February 7, 2011

Why is the New York Times just noticing this?

Liberals (including President Obama) think the Supreme Court was wrong in Citizens United to say that corporations have free speech rights, but newspaper and book publishers are corporations. For some reason, the NYT is acting like it took a year to notice this hitch (which has been perfectly evident since the Citizens United litgation began in the lower courts). I guess the excuse for pretending not to see what was obvious is that it has been hoping to rely on the notion that some corporations have more rights than others. This new piece — a column by Adam Liptak — begins to concede that is an unworkable argument.
“There is no precedent supporting laws that attempt to distinguish between corporations which are deemed to be exempt as media corporations and those which are not,” Justice Kennedy wrote in Citizens United....

Eugene Volokh, a law professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, has reviewed the historical evidence. The bottom line, he said, is this: “If ordinary business corporations lack First Amendment rights, so do those business corporations that we call media corporations.”
But Liptak's column peters out with a quote from a lawprof who calls it a "difficult question" and...
There good arguments both ways about whether corporations ought to be covered by the First Amendment. But it is harder to say that some corporations have First Amendment rights and others do not.
Yes, yes, it's obvious what the answer needs to be, and yet the debate must go on and on because it's so important to restrict the speech of people who organize themselves into corporations. Some of them. The bad guys. Not the good guys, like the ones who take a year to getting around to half-conceding the crushingly obvious.

178 comments:

Rich B said...

This is like shooting fish in a barrel, isn't it?

Comrade X said...

I don't see why an arm of Mexico's telephone monopoly should be considered a media corporation.

Larry J said...

For a group that keeps proclaiming how morally and intellectually superior they are, they're really quite stupid. And often evil.

Chase said...

Modern Liberalism = fascism.

Seriously.

Can anyone truly argue against it?

Have at it. 300+ examples from the last 6 years alone at hand.

Now make that 301.

mccullough said...

The New York Times doesn't mind their "voice" distorting the public debate. Just can't have oil companies doing it.

Skyler said...

And yet you contribute to the maintenance of the NYT's reputation by citing them so frequently.

Scott M said...

crushingly obvious

I usually fall back on the old Andrew Dice Clay "painfully obvious", but I believe AA's crushingly is a more apt description. I never understood the other side's inability to see this during the navel-gazing that ensued after the judgment came down.

WV- "prope" - The highest position in the Pratholic Church.

traditionalguy said...

This has always been at the heart of the issue. When a law restricts Free political speech saying that it is illegal because it is designed to sway elections, then it is simply enforcing a monopoly. Fascism is hard work and is a great deal for both Lord and Vassal. It would be unfair to allow new players entrance into a Feudal System of lords and vassals authorized by the state.

Josh said...

I think Liptak may also be worried about FCC v ATT where the Court will probably expand corporate rights. I made similar comments here http://joshblackman.com/blog/?p=6110

Ann Althouse said...

Maybe I said "crushingly obvious" because I've been preparing my class on United States v. Stevens.

Scott M said...

Maybe I said "crushingly obvious" because I've been preparing my class on United States v. Stevens.

LOL! Isn't that the "FREE ELMER FUDD" case?

john bord said...

Must be trying to put a muzzle on the Sierra club and the like minded non-profit environmental corps.

Stop environmental litigation right away, a form of speech.

Quayle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ignorance is Bliss said...

Why is the New York Times just noticing this?

There is none so blind as they that won’t see.

J said...

"If ordinary business corporations lack First Amendment rights, so do those business corporations that we call media corporations.”


Volokh's usual sophistry. A corporation's supposed right to pump unlimited money into political races is not speaking or communication in any sense. The First Amendment addresses.. ..freedom of expression (and freedom of religion). Thus Kennedy's analogy didn't hold in the first place.

Were Citizens United, like a term paper in a political science or econ. class a professor would have probably demanded an argument of Kennedy, not merely a possible analogy. The real question is whether the Black Robes even had a right to examine the Feingold/McCain legislation in the first place (which is to say, it concerns a supposed right of judicial review).

And the proof's in the pudding: Citizens United allowed some rich teabagger (ie Rove-CO) to outspend the Demos (that said, there are many wealthy demos). Rove-Co bought the 2010 elections.

Joe said...

(The Crypto Jew)





The NYT just realized that Palin might be POTUS, Boehner Speaker, and McConnell Majority Floor leader come January 2013, and they realized that IF corporations were subject to stricter oversight, THEN Palin might be overseeing THEM…it’s like the filibuster debate, when “my” side controls the Senate we HATE the filibuster, when my side does NOT control the Senate, we LOVE the filibuster….and “my” side can be any side, BTW.

Fred Thomas said...

Doesn't the first amendement specifically cite freedom of the press? Seems like the founders carved out a specific niche for "the press" and the NY Times fits very well into that niche.

I would have thought a law professor might have touched upon that in her analysis.

Fr Martin Fox said...

The commenters are so funny.

One of the frequent comments is, how can corporations have rights? Only individual people have rights! (Hint: corporations are voluntary associations of people; can anyone think of anything in the Constitution having to do with freedom of association? Cue "Jeopardy Theme"...)

There is another theme, laughable-yet-chilling (German has great compound words; is there a good word for this?), expressed in the words, "protect us" and "...should not be allowed." Allowed...by whom?

Wishing for protection in the passive voice is not befitting a free people. It is the craven plea of a frightened serf.

Quaestor said...

A corporation's supposed right to pump unlimited money into political races is not speaking or communication in any sense.

J's usual j-influenced thinking on display.

Triangle Man said...

Doesn't the first amendement specifically cite freedom of the press?

@Fred - I can confirm that it does.

Original Mike said...

"I never understood the other side's inability to see this during the navel-gazing that ensued after the judgment came down."

They saw it. Hell, it was being argued in the conservative press/blogs from day one. The question is, why does the NYT chose to admit it now?

wv: hated - Guess blogger didn't get the civility memo.

J said...

Yes, logic tends to alarm hillbillies of whatever sort--even ones from Russia who teach law at UCLA. The Citizens United analogy didn't hold (certainly not ...necessarily), but since the Black Robes have their mysterious power of judicial review, ..they made it hold, and overthrew legislation voted in legally via representatives (even bipartisan PC as well).

Volokh's sort of like Ayn Rand on crack. Then so are most A-housers

Rich B said...

"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."

Looks to me like the First Amendment enjoins Congress from making any law abriding the freedom of speech or the press. It doesn't say that only the press has freedom of speech.

Rich B said...

Gosh, is Jeremy back? I missed his unique blend of vitriol and illogic.

Comrade X said...

the NY Times fits very well into that niche.

does The Washington Post with their for profit higher ed operations?

does GE? does AOL? does Halliburton merely need to buy a blog to qualify? do you believe in equal protection?

t-man said...

Fred -

The article Althouse cites to explains that point.

Freedom of "the press" simply meant the right to printed communications, in addition to the right to spoken communications, or "speech." Everyone shares the right to spoken and written communication.
There is no difference under the First Amendment between the rights held by all and rights belonging to institutions now called "The Press." That has been established by a number of cases and is pretty well settled.

SMGalbraith said...

