Patterico's Pontifications

1/21/2010

Supreme Court Rules Portions of McCain/Feingold Unconstitutional

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:12 am



Excellent:

The Supreme Court has ruled that corporations may spend freely to support or oppose candidates for president and Congress, easing decades-old limits on their participation in federal campaigns.

I don’t think of this in terms of partisan advantage, but in terms of free speech. This is a victory for the First Amendment.

UPDATE: The ruling is here. There are several opinions. From a quick scan, it looks like they upheld disclosure requirements 8-1, with only Thomas disagreeing. Otherwise it’s your typical 5-4 with Kennedy in charge.

92 Responses to “Supreme Court Rules Portions of McCain/Feingold Unconstitutional”

  1. IANAL, what part remains?

    quasimodo (4af144)

  2. I have to run off to work, but I would like to point something out…

    The man who argued to gets these parts overturned was the same man who, back when he was the Solicitor-General for Bush, got those same parts upheld.

    It seems that whether or not McCain-Feingold is constitutional depends solely as to what side he is on.

    Scott Jacobs (46e187)

  3. IIRC, this applies to independent expenditures, meaning that coordinated stuff would still be limited, presumably by PAC limits (again, haven’t brushed up on this). Also, I would think that the logic of the ruling would extend to unions.

    Karl (cc4af5)

  4. Doofus 43 should have vetoed it. This is one more incremental step that the elected parts of the government, the President and the Congress, have ceded the Constitution to nine old people.

    nk (df76d4)

  5. “I think the logic of the ruling would extend to Unions” – Karl

    Logic? Unions? guess it depends on which party the Judge was appointed by :)

    EricPWJohnson (83a5e3)

  6. Yep, one more check in the “WTF were you doing?” Bush pile.

    Seriously, I liked him.

    Vivian Louise (eeeb3a)

  7. oh. That one guy is that guy what Sarah Palin thinks is the bestest Senator ever.

    He’s going places. She’s gonna make sure of it. Using her Sarah powers.

    happyfeet (e9e587)

  8. I’m only about 1/9 of the way through the opinion, but the logic would certainly apply to unions. For that matter, it seems likely that the logic would also apply to campaign contributions – the case is just about independent expenditures, but contribution limits don’t seem supportable anymore, either.

    As a practical matter, it appears that what happened is that a Justice who supported the limits (O’Connor) retired and was replaced by a Justice who didn’t (Alito).

    aphrael (9e8ccd)

  9. NK – I was confused by your claim, because this decision doesn’t just invalidate the law you’re talking about; it overturns a 1990 decision which said that corporate political speech could be banned – meaning that whatever law initially introduced the policy predated 1990.

    aphrael (9e8ccd)

  10. Here’s a surprising note:

    the first independent expenditure ban was passed in 1947, over the President’s veto. The following year, when the CIO endorsed a candidate in its newsletter, the case went to the Supreme Court, which dodged the issue by construing the statute not to apply to that situation. Still, four justices – including Justices Black and Douglas – said they would prefer to invalidate the ban entirely on the grounds that it unduly interfered with freedom of speech.

    aphrael (9e8ccd)

  11. The winner in all this is the media, since the money that pours into campaign advertising will be more unfettered than before. My only complaint is that now I’m going to have to hear or see (but mainly hear) far more endless, fingernail-on-chalkboard commercials for some political cause, initiative, issue, candidate.

    Mark (411533)

  12. Comment by aphrael — 1/21/2010 @ 8:59 am

    ?

    The question was the validity of a 2002 law, McCain-Feingold a/k/a BCRA?

    Or has the Supreme Court also achieved legislative authority and the ability to punish for violation of its prior decisions?

    nk (df76d4)

  13. NK: the Supreme Court had twice said that laws prohibiting corporate independent expenditures were constitutional. The decision today says those earlier decisions were wrong and overturned them.

    aphrael (9e8ccd)

  14. NK, I don’t understand what you’re getting at.

    aphrael (9e8ccd)

  15. They ‘acted stupidly’ before, just like at some point they will revisit Boumedienne and say ‘what
    were we thinking”

    ian cormac (a80ed2)

  16. I don’t think of this in terms of partisan advantage, but in terms of free speech.

    In terms of partisan advantage it helps the left. Which makes the cheering of this on the right, and the moaning about it on the left, rather peculiar.

    Subotai (d6b6a3)

  17. aphrael, it sounds to me like you’re objecting to the proposition that the constitution means whatever five justices say it means.

    Welcome to the party.

    Subotai (d6b6a3)

  18. McCain-Feingold superseded the previous statute. And both the Congress and the President had a duty, and a right, to examine its constitutionality. Independently, as two independent, elected, branches of government, and not throwing the whole mess into the lap of the Supreme Court.

