speech

The misguided liberal response to Citizens United

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Imagine how life will be now that giant corporations may spend as much as they want on political campaigns, as the Supreme Court recently decreed. All they will have to do to get their way is ask members of Congress: Do you want our money helping you—or your opponent? Given the sums available to Big Business, most politicians will be desperate to please.

So you might think. But consider a state where corporations are already allowed to spend as much as they want on elections: Illinois. Here, companies have established beyond doubt that this prerogative, when combined with $2, will get them a ride on the bus.

Illinois is something short of a corporate paradise. It ranks 30th among the states in its friendliness toward business. The Tax Foundation, which did the survey, complains of excessive sales, property, and unemployment insurance taxes.

Illinois is one of a minority of states requiring employers to pay more than the federal minimum wage. It is notorious for heavy workers' compensation costs. It puts no limits on the punitive damages a company can be assessed.

All this evidence should dispel the fear that future congressional debates will pit the senator from Exxon Mobil against her distinguished colleague from Bank of America. It turns out that where corporate expenditures are allowed, corporations a) don't do much or b) don't get much for what they do.

But many people in Washington have no time to waste examining the real world. As soon as the court decision came down in January, ruling that the corporate spending ban violated free-speech rights, they demanded action to undo this unconscionable wrong.

President Barack Obama used one of his weekly radio addresses to promise "a forceful, bipartisan response" to "repair the damage that has been done." Democrats in Congress have heeded the call.

Some have proposed legislation that would require CEOs to appear in all TV spots, mandate identification of corporations buying ads and outlaw spending by foreign companies, government contractors, and bailout recipients.

These may or may not pass muster with the Supreme Court. If the new regulations are intended less to enlighten voters than to punish corporations that engage in spending, the justices will probably give them the hook.

The ban on foreign corporations is hard to justify if you believe—as the court does—that the First Amendment protects not only the right to speak but the right to hear. Nor is it obvious that Congress can use bailout funding as an excuse to strip a company of a constitutional right.

But even if the sponsors could get their bill passed and upheld in court, it wouldn't affect the basic liberty of U.S. corporations to participate in election debates—which is what really cheeses the critics. Overruling the decision would require a constitutional amendment. Drastic as that may sound, some people are for it.

Democratic Sens. Christopher Dodd of Connecticut and Tom Udall of New Mexico have introduced an amendment to give the federal government and the states unlimited power to regulate campaign fundraising and expenditures. Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) has endorsed the idea.

When politicians start trying to amend the Constitution, it usually means they have gone off the rails. The campaign finance amendment is the liberal equivalent of the flag-burning amendment once pushed by conservatives, which barely missed getting through Congress.

Both amendments responded to a Supreme Court decision that offended some people on a visceral level. Both were solutions to a problem that had yet to materialize in any significant way.

Both also represent an attempt to narrow the scope of a fundamental liberty. They would create a large, unsightly exception to the First Amendment.

The leftish group Public Citizen, in a moment of creative inspiration, asserted that the measure would "restore the First Amendment." Yes, it would "restore" the First Amendment, which protects free speech, by silencing some voices on matters of importance in a democracy.

As the court put it, "The First Amendment prohibits Congress from fining or jailing citizens, or associations of citizens, for engaging in political speech." If the amendment were to win ratification, Congress would be free to tell some people: "Shut up, or go to jail."

That's the difference between a corporation and a government. A corporation can spend millions trying to influence your choices. A government, granted sufficient power, can just take them away.

COPYRIGHT 2010 CREATORS.COM

Bonus Reason.tv video: 3 Reasons Not to Sweat The Citizens United Decision

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  1. The Citizen’s United ruling does not actually do what the left seems to be so concerned about. It does not allow corporations to make direct contributions to candidates campaigns. The ruling just asserts that a corporation has an unrestrictable ability to publish media that has a political message. It is troubling that so many politicians in power believe that government should have the power to suppress such press rights. The left’s essentional argument is that if an entity has too many resources ( or is perceived as having too many resources), that entity has no rights because it overwhelm those who do not have access to similar resources.

    Chapman’s moral equivalency between the Right’s sop to offended populism in the flag-burning amendment and the Left’s desire to carve out the meat of free speech rights for people they regard as undesirable particpant’s in political discourse is fatuous.

    1. First, Reason says Citizens United is nothing to worry about because Illinois is “something less than a corporate paradise”. Gee, that would be news to the communities whose budgets have been devastated by the tax breaks dished out to every corporation with the balls to threaten to leave town all over the state for the past thirty years.

      http://www.ecnmag.com/News/201…..ax-breaks/

      Then some glibertarian says Citizens “doesn’t do what it says it does”, wildly mischaracterizing the argument as one of restriction of rights of speech. I guess the other argument about Illinois isn’t valid. But guess what? Neither is this one.

      Corporations Are Not Individuals and nobody that is employed by one is prevented from speaking a word or spending a dollar in a campaign at any time. And the next time I read some nitwit say that corporations are not a creation of government, I’m going to give him a job for a day: go stand in line at the Secretary of STATE’s office to file the papers on my next LLC.

      Reason, please consider taking the corporate phallus out of your gullet for just five minutes. That’s all I ask. Just for as long as it takes to read one of these insane articles.

  2. The left’s nearly unanimous response to Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission betrays their deep-rooted distrust of their fellow Americans. Despite all the lip service to “the common man,” they hate and fear that species. He does not know what is best for himself. He is an ignorant rube. Corporations will snatch him from the fold and ruin all the left’s grandiose schemes. The corporations must be stopped. They must be silenced, for the good of the little people.