Doesn't the first amendement specifically cite freedom of the press? Seems like the founders carved out a specific niche for "the press" and the NY Times fits very well into that niche

The "press" in the First Amendment meant printing press and not today's usage meaning the news media.

In any case, the First Amendment also protects freedom of speech and that should prevent the government from banning political communications such as the one done by Citizens United.

Triangle Man said...

Everyone shares the right to spoken and written communication.

And the right to communicate by financial transaction.

Tex the Pontificator said...

Why is this so hard? Any liberal can tell you which corporations get free speech and which do not. Just ask them. Maybe Congress should create a Department of Free Speech and legislatively require that the Secretary always be a liberal so it can easily determine who gets free speech. That should work just fine----for the liberals.

J said...

It's logic--as in Kennedy's Citizens United analogy was not in any way a necessary argument--, and nothing to do with Jeremy.

And for the...shall we say spiritual interpretation of Kennedystein's decision, perhaps see Ezra Pound's....Con Usura.

The "catholic" majority ruling on CU not only mocked Jefferson & Co--they should be excommunicated for it.

former law student said...

So the New York Times secretly funds the production of political commercials? Help me out, here.

PaulV said...

NYTimes omits the fact that it is an evil for profit corporation while CU is a good non profit corporation.
Since NYTimes is controlled by a Mexican is its speech limited?

former law student said...

Hint: corporations are voluntary associations of people

The activist Court excended their ruling to cover large publicly traded companies, not just small nonprofits like Citizens United.

And no, I did not buy Ford Motor stock so I could hang out with the other cool shareholders.

SMGalbraith said...

So the New York Times secretly funds the production of political commercials? Help me out, here.

I suggest you go read the ruling.

It had nothing to do with funds, secret or otherwise.

Fr Martin Fox said...

J says:

The "catholic" majority ruling on CU not only mocked Jefferson & Co--they should be excommunicated for it.

Rum, romanism and rebellion! Egad!

Maguro said...

And no, I did not buy Ford Motor stock so I could hang out with the other cool shareholders.

What does that have to do with anything? The First Amendment says that Congress shall make no law abridging freedom of speech. Yours or mine or Ford Motor Company's or the UAW's.

It's very clear.

Fr Martin Fox said...

FLS:

"large, publicly traded companies" aren't voluntary associations of people?

You emphasize "large" and "small"; what part of the Constitution makes a distinction between the First Amendment rights of a large company vs. a small one, a publicly-traded one, vs. a "non profit"?

Michael said...

FLS wrote "And no, I did not buy Ford Motor stock so I could hang out with the other cool shareholders."

But to have them advocate for policy that supports their mission of maximizing shareholder value. You and the other cool shareholders have a common desire for the collection of your capital to be deployed in a way that will multiply your investment.

former law student said...

what part of the Constitution makes a distinction between the First Amendment rights of a large company vs. a small one, a publicly-traded one, vs. a "non profit"?


When the First Amendment was drafted, the doctrine of separate legal personaity of corporations was still a century in the future. People spoke for themselves. The owners of a joint-stock company would have to agree on positions to take. The interests of the shareholders and the companies they owned were identical.

Now if the BoD of Ford, or any modern, huge corporation asked me and my fellow shareholders to vote on which politicians to slam, that would be fine with me. I would care more about that than voting on which public accounting firm they will use.

flyerhawk said...

Publishers aren't protected under free speech rights. They are protected under the explicit freedom of the press.

In addition, the issue isn't ACTUAL speech but decision to consider money a form of speech.

NO ONE'S rights are being infringed. If you choose to start a business and define it's legal status that does not, in any way, impact your personal rights.

Maguro said...

In addition, the issue isn't ACTUAL speech but decision to consider money a form of speech.

Bullshit. Citizens United is about a movie that was banned.

Joe said...

The real fiction is the notion that the first ammendment grants rights. It does no such thing; it is a restriction on what the government can do. To all but lawyers, it's pretty simple.

SMGalbraith said...

In addition, the issue isn't ACTUAL speech but decision to consider money a form of speech.

Sorry, Citizens United had nothing to do with money.

It was about a political film - speech - that was suppressed.

The limits that were overthrown had nothing whatsoever to do about money or funding or political donations.

It was pure speech.

J said...

the issue isn't ACTUAL speech but decision to consider money a form of speech.

NO ONE'S rights are being infringed.


So, following that pseudo-logic of Kennedyberg (and Volokh-Speak!), if Walmart or Microsoft wants to buy, say, the LAPD, or some Dept of Calif., or the US Navy they have the right to, since to prevent them from "expressing themselves" with their shekels would violate their First Amendement rights. In technical terms, that's called....bullshit

Scott M said...

In technical terms, that's called....bullshit

Please outline a scenario where the sale of those departments would be in any way legal.

DADvocate said...

Liberals never see any of their ideas and goals as having any negative affects on themselves because they are holy and pure.

stevenehrbar said...

The "Institutional Press" Theory of the First Amendment:

If XYZ Corporation operates a whole TV station, XYZ Corporation can broadcast whatever it likes on political issues, in the name of freedom of the press.

But if XYZ Corporation merely buys ad time from some other company that operates a TV station, in order to express the exact same views in the exact same medium, XYZ Corporation has no right to do so, and the government may prohibit XYZ from doing so.

It is thus the necessary position of defenders of McCain-Feingold that either the above theory holds, or that the government can, in fact, prohibit corporations that operate TV stations from broadcasting about political topics near an election.

What applies to TV stations applies mutatis mutandis to newspapers, of course.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

PaulV said...

NYTimes omits the fact that it is an evil for profit corporation...

Based on their recent performance, it would be hard to argue that the NYT is attempting to make a profit.

PaulV said...

The Virginia Company, a joint stock company, founded Jamestown in 1607. A corporation was here at the beginning.

WV: sight
They have sight, but do not see.

Name goes here. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
J said...

1:56. Many examples of privatization gone wrong could be pointed out (as in National Park system). And the point holds--why can't the supposed corporation's right of spending extend to buying the police department?? (i Wager some libertarian nuts think like that)


Besides, what is legal? Feingold-McCain campaign reform was legal, bipartisan supported. UNtil Scalia-Kennedy etc decided it wasn't. So 5 people overturned the will of 50 million+. Its just that the usual teabagger-moron has no idea what's implied by judicial review.

(and im not a "liberal", little man)

Fr Martin Fox said...

FLS:

I appreciate your cogent response, but I don't see that it answers my question. I see nothing in the Constitution that cares about the number of persons exercising their free speech along with their freedom of association.

And if you want the Ford Company to get your permission--as a stockholder--before expressing any political views, you have the power to insist on that. File a resolution, specifying that, to be considered at the next annual meeting. That's between you and all the other stockholders in Ford.

And if they don't listen, you take your money and you invest it with folks who do listen.

Glad I could help you solve that problem.

Scott M said...

Feingold-McCain campaign reform was legal, bipartisan supported.

So was segregation. Your point?

Name goes here. said...

J said: "Volokh's sort of like Ayn Rand on crack. Then so are most A-housers"

That sounds like a compliment to my ears!
Thanks J :)

Maguro said...

Feingold-McCain campaign reform was legal, bipartisan supported.

Being "bipartisan" has nothing to do with whether a law is constitutional. Nothing whatsoever.