    The Sureme Court is the last word, ok. But not the only word.

    nk (df76d4)

  19. Actually it doesn’t, this plan was designed to muzzle likely sources of right opposition, putting the media as arbiter,and you know how well that works. We saw how that worked when McCain was bound by the law, and Obama wasn’t, cosmic karmic irony.

    ian cormac (a80ed2)

  20. This decision applies to unions, moveon.org, the NRA, ACORN, Citibank, Goldman Sachs….you name it. All restrictions on the amounts that these entities may contribute are gone, though disclosure requirements were left in place.

    The AFL-CIO filed amicus briefs supporting the challenge to the law’s constitutionality, side-by-side with the NRA. This is not a decision that necessarily helps the right. Corporate contributions have substantially shifted in the direction of the Democrats.

    Cyrus Sanai (311cd8)

  21. In terms of partisan advantage it helps the left. Which makes the cheering of this on the right, and the moaning about it on the left, rather peculiar.

    I have a very leftist friend who says that history will look back at this decision as the moment that ushered in an era of fascism in the 21st century.

    I think it’s very curious that leftists like him are so opposed to the 1st amendment.

    Some chump (d97978)

  22. Subotai: I’m not objecting, per se. I think this happens from time to time – and I think that when the Court realizes it’s made a mistake, it should fess up to it.

    Plessy was a mistake. It’s a good thing the Court realized it.

    In this case, however, there’s something that seems particularly obnoxious about a 5-4 majority in one direction switching to a 5-4 majority in the other direction; the numbers make it seem more nakedly partisan.

    aphrael (9e8ccd)

  23. This ruling helps to alleviate my concerns that corporations don’t have enough of a say in how our country is run.

    imdw (e6339b)

  24. Damn those people who work for a living! Why can’t everyone be so highly ethical, like you!

    Eric Blair (0b61b2)

  25. See, imdw: that is how you post. That is why you are a troll. Try disagreeing with thoughtfulness, courtesy, and—from time to time–some nonpartisan linked evidence.

    Then you won’t be an object of dismissal and scorn.

    It’s not your politics that makes you a troll. It’s your personal style.

    Eric Blair (0b61b2)

  26. For example, look at aphrael.

    Eric Blair (0b61b2)

  27. “The AFL-CIO filed amicus briefs supporting the challenge to the law’s constitutionality, side-by-side with the NRA. This is not a decision that necessarily helps the right. Corporate contributions have substantially shifted in the direction of the Democrats.”

    Yes but corporate contributions to democrats don’t really make the democrats that leftist. Did you notice how weak the proposed tax on big banks was? And that was the proposal — meaning that the final result, if we got one, would be even smaller.

    imdw (de7003)

  28. The idea that the Dems are not statist leftists is laughable.

    Apparently, iamadickwad thinks that some people should enjoy more freedom than others.

    JD (842c05)

  29. “The AFL-CIO filed amicus briefs supporting the challenge to the law’s constitutionality

    When it comes to elections, certainly on the local level, the influence of government-employee unions in particular, unions in general, is far more significant than anything coming from big corporations. That’s even truer because the salary and livelihood of an individual — of a government employee — is far more directly connected to the outcome of elections.

    With super generous pension plans — which allow various government employees to retire early and almost with full pay — pushing state and municipal governments closer to bankruptcy, the group that has far more of a vested interest in shaping the behavior of the voter is not corporations but unions.

    Mark (411533)

  30. “The idea that the Dems are not statist leftists is laughable.”

    Lets take a look at, for example, the Employee Free Choice Act. Do you think that is more or less likely to come to pass in the political contribution climate created by this opinion?

    imdw (2cdde1)

  31. Who funded the Obama campaign, Morgan, Goldman, AIG,(Holbrooke a board member) Lehman, Countrywide,
    BofA, little guys like that, take it up with him

    ian cormac (a80ed2)

  32. what this will do is simply give more momentum to whichever party already has it. GOP is looking up, so this will help them more in the short term. At some point in the future dems will be up and corporations will flock to them. Whichever side presents itself as the best investment will get the lion’s share of corporate money campaign to campaign. Imdw might not like it but entities that employ about half of all americans have the right to have a voice in politics.

    chaos (7c068a)

  33. what this will do is simply give more momentum to whichever party already has it. GOP is looking up, so this will help them more in the short term. At some point in the future dems will be up and corporations will flock to them. Whichever side presents itself as the best investment will get the lion’s share of corporate money campaign to campaign. Imdw might not like it but entities that employ about half of all americans have the right to have a voice in politics.

    chaos (7c068a)

  34. “iamadickwad thinks that some people should enjoy more freedom than others.”

    – JD

    Ironically, this is one of the primary objections to treating the donation of money as free speech: that it affords more freedom of speech to some than to others.

