Overturn "Citizens United"?

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Postby Faramond » Thu Jan 19, 2012 8:12 pm

RoseMorninStar wrote:For what it's worth, the founding fathers of our country would be rolling over in their graves at the Citizen's United ruling. They never intended for Corporations to be permanent entities, let alone have 'person' status.

What the Founding Fathers Thought of Corporations


I don't think you or the author of the linked piece knows what the response of the founding fathers to this ruling would be. It is unlikely it would be a uniform response, in any case.

Rather than fixate on the word "corporation", why not examine what is really going on here. A group of citizens voluntarily pooled their money to put out a political message. They were censored. This censorship violated the First Amendment.

"If the First Amendment has any force, it prohibits Congress from fining or jailing citizens, or associations of citizens, for simply engaging in political speech." -- Justice Kennedy.

A succinct and admirable summary of why the law -- no matter how well intentioned -- had to be overturned.

I suggest a different approach to combat the "scourge of corporations" that does not violate the First Amendment.
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Postby The Heretic » Thu Jan 19, 2012 8:32 pm

Faramond wrote:
RoseMorninStar wrote:For what it's worth, the founding fathers of our country would be rolling over in their graves at the Citizen's United ruling. They never intended for Corporations to be permanent entities, let alone have 'person' status.

What the Founding Fathers Thought of Corporations


I don't think you or the author of the linked piece knows what the response of the founding fathers to this ruling would be. It is unlikely it would be a uniform response, in any case.

Indeed, the first Jefferson quote in the article is a fake mixed with a possible paraphrase.
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Postby Lord_Morningstar » Fri Jan 20, 2012 4:37 pm

Cerin wrote:
Lord_Morningstar wrote:Personally, I think that Citizens United is overstated as a problem. Corporations may be able to donate anonymously to political campaigns, but in the end, voters have to actually approve of politicians and their policies and vote for them.


You're assuming a reasonably intelligent, informed electorate, which we do not have here. I don't think the problem is that corporations are contributing to campaigns, but that vast amounts of money are being used by corporate donor organizations to create attack ads for which there is absolutely no accountability, either to disclose who is behind the ad, or to answer for the truthfulness of the material presented. Since we have a corporate-run media in this country which is not concerned with truth or facts, but just with presenting a 'balanced' perspective (i.e., regurgitating what anyone newsworthy says without evaluating the truth of it), there is no way for the American public to assess the truth of these ads for which Citizens United opened the floodgates. As has been amply proven in American culture and politics, if you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes the truth in people's minds. That's what these corporations are counting on, and paying for.


Democracy itself assumes a reasonably intelligent, informed electorate :P .

In all seriousness, I said that I think Citizens United is overstated as a problem, not that it isn’t a problem. I really don’t think that political campaigning and advertising in the U.S. has changed all that much due to the ruling. And if corporations are so powerful, I have to wonder why the U.S. isn’t necessarily a more business-friendly environment than many other western countries. Corporate taxes are high, and they need to pay healthcare costs for their employees. I expect that, if you handed political power to the CEOs of the 500 largest companies, for example, the country would be run differently than it is now.


Since you seem so cavalier about the notion of unlimited corporate funding to influence elections in this country, may I ask what the law is in your country regarding campaign financing?


I actually had to do some research, as I didn’t know off the top of my head :oops:. Turns out that it is considerably more liberal than in the U.S. Disclosure is only required for donations to campaigns over $10,000, and political ads are required only to not be defamatory and to carry the name and address of the person who authorised them (link). Personally I've never felt that our politics is in any way corrupted by this.
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Postby portia » Fri Jan 20, 2012 5:54 pm

Faramond wrote:[snip]
Rather than fixate on the word "corporation", why not examine what is really going on here. A group of citizens voluntarily pooled their money to put out a political message. They were censored. This censorship violated the First Amendment.

"If the First Amendment has any force, it prohibits Congress from fining or jailing citizens, or associations of citizens, for simply engaging in political speech." -- Justice Kennedy.



No.

