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January 21, 2010

Corporation America

by at 12:34 pm.

This will probably be just a blip on the news, but it should be screamed from the rooftops: the Supreme Court has overturned the ability of government to regulate the political spending of corporations. If you thought your politicians were bought and sold on the open market under the current flawed loopholes of campaign finance, you ain’t seen nothing yet. This is a big deal, folks.

The premise of conservative judges to rule this way is the application of the “free speech” provisions of our Constitution, which they say corporations have a right to. This is because under precedence, corporations are considered to have “personhood” - one of the most terrible rulings ever made, by the way.

And also patently not true. We completely block the free speech of corporations all the time. For instance, cigarette companies - they are banned from advertising on any broadcast or cable medium, and a lot of print mediums. A bit of a curb on those corporations’ free speech, don’t you think? But you don’t see that being overturned in the Supreme Court. Just political speech. WTF?

I’ve long said that the danger in the Bush conservative court was not the threat to choice, or other social liberties we’ve enjoyed. It is in the extremely pro-corporate background and history of these people Bush put on the Court during his term that would kill us.

Just to add: The Court says this is about Freedom of Speech. But given the concentration of wealth into corporations, some people’s speech is more important than others.

Also, I think this is a good point by Pogo in comments:

So David, as our resident legal scholar, and this is a serious question and the serious answer depends on what the majority opinion says, but could this lead to stronger criminal sanctions against companies and executives that break the law?

Instead of the usual fines and civil penalties, now that corporations are granted the same rights as people (as absurd as that sounds) it seems they should face similar penalties people face when we break the laws society creates. So instead of Exxon paying a fine of $100 million for breaking the law, the chairman of the board does six months in jail…or the company is sentenced to one month of not being able to conduct business in the jurisdiction where the law as broken? Yes, these are crazy thoughts, but no crazier than this ruling.

11 Responses to “Corporation America”

  1. Shawn Says:

    You conveniently left out the fact that this also includes unions.

    Future elections are going to be extremely ugly. Look at what the outside organizations did this time.. just wait until the unions and corps themselves can do it.

    I don’t see this as a failing of the SC. At least they are following the constitution for once.

    We can, however, require disclaimers.. and still not allow direct contributions as we do today. We’re just going to see a lot more outside-derived advertising.

    And the fact is, I found most people ignoring the ads in the last week of this last election. You really have no chance to push a new direction in the last few days because people just get tired of the ads over time and tune them out completely.

  2. Lynne Says:

    Shawn, that doesn’t make me like it any better. But at least unions work for workers…corporations work against workers. Why else do you think liberals and unions get along?

    It’s not in the Constitution that corporations are people. So this is not about following the Constitution, but a misguided ruling [about corporate personhood] a century ago, along with a misguided one in as I recall the 80s which said basically, “money = speech.” Hence my comment that some people’s speech is more equal than others.

  3. Mike Luciano Says:

    Unions don’t have the funds corporations do. There’s a reason why the GOP welcomes this ruling, and the Democratic Party does not.

  4. Shawn Says:

    I think the 529’s in this election proved that people dont pay attention to outside ads… at least in this case.

    The only one’s people seemed to remember were that ugly one where Coakley had the young girl sitting on the stairs, and then the great reponse ad with Brown in his sweater in the kitchen (oh, and the truck one).

    Nobody I know can name any other ads.

    Its the message people remember, and as I said earlier, once you overdo the advertising everyone tunes out anyways.

    Its the same with the stupid robocalls that everyone does. Everyone I know just stopped answering there phones for the last week or so.

  5. daughterofdoom Says:

    I think many people still pay attention to ads. While some claim to tune them out, it is with morbid curiousity that human nature looks. Like rubberneckers at a car wreck trying to see a body? It is this mentality that keeps the machines running man. It’s always a dark day when someone uses the Constitution as Kleenex (cleaned up version)

  6. Thom Says:

    Didn’t Pelosi and Reid just play Let’s Make A Deal with taxpayer money to influence legislators votes? I don’t like the ruling either but at this point am so disgusted with the system it’s hard to care.

  7. Lynne Says:

    The robocalls are a disaster. NO candidate should be running them.

  8. Mr. Lynne Says:

    Ezra:

    The Senate bill is the most progressive base bill Democrats will get

    As for kneeling before the Republican argument that passing a package of amendments is a backroom deal, put the negotiations, or whatever they are, on C-SPAN. If the lesson Democrats have taken from this is that they can no longer pass legislation because passing legislation involves people speaking in rooms and agreeing on deals, they’ve just agreed to rule governance out of order.

    I’m starting to think congressional Republicans have mastered the Jedi mind trick.

  9. Gordon Pickguard Says:

    You nailed it Lynne. The court has mistakenly equated people and corporations as similar entities. Clearly they are not.

  10. Gordon Pickguard Says:

    Oh Mike Luciano,guess my prediction about Marty waiting for Teddy’s seat was wrong. Glad to see you posting here.

  11. Eleanor Rigby Says:

    Can someone who knows explain how or why the endorsement or radio talk show hosts, complete with statements urging voters to cast ballots for a particular candidate, is or is not an in-kind campaign contribution that needs to fall under campaign finance law.

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