  3. To me the liberal response has not been as well articulated as it could have been. It should focus on former Chief Justice Rehnquist’s dissenting opinion in Bellotti. Basically the argument there was that corporations are government creations, not individuals, and as such their claims to rights are tenuous. Given the special legally given characterstics of the corporate form (limited liability, perpetual existence, duty to maximize shareholder value, etc) it’s reasonable for legislators to find that allowing them to intervene in elections poses a risk of harm to legit values and therefore reasonable restrictions are OK. Only an activist court would strike down such restrictions. Of course we have a right wing activist court now, striking down legislative determinations in case (Ricci) after case (Heller) after case (Citizens United). It’s not that activism per se is bad to me, but it’s kind of hilarious to see the right alternate between loud condemnation of it in general and embracing it in specific cases.

    IIRC the shareholders or employees of a corporation can spend money on elections, but the corporate form, a zombie like creation of state legislatures was limited by reasonable restrictions. I found it to be a bad decision.

    But it’s not the end of the freaking world or something. Ever since Clinton the national Dems have figured out how to raise money as good as the national GOP.

    1. Nothing about CU gave corporations rights. Repeat that a few times. The Court said content-based restrictions on speech by anyone (including non-profits and unions) are unconstitutional.

      As for the supposed harm? There is plentiful evidence that allowing corporations, nonprofits, and unions to advertise for candidates will have no effect. 28 states allow unlimited spending on advertisements. They are no more or less corrupt than any states that do have limits.

      Finally, corporations are not government creations. The idea of a corporation has been around for centuries. Yes, the U.S. government gives certain tax breaks to the corporate form. But those same results could come from careful planning of debt structures. And it is a moot point anyways. When applying as a corporation, the government doesn’t say “We’ll give you this and this, but limit your speech.” If lawmakers wanted to allow a new form of corporation that gets tax cuts and limited liability in return for not advocating in elections, they could do that. But that’s not the way it works now.

      1. Corporations certainly are government creations. Time doesn’t change that. If they were a government creation in the 16th century, they are today.

        Hell, the very scope of all “rights” is entirely determined by governments, not political philosophers or natural rights theorists. Legal rights are the only ones that actually have an impact.

        Anyhoozle, CU is a fine decision, but it does need to be matched by a concurrent rise in owner control of corporations: Delaware law in particular gives management (hired help) way too much ability to override the organization’s owners.

        1. Legal recognition of rights helps establish them, but its the cart following the horse. Rights are determined by people insisting on whatever rights they believe they have.

        2. “Corporations certainly are government creations. Time doesn’t change that. If they were a government creation in the 16th century, they are today.”

          Oh, the power of thy assertion! Law changes with time, and so do the meanings of words. To say that because what was called a corporation in the 16th century was a government creation that was is called one now must be too is as fallacious as an argument can be. I can see why you’d make it, though, because coporations were much different creatures in the 16th century and, I believe, *were* creations of government. So to start with that and say they have to be the same now, well hey, ipso facto! Only they’re not the same now. There’s some similarities and some history that account for the use of the same word. But no, a lot else has changed about them including how they come to be, and just because they were created by the government in the 16th century does not mean they’re created by the government now! No more than saying the British monarch ruled the nation in the 16th century and so he or she does now, too! Time DOES change a lot of things!

          1. Congratulations, pinhead. You have won employment for one day: take my LLC filing paperwork down to the Secretary OF STATE’s office and stand in line. I have shit to do, and that’s about your speed.

    2. but it’s kind of hilarious to see the rightparties alternate between loud condemnation of it in general and embracing it in specific cases.

      Applicable to politics in general IMO. Though, i must not get the joke because the hilarity escapes me.

    3. STFU MNG!

      The corporate Zombies should eat your brains.

    4. What a stupid argument. The Heller decision activism? Upholding the Second Amendment is a strict constructionist principle, and the law that decision struck down was clearly unconstitutional; that is not “activism.” The CU decision, similarly, upholds the First, also not “activism.” Judicial activists depart from or ignore the Constitution to do what they want. It is ridiculous to try and equate Heller or Citizens United with that approach.

      As for your big, bad corporations, let’s make a deal. We can stop giving them rights like a person as soon as we stop taxing them like a person. The left would like to have their cake and eat it too on this.

      1. There are plenty of business entities that pass through taxes to the owners–income of the business is attributed to the owners, who then add it to their income for income tax purposes.

        They are supposed to make up the difference through dividends.

        The problem is, so many corporations think dividends are a bad idea, that tax pass through status is just unworkable.

    5. “But it’s not the end of the freaking world or something. Ever since Clinton the national Dems have figured out how to raise money as good as the national GOP.”

      Great point, MNG, it is ridiculous that Lib Democrats act all righteous going hysterical over the Justices upholding the Constitution when they have most of their contributions piped in thru the back door from foriegn nations and other illegitimate sources.

      Glad you pointed that out.

  4. No rights eh? And here I was looking at lll that talk about the 1st Amendment in the opinion.

    For the record I think the same arguments apply to unions (they have certain characterstics that make them very different than individuals), and of course the “non-profits” you mention were incorporated non-profits.

    Corporations are created via state legislatures, it has nothing to do with “tax breaks” given by the federal government. State legislators created this form as an investment tool, granting holders limited liability and perpetual existence to the form but demanding removed management (holders elect a board which then elects management, but the latter are not directly under the actual owners). You’re astoundingly ignorant of the corporate form.

    1. Corporations are created via state legislatures, it has nothing to do with “tax breaks” given by the federal government.