If the women of the ladies political club of New York got together and pooled their money to give to a candidate, they could give "$x." There are limits to what each individual could give. But by filtering contributions through a corporation, they would be able to evade the limits on individuals, and have the chance to spend whatever they, as a group, wanted to spend. Two bites of the apple, so to speak, if they act through a corporation.

The whole point of the decision, which is not addressed in that quote from Justice Kennedy (I hope he didn't miss the point) is that the corporation is treated not as an "association" of individual citizens, but as an entirely separate entity, entitled to its own rights, in addition to the rights of its shareholders.
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Postby Cerin » Fri Jan 20, 2012 6:35 pm

Faramond wrote:The law that was overturned prevented "Hillary: the movie" from being aired within 30 days of an election. That was censorship. The Supreme Court rightly struck down the law, in my view.

It was not censorship. It was a Constitutionally valid exercise of Congress' right to regulate elections. The right to free speech doesn't exist in a vacuum; it has to be balanced with other concerns, in this case, the need to keep the rich and powerful from unduly using their wealth and power to influence elections, i.e., from buying representation in Washington and corrupting our democracy.

The main point here is not free speech! The main point here is protecting our electoral process and our democracy from those with disproportionate wealth, and therefore a disproportionate influence around election time. The reason that 30-day rule existed is because there needs to be adequate time for people and the media to check the accuracy of such defamatory propaganda.


Rather than fixate on the word "corporation", why not examine what is really going on here. A group of citizens voluntarily pooled their money to put out a political message. They were censored. This censorship violated the First Amendment.

Again, it isn't a first amendment issue. That fallacy was established in the 1976 court decision equating speech with campaign spending. By that logic, the rich have the right to drown everyone else out, but democracy is founded on the idea of everyone having an equal right to speak. And it wasn't just an ordinary group of citizens. It was a group of citizens funded by powerful, wealthy interests who could afford to spend money most people don't have in order to disseminate an attack on an individual to influence an election. A candidate should be given adequate time to defend themselves against such attacks. A 30-day restriction zone around elections was not an unreasonable law. It's unbelievable to me how often common sense goes out the window when people start talking about the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

The underlying error here is in the court decision of 1976; not only was the decision wrong, but the court shouldn't even have jurisdiction over election law. That job belongs to Congress.


Lord_M wrote:I really don’t think that political campaigning and advertising in the U.S. has changed all that much due to the ruling
.
You are wrong about that. The increase in expenditure has been vast, and more importantly, there is no accountability. They are no longer required to say, 'So and so is responsible for this ad'. The viewer has no idea where the ad is coming from, and therefore what the agenda might be behind it.


Corporate taxes are high, and they need to pay healthcare costs for their employees.

Corporate taxes are low, when you examine what is actually paid, rather than the rates before loopholes and taxpayer funded subsidies. Many of the largest corporations pay no tax at all, and are in fact given million dollar tax refunds.


I expect that, if you handed political power to the CEOs of the 500 largest companies, for example, the country would be run differently than it is now.

Oh, no doubt (labor laws, environmental laws, tax laws). But keep in mind that those largest companies and CEOs would include the insurance industry, so I wouldn't make any assumptions in that regard.


and political ads are required only to not be defamatory and to carry the name and address of the person who authorised them

Well, that's a HUGE part of the Citizens United legacy -- no protection against defamation, and no requirement to reveal who is responsible for the ad.
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Postby The Heretic » Sat Jan 21, 2012 12:21 pm

Lord_Morningstar wrote:Corporations may be able to donate anonymously to political campaigns...

Would you explain this? How are they able to do so anonymously (and what do you mean by donating to political campaigns)?
I am given to understand that disclosure requirements were upheld 8 to 1.
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Postby Lord_Morningstar » Sat Jan 21, 2012 2:35 pm

The Heretic wrote:
Lord_Morningstar wrote:Corporations may be able to donate anonymously to political campaigns...

Would you explain this? How are they able to do so anonymously (and what do you mean by donating to political campaigns)?
I am given to understand that disclosure requirements were upheld 8 to 1.