    I don’t necessarily buy that objection – if you accept it as it stands, there are ugly implications regarding very obvious cases of free speech, such as letter-writing and the like (i.e. you can’t write a letter to your congressmen pressuring them to vote this way or that because some people can’t write very well and writing letters is accordingly unfair). But it’s still one of the main objections – that the currency of a democratic political realm should be votes, not dollars.

    Besides, I have very little faith in the efficacy of campaign finance reform as a means of promoting responsible government.

    Leviticus (f0f166)

  35. This is a huge blow to those who want small government. To see how bad things can get, look at the domination government worker unions have on California government. A stampede of special-interest money will flow into campaigns, most of that will be for expansion of government spending. The founding fathers never intended the Bill of Rights to be a suicide pact.

    Wesson (9fddaa)

  36. “iamadickwad thinks that some people should enjoy more freedom than others.”

    – JD

    Ironically, this is one of the primary objections to treating the donation of money as free speech: that it affords more freedom of speech to some than to others.

    I don’t necessarily buy that objection – if you accept it as it stands, there are ugly implications regarding very obvious cases of free speech, such as letter-writing and the like (i.e. you can’t write a letter to your congressmen pressuring them to vote this way or that because some people can’t write very well and writing letters is accordingly unfair). But it’s still one of the main objections – that the currency of a democratic political realm should be votes, not dollars.

    Besides, I have very little faith in the efficacy of campaign finance reform as a means of promoting responsible government.

    Leviticus (f0f166)

  37. Whoops. Sorry for the double-post.

    Leviticus (f0f166)

  38. The United States is NOT a democracy. It’s a plutocracy, where the rich rule.
    As long as the rich and powerful have a louder megaphone than you or I, they will have greater control over the outcome of elections.
    That doesn’t make us much different than Communist China or Iran, where there is freedom of speech…for those in power.

    Norris Hall (523ea2)

  39. “That doesn’t make us much different than Communist China or Iran, where there is freedom of speech…for those in power.

    Comment by Norris Hall —”

    I’m not saying the USA is utopia, but you are dead wrong.

    We are so much different than Iran and China. Those out of power can change the course of America. Did you even pay attention to Scott Brown, Twitter, Facebook?

    Read “An Army of Davids”. Sure, the hyper rich have a lot of power they used to bribe democrats and republicans from allowing the full force of competition, but the people in this country are smart, catch on, and rally. They’ve done it over and over. We didn’t let Carter get away with it. We aren’t letting Obama get away with it.

    Hell, in today’s world it’s much easier to speak freely against anyone you want. If you think your freedoms are comparable to Iran or China you are lost.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  40. Patterico–

    I know you dislike Kennedy, but suppose that Bork had been confirmed instead. Bork never struck me as particularly hostile to state control of political speech. “Due process” to Bork always seemed like “we checked all the boxes” whether or not the process was rigged.

    Here, at least, Kennedy’s “liberty interests” are useful.

    Kevin Murphy (805c5b)

  41. The idea that the Dems are not statist leftists is laughable

    Right, but that doesn’t really make libertarian-anarchist leftists feel much happier with them.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  42. Aphrael – To be clear, I do not consider you to be in those general groups when I speak of them. You use your grey matter, even if we do not agree, and you usually make me look at my positions from a different perspective.

    On this topic, I think there should be no restrictions on individuals or groups. None. But every donation more than $1 should have to be disclosed within a tiny timeframe. The penalties for failure to do so should be penal and draconian, carrying ginormous fines. But that will never happen.

    JD (cf9626)

  43. aphrael–

    Douglas was a 1st amendment absolutist, unlike modern thinkers who think the 1st amendment only protects porn. I’m pretty sure that Douglas would have agreed wholeheartedly with Thomas’s dissent in McConnell v FEC, which basically said, “What, just porn is protected now?”

    Kevin Murphy (805c5b)

  44. The idea that the Dems are not statist leftists is laughable

    And, sadly, the idea that Republicans are not just statist rightists has yet to be proved.

    Kevin Murphy (805c5b)

  45. JD – oh, certainly; I was not taking your comment as being directed at or about me. I was observing that usually when I hear people complaining about the Democrats not being leftist, or being corporate stooges, or what not, I assume that they’re coming from an anarcho-socialist perspective.

    I don’t support the tiny timeframe bit; I think that there are practical reasons why that might be difficult. But, say, on the level of a week?

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  46. Douglas was a 1st amendment absolutist

    That’s a fair point.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  47. This ruling helps to alleviate my concerns that corporations don’t have enough of a say in how our country is run.

    IMDW, I think that’s a likely outcome of the decision, yes. But at the same time, based on the half of the decision or so that i’ve read, I agree with it.

    “Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech.”