Scott M said...

Volokh's sort of like Ayn Rand on crack. Then so are most A-housers

So...what...you're not coming to the first annual Althousecon?

Bruce Hayden said...

Don't you love it - someone using a single initial (J) as a pseudonym and quoting Chomsky on this Bio page, engaged in ad hominem attacks against anyone to the right of Barack Obama.

Frankly, it comes across as juvenile name calling. If that is all that he is going to contribute, then I think that we should at least know who he is. Otherwise, I think that we can all assume that all he can add to the discussion is anonymous name calling.

Also, to J, EV's scholarship and credentials are well documented. You just have to link to his UCLA bio to see what he has written over the years. What are your credentials to challenge his or him in this area?

Name goes here. said...

"Althousecon"

Snap! That could be cool :)

SMGalbraith said...

Note: Corporations are banned from giving money to candidates.

Citizens United didn't touch that ban.

And in, I believe, 20 or so states, they are banned from running political ads. Citizens United only affected federal laws and not state.

Martin L. Shoemaker said...

Wait, wait! I get it! I finally get it!

The corporation as we know it today did not exist when the First Amendment was ratified. Therefore, the First Amendment guarantee of the right to free speech does not apply to corporations like Citizens United.

The corporation as we know it today did not exist when the First Amendment was ratified. Therefore, the First Amendment guarantee of the right to free press does apply to corporations like the New York Times.

Wait... I thought I had it... Somewhere in there there must be an argument that makes sense... It couldn't all be naked partisanship and blind ideology...

Could it?

Scott M said...

"Althousecon"

Snap! That could be cool :)


It would have to be very public, well-lit, and probably a full pat-down to get it. I still wouldn't put it past AL to use any and all body cavities for ill intent.

former law student said...

The Virginia Company, a joint stock company, founded Jamestown in 1607. A corporation was here at the beginning.


A joint stock company was not a corporation. The notion that a corporation had a legal personality separate from its owners did not exist until Salomon v. A Solomon & Co, Ltd <1897> AC 22

Bruce Hayden said...

So the New York Times secretly funds the production of political commercials? Help me out, here.

Don't think that it is very secret. You just have to read their editorial page, or, these days, their news pages.

J said...

AH I love the smell of A-house hillbillies being humiliated in the AM..

Ta ta, for now, sodbusters

wv: horsi ( Frau A. :] )

Lincolntf said...

Labor Unions exist based solely on the notion that associations of people should have communal rights. Can we disband them all? Please?

Particularly Govt. employee unions. Paradoxical and utterly useless shitshows.

PaulV said...

Ignorance is Bliss said...
PaulV said...

NYTimes omits the fact that it is an evil for profit corporation...

"Based on their recent performance, it would be hard to argue that the NYT is attempting to make a profit."

Thanks, that makes NYTimes a bad corporation, just not an evil corporation. CU published a book, so they are a publishing corporation.

former law student said...

I see nothing in the Constitution that cares about the number of persons exercising their free speech along with their freedom of association.

The padre's description fits the Citizens United group to a tee. It does not fit Ford Motor and its shareholders.

In fact, sixty years ago, the Secretary of the Ford Motor Company of Canada testified it was impossible to ascertain who owned its shares, given that so many were held under the names of various brokerage firms. Are brokers going to pass along the voices of their shareholding clients?

Maguro said...

@fls - How about if FoMoCo buys MSNBC from GE? Do they have free speech rights then?

PaulV said...

fls, are you saying that joint stock companies have first amendment rights and pretend that a corporation has none? LOL!

flyerhawk said...

Some of the arguments here are just bizarre.

Citizens United was absolutely about money. The case was about being able to air the film and the costs associated with that, not producing the film or what the film had to say.

What are the special rights that unions provide their members? I'm pretty sure the 1st Amendment says something about the right to assemble freely. I could be wrong.

flyerhawk said...

Thanks, that makes NYTimes a bad corporation, just not an evil corporation. CU published a book, so they are a publishing corporation.

And just like every other publishing corporation they are restricted as to what they can and can't spend their money when it comes to politics, at least they were until this particular court case.

Maguro said...

The case was about being able to air the film and the costs associated with that, not producing the film or what the film had to say.

Oh, so they were allowed to make the movie, they just weren't allowed to show it anyone.

And you don't think that's a restriction on free speech?

Fr Martin Fox said...

FLS:

I own shares of stock too. I own them directly, that is in the usual fashion; and I own shares in various funds that also own shares of stock.

If I care to, I can track down what companies I own indirectly, by way of such funds. On those occasions I open up those statements I get in the mail, they helpfully tell me what companies they have invested in.

So I still don't see why I need any other remedy to this so-called problem of companies--in which I am invested in some fashion--engaging in political advocacy.

If I want to, its not that hard to find out what their political activity may be. For one thing, I can ask them directly. And if I don't like their answers, I can sell the stock.

If even a relatively modest share of investors chose to make a thing about this, said companies would drop the political activity.

As it is, there are funds that invest according to various political and social "screens" so you can have your money invested according to your religious or political preferences.

SMGalbraith said...

Citizens United was absolutely about money

Sorry, if Citizen United was all about money, why are corporations still banned from giving to candidates?

CU didn't overturn that ban.

The ruling was about speech and not money since, as I note, corporations are still not allowed to give to candidates.

(yes, they (and unions) get around this by forming PACs but the law forbidding such direct donations wasn't affected by CU)

SteveR said...

You know "J", you seem to think you're smart and you have made some decent points but namecalling more or less makes you sound like an idiot. That makes you headed for trolldom. Go away, grow up, or be ignored.

Brian O'Connell said...

The notion that a corporation had a legal personality separate from its owners did not exist until Salomon v. A Solomon & Co, Ltd <1897> AC 22

Doesn't that argue that corporations should have full speech rights, since prior to 1897 and that separation, corporations had the speech rights of their constituents?

The regular corporations vs the media corporation distinction reminds me a lot of the two-tiered First Amendment problem that you see with individual persons too. For instance with press shield laws or with that event a few years back when the FEC decided- on a whim almost- that bloggers had the same political speech rights as professional reporters.

The main flaw in the argument to restrict political speech is the idea that you can convert speech to dollars and then restrict the dollars without restricting the speech those bucks are enabling. That flawed idea is used even in in-kind cases where there are no actual dollars involved.

And the inescapable fact driving all of this is that as long as politics is interested in money, money will be interested in politics.

PaulV said...

fls says that NYTimes and GE (NBC & MSNBC) should be shut down if we do not know who owns each share? LOL!

Sofa King said...

why can't the supposed corporation's right of spending extend to buying the police department??

Uh? You can't legally buy what isn't for sale.

SMGalbraith said...

Remember that the plaintiffs in this case wanted to make their political film (an anti-Hillary Clinton movie) available on Youtube.

For free. So that whoever wanted to see it could. Or not. Your choice.

But Youtube rejected it because it would have violated federal campaign laws.

Do we really want the government doing this?

C'mon...set aside your dislike of corporations and think for a second.

Bruce Hayden said...

fls says that NYTimes and GE (NBC & MSNBC) should be shut down if we do not know who owns each share? LOL!