To be honest I don't know. I only paid passing attention to Citizens United. I was merely responding to critics on this board who said that it allowed large amounts of money to be donated anonymously to political causes or put into political ads.
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Postby The Heretic » Sat Jan 21, 2012 3:27 pm

Lord_Morningstar wrote:To be honest I don't know. I only paid passing attention to Citizens United. I was merely responding to critics on this board who said that it allowed large amounts of money to be donated anonymously to political causes or put into political ads.

Ah. Perhaps they should read Citizens United (the syllabus is only 7 pages), and they will discover that disclosure requirements of BCRA (McCain-Feingold) were upheld by the Court (in brief the entity has to file with the FEC the names and addresses of anyone who contributes $1000+, if the entity spends more than 10,000 in a year; and if the ad is not authorized by a candidate it must disclose who is responsible for it in the ad). It is still illegal for corporations and unions etc. to donate money to a candidate (as has been the law for a century or so).
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Postby RoseMorninStar » Sat Jan 21, 2012 4:46 pm

Hence, the Super PAC. It gets past those pesky loopholes. And disclosure isn't required until well after elections have taken place.

Steven Colbert; "I am a Super PAC and so can you"

Steven Colbert is a comedian, but this is no joke. And he demonstrated just how easy it is for just about anyone to become a Super PAC.

Money buys lots of propaganda/advertising. And propaganda/advertising works.
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Postby The Heretic » Sat Jan 21, 2012 5:32 pm

RoseMorninStar wrote: Hence, the Super PAC. It gets past those pesky loopholes.

What loopholes?
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Postby The Heretic » Mon Jan 23, 2012 7:32 pm

Well, while we are waiting for RoseMorninStar to detail her "pesky loopholes":

Cerin wrote:Money is not speech, any more than a corporation is a person.

Since money is not speech, would it be just fine and dandy to forbid the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, Fox, MSNBC, Time, Newsweek, the Nation, National Review, NPR (and etc) from spending more than 10 grand in a year?

Since a corporation is not a person, then is it acceptable for corporations to have no protections under the 3rd, 4th and 5th Amendments? Hence the government should be able to quarter troops at Planned Parenthood and the AFL-CIO. Should the government be able to search and seize, with out warrant, any corporation or union the government pleases? And can the government then simply take intellectual property belonging to Apple or Microsoft with out just compensation? Since 'corporations are not people'...

but the court shouldn't even have jurisdiction over election law. That job belongs to Congress.

Would it be just fine for Congress to prevent media corporations from making endorsements of candidates and positions or otherwise attempting to influence elections?
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Postby vison » Mon Jan 23, 2012 7:51 pm

Why are you mixing apples with oranges?

Do you like fruit salad? :?
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Postby The Heretic » Mon Jan 23, 2012 8:08 pm

vison wrote:Why are you mixing apples with oranges?
Do you like fruit salad? :?

I'm not, and yes.
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Postby vison » Mon Jan 23, 2012 10:14 pm

The Heretic wrote:
vison wrote:Why are you mixing apples with oranges?
Do you like fruit salad? :?

I'm not, and yes.


Um, yes, you are. :)

And I like fruit salad too, as long as there are no pears or canteloupes, and as long as the pineapple is ripe.
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Postby Aravar » Tue Jan 24, 2012 3:21 am

It is important to remember that while we tend to use person now as a synonym for human being in ordinary speech, it has a slightly different derviation. It originally comes from persona, whcih was orginally a mask worn by an actor.

The earliest corporations were differen tmasks, or, more colloquially hats, that were worn by individuals. The Archbishop of Canterbury is a corporation. What Rowan Williams has and his powers and rights in a purely private capacity is differnt form his rights, and especially property as Archbishop. If he were to die in office the Archbishop stuff would pass to his successor as Archbishop, not pass under his will.

As time passed corporations were used also to represent groups of people acting together in a separate capacity as well.

The idea that corporate personality means that they are accorded the status of humans, as Rose Morningstar posted, is a misunderstanding of a technical term by confusing it with a colloquial meaning.

EDIT for spelling
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Postby The Heretic » Tue Jan 24, 2012 4:49 am

vison wrote:
The Heretic wrote:
vison wrote:Why are you mixing apples with oranges?
Do you like fruit salad? :?