    Prohibiting a corporation from making a political statement a month before an election abridges the freedom of speech. It does so in the interest of a really important goal which I support, but “no law” does not mean “no law except those which are in pursuit of really important goals.”

    I continue to think the decision which awarded ‘personhood’ to corporations was wrongly decided. But if the court isn’t going to overturn that decision, this decision is sorta inevitable.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  48. What would one find if they were an originalist that inquired into what “the freedom of speech” meant to the founders vis-a-vis corporate entities?

    imdw (017d51)

  49. Just as Bill Clinton’s rich contributors opened up may peoples eyes to the fact that “not all rich people are Republicans,” the ultimate truth that this SCOTUS ruling will reveal is that corporations aren’t all conservative or Republican.

    Neo (7830e6)

  50. I am stunned at how wrong the coverage has been. This is only nominally about expenditures. This is about speech. This case was about a company which made an anti-Hillary documentary. They were allowed to make it but they were not allowed to advertise for it, because this amounted to electioneering according to the FEC. That is, they wanted to buy ad space to put their message on the air and the FEC stopped them. And what the supreme court said is that you can’t stop them from buying ad space. This is actual censorship and putting a fig leaf over it and saying that you are only banning expenditures ignores the obvious reality that freedom of speech costs money.

    A lot of people then have been misinterpreting this to mean that a corporation can give to a candidate directly. No, they still can’t. but they may put out their own messages, and even spend money to do so. That’s all the court said.

    I will add that the provision is wholly nullified so unions are automatically included in the effects of this ruling.

    Finally, I will say they are absolutely right. I’m not a big fan of that kind of documentary, but how exactly was it different from Fahrenheit 9-11? Yet Michael moore was allowed to run his documentary and advertise for it all throughout 2004 with the explicit hope that he would defeat Bush. And while I am glad he failed, and I always wish Moore would voluntarily STFU, I recognize and support his God given right to have done all of this. I just don’t get why Citizens United were treated differently. And I am not even sure it is bias, because I considered Team America to be equally a pro-bush movie (to anyone who says they are anti-bush in this, you just aren’t getting it), but they let that through. So I have no idea why they were treated differently, just that they were.

    A.W. (e7d72e)

  51. I don’t know, mainly because corporations in the 1780s were quite different than they are now; they were typically created only by special charter issued by the legislature. I think it’s fair to say that the reforms which allowed automatic chartering upon paying a fee were a sufficiently big change in the nature of corporations that no assumptions can be made about how views would translate across the change.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  52. Aphrael – I know that it would be difficult with a tiny timeframe, and to me, that would be a feature, and not a bug. Absolute and actual transparency would be my goal. I was thinking along the lines of 48 hours, but a week might be more practical. And draconian penalties and onerous fines for transgressions.

    JD (cf9626)

  53. imdw

    On originalism, i think the Court is reaching the right answer, but is subtly wrong. TV and movies are not speech. They are press. in 1789, speech was just that–how loud could you yell? but in 1789, the press shared two things in common with TV and movies: 1) they are forms of mass communication, that 2) requires a great deal of money. Freedom of speech is free of cost; freedom of the press requires a significant investment, typically by corporations, and certainly business organizations of some sort.

    When you think of it as press, you start to recognize that business organization and money is necessary to accomplish that expression, that there can be no freedom of expression otherwise. The court did 100% the right thing.

    A.W. (e7d72e)

  54. “The great corporations which we have grown to speak of rather loosely as trusts are the creatures of the State, and the State not only has the right to control them, but it is duty bound to control them wherever the need of such control is shown.” — Theodore Roosevelt

    DCSCA (9d1bb3)

  55. IMP – When I want your opinion, I will go kick a cat.

    JD (5127d7)

  56. JD wrote:

    IMP – When I want your opinion, I will go kick a cat.

    I denounce you!

    The cat owner Dana (474dfc)

  57. Aphrael wrote:

    Prohibiting a corporation from making a political statement a month before an election abridges the freedom of speech. It does so in the interest of a really important goal which I support, but “no law” does not mean “no law except those which are in pursuit of really important goals.”

    Absotively, posilutely! A great comment.

    The cat owner Dana (474dfc)

  58. I don’t have a problem with corporations taking out ads saying what they believe government should or shouldn’t do; or declaring themselves in favor of some candidate or other and specifying the reasons for that preference.

    What I DO have an objection to is allowing corporations to give huge donations to certain parties or candidates. That’s MORE than just “free speech”; that’s an implicit arrangement best summarized as “Mr. Candidate, we bought you, now pay us back”.

    While corporations ARE legal entities, they are not flesh-and-blood human beings. They do NOT have a natural claim to all the rights accorded to humans by their Creator. Therefore, to my mind, their “freedom of speech” (pretending, of course, that “shoveling out money” is “speech”) may indeed be restricted when in comes to candidates and elections.