      But, like-minded people grouping together is not created by the gummints.

      State legislators created this form as an investment tool

      Really? CU was an investment tool? Its donors excpected a return on their donation?

      1. Non-profits and groups of like minded people can choose to incorporate (there may be benefits to organizing under the corporate form the state makes available), when they do the rules of incorporation apply to them.

    2. Since you clearly didn’t get it, I will repeat it. CU did not grant rights to corporations.

      As for being ignorant of corporations? The government does not create corporations. People (you know, citizens with inalienable rights) join together for a common goal (Profit!) and use the corporate form to do so. But they don’t have to. The same limited liability and perpetual existence can be had using other means.

      But you still haven’t answered why the government can suddenly ban speech just because you need permission to form a corporation. Unless it was made clear at the time of incorporation, it is an ex post facto law.

      1. Ah, clever eliding. Yes the corporate form is a form that people gathering together can opt for, and it is a form the state creates as you implicitly acknowledge now (you just hope to distinguish the people who come together with the form they may choose to organize under).

        Of course Citizens United was about the corporate form.

        “But you still haven’t answered why the government can suddenly ban speech just because you need permission to form a corporation.”

        Because corporations don’t have rights in the way and degree individuals do. They are legal fictions. And the reasonableness of restrictions on their election speech is more obvious than that for individuals given their zombie-like characteristics.

        1. “Shall make no law” – doesn’t say “may make a law that applies to ‘non-individuals’ and ‘legal fictions’.” May make no law. Doesn’t say to whom or what the “shall make no law” applies. Congress just “shall make no law”. Period.

          Rinse, wash, repeat.

          1. This is the entire point, Almanian. The law was in clear violation of the US Constitution, period.

            If ever there was a no-brainer this is it, yet so many are having enormous difficulty. I feared this day would come and it did. Looks like convert the US Constitution and other critical documents into comic book format with lots of pictures and 1st or 2nd grade level wording. It’s sad enough we have to do that for our common citizens, but if I understand correctly and Mr. Obama is a constitutional lawyer, even more disappointing that we must do it for those people too, and just heart breaking that even converted there could still be comprehension problems for many.

        2. I will agree that your point is legit only once you’ve agreed that the point also applies to all “corporation-formed” media entities.

          To ignore that it does, and to ignore that there is no good response out there to deal with problem, is to not only be disingenuous, but to ignore most of CU v. FEC.

        3. Ok then, why bother with search warrants when entering the property of a corporation? Since they aren’t entitled to fourth amendment rights, the government can storm in as they please. But then why bother with a search warrant when you can confiscate the everything without compensation; obviously the fifth amendment doesn’t apply either. When accused of wrongdoing, such as having mouse pads that don’t conform to OSHA ergonomic standards, they are immediately guilty (no right to trial), and the punishment is the seizure and liquidation of all assets (what’s that? excessive punishment and cruel and unusual what?, those things don’t apply to you silly).

        4. Oh, MNG, what would your arguments be without semantics and arm waving?

          Shhhh. Don’t tell me, I’m enjoying the quiet.

        5. Dude, you’re such a massive idiot I don’t know what to say.

          Zombie-like characteristics?

          You realize that corporate CEO’s are held legally liable for the actions of the corporations, don’t you?

          If a corporation breaks the law, the CEO goes to jail.

          How, then, is that different than an individual?

          If they have the same legal liability as an individual, then they deserve the same freedoms, as well.

          I realize that’s going to be hard for you to figure out.

          1. In what world is this where the liability of the owners and the liability of the corporation are the same? Jesus, I can forgive civic illiteracy (after all, this is Reason.com, so one must adjust expectations) but for fuck’s sake — what is with this brain-dead reading of business history?

            Kindly notice that the only CEOs that end up in jail are the ones whose crimes are so egregious and material that there is actually a smoking gun and objectively evident economic devastation in their wake – Adelphia, Enron, Worldcom, Madoff. In 100 years you can’t name two dozen who have seen the inside of a jail – in the biggest economy in the world. And from this you conclude that the corporate form does nothing to shield management from their own actions?

            You’ve got a big future in libertarianism.

        6. Corporations do not have rights.

          Peoples’ rights may not be abridged because they own or work for corporations.

          That’s it. Fluff up froth about ‘corporate rights’ all you like but that’s all it is.

    3. Corporations don’t have free speech rights. People have the right to use corporations as tools for the exercise of their free speech rights.

      1. They have the right to use this special form carved out for them by legislatures? And the legislatures can’t restrict the very special form they created? Talk about Frankenstein’s monster!

        1. I know, it’s outrageous. State legislatures should be able to restrict free speech that uses

          a) roads, financed and authorized by said legislature
          b) state university educations, ditto
          c) welfare
          d) the corporate form

        2. They have the right to use this special form carved out for them by legislatures? And the legislatures can’t restrict the very special form they created? Talk about Frankenstein’s monster!

          Yes, moron. The state should seek to preserve and protect individual rights, not restrict them. You seem, again, to forget who serves whom.

        3. While I agree that limited liability and other aspects of corporations are a legal fiction, the notion that “if the government creates it, it can do whatever it wants to it” was rejected a long time ago.

          There were early 1st Amendment cases saying that: There was no right to speak on public parks, there was no right to speak as a public employee, etc etc.

          That’s all bad news.

          The problem with corporate speech is that the owners of the corporation have very little say–when it comes to advocating public policies or endorsing candidates, corporations should be required to clearly disclose to their owners what they’re up to.

          And shareholders need to grow some balls and dump stock in companies that advocate positions they hate.

