Corporate Free Speech

The Supreme Court’s decision on legal limitations on corporate free speech has created a debate as virulent as the one on health care in the aftermath of this week’s Massachusetts senatorial election.

My position on this issue is simple. It is based on a few assertions I have never seen intelligently countered in this, or any other, venue.

1. If the federal government can speak in issues of politics and policy one must assume the government to be either a completely benign or a completely neutral entity not to be concerned at the inherent advantage it will necessarily have in determinations of whether and how much it will be empowered.

2. The federal government is LITERALLY a corporation, an organization of human beings chartered on behalf of many individuals to act legally on their behalf as an individual for the accomplishment of specific goals.

3. As an organization of human beings the government's leadership will find its limitations frustrating and will seek to eliminate barriers that limit its capacity to achieve its members' conceptions of its prerogatives.

4. It is entirely reasonable for people not within the power structure of the federal government to see some of the prerogatives asserted by those who are within that structure as a threat to the general welfare of the population as a whole. Further, it is reasonable for people not within that power structure to see the corporate imperitives of government as a danger to their capacity to do good and productive things in a way government's corporate culture abhors.

5. Based on the above arguments it is entirely reasonable for people subject to the power of government, but not specifically within the power structure of government, to believe that government both does and should be expected to attempt to limit the people's access to information concerning its operations. Such limitations of information would be expected to limit the public's capacity to act in a manner critical of government's actions in pursuit of additional power.

6. Since the government can and does act freely in speaking with a corporate voice on behalf of the individuals both within and supportive of its power structure it is, further, reasonable for people outside that power structure to seek access to corporate speech representative of their, perhaps differing prerogatives.

7. Corporate speech, then, is merely a tool for the exercise of the inviolable individual right of free speech. It is an absolutely necessary tool for the public's desire to create a balance of powers in the exercise of public discussion of politcal matters.

It is understandable that there is opposition to this concept, particularly from those who have no conception of the corporate power of government. For the reasons stated above, though, I wholeheartedly support the Supreme court's decision lifting limits of corporate free speech. We have a great national corporation able to speak freely on behalf of its desire for power. It would be suicidal for us to limit our responses to such a concentration of expression to a cacophany on individual voices or to eschew an effective tool by which many individuals can focus their voices into harmonious opposition.

Posted by Lee Emmerich Jamison at January 23, 2010 10:56 AM
Comments
Comment #294438

Only a republican could see this as good for our country. It exposes the true aganda of the right for what it truly is a tool for big corp. and the lobbys on k street.

Posted by: Jeff at January 23, 2010 1:18 PM
Comment #294440

What exactly is the “True Agenda” of the left?

Posted by: tom at January 23, 2010 2:12 PM
Comment #294441

Lee I would like to thank you for your help in understanding why conservatives would believe this issue to be a first amendment right. After you detailed analysis of this reasoning I have come to find it is based upon fatally flawed logic. You are entitled to your own opinion but not your own set of “facts”.

For starters, the difference between corporations and our government are many. As we have been down this road many times before I will not repeat them here. But to use the illogical “government as corporation” argument to thereby entitle corporations to all aspects of government “rights” without the obligations of government is such a major leap in logic IMHO, as to be unbelievable.

Secondly, since when did the founding fathers accept political bribery as “free speech”? To hear conservatives rail about the lack of ethics in DC and then to support political bribery as free speech makes no sense to me.

So let me ask Lee, what is the difference between the conservative logic on this issue and fascism?

Posted by: j2t2 at January 23, 2010 2:13 PM
Comment #294442

Republicans and conservatives believe corporations are entitled to the first amendment right of free speech, and since money = free speech, corporations should be able to spend unlimited amounts on political advertising. Virtually every Republican and conservative politician openly favors this, as well as various talking heads, pundits, the five Supremem Court justices put in place by the above, and also the author of this article.

Lee,
The federal government is NOT a corporation in any sense of the word. The government is formed by “We the people.” That means all of us. No American citizen is excluded from the government. No one is outside the power structure, or denied free speech because of the existence of the federal government. We all have the right to vote, and as flesh and blood human beings, we have first amendment rights. Neither the federal government nor corporations exist as human beings, and so first amendment rights cannot apply to them:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or 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.”

From the preamble at the beginning of the Constitution and throughout the Bill of Rights, the document refers to “the people.” At no point does it suggest organizations and corporations share the same rights as “the people”. Organizations cannot practice religion. They obviously lack consciousness or awareness of their relation with the world, and they are unable to investigate questions of psychology, cosmology, or theology.
Corporations cannot peacably assemble, nor can they speak with a voice, that is, express themselves with speech. A legal fiction cannot express itself in the sense intended by Constitution, since it lacks individual, physical incorporation. Only a human being can speak, write, type, blog, create art, etc. A corporation cannot. Only a human being can do that.

Furthermore, a corporation lacks the rights inherent in citizenship. A corporation is owned by its stockholders, and these stockholders are not defined by birth; instead, the are defined by money invested, and this money can come from any source, including foreign individuals and even countries.

So keep it up Lee, and keep it up, Republicans and conservatives. After all, unlimited corporate spending on politics will certainly destroy liberals in big media markets like Senator Boxer, and it will easily overwhelm labor unions and environmentalists. Any attempts to regulate Wall Street will be drowned by corporate investments.

But remember, Republicans and conservatives, corporations are not doing this in order to benefit you, or assure your right to exercise free speech or other inalienable rights. Just the opposite. It’s all about the almighty buck.

And we know where you stand. You’ve made it clear. And you should be deeply ashamed.

Posted by: phx8 at January 23, 2010 2:24 PM
Comment #294444

Are not Democrats and liberals guilty of taking corporate money like republicans and conservatives are?

Posted by: KAP at January 23, 2010 2:34 PM
Comment #294445


So, according to Republicans, the government corporation was just bought out and is now privately owned corporation that no longer sells stock to the general public.

Posted by: jlw at January 23, 2010 2:38 PM
Comment #294446

I believe it is true that if the corporation is a TV network, radio station, newspaper or other such entity they have no limitation on their political speech. Why not all corporations? The speak on behalf of their shareholders…right?

Posted by: Royal Flush at January 23, 2010 2:53 PM
Comment #294447

jlw you mean like General Motors?

