Wow, the Citizen’s United decision seems to have unhinged a whole bunch of people who claim membership in a “reality based” community. The fact is, I can’t for the life of me figure out what everyone is so upset about.
Am I missing something here Keith?
Today, the Supreme Court, of Chief Justice John Roberts, in a decision that might actually have more dire implications than “Dred Scott v Sandford,” declared that because of the alchemy of its 19th Century predecessors in deciding that corporations had all the rights of people, any restrictions on how these corporate-beings spend their money on political advertising, are unconstitutional.
In short, the first amendment — free speech for persons — which went into affect in 1791, applies to corporations, which were not recognized as the equivalents of persons until 1886. In short, there are now no checks on the ability of corporations or unions or other giant aggregations of power to decide our elections.
None. They can spend all the money they want. And if they can spend all the money they want — sooner, rather than later — they will implant the legislators of their choice in every office from President to head of the Visiting Nurse Service.
This quote was after 500 turgid words trying to explain why Dred Scott was the worst Supreme Court decision evah, and the Chief Justice at the time, Robert Tawney, the 19th century equivalent of Olby’s popular segment “Worst person in the world.” This may indeed be true; but equating the Citizen’s United decision with Dred Scott?
(”Legislators” in the Visiting Nurse Service office? Does anyone read what he writes before he says it on air? Obviously not.)
It gets worse:
It is almost literally true that any political science fiction nightmare you can now dream up, no matter whether you are conservative or liberal, it is now legal. Because the people who can make it legal, can now be entirely bought and sold, no actual citizens required in the campaign-fund-raising process.
And the entirely bought and sold politicians, can change any laws. And any legal defense you can structure now, can be undone by the politicians who will be bought and sold into office this November, or two years from now.
And any legal defense which honest politicians can somehow wedge up against them this November, or two years from now, can be undone by the next even larger set of politicians who will be bought and sold into office in 2014, or 2016, or 2018.
Good thing the above scenario is only “almost literally true.” Had me worried for a minute.
But here’s a question for Keith and the rest of the hyperbolic left who have been falling all over themselves trying to outdo one another in the outrage quotient of their screeds condemning this decision:
Were politicians less beholden to corporate and union interests between 2002-2010 when McCain-Feingold was the law of the land than they were prior to 2002 when the exact same rules will now apply again? Anyone who answers yes, please go back to sleep.
The facts are a little more prosaic:
While the Court held that the ban on corporate political speech is unconstitutional, it did uphold the disclaimer and disclosure requirements. Also, corporate contributions to candidates, national party committees, and the hard money accounts of state and local party committee are still prohibited.
No direct contributions to candidates or parties by corporations, with full disclosure in the ad regarding who or what is sponsoring it. Olbermann’s massively overemoted diatribe is nonsense - unless you believe, as I point out above, that McCain-Feingold actually lessened the influence of corporations and unions on the electoral process.
Many on the left are trying to make the point that corporations are not “people” and therefore, do not enjoy any free speech protections. This is a novel idea. It presumes that non-humans run the companies, work for them, and invest in them. It also presumes that these same non-humans have no interest in democracy, and are uncaring of who might want to regulate them, and legislate for or against their interests. The left evidently believes that the non-people who work for corporations should be at the total mercy of politicians with no ability to influence the outcome of electoral contests where the sub-human’s vital interests are involved.
Why stop with preventing them from speaking out? Why not just take away the right to vote of these non-people too? I see no logical reason why this shouldn’t be the ultimate goal of those who seek to silence corporations and unions whose members, employees, and shareholders have a vital stake in who makes the laws that govern their life and death.
Politicians will be no more beholden to special interests than they are now - which is to say, it’s hard to exaggerate how beholden most members are to corporations and unions prior to the Citizen’s United decision. Corporations and unions will not be able to buy any more access to Members of Congress than they currently enjoy - largely because that access is at Max Q now.
McCain-Feingold - as all previous efforts to “reform” campaign finance laws - only made the situation worse. Every single effort since the 1970’s to remove the influence of corporations and Big Labor from campaigns has only made lawyers versed in campaign finance law rich, and has not achieved even a modicum of success in eliminating the supposed dastardly influence of large institutions on the electoral process.
It is heartening that the Supreme Court continues to recognize political donations as an important form of free speech. And I consider it a triumph for the First Amendment that they also recognize that organizations made up of individuals have a right to participate in the electoral process and make their voices heard.
The problem, I gather, is that these issue committees that will be funded by unions and corporations are wont to make devastatingly effective ads that skewer their opponent. Their very success is a detriment. It is perceived to be unfair by some to highlight an idiotic position taken by a politician, or a vote for an unpopular piece of legislation, or even that his brother in law consorts with criminals.
No - they will not be the most edifying ads, that’s for sure. But they will be protected speech, guaranteed by the First Amendment. And, as Matt Welch asks, “What’s Worse, “Disingenuously waving the flag of the First Amendment,” or Burning it?” Putting up with speech we disagree with from people we abhor is as American as apple pie.
At least, that’s what we’ve been told by those who have been chewing the carpet over the Citizens United decision.