I'm not, and yes.


Um, yes, you are. :)

No, I'm not.

And correct Aravar, the terms such 'corporate personhood' and 'speech is money' are simply a shorthand for the concept.
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Postby portia » Tue Jan 24, 2012 7:41 am

Corporations have historically been given the "rights" that are needed for their functioning. So, Microsoft can own a patent or a trademark as it would be cumbersome for the ownership of that patent to be divided among the shareholders. Same with real property.Or selling the corporation's old office furniture.

And for that reason, corporations have often been refferred to as "legal construct" or "fictitious persons." IMO the majority of the Court was confused by that colloquial usage and held that the "rights" of corporations were the same as rights of human being-type persons. There is no reason for that expansion, as the shareholder can perfectly well exercise their rights to contribute to campaigns, individually. There is nothing cumbersome about it.

Public outcries do not necessarily have an effect on the court. But blistering commentaries in scholarly journals, do. So, if we have a personnel change (or maybe without one) we might see the 5-4 decision going the other way
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Postby vison » Tue Jan 24, 2012 8:18 am

Thanks, portia.

Apples are good, and so are oranges, but they are not the same things.
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Postby Jnyusa » Tue Jan 24, 2012 8:44 am

It's not Rose who is confusing legal personhood with natural people. It is the Supreme Court that did that.

They took rights previously enumerated for natural people alone, those for whom the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness is possible and sensical, and said that henceforth these rights apply to legal entities as well.

I have been struggling to define for myself the precise crux of the problem here and I am having a lot of trouble doing that. So far I can only narrow the question down to its starting point.(Faramond, this is the response I promised you after a long delay.)

~

• SCOTUS was asked to reverse a lower court ruling that showing the movie about Hillary within 30 days of an election was a violation of McCain-Feingold campaign finance rules.

Recall that the reason this case was appealed up the ladder is because lower courts had allowed the showing of Farenheit 9/11 within 30 days of an election. CU's argument was that both movies were political speech and both should be either allowed or disallowed. But Farenheit 9/11 was not funded by a PAC and not subject to McCain-Feingold.

What the SCOTUS had to consider was whether this provision of McCain-Feingold, which distinguished between PACs and other corporations operating through public media was constitutional, and they decided that it was not.

Fine. McCain-Feingold cannot prohibit one kind of speech before an election while ignoring other kinds of speech before an election just because the funding mechanism is different. STOP THERE.

• Instead, the majority ruling was so broad that it overturned provisions of several other campaign finance laws - it did so knowingly, since the justices did address stare decisis and explained why they were ignoring it - and it made all prohibition of corporate and union spending (not speech, spending) unconstitutional.

This is judicial activism. It terminates the right of the government to regulate (up to a point) the interference of corporations in government, in the same way that Roe v. Wade terminated (up to a point) the right of government to regulate a woman's medical decisions. It is a landmark case in that it creates a precedent which defies earlier precedents, and now opens lot of other laws up to constitutional challenge.

When the religious right saw this happen with Roe v. Wade they set about to argue against it. The left now will argue against this CU ruling but it is difficult because the SCOTUS has put precedents off-limits by acknowledging that they've been deliberately overturned. You can't go to them and shout, "Taft-Hartley!" because they have already answered, "We know, and screw you."

• Furthermore, the ruling feels arbitrary and vengeful, and the SCOTUS seems to have intended this. They compare themselves to the Justices that validated the Civil Rights Movement, as if a corporation could be lynched or forced to drink at a water fountain that was for corporations only.

There is something deliberately absurd about it, which is why I said that the Justices can't even believe their own ruling. They do not genuinely think that legal personhood and natural personhood are the same thing. They do not think that corporate raiding should be treated as homicide, for example. They are advocating for the devil out of pure cussedness.

But, the arguments that will overturn this ruling have to be framed very carefully.

In the same way, I think, that Roe v. Wade could have its impact greatly reduced if the religious right stopped talking about God and the bible and souls and talked instead about verifiable developmental stages. Whether they are capable of becoming that sane in the long run, I don't know, but I would like those who oppose CU to craft their arguments with skill and not just anger. I just don't know enough about the law myself to come up with those answers.