Posted by: KAP at January 23, 2010 3:13 PM
Comment #294448

j2t2 and phx8,

The government can’t be denied to be a corporation any more than I can be denied to be a person. The attempt to conjure a distinction out of the hope of a difference here is worse than laughable.
Nor can it be denied that, unlike any other form of corporation, it has unlimited rights of free speech which it has often unlawfully denied to its citizens.
Nor can it be denied that the government, in spite of a feeble attempt to represent it as representing all of us has, on countless occasions carefully chosen who it will, just for one example, define as human so that it may reject its responsibility for representing others. The additional ways government has sought to divest itself of responsibility to its constituents are legion.

Without the minimally corrupt option of carrying a corporate message to the people directly in the form of speech, so that the people may be convinced of facts the government would otherwise constrict our access to, corporations have proven adept at such measures as cornering presidential candidates who have publicly foresworn the influence of lobbyists and filling his administration with former lobbyists. They can’t get to us with what you profess is a corrupt message, so they take an infinitely MORE corrupt approach and make the administration you want us to see as representing our interests look like a swamp of corporate influence and corruption!

There’s a good argument for you cause…

Posted by: Lee Jamison at January 23, 2010 3:28 PM
Comment #294449

KAP,
Yes, Democrats and liberals accepted corporate money under the old body of law. The former set of laws placed restrictions, and I think most peope would agree it was a pretty sorry situation. The attempt to reform health care turned into a bill to strengthen the position of private health insurers. Now, the SCOTUS has thrown out many of those restrictions.

Almost every Democratic politician opposes this ruling and has expressed outrage, including Obama. Almost every liberal blog and talking head also opposes this. On the other hand, almost every conservative and GOP politician, blog, talking head, and so on, favors it. The four ‘liberal’ justices opposed the ruling, including Sotomayor, who openly questioned whether corporations counted as people. Another pointed out the terrible effect upon a democracy this ruling would have. The five ‘conservative’ justices ruled in favor of corporations.

If you agree with Lee, and think corporations have been getting a raw deal and should be able to plough unlimited quantities of money into political advertising, well, I would have a hard time understanding that, because it seems like you would be rooting against your own rights.

Royal Flush,
Freedom of the press is expressly guaranteed. I’m not a lawyer, but I think that area runs into a whole different set of questions. Most corporations would not qualify as members of the press.

Posted by: phx8 at January 23, 2010 3:31 PM
Comment #294451

The problem with money in politics is that there is money to be made by politics. This stems from the growth of government, which makes it more profitable to capture political influence than produce products. The less power we vest in government, the less incentive there is to try to control the levers of political power.

Corporations are interested in the details of regulation because it can profit them or hurt them. It all stems from the coercive power of the state.

J2t2

Fascism centralizes power in the state. It does not support the plurality of many voices. Whether or not you agree with what Lee says, it does not fit any of the experience or theories of fascism. To allow a variety of power centers not under control of the central authorities.

Posted by: Christine at January 23, 2010 3:54 PM
Comment #294452

Lee,
Just because individuals have rights does not mean everyone gets a pony.

You seem to be defining ‘corporation’ in a way no one else uses, and claiming it is laughable that no one uses your imaginary definition. Here is the traditional definition of ‘corporation’:

“The most common form of business organization, and one which is chartered by a state and given many legal rights as an entity separate from its owners. This form of business is characterized by the limited liability of its owners, the issuance of shares of easily transferable stock, and existence as a going concern.”

The federal government does not meet the definition of ‘corporation’ on a number of counts. Please stop making stuff up.

Posted by: phx8 at January 23, 2010 3:55 PM
Comment #294453

Phx8 I think corporation should be limited to what they can give or candidates limited to what they can accept from corporations but unions are not people either but they provide Democrats with millions and they benefit from the ruling. I think both Democrats and Republicans find a way to renew McCain, Feingold so that scotus can not overturn it.

Posted by: KAP at January 23, 2010 4:03 PM
Comment #294454

Lee,
Ah. I see what you are doing. You are taking only one portion of the definition of a ‘corporation’ and claiming that is the entire definition. You are pretending the rest of the definition does not exist.

Posted by: phx8 at January 23, 2010 4:10 PM
Comment #294455

KAP,
Yes, unions and non-profits also would benefit from the SCOTUS decision. However, the amounts of money at their command is small compared to corporations. The profits last year of jsut one corporation, Exxon, exceed all union financial resources combined.

I don’t know if it will be possible to resurrect McCain Feingold. The conservative Supreme Court justices- Roberts, Alito, Scalia, Kennedy, and Thomas- have proven to be aggressive activists by erasing decades of law with this decision in favor of corporate free speech (where speech = money). Representative Grayson has already introduced legislation, five bills, so I guess we’ll see if that can be passed fast enough.

Filibusters by Senate Republicans would destroy any chance of reining in corporations prior to the elections in November. Given the unanimity of the GOP and conservatives, I doubt the liberals and Democrats can succeed in passing legislation. McConnell, Boehner, and others have already praised the Supreme Court decision.

Public financing would be the best choice, but it’s too late for that, too.

Posted by: phx8 at January 23, 2010 4:23 PM
Comment #294456

Christine:
You need to consult a dictionary regarding the meaning of fascism. Mine calls it a system of collaboration between State and corporations. Exactly what we have been steadily marching toward, which will now be finalized with unlimited corporate intervention in politics. It is a perversion of the Framer’s intent to allow disproportionate representation via unlimited financing. And even worse to overturn long-established precedent. A re-definition of “judicial activism”!!!

Posted by: steve miller at January 23, 2010 4:25 PM
Comment #294457

True phx8…but almost all of the press and media are corporations. If I own controlling interest in 100 newspapers and such, obviously I am wealthy and my political viewpoint can be, if I wish, be expressed in those outlets.

Let me pose a question. Let’s assume that the largest media outlets were owned by an oil company, bank, or other such liberally hated institution. Would you then call for rules to regulate their voice?

How about the RNC or DNC owning the NY Times or WSJ…how would that sound to you?

Posted by: Royal Flush at January 23, 2010 4:27 PM
Comment #294458

phx8,
The “traditional definition”, while it uses many terms we are culturally conditioned to accepting as exclusive of government can’t logically be shown to omit government.

Government does “business”.
It acquires resources and creates infrastructure.
While it does, indeed, have a very loose set of requirements for “shareholders” this certainly was not traditionally the case, nor was it the case when the Constitution was first written. At that time to be a voter one had to be a landowner.