    Of course, I’m just a plain old American; what do I know? (Well, I DO know that money invites corruption!)

    A_Nonny_Mouse (57cacf)

  59. Dana – I’m very close to a free speech absolutist. This is one of those cases where I really don’t like the outcome but think that my principles require it.

    As I’ve said before, I think it’s wrong to treat corporations as people. But we do; and as long as we do, we should be consistent about it.

    Otherwise limits on corporate speech will become the wedge that legitimizes limits on individual speech.

    A_Nonny_Mouse: this case was about independent expenditures (eg, taking out ads saying “this dodo voted to ban bird feed, throw him out of office”). It’s not clear to me from the 1/4 of it that I’ve read (the rest, alas, must wait until tomorrow) if it effects contributions.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  60. Dana – I’m very close to a free speech absolutist. This is one of those cases where I really don’t like the outcome but think that my principles require it

    *snort*

    Yeah that’s why you’ve been whining about how awful this ruling is the entire time. You don’t like the outcome, but your principles demand you agree with it! You have an interesting definition of “agreement.”

    As I’ve said before, I think it’s wrong to treat corporations as people. But we do; and as long as we do, we should be consistent about it.

    Otherwise limits on corporate speech will become the wedge that legitimizes limits on individual speech.

    It’s wrong, but if we make it right, it’ll make things more wrong!

    Geez can you twist yourself into any more convoluted a pretzel?

    chaos (9c54c6)

  61. Speech is nothing to be scared of, anyway.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  62. Chaos: huh?

    I detest what I see as the inevitable result of this ruling on the political process: corporate influence over politicians will increase, individual influence will decline. I think it’s a terrible thing as a practical matter and will likely hasten the day when the people are no longer in control of our own political destiny.

    But I also think the Constitutional commandment that speech shall not be interfered with is one of the paramount bases of our system. And so I think that, while Congress was right to say that the ability of corporations to influence elections is a problem, its solution was the wrong one.

    Congress chose to meet an important goal by an unconstitutional method. Congress unfortunately does that from time to time, and the role of the courts is to tell them to stop it.

    They did so here.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  63. Didn’t the SEIU brag about how they spent $60 million getting Obama elected in 2008 and $120 million overall on Democrat candidates. I think the left is just pissed off that there is more potential competition to their union and media butt buddies from this decision. It’s that simple.

    daleyrocks (718861)

  64. Daleyrocks: I can’t speak for SEIU, but I think your diagnosis of the left in general is, in this case, overwrought.

    The activist left is, at core, anti-corporate. Most leftists of my acquaintance believe that corporations (either because they are inherently immoral, which I would describe as the religious-activist viewpoint, or because the incentive structure for corporate officers encourages it, which i would describe as a proceduralist-economist viewpoint) tend to act in such a fashion as to take the most money as they can get away with while providing the least service they can get away with and simultaneously demand of their employees the most they can get away with for the least they can manage to pay in compensation … and that, in essence, the role of corporations is to sc**w people while making big bucks for their investors.

    For most leftists, this is a deep, visceral hatred which runs deeper than the hatred most libertarians have for government.

    The people I’m describing aren’t upset with this decision because it weakens the power of unions. They’re upset with this decision because it increases the power of corporations, which in their minds is a little bit like increasing the power of blood-sucking vampire ghouls.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  65. Aphrael wrote:

    As I’ve said before, I think it’s wrong to treat corporations as people. But we do; and as long as we do, we should be consistent about it.

    Corporate personhood was established in the late 19th century, and it was a good thing: it meant that corporations had the same due process rights as individuals.

    Think what would happen if corporations did not have the right to due process of law.

    The non-lawyer Dana (474dfc)

  66. chaos: sometimes our ideals, morals, or principles force us to take stands that we know will turn out badly, or that we’re uncomfortable with, or whatever. Is that such a hard thing to understand?

    Or, alternatively, we choose between the lesser of two evils – in this case, either A) removing restrictions on corporate free-speech, which will lead to undue corporate influence, or B) retaining restrictions on corporate free speech, which could eventually provide the precedent for restrictions on the free speech of private citizens.

    Both options suck, but B sucks more than A, so (as supporters of free speech) we support A. It’s the same argument with pornography – though we may personally find pornography degrading and distasteful, we’re more wary of allowing the government to decide what we may or may not say or discuss or watch or whatever. Lesser of two evils.

    Leviticus (30ac20)

  67. Dana,

    It’s possible to grant corporations the right of due process without deeming them legal persons. I agree with aphrael (in re: the impropriety of corporate personhood), but I also agree with him regarding the necessity of sticking to your ideals, even if you don’t always like the results.