I think that maybe NBC and PMSNBC are moving away from this with their transfer to Comcast. But up until then, they were part of why GE had become the poster-boy for crony capitalism. They would flog the President, covering for him in every way possible, and in return, the parent company was able to pay only about 3% of its income in federal taxes (compared to some 10X that rate for the evil Wal-Mart). And have the inside track on most of the "green energy" money. A great loss leader, and a very smart way to get around the problems of companies being involved in politics.

Fr Martin Fox said...

Let's explore this so-called "threat" directly.

Suppose, for the sake of argument, someone wanted to start a Fascist movement in the U.S. And they wanted to get lots of cash, and they went and got it from the top 100 corporations.

Subsequently, we all start seeing and hearing ads, videos, songs and so forth, extolling fascism. Fascist books and pamphlets show up in bookstores, and are promoted on the Internet. Fascist candidates now have lots of help.

Gee, there clearly is no remedy whatsoever! We're defenseless! Aieee!

Michael said...

fls: "Are brokers going to pass along the voices of their shareholding clients?" brokers can no longer vote the shares of their clients. It is up to the clients to vote their proxies.

Scott M said...

But up until then, they were part of why GE had become the poster-boy for crony capitalism.

Of course, the CEO being named one of the President close advisors while getting exempt from rules governing the construction of new power plants had nothing to do with that aura of cronyism.

Belkys said...

I commented then : The New York Times says:
New York Times Co. v. Sullivan was wrongly decided

SMGalbraith said...

The case was about being able to air the film and the costs associated with that, not producing the film or what the film had to say.

Not true.

The plaintiffs wanted to make the film freely available by uploading it to Youtube but Youtube said they couldn't accept it because it violated campaign finance laws.

Before Citzens United, under McCain-Feingold corporations were forbidden during certain periods during an election year from disseminating political speech.

It didn't matter if they were on the street giving out copies of the film for free or not. They couldn't do it.

Period.

SMGalbraith said...

And just like every other publishing corporation they are restricted as to what they can and can't spend their money when it comes to politics, at least they were until this particular court case.

Nonsense. The government can't tell a publishing firm what type of books they want to spend their money on.

They couldn't before this ruling and they can't now.

Where are you getting this stuff from?

SMGalbraith said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
flyerhawk said...

Remember that the plaintiffs in this case wanted to make their political film (an anti-Hillary Clinton movie) available on Youtube.

Huh? The case stemmed from the Citizen United group wanting to purchase air time to advertise their new film. The courts ruled that it was purely political advertisement.

I have no idea what you are referring to with regards to YouTube since I am unaware of any legislation that regulates

Freeman Hunt said...

stevenehrbar said...

The "Institutional Press" Theory of the First Amendment:

If XYZ Corporation operates a whole TV station, XYZ Corporation can broadcast whatever it likes on political issues, in the name of freedom of the press.

But if XYZ Corporation merely buys ad time from some other company that operates a TV station, in order to express the exact same views in the exact same medium, XYZ Corporation has no right to do so, and the government may prohibit XYZ from doing so.

It is thus the necessary position of defenders of McCain-Feingold that either the above theory holds, or that the government can, in fact, prohibit corporations that operate TV stations from broadcasting about political topics near an election.

What applies to TV stations applies mutatis mutandis to newspapers, of course.


This.

Florida said...

"... like the ones who take a year to getting around to half-conceding the crushingly obvious."

You're such a catty bitch, Ann.

To which I say Bravo. Madam.

This is precisely the tone the NY Times needs to hear from one of its most valued linkers.

Make no mistake about it, the NY Times has never been for free speech. Sulzberger has been for HIS free speech and HIS free speech only.

If ONLY he has free speech, then he remains in control of pretty much everything. He is the kingmaker.

It's always the power he seeks for himself. The Bill of Rights is just a means to that end. Otherwise, he and Bill Keller could give a rats ass about the Bill of Rights.

It's time to vitiate these fuckers with extreme predjudice.

SMGalbraith said...

Huh? The case stemmed from the Citizen United group wanting to purchase air time to advertise their new film. The courts ruled that it was purely political advertisement.

When the US District Court upheld the FCC, Citizens United then went to YouTube to make the film available. For free.

YouTube refused to allow the uploading citing the McCain-Feingold law as the reason.

Based on the law, YouTube was probably right. If they uploaded the film 30 days before an election, they would have been in violation of the law.

And I'll repeat: corporations are banned from giving money to candidates. CU did nothing to stop that.

Florida said...

Skyler Wrote: "And yet you contribute to the maintenance of the NYT's reputation by citing them so frequently."

This is a hugely important point.

Ann helps to maintain the NYT's reputation by LINKING to them. And that is wrong.

It is possible to talk about the NY Times and even to criticize the NY Times without LINKING to the NY Times.

Linking to the NY Times rewards their advertisers. And that's a mistake.

Ann if you want to change their behavior, you have to change your behavior.

Stop rewarding them with links.

t-man said...

Everyone,

Do not take fls's assertion that the idea that a corporation was a separte "person" sprang into existence in England in 1897. It is simply wrong, and the history is much more complex (dare I say "nuanced") than that.

In a U.S. Supreme Court case a decade before the opinion fls cites, the Justices were unanimous that it wasn't even a question whether a corporation was a "person" under the 14th Amendment -- they all agreed it was. That unanimity followed directly from developments in the law over the course of the 18th and 19th Centuries.

flyerhawk said...

YouTube refused to allow the uploading citing the McCain-Feingold law as the reason.

Based on the law, YouTube was probably right. If they uploaded the film 30 days before an election, they would have been in violation of the law.

And I'll repeat: corporations are banned from giving money to candidates. CU did nothing to stop that.


Regardless of why YouTube chose not to allow them to post the video, it had nothing to do with the court. IMO, you are using the event because it portrays CU in a more sympathetic light.

Corporations are also not allowed to vote. Do you think that should change? Do we simply identify corporations as legal people?

Or maybe we should recognize that corporations are legal constructs and as such the rights of the corporation are legislatively defined.

PaulV said...

All those libs upset about CU should watch Citizen Kane, movie about evil newspaper publisher. All pigs are equal. Some pigs are more equal.

WV: refoo
I refoo your weak arguments

PaulV said...

flyerhawk, thanks for your explaination why McCain Feingold was evil and unconstitutional

Maguro said...

Or maybe we should recognize that corporations are legal constructs and as such the rights of the corporation are legislatively defined.

NYT Corp - Free speech rights or no free speech rights?

MSNBC - Free speech rights or no free speech rights?

Universal Studios - Free speech rights or no free speech rights?

Paul Zrimsek said...

Follow on to Maguro's questions: If you believe allowing corporations free-speech rights somehow entails giving them the vote, haw haw haw, why don't you believe the same thing about allowing them freedom of the press?

Fr Martin Fox said...

Flyerhawk said:

Corporations are also not allowed to vote. Do you think that should change? Do we simply identify corporations as legal people?

While the "personhood" of a corporation is an interesting legal issue, I fail to see why that matters here. For the sake of argument, let us suppose the whole concept of corporations as "persons" simply did not exist--at all, whatsoever. Finis.

There remains what the First Amendment says. It refers to freedom of speech and freedom of association. We get to say what we like, both individually and collectively.