The officers of government are, by statute, protected from liability for errors and even malfeasance, while the citizen/shareholders have no liabilty (save, of course, that they are sometimes the victims of government error).

Governments were traditionally instituted to maximize the capacity of the ruling class to benefit from concentrations of labor made possible by an agricultural economy and stable cities. There is little or no difference between that modus operandi and that of the private shareholding corporation, which is also intended to benefit from concentrations of labor and maximizing the advantage of its concentration. The lines grow fuzzier yet in the instance of substantially shareholder-owned corporations such as General Motors, especially when compared to the relatively recent demise of the phenomenon of company-owned towns, the last of which disappeared from the U.S. in the 1960s.

You can assert a distinction based in words or in the artifice of definitions (the tomato is a “vegetable”, you know…) but the fact of the matter is an organization chartered to represent the interests of many individuals, who’s qualifications to be so represented are defined in the organization’s charter and laws, bylaws, or ordinances, is what it is, no matter what you call it. It is a “corpor” (body) “ation” (to be made). It is, by the agreement of those involved, even if that is all of us, “made into a body”.

It is simple logic. I don’t have to make anything up.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at January 23, 2010 4:36 PM
Comment #294459

Royal Flush,
The media is already owned by large corporations: GE, Disney, Viacom, Time Warner, Newscorp, and others.

https://pantherfile.uwm.edu/woodsa/www/chart.html

Regulations already exist which limit these corporations. These regulations have been steadily undermined by the consolidation of media into larger and larger corporations, a consolidation which occured with the blessing of the Bush administration.

This is the conservative agenda. This is the Republican agenda- corporatism.

Posted by: phx8 at January 23, 2010 4:46 PM
Comment #294460

Steve Miller,

The fremer’s intent, as expressed in the Federalist Papers, had little to do with the relative influence of the rich. Most of the Framers were, in fact, wealthy landowners. Their “clear intent” was to create a government in which many competing interests would be guaranteed a seat at the tables of power That would, quite intentionally, produce a government that would be ungainly and difficult to move massively in any one direction without the consent of many and powerful interests.

The Framers didn’t want the government to be able to crush business interests, nor did they want business interests, or the government, to be able to crush individual rights, among which are property rights and the capacity to use property as a tool in the expression of individual rights.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at January 23, 2010 4:52 PM
Comment #294461

phx8,

You might be surprised to know I agree with you on the consolidation of media voices. That is, in fact, a Republican Party/corporatist agenda with which I vehemently disagree. It concentrates the power of access to the “public square” in the hands of the few to the detriment of individual freedom.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at January 23, 2010 4:57 PM
Comment #294462

Exactly my point phx8…GE owns NBC (I believe)and one would have to be naive indeed to believe that the support of obama by NBC has not benefited GE by virtue of the huge government contracts given to them. Please show me the regulation that prevents the Board Of Directors of GE from influencing what is aired on NBC. They own it and control what is aired if they wish.

Posted by: Royal Flush at January 23, 2010 5:05 PM
Comment #294466

Royal Flush,
There is a long history of media outlets being owned by people or businesses with a political agenda. That has always mitigated by competition and the idea of freedom of expression, as well as ideals surrounding journalism. It has not always worked out well; for example, the Spanish-American War was caused in part by the yellow journalism of the Hearst newspapers.

In more recent times, the big news organizaitons- CBS, NBC, ABC- have been purchased by corporations. Cable brought other competitors aboard, and they have been purchased in turn by GE, Disney, etc. The internet has become a bastion for the freedom of the press. This is now being threatened in the issue of net neutrality.

Corporate ownership of media is not a good thing for freedom of the press, but it is almost impossible to control without doing more harm than good. Much of the press is a business venture, and that is inescapable. If media outlets can be kept in a competitive state, by preventing monopolies and oligopolies, then I think that is about the best we can hope for.

It seems to me the issue of corporate ownership of media, as it relates to free speech, is an argument in favor of restrictions on corporations purchasing political advertising. Corporate free speech (if it should even exist in the first place) certainly exists in corporate-owned media. Spending money to influence political campaigns is not the same as the free speech already available through media outlets, and so it need not be permitted.

Posted by: phx8 at January 23, 2010 5:45 PM
Comment #294467

Steve

Your dictionary is incomplete. It is not collaboration between equals. The state holds the winning cards and runs a type of totalitarian system through its control of the groups interests. In addition, when they are talking about corporations, they are not talking about them in same business sense that we are. Corporatism, which is related to fascism, means that particular parts of society have group, not individual rights.

Posted by: Christine at January 23, 2010 5:54 PM
Comment #294469

Lee said “The “traditional definition”, while it uses many terms we are culturally conditioned to accepting as exclusive of government can’t logically be shown to omit government.”

Lee does the traditional definition logically include government, which after all is what a definition is intended to do? With this sort of logic Lee it is easy to see why conservatives have stretched this issue into a free speech issue. despite the fact that it isn’t.

Does the government pay corporate taxes? Or collect taxes from corporations?
If I have a garage sale am I a corporation because as you say “I do business”?
Is the government set up as a corporation chartered by a state?
Which stock exchange trades the shares of the federal government?

Reminds me of my favorite Abe Lincoln quote Lee

“How many legs does a dog have if you call the tail a leg? Four. Calling a tail a leg doesn’t make it a leg.”

BTW Lee her is some info on the framers of the constitution and their professions.

http://www.usconstitution.net/constframedata.html

Posted by: j2t2 at January 23, 2010 6:13 PM
Comment #294470

Well phx8…I guess we will just have to agree to disagree. If one corporation, by virtue of owning a media outlet is considered as having “free speech” why not all? Can you argue that there is a difference between that corporation’s rights and another’s rights?

Posted by: Royal Flush at January 23, 2010 6:22 PM
Comment #294473

Freedom of the press is not the same as free speech. Furthermore, a corporation cannot have free speech, since a corporation is not one of “the people.” The human beings who make up a corporation all have free speech, and human members of the media can exercise freedom of the press. However, the corporation itself is a legal fiction, and therefore can never have the same rights as one of the people who make up the citizenry of the US.

By the way, corporations cannot and should not enjoy other rights of the people, such as the right to vote, nor should corporations be permitted to hold political office.