          It’s like when the US Chamber advocates “pro business” positions that favor one group of their members over another, or directly contradict the stated policies of some of their members.

          1. I see by your reasoning I’m the “owner” of a very large electric utility since I am a share holder, would this be correct?

            Full disclosure: Everyone here is share holder who uses the utility’s power. Part of our payment each month goes towards shares in the utilty. No one asks to become a share holder, you can opt out if you wish. The purpose is to benefit us all. We all get to vote in the corporate elections and so we actually have some control to a certain degree on our own destinies in this venture.

            Why do I so frighten you?

            You didn’t request my opinion, but I’m going to give it to you anyway since you’ve dragged me into this against my will.

            You appear to be seeing monsters where none exist. It may be wise to limit your exposure to scarey story telling sessions in the future. The whole idea of them is it’s fun to be scared when you know it’s all just nonsense. When you start believing it’s not nonsense it’s gone a little too far.

            As the old Czech adage goes: If you will pee yourself in fear, don’t go into the woods.

            If it makes you feel better I have looked in the woods and both under your bed and in the closet. No corporation “owners” excluding myself near or in any of them.

            Sleep tight!

        4. “They have the right to use this special form carved out for them by legislatures? And the legislatures can’t restrict the very special form they created? Talk about Frankenstein’s monster!”

          You idiot. Citizenship is a “special form” created by legislatures.

          I guess you think legislatures can do whatever they want to citizens, huh?

    4. Sooooo…. once again, the NY Times, WaPo, Wall Street Journal – none of them have a right to publish political opinions, cartoons, or stories leading up to an election?

      While you try to portray the court’s ruling as one based on a corporations personhood, that was only 15% of the court’s ruling. From reading the opinion, its obvious that had the court found as you want, it would still have found that its impossible to seperate corporations that are just “bad, corrupting” corporations from the “good, media” corporations.

      Under your thinking – corporations aren’t people and can’t spend money – newspapers, TVs shows, radio shows, are all subject to the restrictions. There is no way around it. Merely setting aside a group as “media” is impossible in any real way. As the court said.

    5. Corporations are not created by legislatures. They are created by people and given legal recognition by legislatures.

      You, also, were created by people and given legal recognition by legislature.

      1. Yes, exactly. You, also, were conceived standing in line at the Secretary of State’s office, your parents filing paperwork to establish a 18-year Liability Coital Compact. Just like we all were. Uh huh.

  5. “Despite all the lip service to “the common man,” they hate and fear that species.”

    Oh absurd. Even if you grant paternalism is involved, do you maintain that when a parent exercises paternalism regarding their children they “hate and fear” them?

    1. Except the gov’t is not actually our Dad/Mom. They don’t love us. I think that’s a key distinction between Parenting and Paternalism.

      1. ‘They’ refers to a collective and collectives have an impossible time expressing any emotion such as a hate or love.

        Libertarians generally believe that the emotion part should be taken out of government. Let people succeed or fail on their own.

        1. Totally agree. I wasn’t implying that by not-loving, ‘they’ were hating instead. Just pointing out that comparing govt paternalism to parenting is bullshit. When parents do what they think best is for their children, they usually do it out of love. Which usually makes it a good thing. Being incapable of love, the gov’t can only fail at paternalism.

        2. Libertarians generally believe correctly.

          Emotion serves no useful function in a healthy government.

          People must define for themselves what constitutes success and what is failure, no one can do this for another nor is it any other’s business let alone responsibility what is success or failure to another anymore than it is whether they even try let alone succeed or fail.

          If I should require compassion from those in my government then it is no longer my government, but rather it is their government and their rule over me.

          If those in my government believe is their prerogative to show another compassion then it is at my expense and I am no longer an equal.

          Only an emotional mind devoid of clarity could ever see favoring one over another as benevolent or kind. Clarity makes obvious the fact we have no business outside our own. Only with the greatest of care and consideration should we ever effect another in any way and never by force or coercion.

          Perhaps Wylie would agree, perhaps not, but parents who truly love their children do not impede their learning. A child’s ability to learn is at it’s highest at a young age and will have peaked and begun to fade before most parents have died. Parents who do not let their children expose themselves to risk, even that which involves serious injury or death, do not allow their children to learn. Children who do not learn are damned to dependence on others and unhappy unfulfilling lives. Such a parent who over protects does not do this out of love of child but out of selfishness putting their own needs before those of the child.

          A parent who is too cowardly to allow their child to take life and make it theirs because of their own fears has love that is poison.

          And then their our governmental parents who aren’t even our parents but severely emotionally mentally ill little tyrants, most of them of miniscule worth in a wildly generous assessment, yet their massively inflated false images of themselves are so grand they actually feel it is our great privilege to be treated as their children. And as if it could be any sicker they are fake parents whose love is deadly poison.

          Not content to just forbid we live our lives they will murder us without batting an eyelash if we so much as disobey.

          1. cool story bro

      2. No the govt is not mom and dad.

        It is us.

        1. Go clean up your epistemological room. It’s a mess.

        2. The government is not us. We are society. Government is simply an organization within society that has the monopoly on violence. That is all government is: violence or the threat of violence.

          “Socialism, like the ancient ideas from which it springs, confuses the distinction between government and society. As a result of this, every time we object to a thing being done by government, the socialists conclude that we object to its being done at all.

          We disapprove of state education. Then the socialists say that we are opposed to any education. We object to a state religion. Then the socialists say that we want no religion at all. We object to a state-enforced equality. Then they say that we are against equality. And so on, and so on. It is as if the socialists were to accuse us of not wanting persons to eat because we do not want the state to raise grain.”
          –Bastiat

        3. I like how you say the government “is us” while corporations are just “legal fictions.”

          I feel more a part of my place of work than I do this government.