Voting is immaterial; because lots of people can't vote, but they still enjoy these freedoms of the First Amendment.

If you are part of a group (including a corporation) and you don't like its collective political speech, you get to leave. You can ask others to do the same.

You can associate with another group (including a corporation) that behaves the way you like better. Same thing applies when other groups (including corporations) advocate things you don't like.

That's your remedy.

Sofa King said...

Corporations are also not allowed to vote. Do you think that should change? Do we simply identify corporations as legal people?

No, of course not. But that's a red herring. It is not necessary to describe corporations as "fictional people" in order for their speech to be protected.

Sigivald said...

Flyer said: In addition, the issue isn't ACTUAL speech but decision to consider money a form of speech.

Yeah, and I've never found that difficult to grasp or significant.

Paying someone else to speak (or to allow them to speak by paying their expenses, etc.) is indistinguishable in any meaningful sense from speaking, yourself.

I'm a busy guy. If I want to give someone some money so they can speak on my behalf on some issue I think needs more attention, what's the problem supposed to be? And why on Earth would that not be protected free speech?

Making it not be so means only that A) journalists get to talk a lot more than other people and B) people with no jobs or who are obsessives get to talk a lot more than, well, decent folk who work for a living.

Neither A nor B seem justified by the Constitution's plain wording (let alone its intent), nor are they obviously superior in any way to the free-for-all marketplace of ideas.

When someone wants to shut down speech because they don't like who's doing it (or who's paying for it), that's a sign of deep illiberality.

The is no Gresham's Law in speech - the "bad" does not and indeed cannot drive out the "good".

Michael said...

Nonsense. The government can't tell a publishing firm what type of books they want to spend their money on.

They couldn't before this ruling and they can't now.

Where are you getting this stuff from?


At rehearing oral arguments on CU:

Solicitor General Kagan:

We considered the matter carefully, and the government's view is that although 441b does cover full-length books, that there would be quite good as-applied challenge to any attempt to apply 441b in that context.[See pages 65-68]

The government admitted the law covered books but that one would have a good argument for an as-applied challenge. Gee, that is swell of them.

kcom said...

Martin L. Shoemaker: "Wait... I thought I had it..."

I can see how you did.

Cedarford said...

I guess the excuse for pretending not to see what was obvious is that it has been hoping to rely on the notion that some corporations have more rights than others. This new piece — a column by Adam Liptak — begins to concede that is an unworkable argument.

True, but it takes us in unworkable directions if we believe in Absolutist 1st Amendment Freedom for anybody and anything.
Any corporation could form a sub-corp "press" renamed from their PR/lobbying/ and legal advocacy arms and argue their spiel in self-interest must be "untrammled" by any regulation. Their lobbyists, PR Flacks, and lawyers renamed "crusading journalists"...and editorial policy set by the CEO and The Board.
Any person with a computer and internet access can bill themselves as "press".
Is WikiLeaks a news organization entitled to absolutist 1st Amendment Protection? What if the KGB or Israeli spy rings or Chicommies set up their activities through "media corporations" with a legalistic veneer of looking on the surface like the NY Times??

That is also an unworkable argument.

We also have existing media owners that operate for seeking money or accruing political power. Wrapping theselves in absolutist 1st Amendment privilege for that quest. GE-NBC, Fox News, the NY Times Corp, the powerful progressive Jewish owners of Hollywood/TV production companies, Viacom, Bloomberg, etc.
As things stand, they have great power from their "unique position". They are defacto members of the Ruling Elites, themselves. Get invited to all the parties of the rich and powerful, get any Senator to pick up the phone if they call without having to sending them a cent. Just promises of publicity and camera time.
That is

John said...

J has a point. He is about 99% full of shit but does have a point about buying a police dept.

Think of the prisons in many states. These are privately owned and managed and collect fees from states for their services.

Some areas have private "police" departments which are security services with police powers.

If the owners wished, and if there were no contractual bar, they could sell the prison or police dept to Walmart.

And that would be a problem how?

Other than the whole issue of whether the state should contract these services out to private companies. I do have some problems with that.

With Walmart buying them? Not so much.

Just so everyone knows what side I am on, it is the liberal (A/K/A libertarian, classical liberal or minarchist) side. I am pretty much absolutist about freedom of speec for individuals and associations of individuals in corporations.

Aren't most unions legally formed
as corporations? Should their speech be restricted J? (Or Jeremy or whoever you are)

John Henry
John Henry

John said...

J says s/he is "not a liberal".

Nope. S/he is not. No way, not even close.

A liberal believes in limited govt and limited govt control. S/he seems to believe in allowsing govt control over speech. Even when it is unconstitutional.

I think J is more like a socialist and then the question is what kind? National Socialist? Fascist? Leninist? Marxist? Fabian? Other

John Henry

flyerhawk said...

Sigivald,

The problem with your argument is that ignores the very real malicious impact that money has on politics.

If I can pay someone else to speak for me and say whatever I like, why should I not have the right to simply give my money, as much as I want, to politicians to express my wishes?

If money is speech and speech is protected then any use of that money, in a political context, should be protected.

former law student said...

joint stock companies have first amendment rights

Joint stock companies were inseparable from their shareholders. Shareholders spoe for the company. Unions and voluntary associations like AARP and the NRA are comparable; FoMoCo is not.

former law student said...

John believes in the best government money can buy. Ultimately that is an aristocracy -- rule by a moneyed elite.

former law student said...

Citizens United -- a close association of like-minded individuals -- had every right to spend their collective funds to advocate their jointly-arrived-at political point of view. A giant corporation which has no idea how I think and could care less cannot justify its right to influence political campaigns the same way.

kcom said...

"Any corporation could form a sub-corp "press" renamed from their PR/lobbying/ and legal advocacy arms and argue their spiel in self-interest must be "untrammled" by any regulation."

You mean kinda like some companies suddenly became "banks" so high government officials could (not quite) plausibly shovel TARP money at them?

stevenehrbar said...

As far as the effect of money on politics . . . Sweden allows unlimited corporate spending on elections, both in direct media buys and even in direct donations to both parties and candidates. Donations which, in fact, may be made anonymously and by foreign corporations.

So, it should be quite easy for those who believe that corporate money in elections is damaging to democracy to show how Sweden's democracy is in much worse shape than democracy in, say, Denmark or Norway.

And yet it seems they never manage to do so. Weird, don't you think, that people certain that corporate cash hurts democracy can't actually show how Sweden was ruined by allowing corporations to pump unlimited anonymous cash into political campaigns.

Michael said...

fls: "A giant corporation which has no idea how I think and could care less cannot justify its right to influence political campaigns the same way."

But as a stockholder do you not want them to advocate for policies that will enhance sales, lower operating costs or otherwise increase your profits? Do you not want them to raise the issue that competing with the government, by way of example, might put them at a disadvantage? Why would it not be in your interest and those of your investing cohorts for Ford to vigorously support candidates who shared their views of policy?

flyerhawk said...

stevenehrbar,

So you are trying to compare a parliamentary system in a largely monolithic society with our system?

Do you also think we should stop voting for individuals and start voting for parties? Because that's certainly one way to reduce the influence of money in our political system, at least overtly.