Posted by: phx8 at January 23, 2010 6:57 PM
Comment #294474


wikipedia:

Fascism is a political ideology that seeks to combine radical and authoritarian nationalism with a corporatist economic system, and which is usually considered to be on the far right of the traditional left-right political spectrum.

one look dictionary:

Fascists promote a type of national unity that is usually based on (but not limited to) ethnic, cultural, national, racial and/or religious attributes. Various scholars attribute different characteristics to fascism, but the following elements are usually seen as it’s integral parts: patriotism, nationalism, statism, militarism, totalitarianism, anti-communism, economic planning (including corporatism, and autarky), populism and anti-liberalism.

britannica:

Martial virtues are celebrated, while liberal and democratic values are discouraged. Fascism arose in the 1920,s and 30’s partly out of fear of the rising power of the working classes; it differed from contemporary communism (as practiced by Joseph Stalin) by it’s protection of business and landowning elites and it’s preservation of class systems.

Other isms such as cheneyism, limbaughism, murdochism and foxnewsism can contain atributes similar to fascism.

Posted by: jlw at January 23, 2010 7:24 PM
Comment #294475

Christine,
Corporations and government will certainly not be equals when corporations are allowed to essentially purchase the government. It ain’t gonna be pretty. Also, a brief perusal of JLW’s post above should complete your definition of fascism nicely…… ;)

Posted by: steve miller at January 23, 2010 7:31 PM
Comment #294479

When political lobby’s give money to politicians to influence legislation it is considered free speech in that it is promoting the agenda of those who pay their salary. Lobbies are made up of individuals who can vote while the lobby itself can’t vote.

Unions do the very same thing. The union is not an individual but rather represents the individuals within its ranks. A corporation funding an election campaign is hardly any different. Would it be more proper for the corporation to give its executives, or some other employee, a bonus earmarked for political contribution purposes? Would that not just make corporate money even more difficult to trace?

Is it proper for a wealthy individual (I can think of a few) to formulate a political action committee and be a huge donor to the PAC?

There are many scenarios that belie the contentions of those who disagree with the SCOTUS decision. What is being argued here is not about the constitution but rather, is purely political. Politicians use taxpayer money to buy votes all the time. It’s called “pork”. I see nothing wrong with corporate, union and PAC “pork” either. The politician is using my money whether I agree or not…the others not necessarily so.

Posted by: Royal Flush at January 23, 2010 8:05 PM
Comment #294482

It is astounding that “strict constructionist” conservatives would support this decision. The ruling is grounded in the finding that an artifical entity, chartered by the state for a limited purpose, is equivalent in rights to those conferred by the Constitution on natural persons. The founding fathers would be aghast. Corporations, in their days, were very limited in concept and chartered by the state for specific commercial purposes. It is only in recent history that the legal concept of corporations has become more expansive and rights of natural persons “conferred” on them. Now, a conservative court has found that they have 1st amendment rights. This is a strict constructionist view of the Constitution? Rubbish.

Posted by: Rich at January 23, 2010 8:25 PM
Comment #294485
1. If the federal government can speak in issues of politics and policy one must assume the government to be either a completely benign or a completely neutral entity not to be concerned at the inherent advantage it will necessarily have in determinations of whether and how much it will be empowered.

If we are to regulate the political process, keep it from becoming a crooked free-for-all which does not serve the public interest, it must fall under the rule of law. The government enforces the rule of law.

Now the way we deal with that, is we prohibit the politicians from using government to to further their partisan aims. The Bush Administration fouled this one up big time.

We also tend to make the enforcing bodies, like the FEC, bipartisan, so as to avoid conflicts of interest in dealing with the machinations of either party.

2. The federal government is LITERALLY a corporation, an organization of human beings chartered on behalf of many individuals to act legally on their behalf as an individual for the accomplishment of specific goals.

Sorry, but that’s a BS argument. While you could literally apply that label, it would not denote the kind of corporation that American law deals with, which is what the Citizens United decision deals with. So, any subsequent implications you draw based on this will be rendered invalid.

3. As an organization of human beings the government’s leadership will find its limitations frustrating and will seek to eliminate barriers that limit its capacity to achieve its members’ conceptions of its prerogatives.

4. It is entirely reasonable for people not within the power structure of the federal government to see some of the prerogatives asserted by those who are within that structure as a threat to the general welfare of the population as a whole. Further, it is reasonable for people not within that power structure to see the corporate imperitives of government as a danger to their capacity to do good and productive things in a way government’s corporate culture abhors.

This is where your argument begins to really run off the rails.

First, let’s establish something: the basic powers of the constitution are vested in elected officials, or the appointees thereof.

You argument assumes that the Federal government is something off there by itself, like any corporation, which is self-sustaining on its own account. But ask your party whether they could forever sustain their government like they wished to. And the answer is no. They depended on the voters, and the voters took back the Republican’s mandate. In essence, we are part of the government. The multi-branch, multi-faction design of the government is also built in for this reason, allowing all kinds of different views to be represented in the general populace.

Yes, those elected to these offices can be secretive, and go rogue for their own purposes, but there are already mechanisms in place in order to ensure that people learn what they need to learn, and that the dark secrets of the government are revealed.

Your argument begins to hint at a direction here, which is to cast corporate speech as some sort of antidote to big government speech, corporate power as an antidote to big government power, and then pretend like a corporate person’s freedom represents our own.

Here’s the basic problem you’re failing to face: At some point, a government built on the rule of law must prevent subsets of the people from becoming a law to themselves. In order to have a Democracy that functions, the laws that the folks elected by the people, within constitutional bounds, must be sovereign instead of the corporate agendas.

Why? It’s a simple reason, and I think even a follower of Adam Smith would appreciate this: a business is not out for the overall good of the people, but out for itself, for its own profit. To allow corporations which can take in profits rivaling that of cities and even state revenues to directly insert themselves into the political process is to cede power that should be entrusted to the delegates of the American people, in the hands of a private corporation whose leadership we cannot necessarily vote for, or hold to account without the governments help.

If the Government cannot compel a company, despite what it thinks is best, to obey the rule of law, then we have created a new aristocracy, unbeholden to their own society’s needs. No government that has to indulge everybody’s opinion about what is best and what they should be held accountable for can truly enforce the rule of law.

5. Based on the above arguments it is entirely reasonable for people subject to the power of government, but not specifically within the power structure of government, to believe that government both does and should be expected to attempt to limit the people’s access to information concerning its operations. Such limitations of information would be expected to limit the public’s capacity to act in a manner critical of government’s actions in pursuit of additional power.

So, the argument regarding corporate free speech now turns to the idea that somehow, up to now, corporations have been muzzled, unable to communicate.