          1. And more represented by those above you in the workplace as well.

        4. You really are a boot-licking, double-talking fool, MNG.

        5. “No the govt is not mom and dad. It is us.”

          BWHAHAHAH!!!

          Half a page down you say that management is something different than the shareholders, even though management is selected by shareholder vote.

          But, in the political arena, politicians are “us” because we vote for them?

          I love when “liberals” give themselves away. You’re nothing but a two-faced twit, and a shill for big government authoritarianism.

          1. “we are government” or “government is us” are two dead giveaways of a worshiper of the state.

          2. I’m sure MNG was making the same argument when Bush sent our troops to Iraq. We made the decision, because the government is us. What trash! At least a corporation has some semblance of voluntary agreement. A government lacks that. Read some Lysander Spooner, then come back.

            1. Too lazy too googlefu it up, but i’ll take a swing at MNG’s reason for supporting the Iraq invasion:

              We need to save those poor Iraqis form Saddam. (and from themselves too, but we’ll get to that down the road.)

              1. But that would conflict with the liberal schizophrenic views on race and religion (religion is bad if it’s a “white” religion, but good is if it’s a religion from an impoverished people of a different color). The war was probably racist, because it was against a poorer people of a different color.

    2. Sometimes. Mostly though, they just fail to understand them and then default to bad parenting strategies such as paternalism.

  6. Illinois is something short of a corporate paradise. It ranks 30th among the states in its friendliness toward business.

    “Corporate friendly” does not necessarily equal “business friendly.”

    Duh.

    After reading that I figured the rest of the article wasn’t worth it.

    1. Maybe you should just stop reading altogether. Then your poor little brain wouldn’t have to work so hard.

      1. OK, I did read the next paragraph.

        Illinois is one of a minority of states requiring employers to pay more than the federal minimum wage.

        Corporate friendly. Who does minimum wage laws hurt the most? Small business. Who is delighted if small businesses are hurt? Corporations.

        It is notorious for heavy workers’ compensation costs.

        Do corporations lobby against this?

        It puts no limits on the punitive damages a company can be assessed.

        OK, they probably don’t like this.

        1. why do you assume “corporation” and “small business” are mutually exclusive?

    2. While I agree that its possible , I’m not sure that its true or relevant for the point of the article. Surely, a place could be good for corporations and not good for business, for certain reasons (though they are limited).

      However, the fear is that a nation whose laws are good for corporations will allow businesses to overrun the nation. That what you said is true only proves the point that the fear is overwrought.

  7. There are precedents – overruled in CU – that a government which creates a corporation has the power to impose limits on the corporation it created.

    Even if the Supreme Court had maintained those precedents, that would not answer the question of Congressional power. Only a small handful of corporations are chartered by Congress, the rest are created by state law. Does Congress have special powers over a corporation simply because another level of government (the state) created it?

    It’s not a question of corporations being created by generic ‘government’ – they’re largely created by particular state governments. Does Congress get to stand in the shoes of the states and regulate corporations on that basis?

    1. “There are precedents – overruled in CU – that a government which creates a corporation has the power to impose limits on the corporation it created.”

      This is bunk. It overruled precedents that governments can restrict speech from corporations. It certainly did not rule that legislatures, when creating corporations, cannot impose any number of restrictions on them.

      “Does Congress get to stand in the shoes of the states and regulate corporations on that basis?”

      I imagine they can regulate them in their involvement in federal elections and as agents of inter-state commerce.

      1. From Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce:

        ‘State law grants corporations special advantages – such as limited liability, perpetual life, and favorable treatment of the accumulation and distribution of assets – that enhance their ability to attract capital and to deploy their resources in ways that maximize the return on their shareholders’ investments. These state-created advantages not only allow corporations to play a dominant role in the Nation’s economy, but also permit them to use “resources amassed in the economic marketplace” to obtain “an unfair advantage in the political marketplace.”‘

        This argument may well be bunk, since the Citizens United decision overruled the Austin case. But the fact that the state of Michigan was restraining the powers of a corporation it had itself created was important in the Austin decision. Call it the Frankenstein argument if you will.

        If the Supreme Court cared more for federalism than it does, then it would see that, even if Michigan has the power to limit the speech of its own creation, that does not mean Congress can regulate the speech of corporations which exist independent of Congress itself.

        Now, tell us again how Oliver Wendell Holmes was not a supporter of eugenics.

      2. The government may well regulate some activities of corporations (assuming we accept that government should do this), but it cannot regulate speech. “Congress shall make no law.” As Rehnquist pointed out before, just because the Court makes a decision, it doesn’t mean it’s Constitutional. A decision that is wrong in the beginning is always wrong and unconstitutional. How do the statists get around “shall make no law”? Of course, by saying a group has no speech rights but individuals do. However, when an individual joins a group voluntarily, he loses his speech rights. Well, only if it’s a big bad evil corporation the left doesn’t like, but not media corporations. No!!! They’re sacrosanct.

    2. Does Congress have special powers over a corporation simply because another level of government (the state) created it?

      Seems if the Fed wants to, it can overrule any state laws it wants. So, Yes?

      1. Sure, it’s not as we have a federal republic or anything weird like that.

        1. Sounds sinister. People’s Republics FTW!

          *facepalm*

    3. yes, when it comes to the bill of rights. States cannot take rights away from people no matter what state constitutions say. There is even MORE precedent for that.