• The other stuff that is argued in favor of this ruling - with it we won't have freedom of assembly or any of the other rights in the first ten amendements - that's all nonsense. I'm sorry folks, but you've needed a license to demonstrate as long as I've been alive and we all saw what happened to the OWS groups that didn't have one. That's the balance we strike between freedom of assembly and public safety. There are also restrictions on freedom of speech that are upheld because they are common sense - e.g. speech that creates panic or incites violence. If the Constitution were truly libertarian in its outlook -- anyone can do whatever they want whenever and wherever they want -- our society would have collapsed a long time ago. The issue is not the existence or non-existence of these basic rights.
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Postby Aravar » Tue Jan 24, 2012 9:18 am

Jnyusa wrote:It's not Rose who is confusing legal personhood with natural people. It is the Supreme Court that did that.



But as I tried to point out in my post above corporations are "masks" individuals, or groups of individuals wear.

As an intellectual exercise I find it difficult to frame a law which can curtail the Archbishop of Canterbury's right to free speech, being a corporation, without also limiting Rowan Williams'.

Does it depend on whether he's wearing a mitre or not?

Or to take another example, look at the Simpsons. Imagine billionaire Mr Burns want's to extend the nuclear plant, but Springfield Nature Inc, a long established corporation with assets of perhaps $100,000 wants to oppose it. The latter has more sway as a long-established communtiy organisation founded by Jebediah Springfield himself, than its current members would have on their own.

Mr Burns' free speech is protected by the constitution. Why limit the corporation's ability to speak out against a wealthy individual? That seems to be the reasoning behind the majority in Citizen's United, which notes that most US corporations are rather small.

Edit for typos
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Postby Faramond » Tue Jan 24, 2012 9:26 am

Perhaps the decision is overly broad. Jn's response here is the first time in this thread where I feel like I've seen an argument that wasn't a restating of "corporations are evil" in some form. I am sure a lot of prior posters in this thread will dispute that but that is the feeling I got from those prior posts.
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Postby vison » Tue Jan 24, 2012 9:30 am

Thanks, Jnyusa.

I don't think corporations are "evil". Hells bells, my farm is a corporation, albeit a Canadian one. Small, but significant to me!

I just don't think a corporation is a natural person. I'm a natural person, but the papers in my safe deposit box are not.
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Postby Aravar » Tue Jan 24, 2012 9:50 am

vison wrote:I just don't think a corporation is a natural person. I'm a natural person, but the papers in my safe deposit box are not.


It isn't a natural person, it's a legal person. It is, nevertheless, a person.
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Postby Tookish_Traveler » Tue Jan 24, 2012 10:08 am

Aravar wrote:
vison wrote:I just don't think a corporation is a natural person. I'm a natural person, but the papers in my safe deposit box are not.


It isn't a natural person, it's a legal person. It is, nevertheless, a person.




:shock:



Here's a paper person....



Image
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Postby Cerin » Tue Jan 24, 2012 10:50 am

Many corporations are evil. They put profit before everything else -- before their responsibility to the environment, before safety for their workers, before the interests of the communities in which they exist. They squeeze and pressure their workers to work harder and produce more while cutting their pay and benefits. They treat their workers as commodities rather than people. Corporate pay structures often reflect a gross economic inequity, with CEOs 'earning' up to 500 times what the workers earn. They exploit tax loopholes to avoid paying taxes, they soak up billions of dollars in tax subsidies they don't need. They are in fact the 'welfare queens' in our corporate welfare society.

edit

They subvert our democracy by spending huge amounts of money lobbying in Washington so that their interests are represented over the needs of the citizenry. And now they own every member of Congress lock, stock and barrel, because every member of Congress knows that, thanks to Citizens United, if they anger any of these coroporations by serving the public good rather than corporate interests, those corporations will flood their districts with unlimited money for attack ads to defeat them in the next election.
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Postby basil » Tue Jan 24, 2012 12:21 pm

Tookish_Traveler wrote:Here's a paper person...