That is a naive theory. We have been bombarded by messages from these people for decades. What do you think all the arguments about campaign finance reform and soft money have been about? We note contributions, we note who bundles, which PACs have contributed, so on and so forth.

Corporations have been able to get money to candidates indirectly, get their point of view across.

But more to the point, Corporations have flooded Washington with lobbyists for decades. They’ve also had their front groups and thinktanks pervading the media with their points of view as well. Whether that’s Tobacco or the oil companies, the insurance companies or the financial institutions, they’ve not only been getting their message out, very often, they’ve been getting their way.

6. Since the government can and does act freely in speaking with a corporate voice on behalf of the individuals both within and supportive of its power structure it is, further, reasonable for people outside that power structure to seek access to corporate speech representative of their, perhaps differing prerogatives.

Except, we’re not outside the power structure. We are an integrated part of it.

Anybody who doesn’t think money is a corrupting influence in government plainly doesn’t know governments. It can inhibit folks from addressing topics that can lose them campaign finance dollars, it can encourage folks to take the line of their sponsors. Increase those amounts (and this is what this decision will essentially do), and you increase their proportion in relation to what ordinary people can offer up.

It’s the “some animals are more equal than others problem” Do we really give people an equal shot at free speech by insisting that one group be able to essentially flood out all other points of view in the Congress and White House by encouraging the limitless spending of those few?

It’s destructive to the forum for the people not to be heard over the few elites who front for the special interests. In principle, anybody would likely agree with this. In practice, the Republicans almost never agree with this.

This is not a government by bank account. This is a republic run by democratically elected delegates of the people.

7. Corporate speech, then, is merely a tool for the exercise of the inviolable individual right of free speech. It is an absolutely necessary tool for the public’s desire to create a balance of powers in the exercise of public discussion of politcal matters.

Corporations run our media, corporations run our lives in many ways. Corporate free speech isn’t necessary representative of our wants or needs. But for the longest time, government restrained corporations such that we could get a word in edgewise, and that the forum was at least theoretically open to the ordinary and the poor of means. Now one of the biggest restraints has been taken off, and corporations can push their own points of view over and above ours.

It is understandable that there is opposition to this concept, particularly from those who have no conception of the corporate power of government.

The failure of your first argument means that no reasonable person should conceive of the Federal Government’s power as corporate in the sense you would have it be, as just one rival among many for the people’s attention. We cannot and should not conceive of government’s power as only a competitor. Where the law is clear, the government, after due process, should have the power to cut the argument short. Otherwise, mere anarchy is loosed upon the country.

Government has to be something greater than a corporation, or the corporation as a legal entity is not subject to the rule of law.

We have a great national corporation able to speak freely on behalf of its desire for power. It would be suicidal for us to limit our responses to such a concentration of expression to a cacophany on individual voices or to eschew an effective tool by which many individuals can focus their voices into harmonious opposition.

To cacophony of individual voices?

First, people have been able to join together to influence politics for a long time. This decision does nothing to free up this, in fact forces every such gathering, already guaranteed their rights under the constitution to have to compete with the voices of the economic powers, whose interests are not necessarily the Public’s expressed interests, much less their best interests.

Besides, that cacophony, as you so derisively term it, is what the will of the majority is supposed to arise from. That’s the people. It tends to organize itself, if you leave it to itself. It should organize the government with it, to make sure there’s a fit between what the powerful in Washington do, and what the people want.

The Republicans seem to have a catch-all solution to this country’s problems: let all the power and profits the economic elites want drop into their hands, and they’ll figure out what should be done for the rest of us with that other corporation.

Well, sorry, there are limits to “running government like a business.” I’d say we should be running government like a government, And business should run under the rule of law as enforce by that government, the laws set as American voters would like to see them set.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at January 23, 2010 9:24 PM
Comment #294488

Stephen, you are WONDERFUL. You are so smart, so careful, and so good at making my points for me.

If we are to regulate the political process, keep it from becoming a crooked free-for-all which does not serve the public interest, it must fall under the rule of law. The government enforces the rule of law.

And you naturally trust those who enforce the law to regulate themselves honorably, honestly, and evenhandedly, just as all people entrusted to enforce the law throughout history have done…
Now the way we deal with that, is we prohibit the politicians from using government to to further their partisan aims. The Bush Administration fouled this one up big time.

So- wait a minute, didn’t you just trust the government to regulate itself? Wasn’t the Bush administration inherently evenhanded in its enforcement of the law? What enforced discipline on the Bush administration?
We also tend to make the enforcing bodies, like the FEC, bipartisan, so as to avoid conflicts of interest in dealing with the machinations of either party.

WHO makes the enforcing bodies “bipartisan”? Would that not ALSO be the government? Who tells us they are truly bipartisan? Who certifies that to the satisfaction of the many constituencies of the federal government? Do we not want voices that can effectively compete with the government’s capacity to make its voice heard through manipulation of dominant media?
You, Stephen, apparently don’t.

Addressing my second argument- “2. The federal government is LITERALLY a corporation, an organization of human beings chartered on behalf of many individuals to act legally on their behalf as an individual for the accomplishment of specific goals.”

Sorry, but that’s a BS argument. While you could literally apply that label, it would not denote the kind of corporation that American law deals with, which is what the Citizens United decision deals with. So, any subsequent implications you draw based on this will be rendered invalid.

Yes, Stephen I could LITERALLY make the argument. That is PRECISELY what I did. That common use of the word “corporation” is culturally limited to a conceptually narrow definition does not relieve reality of what a government really is. Nor does the fact that one form of corporation is authorized by another magically relieve the first of the nature of its existence. The Sun is easily the dominant collection of atoms in our Solar System with several other large collections of atoms. That we CALL the smaller collections (somewhat fickle-ly, Pluto might protest) “planets” does not relieve all of them, individually, of being collections of atoms.

The government is, literally, a corporation. That means it has a corporate culture with a life of its own, separate from our intentions for it. It is utterly irrelevant who authorized the corporation, or under what form of law it was authorized, or how the language wraps itself around, and cloaks (or hides) reality.

Gotta go. More later.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at January 23, 2010 11:05 PM
Comment #294489

phx8, et al

It’s obvious that this visceral hatred of corporations is based on the result of propaganda rather than real harm done by corporations.

