Supreme Court strikes a blow for the First Amendment.

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Supreme Court strikes a blow for the First Amendment.

Post by manny » Thu Jan 21, 2010 4:13 pm

Striking down the part of McCain-Feingold which proscribed political speech by certain actors during the runup to elections.

This is outstanding news and underscores just how dangerous it is to elect judicial liberals like President Obama. One can never know with certainty which way a Supreme Court Justice is going to vote on a given issue or case prior to their appointment but judicial liberal tend to appoint judges who are hostile to free political speech, and indeed Justice Sotomayor was in the minority of this decision.

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Post by Luke T. » Thu Jan 21, 2010 4:30 pm

Awesome.
The case before the court, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, originated over whether a 2008 feature-length movie critical of then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton could be classified as an "electioneering communication" subject to regulation. The FEC contended it was, and that its sponsor, a conservative advocacy group called Citizens United, was barred from promoting the film. While nonprofits can be exempt from campaign finance regulations if they limit their fund-raising to donations from individuals, Citizens United fell under McCain-Feingold because it accepts business contributions.
Justice John Paul Stevens—part of the 2003 and 1990 majorities—led the court's four liberals in a vigorous dissent that stretched 90 pages.
I suppose I will have to read the decision. Free speech is high on my list of political priorities.


I do not like feature length propaganda "documentaries" that pretend to be unbaised or informative about a particular candidate. They are sleazy and underhanded and offensive.

However, it is incumbent upon me to educate myself enough to not be taken in by bullshit. It is not the government's job to shield me from propaganda.

God, that pisses me off more than the film itself.
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Re: Supreme Court strikes a blow for the First Amendment.

Post by whitefork » Thu Jan 21, 2010 4:43 pm

manny wrote:This is outstanding news and underscores just how dangerous it is to elect judicial liberals like President Obama. One can never know with certainty which way a Supreme Court Justice is going to vote on a given issue or case prior to their appointment but judicial liberal tend to appoint judges who are hostile to free political speech, and indeed Justice Sotomayor was in the minority of this decision.
Stevens was appointed by that notorious liberal judicial activist Gerald R. Ford.

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Post by Cool Hand » Thu Jan 21, 2010 5:19 pm

Freedom of speech is by far the most important liberty protected by the Constitution. Without it, all the other liberties are imperiled, as are the checks and balances of the government created by the founders.

I haven't read the decision yet, and I doubt many folks commenting on it have. Wow. You should read the comments at the WSJ link in manny's OP. Most of them are a bunch of short-sighted and ill-informed idiots. They keep ranting about this being nothing but a victory for "corporate rights," which is nonsense. There seems to be a current of opinion there that individuals are supposed to have their "rights" protected by the Constitution against violation by evil corporations. That's silly.

The Bill of Rights is meant to protect individual liberties of the people from encroachment by the government, and only the government. It was never intended to protect individuals from harms committed against them by other individuals or by corporate entities. That is why I shrug my shoulders whenever people in criminal justice discussions ask rhetorically, "What about victims' rights?" Well, what about them? Victims don't have any constitutionally protected rights against harms by individuals or other private actors. The constitution merely protects persons from government abuse. That's it.

To the extent that legally, lawfully incorporated entities are deemed to be "persons" under the law, in a real sense they have many of the same rights as individuals. Corporations do have legally protected, and even constitutionally protected, liberties, and rightly so. That's a good thing, for them and for individuals, especially shareholders, employees, and customers and other beneficiaries, direct and indirect, of their innovations and products and services.

I loathe mindless and knee-jerk anti-corporatism. Without the corporate form, modern Western life would not be possible. Our standard of living is a direct result of it. Most of us owe our livelihoods to corporate entities who employ us, which includes small mom-and-pop LLCs and Subchapter S corporations and Limited Liability Partnerships. Even if you don't work for a corporate entity, all of us do business with corporate entities on a daily basis and freely engage in trade with them and benefit from their products and services.

It is silly, childish, immature, and foolish to rail against corporatism when it is the engine that drives all modern economics in developed nations. Basically, I say to all the hippie anti-corporatists, take a bath and STFU! Oh, and eat meat. Oh, and fuck.

CH
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Post by manny » Thu Jan 21, 2010 5:27 pm

Cool Hand wrote:
I haven't read the decision yet, and I doubt many folks commenting on it have.
Speaking of which, the opinion is now up on the Supreme Court's site. A cite site, if you will.