Michael,

The issue is that corporations don't actually speak. Executives for the corporation speak, or their duly appointed staff. They may be acting in the best interest of the corporation. But more likely they are acting in their self-interest which may or may not be aligned with the best interests of the corporation. They may also allow their personal biases to affect their decisions, thus putting politics over business.

And since these actions can be easily veiled, especially after the CU decision, the investor and the customer are likely to never know what they did much less why they did it.

Maguro said...

Congress shall make no law abridging free speech. Very simple. Not "Congress shall make no law abridging free speech of individual persons" or "Congress shall make no law abridging free speech of groups who accurately reflect the desires of their members".

The founders simply thought that Congress shouldn't be allowed to make laws abridging free speech. So they can't.

If you think Congress should be able to abridge free speech, repeal the First Amendment.

SMGalbraith said...

It is astonishing to realize here that there are Americans who want the government to ban and censor and use prior restraint against other Americans who have collectively organized to express their political views.

The banning of films, of TV commercials, radio ads, even books. Ban them all.

Complete censorship.

Astonishing.

Eric said...

In addition, the issue isn't ACTUAL speech but decision to consider money a form of speech.

So, you would prohibit a company from paying for 30 second campaign ads. What if the same company buys a newspaper and runs political editorials. Would that be illegal, then?

Beldar said...

This is the same mentality which prompts MSM journalists to insist -- contrary to settled caselaw -- that they have a special constitutional right to withhold evidence notwithstanding lawful subpoenas and court orders compelling their testimony.

One who thinks himself above the law is lawless.

Alex said...

The simple answer is only private individuals can contribute to political campaigns. No corporations, no unions, no other organizations PERIOD.

Alex said...

Beldar - if we don't have a protected media, then our democracy is doomed. Imagine a reality that a journalist suddenly can't have anonymous sources. End of America!

Cedarford said...

Maguro said...
Congress shall make no law abridging free speech. Very simple. Not "Congress shall make no law abridging free speech of individual persons" or "Congress shall make no law abridging free speech of groups who accurately reflect the desires of their members".

The founders simply thought that Congress shouldn't be allowed to make laws abridging free speech. So they can't.

If you think Congress should be able to abridge free speech, repeal the First Amendment.

====================
Simplistic. The Holy Founders and the Sacred Parchment don't absolutely bind us.

Congress can make laws bounding Free Speech to not include the right to shortwave Nazis troop deployment information....laws saying the Right to Keep and Bear does not include C-4, nerve gas, etc.

Then the lawyers dressed in robes can 2nd guess Congress.
But Congress has the right to look to balance the clauses of the Constitution via law

Maguro said...

We're talking about political speech, not classified military secrets.

No way do I want the morons in Congress deciding who gets free speech and who doesn't. Fuck that.

flyerhawk said...

The Constitution makes no reference as to what sort of speech is protected. It simply says that free speech must be protected.

However we have managed to figure out what the Founders actually meant.

Corporate charters were created as a means to mitigate liability for the investors and owners of a business. Why would such a charter ALSO include a freedom of speech for those people? They already HAVE freedom of individual speech.

FTR, I am not advocating any particular restriction of speech. I'm pointing out that the premise of this thread is specious.

The Press was explicitly granted rights not conveyed to others. If it were considered unnecessary or redundant the Founders would simply have considered the free speech clause to cover the Press as well.

But they knew better because the Press at the time was essentially the representatives of the political class. Hamilton, Jay and Madison used that press to advocate for the ratification of the Constitution. It was how people like Hamilton and Jefferson debated topics.

However if it is necessary we could look to divest all corporate media and require all media to be owned by single owner proprietorships. That certainly has some appeal.

Gene said...

Fr Martin Fox: Wishing for protection in the passive voice is not befitting a free people. It is the craven plea of a frightened serf.

Well and insightfully said.

Luke Lea said...

You're trained as a lawyer, Ann. Let's hear your best brief for the other side.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Let's just say that anyone who calls Justice Anthony Kennedy alternately "Kennedystein" and "Kennedyberg" has a very particular agenda on his mind, one I would not recommend to my friends.

wv: amirruin. I wouldn't recommend that to my friends either.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

I ought to have added that the Kennedystein/Kennedyberg commenter also thinks of money in terms of shekels.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

John,

I think J is more like a socialist and then the question is what kind? National Socialist? Fascist? Leninist? Marxist? Fabian? Other?

Can't be Fabian. They were seriously dupe-able, but nonetheless they weren't stupid.

wv: flabrid, which is such a perfect pharma name that I had to post this just to preserve it.

el polacko said...

what barack and lefties in general can't seem to understand is that (with a tip of the hat to 'solyent green'), corporations are PEOPLE !! you too can start a business, build your empire, and become a titan of industry. why would you think that those who have done just that owe you anything ??

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Blogger flyerhawk said...

The Press was explicitly granted rights not conveyed to others. If it were considered unnecessary or redundant the Founders would simply have considered the free speech clause to cover the Press as well.

"The Press" was not granted any rights, as "The Press" is an inanimate object used for printing words onto paper. If you look at the construction of the first amendment, saying "The Press" was granted rights would make as much sense as saying that "Speech" was granted rights. The first amendment protects the rights of the people to say or print what they want.

damikesc said...

That's something the NYT doesn't get.

The media and "press" aren't synonymous. Anybody can print what they want. If a company lacks free speech right, it being a company that makes it money off of reporting will not protect it.

Crimso said...

IANAL, but it seems that the First Amendment doesn't grant any rights at all. It forbids actions taken by the Congress (i.e., it denies the Congress certain rights). I've heard the Constitution described as a unique document in that, unlike other constitutions, rather than the government spelling out the rights of the people, it represents the people spelling out the rights (or lack thereof) of the government. The lawyers here will probably laugh at such a simplistic (and in some ways probably wrong) view, but remember I'm not a lawyer (and lack the benefit of hours upon hours in instruction in the law).

flyerhawk said...

Ignorance is Bliss,

What does that even mean? The Press was a known entity at the time. It was wildly biased, FAR worse than it is today. And, for the most part, the Press focused almost exclusively on political issues. Readers knew where a paper stood politically as it was clear as day due to how biased the papers were.

You want to pick and choose your interpretation. You want speech to be defined as political speech despite it not saying anything about what type of speech. You want press to mean printed word rather than what that word was and is commonly understood to mean.

Where in the Constitution does it equate money to speech?

flyerhawk said...

damikesc,

Once again if we are going with a plain reading of the 1st Amendment, where does it make any reference to TV and Radio ads or advertisements of any kind?

These are modern concepts grafted onto 18th century language.

Mick said...

Rich B said...

"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."

Looks to me like the First Amendment enjoins Congress from making any law abriding the freedom of speech or the press. It doesn't say that only the press has freedom of speech."




Ding Ding Ding!!! As I said when the verdict came out, newspapers are corporations, and they generally support the Liberal cause.
True to form, the liberal hangup w/ "Citizens" is that they don't want those opposed to have the same right (just like the "civility" nonsense, and exactly why the Kochs and Palin are attacked unmercifully). The "freedom of speech " is extended everywhere to everyone, but as expected, Liberals think that some are more equal than others.
The whole "corporations are not people" meme is PURE NONSENSE, and the usual strawman, from the usual suspects.