    Leviticus (30ac20)

  68. “There can be no effective control of corporations while their political activity remains. To put an end to it will be neither a short nor an easy task, but it can be done.”
    – Theodore Roosevelt, ‘The New Nationalism,’ 1910

    DCSCA (9d1bb3)

  69. I think it’s the correct Constitutional decison.

    Congress shall make no law …. abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

    But it’s also a decision which helps the left far more than the right. Look at who Big Business is supporting these days with regards to the stimulus bill, the health-care bill, etc. For that matter look at who they supported in the last Presidential election.

    Subotai (33292b)

  70. Think what would happen if corporations did not have the right to due process of law.

    They wouldn’t be able to marry corporations of the same sex?

    Subotai (33292b)

  71. “Am I getting through to you, Mr. Beale?

    You get up on your little twenty-one inch screen and howl about America and democracy. There is no America. There is no democracy. There is only IBM and ITT and AT&T and DuPont, Dow, Union Carbide, and Exxon. Those are the nations of the world today. What do you think the Russians talk about in their councils of state — Karl Marx?

    They get out their linear programming charts, statistical decision theories, minimax solutions, and compute the price-cost probabilities of their transactions and investments, just like we do. We no longer live in a world of nations and ideologies, Mr. Beale. The world is a college of corporations, inexorably determined by the immutable bylaws of business. The world… is a business, Mr. Beale. It has been since man crawled out of the slime. And our children will live, Mr. Beale, to see that ‘perfect’ world in which there’s no war or famine, oppression or brutality — one vast and ecumenical holding company, for whom all men will work to serve a common profit, in which all men will hold a share of stock, all necessities provided, all anxieties, tranquilized… all boredom, amused.” – Arthur Jensen [Ned Beatty], from the film ‘Network”, 1976, by Paddy Chayefsky.

    DCSCA (9d1bb3)

  72. Two thoughts:

    Can a sovereign wealth fund set up a corporation in Delaware and start paying for attack ads against a candidate that opposes the sponsoring nation’s interests?

    How will this impact the growth of government? Corporations love juicy government contracts.

    mlb (d28ed5)

  73. “They’re upset with this decision because it increases the power of corporations, which in their minds is a little bit like increasing the power of blood-sucking vampire ghouls.”

    aphrael – I don’t necessarily disagree with your very dismal but unrealistic description of the liberal characterization of corporations given my conversations with liberals and reading of blogs over the years. The increasing of power of corporations, however, does mean competition for the existing Democrat power base of unions and liberal media which heavily influence elections. That is why I feel there is so much concern on the part of the left.

    The patellar revulsion reaction you describe stems largely from ignorance and forgets about the significant funding Democrats get from individuals working for corporations, particularly on Wall Street.

    daleyrocks (718861)

  74. IANAL, but I see the issue of foreign-owned or multi-national corporations is raised in the judgement. I can’t quite tell what the opinion is in relation to them.

    Does this ruling mean that, say a Chinese-government owned corporation can run 527 campaigns on behalf of its owner during elections, subject to other disclosure and honesty restrictions?

    Craig Mc (b751c5)

  75. “Does this ruling mean that, say a Chinese-government owned corporation can run 527 campaigns on behalf of its owner during elections”

    I’d think it does. Even if they aren’t covered by this ruling, all they would have to do to be compliant was open a sham front corporation in the US.

    And don’t forget, all you happy conservatives, this ruling also applies to liberals as well.

    JEA (cfcb76)

  76. Bush did not like campaign finance reform.

    I think that, back in 2000, McCain reluctantly endorsed Bush in exchange for Bush’s private vow not to veto McCain Feingold. I wonder that nobody follows this trail. Sometimes we are too busy following the money that we forget that principle sometimes leads the way. The question here was which principle – honoring a private agreement, or upholding free speech.

    If I’m right then Bush likely made his decision to give his word based upon his assumption that M/F would not get through a pre-Enron congress or, failing that, that the Supreme Court would strike it down.

    Amphipolis (b120ce)

  77. I just sent the NYT as letter to the editor saying the following:

    > On January 22, 2010, the lead unsigned editorial stated that “the court[] … has paved the way for corporations to use their vast treasuries to overwhelm elections and intimidate elected officials.” The irony that this anti-corporate-speech message was delivered by the New York Times Company, itself a corporation, went unacknowledged.

    > In 2008, Citizens United was told it could not promote a film entitled Hillary: The Movie—which most agree was a polemic designed to help defeat her in the primaries. By comparison Michael Moore and Disney was free to create and promote Fahrenheit 9/11, an anti-Bush screed, throughout the entire election contest of 2004. I would challenge any person to explain why Hillary is impermissible political advocacy, and Moore’s movie is not. This kind of arbitrary behavior is only one reason why McCain-Feingold was an un-American law. Good riddance.