      1. I’m only suggesting that it’s even tougher to justify Congressional restrictions on the speech of corporations created by the states than to justify restrictions by the states on the speeches of the corporations they created.

        Precedents go in all sorts of directions, as the CU decision illustrates.

  8. If the liberal left really trusted the judgment of “the people,” they wouldn’t be so busy splitting hairs and inventing arguments about whether a corporation is a “person.” That argument is fatuous. A corporation is an association of individuals who have rights, including but not limited to the right to speak as a group.

    1. Of course the individuals have these rights, and their right to associate is protected. But do they have a right to use this particular association, this legislature created zombie form, for election related speech?

      Of course your whole idea is incorrect. Part of what a corporation is involves indirect management. The “like minded people who join together and form a corporation”, the owners, the holders, they don’t authorize these expenditures. Management does. If you really feel that way then you should support what I do, a measure requiring majority, and maybe supermajority, shareholder approval for any corporate election expenditures.

      1. Do you believe that is within congress’s realm of power to restrict the speech of the news media? Because, gasp!, most of the news media is corporate owned.

        Maybe we could make it illegal for any association of more than one to express any idea about politics around election time. Major media could instead focus on Paris Hilton, and Tiger Woods. Of course the Ross Perot news channel would have ’round the clock election coverage.

      2. Since MNG refuses to address it – for good reason, I propose all responses to him go like this…

        “Congress shall make no law”
        “Congress shall make no law”
        “Congress shall make no law”

        Media are corporations
        Media are corporations
        Media are corporations

        1. I tried earlier – I hope you have better luck than I, BB 🙂

      3. But do they have a right to use this particular association, this legislature created zombie form, for election related speech?

        Well, as Congress shall make no law restricting the freedom of speech, I’d say the answer to your question is fairly obvious.

        1. It will always be nebulous and open to argument if you come at it from teh “do they have the right” side of it. Because the First Amendment doesn’t grant a right to free speech as popularly concieved (and used in your argument).

          It says “Congress shall make no law.”

          It doesn’t grant a right to free speech to anyone, it rejects, in the entirity, the Congresses ability to limit speech.

          1. Exactly. That is why I phrased my question as I did.

        2. I’m not sure how that period got in my name, but I like it.

          Anyways, I agree it’s not a good idea to engage the “but we shouldn’t give corporations rights” argument. It’s simple. Congress shall make no law.

      4. Yes MNG you are so right. we should only allow huge corps with big pockets to DIRECTLY bribe Congress via campaign donations. none of this speaking to the people, especially if they are small non profits, they won’t get a voice at all!

        great idea! all the largest corporations love this idea

      5. “The “like minded people who join together and form a corporation”, the owners, the holders, they don’t authorize these expenditures. Management does.”

        You idiot. Management is selected by the shareholders.

        Likewise, employees are selected by management. Following your logic, a corporation shouldn’t be held liable for the actions of it’s employees.

      6. But do they have a right to use this particular association, this legislature created zombie form, for election related speech?

        Yes, just like the New York Times Company had the right to publish the Pentagon Papers.

  9. Barack Obama: standing athwart history yelling “stop!”

  10. Natural rights like free speech and self defense are protected not by government action, but by government inaction; not by laws, but a lack of laws; not by restrictions, but by a lack of restrictions.
    While statist dopes who think all things emanate from government are incapable of understanding that concept, those of us who do not worship The State understand.

    1. +infinity

    2. Your rights are belong to us

    3. Amen Brother!

    4. Yeah, but…but…if…never mind.

  11. Once again, the word activist is read to mean overturning a congressional action or Supreme Court precedent. How many times must we repeat that the real meaning of activist means reading something into the Constitution that does not exist in the document. Activist would be upholding a law despite a clear constitutional prohibition, or overturning a law based on a non-existent constitutional principle.

    1. It’s not activist if all the other branches of the federal government are doing it, too. Just like it’s OK to jump off a bridge if all the other kids are doing it.

      1. it’s OK to jump off a bridge if all the other kids are doing it

        There must be something good at the bottom.

  12. Not to mention if it passes, moveon.org, every gay rights group, every non profit in the country, will have to shut up as well. These anti-speech people yet again refuse to consider the consequences of their actions.

    Plus, if it passes, the largest corporations and unions will continue to pour money into campaign coffers, they just can’t speak directly to the people. This guarantees a voice only for the biggest players.

  13. The editorial board of the New York Times forgot about New York Times Co. v. United States .

    If corporations did not have freedom of speech, then New York Times Co. was wrongly decided.

    1. Oh, don’t worry. Liberals want to restrict free speech from the media, as well.

      See “the fairness doctrine.”

  14. Thank goodness it didn’t mention corporate flag burning.

    1. Or same-sex mergers.

      1. +1

  15. You know. I’d accept MNG’s arguments of corporations being a legal fiction. In fact, why don’t we remove the government’s ability to determine what business associations are valid or not. Also, if they are a legal fiction, then we shouldn’t be able to tax or regulate them at all. Why, it would be almost like they don’t exist!

    Instead, we get another schizophrenic leftist policy where some free speech is not okay if leftists don’t like it (them evilest of evil corporations except for media companies) versus speech they do like. It’s just as bad as conservatives and their anti-porn, foul language policies. At least conservatives were smart enough to know that this case was decided correctly.