That's cutting! :rofl:

Heretic wrote:Since money is not speech, would it be just fine and dandy to forbid the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, Fox, MSNBC, Time, Newsweek, the Nation, National Review, NPR (and etc) from spending more than 10 grand in a year?


http://video.msnbc.msn.com/up-with-chri ... 9#46090999

The disagreement between Eliot Spitzer and Melissa Harris Perry is instructive. It's clear that many of us are confused about Citizens United --- the fact is that nothing any wealthy individual like Sheldon Adelson is doing in this cycle is a result of that ruling. Citizens United lifted the restrictions on corporations and union spending in elections, period. It had nothing to do with wealthy individuals donating to PACs in order to support candidates. That has been legal since 1976:

The Supreme Court's ruling in Buckley v. Valeo (1976) held that expenditures made independently of a candidate's campaign could not be limited under the Constitution. If expenditures are made in "coordination" with a campaign, however, they may be regulated as contributions.


Citizens United brought about the SuperPAC in order to facilitate the newly legal unlimited corporate giving, but the huge donations from wealthy individuals to these PACs is something they always could have done. Indeed, the single largest donation to Romney's SuperPAC is "John Paulson, a billionaire and hedge fund manager who is, according to Politico, 'famous for [having enriched] himself by betting on the collapse of the housing industry.'" There was nothing stopping him from doing this before either.

So why the big change? I think it has to do with two things, one cultural and one economic. The first is simply that wealthy benefactors are willing to put their names on their politics. The overt lobbying for Randroid values among the super wealthy has been well documented. They are shameless.

The second, and probably more important, is that these wealthy people have so much more money than they had before. Adelson is the 8th richest man in the United States. The Koch Brothers are the 4th and 5th. And their wealth has grown exponentially in recent years as everyone else has been struggling:

When you have this much money, buying elections is a very cheap investment. It's these two factors --- the swashbuckling culture of wealth and income disparity that lie at the heart of our current problems.


David Stockman, former Reagan staffer, is also in the video above. He's advocating a Constitutional admendment to control how our elections are handled.

I'm leaning toward that solution.

Jnyusa wrote:This is judicial activism. It terminates the right of the government to regulate (up to a point) the interference of corporations in government, in the same way that Roe v. Wade terminated (up to a point) the right of government to regulate a woman's medical decisions. It is a landmark case in that it creates a precedent which defies earlier precedents, and now opens lot of other laws up to constitutional challenge.


You may be right in your conclusion, I don't know enough law to comment on that. But what I can say is that this mess we're in now, and that is a biased comment, is the result of constant pushing of the envelope, as is common with human nature, to produce this pretzelly contortion of common sense and law.

Or Fruit Salad. :)

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Postby Jnyusa » Tue Jan 24, 2012 2:46 pm

Aravar wrote:As an intellectual exercise I find it difficult to frame a law which can curtail the Archbishop of Canterbury's right to free speech, being a corporation, without also limiting Rowan Williams'.

Does it depend on whether he's wearing a mitre or not?


Maybe it does matter whether he's wearing the mitre, Aravar.

You do distinguish between the Archbishop speaking or acting for himself verus speaking or acting on behalf of the C of E. If the Archbishop got caught hosting an illegal poker game, you wouldn't fine every Anglican.

Mr Burns' free speech is protected by the constitution. Why limit the corporation's ability to speak out against a wealthy individual? That seems to be the reasoning behind the majority in Citizen's United, which notes that most US corporations are rather small.


McCain-Feingold did not prohibit corporations from advertising for the side of an issue they supported, nor from spending any amount of money to do so. it prohibited them from supporting individual candidates for office in certain ways. In your example, neither Mr. Burns nor the associated citizens of Springfield would have been prohibited from spending money to promote their side of the issue. But if Mr. Burns, through his corporation, had created an advertisement saying that Homer Simpson should not be mayor because of his monumental stupidity, they would not have been allowed to run that ad within a month of the election. The associated citizens would have faced the same constraint: if Burns were running for office, they could not have smeared him within a month of the campaign.

The trick here is that if Burns had done it, not through his corporation but through his private funds, he could have gotten away with it under McCain-Feingold. That's what Michael Moore did, basically. His movie was pointedly political speech and it was aimed at a particular candidate, and it was also not truthful on top of everything else.