    Let’s see if they have the gonads to publish it.

    Mouse

    > What I DO have an objection to is allowing corporations to give huge donations to certain parties or candidates.

    Contrary to reporting, they have done nothing to the donation ban.

    > While corporations ARE legal entities, they are not flesh-and-blood human beings.

    What they are, is collections of human beings. And human being working collectively should be allowed to express themselves in that capacity. That is a group of humans should be able to gather together, call themselves the NAACP and then say, “the NAACP believes that candidate X is the best”—if they are inclined to do so.

    And I will add that the command isn’t just “don’t limit the speech of flesh and blood persons.” The command is for congress to stay out of the subject entirely. Congress has no business regulating speech, period. The constitution wisely pays no attention to the source of that speech.

    Craig

    > Does this ruling mean that, say a Chinese-government owned corporation can run 527 campaigns on behalf of its owner during elections, subject to other disclosure and honesty restrictions?

    As of today, yes, but the court very explicitly suggested that it would be open to a new law saying that foreign corporations may not speak freely. The problem is that the old law didn’t distinguish between foreign and domestic corporations.

    JEA

    > And don’t forget, all you happy conservatives, this ruling also applies to liberals as well.

    Its only the liberals who want to silence voices because they don’t like the speaker. If you haven’t noticed, it was the conservatives standing up for freedom of speech, here.

    Amph

    > or, failing that, that the Supreme Court would strike it down.

    I will say frankly that I was stunned it was upheld for a single day and I am very pleased they struck it down finally.

    Which is to say I think your theory has a lot of credence.

    A.W. (e7d72e)

  78. I don’t necessarily disagree with your very dismal but unrealistic description of the liberal characterization of corporations given my conversations with liberals and reading of blogs over the years.

    Daleyrocks, I can describe it so well because I came out of that community, and that’s still my gut, emotional reaction whenever large corporations are involved. I can overcome that reaction, but only if I notice it’s there.

    patellar revulsion reaction you describe stems largely from ignorance and forgets about the significant funding Democrats get from individuals working for corporations

    Some of it stems from ignorance. Some of it stems from experience with obnoxious corporate behavior. For-profit corporations are inherently amoral; their officers have a responsibility to their shareholders to put maximizing economic value ahead of other interests, and that can easily lead to valuing money more than you value treating people decently. Where I break with my more anti-corporate brethren is in my assumption that the people involved in corporations are people, and that few people are willing to be as amoral as the economic incentives warrant … and in the realization that corporations are necessary and that they have done some wonderful things as well as some awful things. Many of them have already prejudged individual corporations based on their corporate nature; I am merely skeptical … and the distinction between those two positions is enormous.

    That said, on an emotional level, I get where they’re coming from.

    and forgets about the significant funding Democrats get from individuals working for corporations

    Most of the people I’m describing don’t care; the Democrats are only marginally better than the Republicans, in their worldview, and are captives of corporate interest rather than standing for the people.

    aphrael (73ebe9)

  79. AW – Its only the liberals who want to silence voices because they don’t like the speaker.

    Since many conservatives seem to want to (in effect) silence labor unions, I find it hard to agree with this statement.

    aphrael (73ebe9)

  80. aphrael

    > want to (in effect) silence labor unions

    notice that weasel word “in effect.” gee, how woud that be? by pointing out to the workers how corrosive labor unions are, how they literally suck the life out of a company like a leech?

    A.W. (e7d72e)

  81. Amphipolis,

    Bush’s solicitor general fought for Mccain Feingold. I suppose that could by part of your deal, but I consider it a blemish on W’s legacy.

    Aphrael, There’s something wrong with unions in our country. I have no problem with them saying whatever they want in public, on TV, etc. That’s cool.

    but there’s something very sickening about this card check intimidation proposal or many other aspects of how unions work or want to work. You never see corporations proudly bus in employees to guard politicians, bus in voters, or even beat the shit out of someone.

    Unions making their argument, as unions, and that being that? Wow, that would be great. I do not think Republicans would mind a “This is SEIU and we approved this message” commercials.

    So what do you mean about limiting unions speech? Is it comparable to letting people put a flipping movie about Hillary out there?

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  82. AW: by way of laws which prohibit the use of union dues for campaigning, or which require that the union vote on each campaign expenditure rather than allowing the union leadership to do so.

    I’ve seen conservatives argue in favor of both.

    To be fair, almost everyone I’ve seen on this site praising yesterday’s decision has been perfectly happy to extend the same speech rights to unions as they wish extended to corporations. But that happiness is not uniform among conservatives.

    Dustin – I don’t like card check. As far as I’m concerned, a secret ballot is sufficient, and the argument that a secret ballot allows corporations to intimidate workers into voting the way they want them to is absurd.

    aphrael (73ebe9)

  83. aphrael

    > by way of laws which prohibit the use of union dues for campaigning

    Which of course were invalidated yesterday.