    1. them evilest of evil corporations except for media companies

      Well, to be fair, they’ve been trying to level enough regulations on media co’s that they would be distinct from said “evilest of evil corporations.”

      whats the opposite of NTTAWWT? ETATIW? (Everything about that is wrong)

    2. Leftists are easier to understand when you realize that their arguments are based upon emotion rather than reason. They confuse feelings for thought. Any thought they might have is only to rationalize what they feel. Notice they always ascribe emotion to their opponents, usually fear or hatred. That’s because emotion is all they understand. There’s nothing schizophrenic about it, it’s just emotion.

    3. “we shouldn’t be able to tax or regulate them at all”

      Maybe they can pay in fictitious money.

      1. Don’t they already do that? (FED)

  16. You used Illinois as an example? You’ve never been to Illinois, have you? You’ve never googled “Illinois corrupt politicians” have you? Or perhaps “Illinois bribe.” But great article, just amazing analysis. Definitely

    1. The “Illinois Bribe”. 10x worse than the “Serbian Jew Double Bluff”.

      Is Illinois really worse than anywhere else? Do they run around raping babies? “HAHA! I Fuck you babies, i are elected official!”

      It a problem across-the-board. Not just of America but humanity as a whole. It probably just seems worse in Illinois because it’s Illinois. The same corruption in Rio de Janiero looks much nicer.

  17. To all the debate about whether corporations are government creations: no, strictly speaking, they are not. People create corporations *in accordance* with corporate law. So yeah, corporations are arrangements *enabled* by corporate law. But that doesn’t mean the government literally created them. The government *does* setup the rules by which they’re possible. The only valid question to my mind is whether these arrangements and their accompanying rules are somehow “special” enough that the government is justified in creating a quid pro quo that bars people who accept such an arrangement from exercising certain rights *through* said arrangement. Personally, I don’t think so, since corporate law is merely a recognition of a particular set or type of property rights. To say the government can use that as a wedge for limiting rights could have very dangerous slippery slope implications for anyone with property rights, i.e., all of us. Which is not to say the problem is the slippery slope itself. Who knows if it would ever get applied so broadly? The problem is that any reasoning that presents such a potentially dangerous slippery slope is bad reasoning to begin with. Ultimately, I don’t see why allowing people to incorporate justifies barring them from free expression through that incorporation.

    1. Your post is good enough that it deserved a few paragraph breaks. cmon man, they’re free.

      I think the fear this whole thing is based on is that a few rich guys in smoky backrooms will decide to run an advert/campaign with their unlimited funds that will blast any opposition.

      Thing is, if shareholders find their investment being throw around haphazardly by some megalomaniacal CEO, they can do something about it. Pelosi keeps saying the craziest shit possible, and she’ll probably be re-elected come november. Voters dont feel invested, its someone elses money.

      With that in mind, obviously they’d want the craziest, holdfastiest representative they can get for their district. Otherwise it wont be other people’s money they’re playing with, it’ll be their money being played with by other people! All because their Rep was willing to say whatever it took.

      How long till the Pork Producers of America sue for defamation by congress? “Pork” is giving Pork a bad name.

      1. “Your post is good enough that it deserved a few paragraph breaks. cmon man, they’re free.”

        They’r not free. Their costs are measured in time, thought and effort! 🙂

        Wrist slap (and the closest thing you’ll find to a compliment in the world of blog comment threads) accepted, however!

        1. In This Thread: Many, many libertarians who have never, ever filed corporate paperwork, paid corporate taxes, or exercised the due diligence and fiduciary responsibilities that go with the government-granted liability bubble that the corporate form provides. Result: much fantastical hilarity concerning an imaginary deterministic world filled exclusively with enlightened self-interested individuals and unicorns that poop poundcake.

  18. “give the federal government and the states unlimited power to regulate campaign fundraising and expenditures”

    Why not just outlaw elections altogether, so incumbents need never worry about this kind of thing again?

    1. Workin’ on it!

    2. Might as well admit the truth already. We don’t need elections. These people can elect themselves much more efficiently.

  19. ~”When politicians start trying to amend the Constitution, it usually means they have gone off the rails.”~

    So support for the repeal of the 14th is growing so we can get the train back on track!

  20. All three reasons are valid.

    No sweat here, for once the Justices did their damn job.

    Some one doesn’t like the Constitution? Herr Fascist Olberman perhaps? Liberals? Democrats? Republicans? Whom ever? Then change it BY THE RULES.

    There can never be too much free speech, good call Mr. Gillespie. And for that matter short of taking anothers life or property there can never be too much freedom period.

  21. What is the problem with foreign corporations influencing American politics? Foreign corporations pay taxes, employ American workers and do business in America. So why can’t they have an equal voice to American corporations especially when American corporations become protectionist?

  22. I read the op-ed and the comments but nobody explained how money and speech were the same things. No where in the first amendment to the constitution did it say that congress can’t make a law saying how money could and could not be spent.

    Also what’s wrong with Amending the constitution to better serve the people of this country? The 1st amendment you guys hold up as being so sacred was itself an amendment that was not part of the original constitution and only became law with the passage of the bill of rights which was opposed by conservative members of congress in the Federalist party.

    Congress has the authority to ratify amendments to the constitution in order to better serve the people living in an ever changing world.

  23. Congress has the authority to ratify amendments to the constitution in order to better serve the people living in an ever changing world.

    Yes, and then the amendments must be approved by state governments (either the standing legislature, or a specially formed committee). It’s a difficult process, and it’s meant to be difficult for a reason.

  24. Congress has the authority to ratify amendments to the constitution in order to better serve the people living in an ever changing world.

    Yes, and then the amendments must be approved by state governments (either the standing legislature, or a specially formed committee). It’s a difficult process, and it’s meant to be difficult for a reason.