The temptation is very strong to say that no political speech of this nature should be allowed within 30 days of a campaign rather than that all such speech should be allowed, but then you're in the swamp of deciding what candidates themselves may or may not say and that's no good either.

I don't think it's a phony dilemma at all. I think it's a real one, deciding the extent to which outside interests may interfere with elections. At what point are we no longer hosting a public issues debate and instead selling our laws to the highest bidder?

Cerin wrote:Many corporations are evil. They put profit before everything else -- before their responsibility to the environment, before safety for their workers, before the interests of the communities in which they exist.


I've gotta go with Chomsky on this one and say that institutions can be neither moral nor immoral, neither good nor evil. Only individuals can be those things.

Corporations are designed to put profit before everything else. If we want to ensure the safety of the environment, the safety of workers, the perpetuation of communities, we have to do that through government regulation, and it has to be enforced the same for all businesses. The corporations will adapt appropriately as long as they all face the same constraints. That's the beauty of cap-and-trade, for example, that it changes the marginal cost of all polluters by the same amount, so everyone's prices take the same hit. It does not advantage one group of corporations over another.

The problem, as I see it, is that our government has been anything but neutral in most of its treatment of corporations. We actively pass environmental laws designed to put small business people out of business, we actively ignore insider trading and fraudulent investment houses, we actively neglect to collect from oil companies the site rents on public lands, and so on. It's that corruption - resulting from bribes to Congress and the Senate, I really can't pretend that anything else is going on here - it's that corruption that makes all corporations seem evil. The profound irony is that it hurts the economy so much to do business this way. It hurts the worker and it hurts even more the businesses that are not mobbed up, that can't afford to buy themselves a Congressperson.

basil wrote:But what I can say is that this mess we're in now... is the result of constant pushing of the envelope, as is common with human nature, to produce this pretzelly contortion of common sense and law.


One group of people pushing the envelope while another, larger group of people naps in their bark-a-lounger.
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Postby The Heretic » Tue Jan 24, 2012 7:10 pm

Cerin wrote:Many corporations are evil.

I take it, then, that you have no good answers to my questions above?

It does, however, seem rather incongruent for you to be claiming corporations are not people, while anthropomorphizing said corporations.

In any event, after debunking various claims (no disclosure of contributors, no disclosure of responsibility in ads and giving to candidates), lets move on to RoseMorninStar's claim of:
And disclosure isn't required until well after elections have taken place.

Disclosure is on a schedule set by the FEC. The filing deadlines may be quarterly or monthly, during even numbered (i.e. election) years (and, tmk, apply to PACs, Super Pacs and 527s).
If quarterly the dates for 2012 are a (year end of) Jan 31, April 15, July 15, Oct 15 and then a pre general of Oct 25 a post general of Dec 6 and a year end of Jan 31 (2013).
If filing is required monthly then the dates are, again Jan 31 (for the year end), followed by the 20th of each month through Oct 20, and then, as above, a pre general of Oct 25 a post general of Dec 6 and a year end of Jan 31 (2013).
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Postby Aravar » Wed Jan 25, 2012 5:46 am

Jnyusa wrote:
Aravar wrote:As an intellectual exercise I find it difficult to frame a law which can curtail the Archbishop of Canterbury's right to free speech, being a corporation, without also limiting Rowan Williams'.

Does it depend on whether he's wearing a mitre or not?


Maybe it does matter whether he's wearing the mitre, Aravar.

You do distinguish between the Archbishop speaking or acting for himself verus speaking or acting on behalf of the C of E. If the Archbishop got caught hosting an illegal poker game, you wouldn't fine every Anglican.



You're missing the point. The Archbishop isn't a corporaration representing the Church of England as a whole, the Chruch contiaas many similar corporations. The Archbishop is what is called a corporation sole: there is one and only one member of that corporation: the current incumbent. Very many of the ecclesiastical offices are like that, bisghops and Deans and the like. The Crown and many of the Government offices are similar corporations.