    > which require that the union vote on each campaign expenditure rather than allowing the union leadership to do so.

    I’ll make a deal with the unions. They allow people to freely choose whether to join them and I will support them speaking freely just like as if they were a voluntary association.

    But so long as the unions can force people into their ranks, then requiring those forced to join them to approve of how their money is being spent just makes sense.

    A.W. (e7d72e)

  84. Aphrael, we agree on this. I’m glad you’re so reasonable and skilled at getting your POV across and can’t tell you how valuable it is to me that a few smart liberals argue on this blog all the time.

    If there are a few conservatives that want unions to lose speech rights (and sadly, I bet there are), then they are douches who should be shamed.

    I get where AW is coming from… it’s frustrating to see SEIU call a man the N word and send him to the emergency room, or block off citizens from talking to democrat bigwigs, or support ACORN’s horrors. I don’t want them to exist at all, let alone speak freely. But speech is nothing to be afraid of, even from criminals. Most union folks are not criminals anyway… just doing what they can in a system that isn’t ideal.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  85. Dustin,

    you know, my grandfather actually was one of the biggest union men in america. he founded the tiffany’s craftworker’s union.

    But you cannot call it free expression when you force a person to join your organization, force him to pay you, and then don’t even give him a say in how it is spent on whom. How many of these seiu guys did we have on camera who were forced to pretend to support Coakley and said “between you and me, i support brown.” That is not freedom of expression.

    A.W. (e7d72e)

  86. AW, that’s a good point. It’s unfair to have a system where someone can’t earn their living in their trade without supporting a bunch of thugs and democrats. It’s just unfair.

    It’s getting to the point where you need to reunionize a new layer and negotiate against your union.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  87. Corporations do not have a vote, a passport, no morals, no idiology, no physical embodiment to be sequestored or imprisoned, no conscious (sense of right or wrong). They were developed to protect the business owner from obligations and have one and only one purpose which is acquire as much money and power as is possible.

    In as far as the Freedom of speech… what does a corporation have to say anyway. What is their motivation and desire (to make money of course). They may send money to victims of nature, or do a blood drive, or tutor some inner city kids… but that is done by the individuals within the loose grouping of people. CEO to grounds keeper… they decide or donate to charity or the welfare of others. Corporations make money or parish. This is MONOPOLY. It is real. It is not a game.

    The one and only reason Corporations were allowed due process was to control the greed and reign them in… not to free and encourage them in to thinking that they were anything more than a bunch of documentation call articles of incorporation. They protect the true owners from being liable from a laundry list of issues. They exchange inprisonment for fines and fees. They are exempt from the eye for an eye mindset… they have no eyes.

    Concerned (3149e9)

  88. Corporations. Freedom to influence pollitics. Have you heard of a Union or Corporation that grew out of a group of like minded individuals with the same political affliation. I work for a corporation. It would probally be ultra conservative… it wants to make and keep money. I am a liberal… I want corporations to share the wealth to more people in this country. Will my corporation speak for me in their political Ads? No, Corporations do not represent anyone or anything except the relentless quest for money.

    Concerned (3149e9)

  89. “I want corporations to share the wealth to more people in this country.”

    Concerned – Most liberals do, but they don’t want to share their own money. Funny how that works.

    Good luck with that, concerned.

    daleyrocks (718861)

  90. “They were developed to protect the business owner from obligations and have one and only one purpose which is acquire as much money and power as is possible.”

    Concerned – Look up not-for-profit corporations and stop embarrassing yourself.

    daleyrocks (718861)

  91. Daleyrocks,
    I have worked for Non-Profit and Not-for-profit corporations and they too are shelters of sorts. Most Hospitals are congolmorates of all three profit types and they move the money and power where it suits them to make more money and get more profit share the same as the rest. I think you have heard about adminitration costs of Charities… sometimes as much as 20-30 percent of every dollar you donate goes to administration which is salaries, advertising, assest acquisition, and so forth. While the CEO of the Red Cross does not make as much as the CEO of EXXON they still make a good wage on your donations. All corporations do is make money, gain marketshare, reduce competition, and shield individuals from direct litigation… and now you support their influence on politics.
    Corporations will spend their money to influence policy and not politics. The Oil companies want to access Shale that is in National Parks and strip mine coal. The corporations don’t care about poluting aquafers they will pay the fine if caught. You know if you put an individual behind bars for his crime they lose there ability to earn money and possible lose there assests. But you fine a Corporation and the courts have never fined them enough to end their existance… Look at the tabacco companies. They intentionally poisoned people world wide and they are still in business.

    Concerned (3149e9)


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