Lee makes a powerful point. Which I think you are ignoring completely. The word corporation means to embody. Corporeal. Body. Like Body of citizens. More to the point it is an organization of people artificially created for a purpose and to achieve a set of goals. I really think that your emotional response, rather than logical one, is due to a fear of looking at this truth.

Perhaps it would help if you think of government as a non-profit corporation or co-op. Look beyond the marxist propaganda of the last hundred years— dare to venture outside the narrow definition of a corporation as an oppressive baby/puppy killing/torturing group of psychotic and greedy businessmen. Think of it as a thought experiment. Have an open mind rather than a closed one.

Posted by: eric at January 23, 2010 11:33 PM
Comment #294490

Stephen,

Lee is dead on here and some of the points you made are demonstrably wrong.

Just taking the first and possibly foundational argument of your reply.

If we are to regulate the political process, keep it from becoming a crooked free-for-all which does not serve the public interest, it must fall under the rule of law. The government enforces the rule of law.

The reason for the first amendment, the necessity of having a first amendment, is to restrict the power of the government to decide what speech is and isn’t in the public interest. That is the whole point of the first amendment. Once the government begins regulating the ‘political process’ especially by restricting the speech of groups it deems ‘corrupting’ we are in big trouble. What you are suggesting is right in line with any totalitarian regime of history.

Further the rule of law is not applied in the sense you seem to mean here. Rule of law means that all are treated the same. Rather than having one set of rules for one group or interest and another set of rules for another.

Liberal opposition to this concept is purely marxist philosophy. Corporations are no more corrupt than politicians are. (Think for a moment about this- it cuts both ways.)

Speech is not corruption. If you want to regulate corruption then regulate acts of corruption.

Posted by: eric at January 23, 2010 11:50 PM
Comment #294491

eric,

“More to the point it is an organization of people artificially created for a purpose and to achieve a set of goals.”

However, it’s not a monolith meant to be worshiped, and a corporation’s entire point is to make as much money as possible for it’s stockholders, while paying out the least amount of money to create a product (including to it’s employees).
A government’s goal shouldn’t be to bypass as many “costly” regulations as possible in the mad rush to make a profit.

Rocky

Posted by: Rocky Marks at January 23, 2010 11:56 PM
Comment #294493

I still have not seen one important point addressed: if a corporation has foreign ownership or foreign stockholders, can it still use unrestricted amounts of money for political advertising in America under the banner of free speech? After all, if it incorporates, or uses a subsidiary to incorporate in the US, then according to the SCOTUS it must be allowed to exercise free speech, right? If a corporation called “The Struggle” incorporated in the US, it would not matter if the corporation was funded by Osama bin Laden, because a corporation is a separate entity from an individual. “The Struggle” must be allowed to spend as much as it wants on political advertising.

Posted by: phx8 at January 24, 2010 1:17 AM
Comment #294497

What would happen to a corporation if the majority of it’s investors found out the corporations management had allowed itself to be bribed by other corporations and some of it’s largest investors into giving up market share and earnings which caused the majority to loose much of their investment?

Posted by: jlw at January 24, 2010 3:08 AM
Comment #294500

jlw

“What would happen to a corporation if the majority of it’s investors found out the corporations management had allowed itself to be bribed by other corporations and some of it’s largest investors into giving up market share and earnings which caused the majority to loose much of their investment?”

sounds like what’s going on in congresss right now with the healthcare bill. and to answer the question, they’d fire them and hire new management. possibly seek criminal charges. we should be so lucky to see this happen to these morons currently controlling the congress. they are true crooks.

Posted by: dbs at January 24, 2010 8:34 AM
Comment #294505

The argument about whether corporations are good or evil is irrelevant. The etymology of the word does not mean corporations are are flesh and blood. Corporations are not part of “the people” and therefore are not entitled to first amendment rights. When our soldiers die in wars, do we imagine they sacrificed themselves so that corporations could exercise free speech? How many corporations have ever made that same sacrifice? That conservatives would willingly cede their rights by allowing corporations (and non-profits and labor unions) to give unlimited amounts of money to political campaigns, either for one candidate or issue or against one, is simply astounding.

Conservatives, you should be jealous of protecting your rights as an individual, and not casually willing to support those who would give your rights away.

Posted by: phx8 at January 24, 2010 12:09 PM
Comment #294508

phx8

“Conservatives, you should be jealous of protecting your rights as an individual, and not casually willing to support those who would give your rights away.”

progressives supporting those who would take them away because they feel they know what is best, is a poor option as well.

Posted by: dbs at January 24, 2010 12:32 PM
Comment #294509

MikeE your welcome, why is it you limit your tiredness to just a few marxist when you can have so many conservatives making up “facts” to be tired about? This whole “if we stand on one leg and close one eye and turn our head sideways it looks the same” theory we are discussing being but one example.

“That common use of the word “corporation” is culturally limited to a conceptually narrow definition does not relieve reality of what a government really is.”

Lee, So what is the relevance to the SCOTUS decision? Using your “logic” would mean all corporations are governments then? And all cats are dogs? All planets are suns? When you have to get to the atomic level to defend your position then we are all one and definitions have no meaning? Are we having a conservative kum ba ya moment here?

“Lee makes a powerful point. Which I think you are ignoring completely. The word corporation means to embody. Corporeal. Body. Like Body of citizens. More to the point it is an organization of people artificially created for a purpose and to achieve a set of goals. I really think that your emotional response, rather than logical one, is due to a fear of looking at this truth.”

Eric is this an example of conservative enlightenment or just a little to much conservative cool aid? You and Lee must be using the same “logic” as our conservative majority did to get to the corporation as a person. How exactly can a corporation be a body of citizens which in your mind makes them a government but at the same time have the rights on an individual citizen?
DO you think that each department head of government should be able to use taxpayer money to fund candidates or to make hateful and distorted movies about candidates they don’t like in the name of free speech? This misdirection used by Lee to justify the SCOTUS decision will come back to haunt IMHO.

This really helps to explain why many on the right are so confused about what a Marxist, Communist,Socialist and Liberal is. Cultural definitions have no meaning. This “It is what it is and it ain’t what it ain’t but it sure ain’t what it is” spin explains a lot about conservative logic.

Posted by: j2t2 at January 24, 2010 12:55 PM
Comment #294511

Christine said: “The problem with money in politics is that there is money to be made by politics.”

And the problem with coercion, bribery, and blackmail is that they all deny freedom and liberty, not to mention fair competition, from our political, economic, and social stage.