  25. Remember, just about every media outlet in the country is a CORPORATION- from Mother Jones to the National Review (and Reason).

  26. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all MEN are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights”

    Men have rights, not companies. Search and seizure apply to the OWNERS of the company, but not the company itself.
    Corporations =/= a person

    money =/= speech

    prohibiting corporate spending does not limit the speech of the individuals who are part of it, they can still exercise THEIR freedom.

    The press is singled out…
    Editorials have writers…

    I have seen much to think about here and have carefully considered my intial position and the postings, but keep coming to the conclusions above.

  27. In democratic societies like the United States, the voting process is a means by which citizens hold their government accountable, conflicts are channeled into resolutions, and power transfers peacefully. Our system of representative government works only when honest ballots are not diluted by fraudulent ballots. When elections become corrupted, democracy becomes threatened.
    The FBI has a limited role in ensuring fair and free elections in the United States. Election crimes become federal cases when:
    The ballot includes one or more federal candidates;
    The crime involves an election official abusing his duties;
    The crime pertains to fraudulent voter registration;
    Voters are not U.S. citizens.
    First Name: kenyan born at the white house
    Last Name: TRUTH
    Address: AMERICA
    Address: INPEACH OBAMA
    City: USA
    State: usa THE END OF AMERICA
    NPR archive describes Obama as ‘Kenyan-born’
    Michelle say Barack born in Kenya
    Obama’s grandmother say he was born in Kenya
    Subject: OBAMA SAID approval ratings are still very high in the country of my birth.
    Message: INPEACH OBAMA TO THE WEAK-KNEED REPUBLICANS AND DEMOCRAT
    obama people have no idea of the extent to which they have to be gulled in order to be led.” “The size of the lie is a definite factor in causing it to be believed, for the vast masses of the nation are in the depths of their hearts more easily deceived than they are consciously and intentionally bad. The primitive simplicity of their minds renders them a more easy prey to a big lie than a small one, for they themselves often tell little lies but would be ashamed to tell a big one.” “All propaganda must be so popular and on such an intellectual level, that even the most stupid of those towards whom it is directed will understand it. Therefore, the intellectual level of the propaganda must be lower the larger the number of people who are to be influenced by it.” “Through clever and constant application of propaganda, people can be made to see paradise as hell, and also the other way around, to consider the most wretched sort of life as paradise. “pelosi don’t see much future for the Americans … it’s a decayed country. And they have their racial problem, and the problem of social &^% …obama feelings against Americanism are feelings of hatred and deep repugnance … everything about the behaviour of American society reveals that it’s half &^%, and the other half &^& How can one expect a State like that to hold TOGTHER.They include the angry left wing bloggers who spread vicious lies and half-truths about their political adversaries… Those lies are then repeated by the duplicitous left wing media outlets who “discuss” the nonsense on air as if it has merit? The media’s justification is apparently “because it’s out there”, truth be damned. State: *usa Obama chuckles at America*
    If YOU PASS THE NORTH KOREAN BORDER ILLEGALLY YOU GET 12 YRS HARD LABOR, YOU PASS THE AFGHAN BORDER ILLEGALLY YOU GET SHOT. Under the Mexican law, illegal immigration is a felony, punishable by up to two years in prison,There is no immigration allowed in China, India, Bangladesh, Russia, Japan, Cuba, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Syria, Turkey and MOST other countries YOU PASS THE AMERICAN BORDER ILLEGALLY YOU GET A JOB, DRIVER’S LICENSE, ALLOWANCE FOR A PLACE TO LIVE, HEALTH CARE, EDUCATION, BILLIONS OF DOLLARS SPENT SO YOU CAN READ A DOCUMENT. WE CARRY PASSPORTS IN OTHER COUNTRIES OR FACE JAIL TIME. REPOST THIS IF YOU AGREE!! ((STOP COMMUNIST OBAMA)) THE COMMANDER

  28. I like that saying, thanks!
    Thanks for posting this. Very nice recap of some of the key points in my talk. I hope you and your readers find it useful! Thanks again

  29. What is the problem with foreign corporations influencing American politics? Foreign corporations pay taxes, employ American workers and do business in America. So why can’t they have an equal voice to American corporations especially when American corporations become protectionist?

  30. yes the new would rather provide to our dermis are these substances.

  31. Finally, corporations are not government creations. The idea of a corporation has been around for centuries.

  32. Thanks for posting this. Very nice recap of some of the key points in my talk. I hope you and your readers find it useful! Thanks again.

  33. This really is beneficial information. Many thanks for sharing it. Awaiting for more news from you. To kill the time since your new announcement do some

  34. Men have rights, not companies. Search and seizure apply to the OWNERS of the company, but not the company itself. Thanks for your sharing.

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  36. I was just having a conversation over this I am glad I came across this it cleared some of the questions I had.

  37. mainly because these Birthers and Tea Partiers and anti-Choicers start to unite will police force uncover a solution?

  38. I am glad the reality that election of Obama is forcing these racist mofo’s out into the lights of day.

  39. Infingement on free speech is at an all time high as far as I can tell. I’ve ran into this personally twice. First experience, I was hanging outside of LA Fitness in my town (it’s a really busy gyn) handing out info from the Heritage Foundation. They told me I had to move on…even though I was on public property. Second, I tried to preach the Bible on the public street. Just tell people about Jesus, nothing too crazy…and the police stopped by to say I should go to the “free speech area”. What does that make everywhere else? The “Censorship Zone”???

  40. There’s nothing schizophrenic about it, it’s just emotion.

  41. We’re significantly from obtaining a publish-racial society.

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