Mick said...

Former Law Student said,

"When the First Amendment was drafted, the doctrine of separate legal personaity of corporations was still a century in the future. People spoke for themselves. The owners of a joint-stock company would have to agree on positions to take. The interests of the shareholders and the companies they owned were identical.

Now if the BoD of Ford, or any modern, huge corporation asked me and my fellow shareholders to vote on which politicians to slam, that would be fine with me. I would care more about that than voting on which public accounting firm they will use."



Right, the "things are different now, so the Constitution doesn't apply" argument. Nonsense.
The first amendment says "the right of free SPEECH", it doesn't matter who is speaking. The BOD of Ford would speak in their company's best interest. If you did not agree w/ Ford's BOD then you have the right to sell your shares.

flyerhawk said...

Everytime someone takes a jab at liberals, it betrays their true motivation. They are less worried about Constitutional rights and more worried about perceived political skirmishes.

I don't understand how anyone can argue that corporations should have the same rights as people. They were EXPLICITLY created as a means to mitigate the responsibilities of people. A corporation cannot be charged criminally. It cannot vote. It cannot face cruel and unusual punishment. The MEMBERS of the corporation can but not the legal construct itself.

The Ford BoD are free to say whatever they want. HOWEVER when they choose to use corporate funds to push political agendas, that isn't free speech.

Once again, where in the Constitution does it say that money=speech?

Brian O'Connell said...

So if money doesn't equal speech, then the govt could pass a law saying no individual can spend more that $100 producing a book. No law against book-publishing mind you- you're completely free to do so. You just need to do it within this very reasonable limit, which doesn't affect your free speech rights at all, since money and speech have nothing to do with each other.

Maguro said...

What's funny is that people want to keep corporate money out of politics because they assume that politicians are naturally corrupt and will sell themselves to the highest bidder if given the opportunity.

But their solution to the problem is to give these same crooked politicians the power to decide who gets to criticize them and who doesn't! Doesn't get more ironic than that.

flyerhawk said...

Slippery slope hypotheticals are fun. Libertarians, in particular, love them because you can always create a hypothetical in which even the most benign of laws can be made pernicious.

If the government were in fact to try and pass such a law, the courts would certainly cast it aside since it would be a law explicitly intended to abridge the rights of individuals as expressly enumerated in the Constitution.

Mick said...

Blogger flyerhawk said...

"Everytime someone takes a jab at liberals, it betrays their true motivation. They are less worried about Constitutional rights and more worried about perceived political skirmishes.

I don't understand how anyone can argue that corporations should have the same rights as people. They were EXPLICITLY created as a means to mitigate the responsibilities of people. A corporation cannot be charged criminally. It cannot vote. It cannot face cruel and unusual punishment. The MEMBERS of the corporation can but not the legal construct itself.

The Ford BoD are free to say whatever they want. HOWEVER when they choose to use corporate funds to push political agendas, that isn't free speech.

Once again, where in the Constitution does it say that money=speech?"


And where does it say that News Corporation's speech is different from other Corporations?

No, I am standing up for the Constitution that Liberals loath, since it prevents the tyrannical government that they love from invading individual space. I myself am independent, but that doesn't mean that I should be dragged Left to meet in the "middle" by the radical "Constitution has no current meaning" Left.

There is NO criminal prosecution for free speech, since speech is FREE. If Corporate newspapers can issue opinions, then so can other Corporations.

MONEY has NOTHING to do w/ this decision, and there are Corporate guidelines for political donations. As usual (it's a Left trait), the strawman (Corporate money) gets propped up, just like at Obama's state of the union speech.

What you propose is free speech only for those that agree w/ the Left, since Newspapers are mostly LEFT, which is typical.

Maguro said...

flyerhawk - The First Amendment doesn't say anything about individuals, nor does it enumerate anyone's rights.

The First Amendment is a restriction on what type of legislation Congress is permitted to pass. Congress shall make no law abridging freedom of speech.

If they had only wanted to prohibit Congress from making laws abridging freedom of speech for individual persons but wanted Congress to be able to make laws abridging the free speech of groups and associations (they existed way back then), they would have said that. But they didn't, so Congress can't.

Brian O'Connell said...

So the courts would see that the money restriction was an obvious end-run around free speech rights? Seems to me then that all such laws should be gotten rid of, and laws should specifically address who has the right to speak: Walmart no, New York Times yes. That would make it easier.

flyerhawk said...

Mick continues his tirade against the Left/Liberals and then tries to convince people that he is an independent? That's pretty funny.

The Constitution does differentiate between one corporation and another in any way. It offers no protection for corporations or any other legal constructs.

As such the Federal government is free to regulate to its heart's content, well at least it was until Citizens United.

And anyone who suggests that Citizens United wasn't about money simply hasn't read anything about the case. That is an absurd claim.

flyerhawk said...

OK. So you are in favor of allowing politicians to accept any and all money from any and all sources?

If Walmart wants to give a politician 10 million dollars, that's ok?

Brian O'Connell said...

Citizens United has nothing to do with contributions to candidates or parties- it has to do with so-called "independent expenditures" aka free speech.

Mick said...

flyerhawk said...

" Mick continues his tirade against the Left/Liberals and then tries to convince people that he is an independent? That's pretty funny.

The Constitution does differentiate between one corporation and another in any way. It offers no protection for corporations or any other legal constructs.

As such the Federal government is free to regulate to its heart's content, well at least it was until Citizens United.

And anyone who suggests that Citizens United wasn't about money simply hasn't read anything about the case. That is an absurd claim."


The fact that I am registered Independent, doesn't mean that I tolerate the Unconstitutional urges of the far left, who have captured the D party, nor the unConstitutional urges of the far Right. The case is NOTHING about money. It is about the right of a Corporation to express an opinion that is in their own perceived best interest.

Of course you completely ignore the FACT that News Media are Corporations also, which is the point of this post, and blows your argument completely out of the water. If Corporation ABC can't express and opinion then neither can Corporation News Media. Is that what you advocate?

Mick said...

flyerhawk said...

"OK. So you are in favor of allowing politicians to accept any and all money from any and all sources?

If Walmart wants to give a politician 10 million dollars, that's ok?"


You obviously have not read the decision, and simply rely on the Far Left bashing of the "political contribution" strawman.
Citizens has NOTHING to do w/ political contributions.

damikesc said...

Flyerhawk, the First Amendment doesn't list flag burning or stripping as "speech" (given the lack of speaking) but those are quite well protected.

Its not up to me to show you that they intended to cover it. The Amendment says it is. You need to show it is not covered. Just keep in mind the ramifications of your advocacy.

I prefer to err on the side of too much free speech.

As for the weak "corporations cannot vote so they aren't people with rights"...same thing foes with ex-cons. When you lose your right to vote, do you forfeit all other rights?

Is my concern about future political skirmishes? Absolutely. I don't want the government to have the right to silence a dissenting view. I thought Lefties were all about that.

And, yes, a candidate should be able to receive whatever funds they want from whomever they want. As it stands, there are no suitable penalties to stop it (unless an election result can be overturned due to fundraising issues --- which isn't going to happen --- the possible rewards far ouweigh the risks). Let it be a campaign issue. We saw Clinton raise money from the Chinese and Obama shut off all verification software for donations...so those laws aren't working as is.

stevenehrbar said...