There is money to be made anytime power is exerted over others. Which is why we have so very many laws to punish profiteering from simply overpowering others to take what others have, or force them into deals they otherwise would not want to make, like monopolism and oligopolism.

The fact that criminal power exists, is no rationale to license and legitimize it.

Posted by: David R. Remer at January 24, 2010 1:26 PM
Comment #294512

Lee Jamison,

The fundamental flaw in your argument can be found in your statement: “Based on the above arguments it is entirely reasonable for people subject to the power of government, but not specifically within the power structure of government, to believe that government both does and should be expected to attempt to limit the people’s access to information concerning its operations.”

Overthrowing the government is a threat to all who inhabit that nation. The government’s authority must be superior to that of any other organization’s within that nation if order, and law enforcement are to be maintained. That is why our founders installed the Bill of Rights to protect citizens from the power of government, and why they built in checks and balances through 3 branches of government. But, the founders also made the federal government the final authority in disputes between organizations, therefore, no CORPORATION can be permitted to usurp the authority of the government for their own interests.

What you promote in your comment is plutocracy, not a constitutional democratic republic. You may wish to rethink #5,

Posted by: David R. Remer at January 24, 2010 1:38 PM
Comment #294514

With a hat tip to Cafe Hayek- Ideoblog’s Larry Ribstein has this must-read post on the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent Citizens United opinion.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at January 24, 2010 2:13 PM
Comment #294515

David Remer,

We are not talking about the government’s power to enforce law. We are talking about its power to limit access to information.

Nothing in what I have said is a threat to the supremacy of the power of the government in the maintenance of order in the society. But NOTHING gives the government the right to determine what information the public shall have available to them outside of specifically military or national security information in exercising their office as citizens.

#5 stays.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at January 24, 2010 2:34 PM
Comment #294516

you said

“Overthrowing the government is a threat to all who inhabit that nation.”

but the ability of the people to do so collectivly is key to keeping that very same gov’t body in check. thus the need for the second amendment, although it is designed to be a last resort.

you said

“The government’s authority must be superior to that of any other organization’s within that nation if order, and law enforcement are to be maintained.”

only in that they have the ability to protect the the infringment of the individual liberties guarenteed by the bill of rights. that power does not extend to prevent the free association of individuals to persue thier goals personal, and financial, as long as those goals do not infringe on the rights of others.

you said

“the founders also made the federal government the final authority in disputes between organizations,”

the supreme court is the final arbitor in disputes between organizations, and are limited to deciding if the actions of the defendant violate the constitutional rights of the plaintiff, or if the law in question violates the individual rights protected under the constitution.

you said

“therefore, no CORPORATION can be permitted to usurp the authority of the government for their own interests.”

nor should the authority of gov’t usurp the rights of the individuals who make up the corporation of thier right to persue thier own interests, unless in the process persuing those interest deprive someone else of thier constitutional rights.

Posted by: dbs at January 24, 2010 2:44 PM
Comment #294518

Lee Jamison-
Literal definitions are not strict definitions.

The reality is, the definition most people would use, that most importantly the average lawyer would use, would not include the government as a corporation. I was trying to hint that to you.

Most corporations people call such are organizations chartered under the rules and the regulations of a government. The corporations we’re talking about here are no exception. They are subjects to the rule of law.

You make twisty arguments about how I trust or do not trust the regulation of the political process. You complicate my message needlessly. I do not necessarily trust anything.

I believe in channeled self-interest, with different streams of self-interest channeled against each other, such that the system doesn’t move forward until a majority of Americans and their delegates agree it can.

I don’t believe in special interests groups or political parties exploiting the rules to overwhelm the majority’s power with their own.. In such a case, I believe there should either be a chance for people to push back in reaction, or a resolution of whatever that knot of control is.

I do not believe in acting like any system that’s naturally emergent is necessarily a good one. Value judgments depend on results, in my book. If the methods don’t create the desired results, whether we’re talking direct or indirect methods, determinative or emergent, I don’t care; we need to do something different.

It’s been puzzling to me why the Republicans keep on trying to revive practices and legal orders that failed the first time, that folks far less liberal than us gave up on. Republicans seem too intent on vindicating what are seen as the mistakes of the old conservative order, reviving the world as it was in the 1930’s, failing to consider that this old world may have passed away for a reason. Everything “new” they suggest seems to be a variation on things I can recall having failed back a century ago.

You ever wonder why people like me take a dim view of your party’s policies? It’s too much a rationalization of doing things the old way for the old ways seek.

From a purely political perspective, I’d ask you why you want to put your party at this disadvantage.

From my own perspective, I’d have to say that I’m sick of the world standing still, just so some can have things their way, all the time, regardless of what people want. And I’m not alone. What people rebelled against in Massachussetts was the status quo, people taking thier positions for granted, regardless of what they do or don’t do.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at January 24, 2010 3:26 PM
Comment #294519

Stephen,

Language is irrelevant to reality. You are talking about “corporations” as though if the word did not apply in common use the reality would change. This is a good illustration of how caught up in culture some people are and how culture is more important than reality to those same people.

Use of words in this way is simply an attempt to manipulate people by limiting the scope of their capacity to match concepts to real-world entities. A government is a corporate body with a corporate culture without regard to the words we use to describe it, and also without regard to who defines it or how it is authorized, or even what its goals and aspirations are. This is true of all human organizations, period. In this case the similarities between a government and a business corporation are many and varied and their dissimilarities are few and specific.

Remember what Einstein said about ducks? Well the fact is that where you and I live there occasionally visit ducks that whistle and nest in trees. They’re still ducks.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at January 24, 2010 5:08 PM
Comment #294520


Stephen, I agree, it was a statis quo vote and they were sending that message to Obama and the Democrats.

Lee, my main concern about giving corporations virtually unlimited power is that they use that power to create a whole new rule of law, they can make themselves immune from prosecution. Example, they can use their power over Congress to have product liability laws reversed.

They have been doing these kinds of things already , not based on the fairness of a particular law but rather because they don’t like interference in their business practices and because they have the power to corrupt Congress.

Halliburton under the leadership of Dick Cheney violated U.S. law by doing business with some of our enemies, Iran, Iraq and Lybia and there is evidence to support that accusation. The Bush Administration. not only refused to prosecute, it refused to investigate the allegations. Ditto, the Republican Congress. It is possible and may be probable that some of our troops and many Iraq’s died needlessly because of halliburton’s dealings with Saddam. I guess we have to be pragmatic and balance lives with profit on the scales of justice.