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Post by DrMatt » Thu Jan 21, 2010 5:28 pm

Cool Hand wrote:The Bill of Rights is meant to protect individual liberties of the people from encroachment by the government, and only the government. It was never intended to protect individuals from harms committed against them by other individuals or by corporate entities.
I notice that "protecting corporate entities from the government" didn't make your list. Interesting.
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Post by Cool Hand » Thu Jan 21, 2010 5:32 pm

DrMatt wrote:
Cool Hand wrote:The Bill of Rights is meant to protect individual liberties of the people from encroachment by the government, and only the government. It was never intended to protect individuals from harms committed against them by other individuals or by corporate entities.
I notice that "protecting corporate entities from the government" didn't make your list. Interesting.
Bzzzzt...

Nope. The Bill of Rights refers to "the people" and "persons." Both encompass individual persons and corporate persons.

It's not interesting at all. You're barking up the wrong tree.

CH
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Post by Abdul Alhazred » Thu Jan 21, 2010 5:40 pm

How about a law to require all board members of corporate contributors to disclose their status publicly by wearing one of these?

Image


Would that be constitutional? :BigGrin3:
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Supreme Court Strikes Down Key Campaign-Finance Provision

Post by Skeeve » Thu Jan 21, 2010 5:45 pm

Supreme Court Strikes Down Key Campaign-Finance Provision
In a ruling that has major implications for how elections are funded, the Supreme Court has struck down a key campaign-finance restriction that bars corporations and unions from pouring money into political ads.
...
The court overruled a 1990 decision that found that government can stop corporations from spending money on ads that urge the election or defeat of a candidate. It's rare for the Supreme Court to overturn a precedent arrived at so recently.
...
At the heart of the ruling, now available here (pdf), is a judgment by the Court that the law cannot distinguish between corporations and individuals in prohibiting speech - so free speech rights that apply to the latter must also apply to the former. Kennedy writes for the majority:
Distinguishing wealthy individuals from corporations based on the latter's special advantages of e.g., limited liability, does not suffice to allow laws prohibiting speech. It is irrelevant for First Amendment purposes that corporate funds may "have little or no correlation to the public's support for the corporation's political ideas." Austin, supra, at 660. All speakers, including individuals and the media, use money amassed from the economic marketplace to fund their speech, and the First Amendment protects the resulting speech.
Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) warned last week that if the court found unconstitutional all efforts to ban corporations and unions from financing political ads, it would take the country "not just back to a pre-McCain-Feingold era, but back to the era of the robber barons in the 19th century."
:shrug:
On the other hand, it seems now that Unions can join in the fun too (like they couldnt before).
Too bad Unions are on the down swing now, this might have been alot more fun back in the 70's.
Then Skank Of America could start in...

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Post by grayman » Thu Jan 21, 2010 6:35 pm

Abdul Alhazred wrote:How about a law to require all board members of corporate contributors to disclose their status publicly by wearing one of these?

Image


Would that be constitutional? :BigGrin3:
How about having the politicians wear an outfit like NASCAR drivers do, so we can at least see who's sponsoring them?

:)
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Post by Abdul Alhazred » Thu Jan 21, 2010 6:36 pm

grayman wrote:How about having the politicians wear an outfit like NASCAR drivers do, so we can at least see who's sponsoring them?
8)
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Post by gnome » Thu Jan 21, 2010 6:51 pm

Cool Hand wrote: I haven't read the decision yet, and I doubt many folks commenting on it have. Wow. You should read the comments at the WSJ link in manny's OP. Most of them are a bunch of short-sighted and ill-informed idiots. They keep ranting about this being nothing but a victory for "corporate rights," which is nonsense. There seems to be a current of opinion there that individuals are supposed to have their "rights" protected by the Constitution against violation by evil corporations. That's silly.
I would make a distinction between expecting the Constitution to protect individuals against corporations, and expecting the Constitution to allow individuals to pass laws to protect themselves against corporate abuse... or to look at it another way, a hedge against plutocracy--an individual voice should count more (from a free speech standpoint) than a corporate voice, because the corporate voice is a product of wealth, which is important, but not something that springs to mind when talking about natural rights to freedom of speech. The money already talks, and loudly. How much protection does it need?

That said, I will read the decision before I commit to an opinion on this case.