How can you restrict the Archbishops freedom to act without also represneting the one and only member of that corporation, Rowan Williams?
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Postby Voronwe_the_Faithful » Wed Jan 25, 2012 7:33 am

Jnyusa wrote:It's not Rose who is confusing legal personhood with natural people. It is the Supreme Court that did that.

They took rights previously enumerated for natural people alone, those for whom the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness is possible and sensical, and said that henceforth these rights apply to legal entities as well.

I have been struggling to define for myself the precise crux of the problem here and I am having a lot of trouble doing that. So far I can only narrow the question down to its starting point.(Faramond, this is the response I promised you after a long delay.)

~

• SCOTUS was asked to reverse a lower court ruling that showing the movie about Hillary within 30 days of an election was a violation of McCain-Feingold campaign finance rules.

Recall that the reason this case was appealed up the ladder is because lower courts had allowed the showing of Farenheit 9/11 within 30 days of an election. CU's argument was that both movies were political speech and both should be either allowed or disallowed. But Farenheit 9/11 was not funded by a PAC and not subject to McCain-Feingold.

What the SCOTUS had to consider was whether this provision of McCain-Feingold, which distinguished between PACs and other corporations operating through public media was constitutional, and they decided that it was not.

Fine. McCain-Feingold cannot prohibit one kind of speech before an election while ignoring other kinds of speech before an election just because the funding mechanism is different. STOP THERE.

• Instead, the majority ruling was so broad that it overturned provisions of several other campaign finance laws - it did so knowingly, since the justices did address stare decisis and explained why they were ignoring it - and it made all prohibition of corporate and union spending (not speech, spending) unconstitutional.

This is judicial activism. It terminates the right of the government to regulate (up to a point) the interference of corporations in government, in the same way that Roe v. Wade terminated (up to a point) the right of government to regulate a woman's medical decisions. It is a landmark case in that it creates a precedent which defies earlier precedents, and now opens lot of other laws up to constitutional challenge.

When the religious right saw this happen with Roe v. Wade they set about to argue against it. The left now will argue against this CU ruling but it is difficult because the SCOTUS has put precedents off-limits by acknowledging that they've been deliberately overturned. You can't go to them and shout, "Taft-Hartley!" because they have already answered, "We know, and screw you."

• Furthermore, the ruling feels arbitrary and vengeful, and the SCOTUS seems to have intended this. They compare themselves to the Justices that validated the Civil Rights Movement, as if a corporation could be lynched or forced to drink at a water fountain that was for corporations only.

There is something deliberately absurd about it, which is why I said that the Justices can't even believe their own ruling. They do not genuinely think that legal personhood and natural personhood are the same thing. They do not think that corporate raiding should be treated as homicide, for example. They are advocating for the devil out of pure cussedness.

But, the arguments that will overturn this ruling have to be framed very carefully.

In the same way, I think, that Roe v. Wade could have its impact greatly reduced if the religious right stopped talking about God and the bible and souls and talked instead about verifiable developmental stages. Whether they are capable of becoming that sane in the long run, I don't know, but I would like those who oppose CU to craft their arguments with skill and not just anger. I just don't know enough about the law myself to come up with those answers.

• The other stuff that is argued in favor of this ruling - with it we won't have freedom of assembly or any of the other rights in the first ten amendements - that's all nonsense. I'm sorry folks, but you've needed a license to demonstrate as long as I've been alive and we all saw what happened to the OWS groups that didn't have one. That's the balance we strike between freedom of assembly and public safety. There are also restrictions on freedom of speech that are upheld because they are common sense - e.g. speech that creates panic or incites violence. If the Constitution were truly libertarian in its outlook -- anyone can do whatever they want whenever and wherever they want -- our society would have collapsed a long time ago. The issue is not the existence or non-existence of these basic rights.


This is one of the best descriptions of the Citizens United decision that I have seen. I think the point to highlight the most is that the Court went out of its way (even ordering further briefing and oral argument) to issue a sweeping decision that went far beyond what the facts of the case -- or even the relief requested by the petitioner -- called for. This is the opposite of the Court's normal process and really shows just how determined they were to establish a new paradigm. Well done, Jnyusa.
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