Posted by: jlw at January 24, 2010 5:30 PM
Comment #294523

Lee,

You do understand that this ruling allows me to set up multiple corporations, and to donate money, to the limit, multiple times to the party of my choice, and to donate money under my own name as well.

This ruling is dumb as a bag of hammers.

Rocky

Posted by: Rocky Marks at January 24, 2010 6:16 PM
Comment #294528

Rocky,
I wondered about that too. There is nothing to stop the creation of shell corporations.

I also find it ludicrous that the conservative justices thought corporations were suffering from censorship, as if they were getting a raw deal and not having enough influence on the government.

Finally, I am duly impressed with the Tea Party conservatives. They protested Obama and Pelosi and Reed and health care reform, carrying signs accusing Democrats of practicing fascism, communism, and just about every other name in the book; and yet, when the conservatives on the Supreme Court say corporations should be allowed to make unlimited contributions to political campaigns, a classic example of government/corporate fascism, the Tea Party conservatives are, like, sure, that’s cool.

Truly, these are easily malleable, gullible people. If Limbaugh and Hannity and Gingrich and Palin told them to punt on democracy and the republic, they’d kick the football into the end zone and cheer.

Posted by: phx8 at January 24, 2010 7:27 PM
Comment #294529

Lee Jamison-
You picked the wrong person to have this debate with! :-)

Words themselves can be twisted and remapped any which way we please. But, they do not shift that fast. Why? Because communication requires that two people have a common understanding of what one another are saying.

This is especially true in terms of the law. You can stretch the definition in ordinary language within your argument, and proclaim your efforts a success, but that doesn’t mean the next person will buy your argument, and even if they do, in the relevant field, that of law, the argument has very little traction. A corporation in the eyes of the law is not on par with the government. It is a creature of that government’s laws. If that were not the case, far fewer companies would incorporate in Delaware or the Cayman Islands.

And that’s the sort of corporation that people are talking about, not this absolute definition, but a definition relative to the reality of what’s being referred to.

You can rewrite the logic of your words, but unless they match up to the logic and the conventions of the real world, then your argument has no substance.

The best you can do here, is confuse people, mislead them, muddle the situation. Corporations remain concentrations of economic and social power. They remain subject to the rule of law, and are created based on the laws of incorporation of the state and nation they are founded in. So when you introduce this new logic, you’re doing an end run around these realities, and the implications thereof.

The problem remains that if we treat the corporations as legal persons, and their donations as equivalent to that of a single person, then we run into the situation where all persons are equal, just some have the market capitalization and influence in Congress to be more equal than others.

We did our best to end that, almost eighty years ago, but here conservatives have one another victory for repeating old mistakes.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at January 24, 2010 7:32 PM
Comment #294531

Rocky, I thought the ruling threw out limits altogether. Was I mistaken?

Posted by: David R. Remer at January 24, 2010 8:08 PM
Comment #294532

Definitions are the tools for grasping concepts, like a hammer claw is designed to grasp a nail head. Break on claw of the hammer, and you may still be able to get some nails out, but, only clumsily and with a lot of collateral damage to the wood one is trying to salvage.

Screw with language definitions of important concepts and one engages in propaganda and distortion of truth and reality, usually for hidden ulterior motives. Political parties, lawyers, and politicians are masters at this.

No wonder they are so generally disliked. They undermine our society’s education and efficiency, by persuading others to expend resources on things that don’t exist or which exist, but, not in the way the redefiner would have other’s believe.

Posted by: David R. Remer at January 24, 2010 8:15 PM
Comment #294533

David,

From the link that Lee provided;

“What this decision means is that corporations will still be prohibited from making direct contributions to candidates, but corporations will be permitted to make independent expenditures in support of or in opposition to candidates”

Rocky

Posted by: Rocky Marks at January 24, 2010 8:19 PM
Comment #294534

dbs said: “but the ability of the people to do so collectivly is key to keeping that very same gov’t body in check.”

Pure fantasy. Your comment ignores entirely the powers of government to insure a revolution NEVER, EVER occurs again, from the national guard’s police powers to the president’s power to mobilize the military against the citizens to put down rebellion or insurrection.

Our government has been out of check for at least 45 years. Many would say nearly a century. Others would say since before the Civil War. And revolution has never reared its ugly head again, thought attempts like the urban riots of the 1960’s and early 1970’s, and demonstrations like that at Kent State did invoke the military police powers to insure revolution did not follow.

Your statement is completely without merit in reality.

Posted by: David R. Remer at January 24, 2010 8:21 PM
Comment #294535

Sorry, Lee, but #5 remains out, not in. Information is power, and the government has the power to limit information because it fashions the laws. The S.C. ruling grants corporations the power to control government, and therefore, the power, to both author the laws and enforce them, doing and end run around democracy, entirely.

#5 has to go as illogical on its face.

Posted by: David R. Remer at January 24, 2010 8:25 PM
Comment #294537

Lee here is some additional information for your consideration.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Municipal_corporation

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commonwealth

Posted by: j2t2 at January 24, 2010 9:21 PM
Comment #294563


Maybe it is just me but, I think there are major differences between individual liberty and Republican conservative guilded individualism/ corporate laissez fair individualism. It seems to me that the latter sees the governments role as regulating the behavior of those who oppose this distortion of individual freedom rather than those who practice it and if left unchallenged it will lead us right back to where we were.

“In the storage rooms a man could run his hand over these piles of meat and sweep off handfuls of the dried dung of rats, These rats were nuisances and the packers would put poisoned bread out for them, they would die, and then rats, bread and meat would go into the hopper together.” Upton Sinclair, The Jungle (1906).

Would/could they go that far? Probably not, even Lee and dbs might object to that much individual liberty.

The reason that corporate laissez faire individualism has been running amok again since Reagan is that corporation funded liberalism is not a proper instrument for keeping it in check.

Posted by: jlw at January 25, 2010 5:33 PM
Comment #294625

Rocky,

The reason corporations should have the right of free speech is because congress has the power to regulate them.

Corporations are made up of people and are owned by shareholders. Citizens.

Essentially, banning corporations from being able to persuade and inform is disarming them and putting them at the mercy of politicians. The same politicians complicit in all the corruption that campaign finance reform is supposed to be concerned about.

Are politicians not part of the corruption problem?

Posted by: Eric Simonson at January 26, 2010 7:12 PM
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