I also love your argument about victims rights. I may use that.
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Post by Candide » Thu Jan 21, 2010 6:56 pm

Cool Hand wrote: Basically, I say to all the hippie anti-corporatists, take a bath and STFU! Oh, and eat meat. Oh, and fuck.
But if they do, they'll just create more hippie anti-corporatists.
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Post by Luke T. » Thu Jan 21, 2010 8:58 pm

manny wrote:
Cool Hand wrote:
I haven't read the decision yet, and I doubt many folks commenting on it have.
Speaking of which, the opinion is now up on the Supreme Court's site. A cite site, if you will.
An excellent argument made by Justice Scalia on page 84:
Justice Scalia wrote:And the notion which follows from the dissent’s view, that modern newspapers, since they are incorporated, have free-speech rights only at the sufferance of Congress, boggles the mind.
:clap: :clap: :clap:
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Post by gnome » Thu Jan 21, 2010 9:24 pm

Luke T. wrote:
manny wrote:
Cool Hand wrote:
I haven't read the decision yet, and I doubt many folks commenting on it have.
Speaking of which, the opinion is now up on the Supreme Court's site. A cite site, if you will.
An excellent argument made by Justice Scalia on page 84:
Justice Scalia wrote:And the notion which follows from the dissent’s view, that modern newspapers, since they are incorporated, have free-speech rights only at the sufferance of Congress, boggles the mind.
:clap: :clap: :clap:
I tell ya what.. for every bonehead move by Scalia, he has quite a few that get me thinking. This makes me see it in a different way. I can't wait till I have a chance to really study this.
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Post by Cool Hand » Thu Jan 21, 2010 9:36 pm

gnome wrote: I would make a distinction between expecting the Constitution to protect individuals against corporations, and expecting the Constitution to allow individuals to pass laws to protect themselves against corporate abuse...
Individuals do not pass laws, nor do they have the authority to do so. Only elected representatives in our local, state, and federal legislatures are authorized to pass laws. You know this, of course, but this sort of distinction isn't trivial, nor is it semantics.

OK, so anyway, the Constitution is very clear about this. It's the very first Amendment.

"Congress shall make no law...abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press..."

Amendment I, U.S. Constitution.

It is extended to the states and local governments through the Fourteenth Amendment, which means of course that local and state governments shall make no law...doing the same.

The Supreme Court has decided, and rightly so, that the privileges and immunities of citizens expressed in that clause of the Fourteenth Amendment apply equally to corporate persons as they do to natural persons (which is the legal term for individuals when distinguishing between individual persons and corporate persons). That means that Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech of corporations, just as it shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech of natural persons.

I have no problem with that.
or to look at it another way, a hedge against plutocracy--an individual voice should count more (from a free speech standpoint) than a corporate voice, because the corporate voice is a product of wealth, which is important, but not something that springs to mind when talking about natural rights to freedom of speech. The money already talks, and loudly. How much protection does it need?
Corporations are not separate and apart from individuals. They are owned and operated by individuals. If duly incorporated and registered with a state, they are granted the same legal status as individuals for most purposes. Therefore, they do need and get protections from government abuses, which is what the Bill of Rights is concerned about.
I also love your argument about victims rights. I may use that.
Thanks. Feel free.

CH
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Post by Doctor X » Thu Jan 21, 2010 9:50 pm

Candide wrote:But if they do, they'll just create more hippie anti-corporatists.


And soon you will have . . .

Image

. . . a DRUM CIRCLE!!!1! Image

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Post by gnome » Thu Jan 21, 2010 10:01 pm

Cool Hand wrote: The Supreme Court has decided, and rightly so, that the privileges and immunities of citizens expressed in that clause of the Fourteenth Amendment apply equally to corporate persons as they do to natural persons (which is the legal term for individuals when distinguishing between individual persons and corporate persons). That means that Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech of corporations, just as it shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech of natural persons.

I have no problem with that.
Do you know the case name offhand? I can hunt it up myself if it's not on the tip off your tongue. I think I had better study it, because my instincts say it's kind of odd. The free press angle, now that's something I'm going to have to think about too.
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Post by Cool Hand » Thu Jan 21, 2010 10:28 pm

gnome wrote:
Cool Hand wrote: The Supreme Court has decided, and rightly so, that the privileges and immunities of citizens expressed in that clause of the Fourteenth Amendment apply equally to corporate persons as they do to natural persons (which is the legal term for individuals when distinguishing between individual persons and corporate persons). That means that Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech of corporations, just as it shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech of natural persons.

I have no problem with that.
Do you know the case name offhand? I can hunt it up myself if it's not on the tip off your tongue. I think I had better study it, because my instincts say it's kind of odd. The free press angle, now that's something I'm going to have to think about too.
No, but I suspect that at least one of the cases in that line is mentioned in the Citizens Union case under discussion. If so, you should find a cite to it and some brief explanation of its holding in one of the opinions.

I still haven't read the case. It's 80-something pages. Will get to it later.

CH
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Post by WildCat » Thu Jan 21, 2010 10:37 pm

grayman wrote:
How about having the politicians wear an outfit like NASCAR drivers do, so we can at least see who's sponsoring them?

:)
Now that is a great idea!
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