A Supreme Court ruling last week struck down campaign finance laws designed to protect the integrity of our election process. In this ruling the conservative majority on the court basically said that the free speech rights of a corporation are no different than those of an individual. It allows corporations, with their unlimited warchests, to spend what ever they want on political campaigns. Does anyone else think that this is an extremely dangerous ruling by the Supreme Court, and basically makes corporate puppets out of our politicians? Who could possibly get elected now without the support of corporations, and what will they need to promise them for that support?
They have just made political corruption legal!
From now on Congress will become a wholly owned arm of corporate interests. Should any member of Congress prove too "independent," there will be a more suitable candidate put up to run against him/her in the next cycle. With unlimited spending at the corporations' discretion, no seat in Congress can be independent. If they aren't owned today, just wait two years.
Advertising on television will drive opinion and votes. If what passes for entertainment today is any measure, it won't take much more than high production value to convince the public of anything the corporations want us to believe.
Every Citizen that is employed by that corporation has an individual right to free speech. Nothing is preventing that. Why does the corporation need a voice?
Do you think that the corporation will clear it's political contributions with it's employees? Will the company position be put up to a vote? Not a chance.
The end result of this is that the person at the head of the corporation who controls the spending gets to speak with a much louder voice than the average citizen. Period.
A Corporation was considered such a potentially "dangerous" structure, that the Founding Fathers expressed opinions that they should be "limited by time and size" to the extent that they would need a "specific, stated intent" and should be "limited to the size and structure necessary to accomplish their mission", as stated in their Corporate Charter. The Founding Fathers supported the idea of "incorporation" to the extent that it served the Public interest, and no more. They were strong advocates of RIGOROUS REGULATION of such Charters, which allowed for a Corporation to exist only for a limited time, and to only grow as large as it needed to for the stated task approved in the "Articles of Incorporation".
They NEVER would have approved of granting "rights" to Corporations.
I'm really surprised that anyone would support this and come away thinking this is somehow good for the country. It supports the diminution of your own vote.
Corporations have always had the rights of a person. This is, in fact, the defining characteristic of a corporation. A good description for the ''corporation'' entry on Wiki:
Despite not being natural persons, corporations are recognized by the law to have rights and responsibilities like actual people. Corporations can exercise human rights against real individuals and the state, and they may be responsible for human rights violations. Just as they are "born" into existence through its members obtaining a certificate of incorporation, they can "die" when they lose money into insolvency. Corporations can even be convicted of criminal offences, such as fraud and manslaughter.
A corporation's individual rights cannot be parsed, no matter what you think the worst-case scenarios might be.
And please, do not take a 100-page ruling and break it down to what it ''basically'' said in one sentence. The idea that the Supreme Court treats any matter so trivially and partisan and reactionary is insulting to the process by which they reach decisions.
They most certainly can be parsed. Can a corporation vote for our elected officials? Can a corporation run for office?
People exist because they are born here or moved here. Corporations exist only by permission of the government. The government represents the people, not corporations. When the constitution refers to 'the people', it did not include huge mutinational corporations.
This is from Justice Stevens dissent:
'The conceit that corporations must be treated identically to natural persons in the political sphere is not only inaccurate but also inadequate to justify the Court's disposition of this case… In the context of election to public office, the distinction between corporate and human speakers is significant. Although they make enormous contributions to our society, corporations are not actually members of it. They cannot vote or run for office.'
*** And please, do not take a 100-page ruling and break it down to what it ''basically'' said in one sentence. The idea that the Supreme Court treats any matter so trivially and partisan and reactionary is insulting to the process by which they reach decisions. ***
This decision was not treated trivially, but it certainly was partisan and reactionary. I am insulted by the way they reached this decision. The case they were deciding had no facts or trial testimony that dealt with corporate campaign spending. It was about how the law was being applied, not whether the law was constituional. The court could have just dealt with that issue, instead last summer, they ordered a re-argument to include the broad issue of corporate campaign finance limits. Talk about judicial activism...
Sorry toadaly, but judicial fiat is exactly how the SCOTUS came up with this ruling. No where in constitution does it say anything about corporations having a right to free speech.
Can they vote or run for office? If they can't then they should not be able to affect our elections with their virtually unlimited money supply.
And if you look at they way this case was handled, the court had to reach way beyond what the initial case was about to come up with this ruling.
The Supreme court ruled about the constitutionality of a specific law. One could argue that just because the current law limiting political contributions is unconstitutional does not mean that any law limiting contributions is. Perhaps limiting the spending of corporations should be part of incorporation laws rather than election laws.
For better or worse, I think the SCOTUS made the correct Constitutional decision, even if the outcome will suck. The right way to change the Constitution is via Amendment, not judicial fiat.