So you are trying to compare a parliamentary system in a largely monolithic society with our system?

Why, no. I was comparing it to the parliamentary system in very similar monolithic societies, which is why I mentioned Denmark and Norway as the states to compare Sweden to.

Or are you seriously trying to assert that corporate money can destroy American-style democracy, while having no effect whatsoever on a parliamentary system's democracy? That American laws against corporate money are a good idea, but Danish and Norwegian laws against corporate money, whose advocates make exact same arguments as American opponents of corporate money, are pointless?

In that case, it seems awfully convenient for you that you happen to live in a country where your prejudices against corporations line up with reality, while Danes who have the same opinions as you live in a country where those prejudices produce nonsensical results.

Hector Owen said...

Rep Donna Edwards (D-MD) has introduced a proposed amendment to the Constitution. The text:

`Section 1. The sovereign right of the people to govern being essential to a free democracy, Congress and the States may regulate the expenditure of funds for political speech by any corporation, limited liability company, or other corporate entity.

`Section 2. Nothing contained in this Article shall be construed to abridge the freedom of the press.'.

Amazingly, it has picked up 26 cosponsors. All the names I recognize on the list are Democrats.

flyerhawk said...

Prejudices against corporations? What are you talking about? I have no issue with corporations or unions or governments. They are all part of our society. They all have merits and demerits.

I leave the "corporations/unions/governments are evil" to other people with partisan/ideological axes to grind.

I RECOGNIZE the inherent risks of allowing corporations unfettered access to our political process just as I see the risks of having government having unfettered control of our private sector.

Maguro,

Once again how does money=speech? NO ONE is arguing that corporations not be free to say whatever they want. HOWEVER when they spend money on political advertising, it is the money that is being regulated. And since just about every corporation in America is an inter-state corporation, Congress' ability to regulate their commerce is pretty clear.

Flyerhawk, the First Amendment doesn't list flag burning or stripping as "speech" (given the lack of speaking) but those are quite well protected.

Except that there is plenty of evidence to support the claim that the Founders had a FAR more restrictive interpretation of what constitutes free speech. One of the most oppressive laws regarding free speech occurred in 1798 under Adams' watch.

As for the weak "corporations cannot vote so they aren't people with rights"...same thing foes with ex-cons. When you lose your right to vote, do you forfeit all other rights?

Funny you should mention that. There is absolutely no conditionals in either the 1st or 2nd Amendment. Yet we CLEARLY DO restrict their rights with regard to both Amendments. How is that? If the Amendments are sacrosanct then how can that be?

Mick,

Of course you completely ignore the FACT that News Media are Corporations also, which is the point of this post, and blows your argument completely out of the water. If Corporation ABC can't express and opinion then neither can Corporation News Media. Is that what you advocate?

I advocate that Congress has the right to regulate corporations. I have absolutely no idea why you think this blows my argument out of the water? Despite the claims here, media corporations ARE restricted when it comes to political speech. They are given wider latitude but it is certainly not unfettered.

flyerhawk said...

Steven,

You offered speculation. I have no idea what the details of Sweden's laws are or Denmark or Norway so how can I make any sort of claim regarding any of them?

If you have some sort of measurable metric you can provide I would love to hear it.

Brian O'Connell said...

Once again how does money=speech? NO ONE is arguing that corporations not be free to say whatever they want. HOWEVER when they spend money on political advertising, it is the money that is being regulated.

Restricting dollars spent on speech, and not the speech itself. This is the cheap trick this law (and others like it) uses. It's an end-run around freedoms, and pretty damned contemptible: speak all you want, just don't spend a penny on it.

Which is why I say get rid of the cheap trick and stop pretending it's not about speech. Have the courage to restrict the speech directly.

Maguro said...

That commerce clause is something, you can even use it to ban a movie about a politician.

Is there anything the commerce clause can't do?

Ralph L said...

allowing corporations unfettered access to our political process
There are still laws against bribery which are occasionally enforced. Walmart can't give $10 million to a politician, but it can spend $10 million on ads for or against him. As long as the voters know where the money is coming from--and opposing views aren't shut out as you would like--who cares?

flyerhawk said...

Maguro,

How bout we stick to the actual case rather than creating some alternate version of history?

Ralph,

The problem is that even bribery laws must be curtailed if we are to adhere to the strict libertarian view of the 1st Amendment.

If money is just a way to express your speech then why shouldn't you be able to give millions to a politician, either his pocket or his campaign?

Maguro said...

Citizen United wasn't permitted to air their Hillary documentary by the FEC because of McCain-Feingold.

That's a fact.

Brian O'Connell said...

If money is just a way to express your speech then why shouldn't you be able to give millions to a politician, either his pocket or his campaign?

You could take your own advice and stick to the case at hand. That's a question, but it's a different one than this case represents. (And I'm the slippery slope guy?)

Maguro, the case concerned United Citizen's right to advertise the movie- not air it, I believe.

Maguro said...

Brian - From Wikipedia:

The decision reached the Supreme Court on appeal from a January 2008 decision by the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. The lower court decision upheld provisions of the McCain–Feingold Act which prevented the film Hillary: The Movie from being shown on television within 30 days of 2008 Democratic primaries.[1][3]

Brian O'Connell said...

Maguro- ah, I stand corrected. :)

flyerhawk said...

You could take your own advice and stick to the case at hand. That's a question, but it's a different one than this case represents. (And I'm the slippery slope guy?)

I don't consider this a slippery slope argument when you have people advocating for an absolutist position on the topic. If you hold to an absolute position you must accept the absolute path it takes you down.

If you don't hold to that absolutist ideal then you must concede that the question is where the line is drawn and not some inherent right articulated in the Constitution.

Maguro,

From the footnoted item...

'If Hillary Clinton had become the Democratic presidential nominee, Citizens had planned to air at least three short television advertisements promoting The Movie within thirty days prior to the 2008 Democratic National Committee Convention and within sixty days prior to the general presidential election in November, 2008'

They were looking to purchase air time to show the piece. This would be commonly referred to as an informercial.

Maguro said...

So it's an infomercial. It's still speech, is it not?

flyerhawk said...

Yes. Just like any other paid advertisement is speech, and regulated.

Regardless, the claim Citizens United has nothing to do with money is a flat out fabrication intended to portray the debate as about being free speech versus not free speech and nothing more.

Maguro said...

It absolutely is a free speech versus not free speech issue. The fact that it costs money to publish a newspaper doesn't mean that the government can forbid the New York Times from discussing politics and the fact that it costs money to broadcast a movie doesn't mean that the government can forbid Citizens United from discussing politics.

So sayeth the Supreme Court.

And this time, they're right.

Brian O'Connell said...

If you hold to an absolute position you must accept the absolute path it takes you down.

Many people, I would think, would buy that there's a difference between spending money on their own speech, or contributing money to a corporation's speech, and giving money directly to a candidate or party. You suggest A gets you B, but they're separate questions, and it doesn't necessarily follow.

The movie was going to be on pay-per-view, and the ads were regular ads pushing it. I haven't seen anything about program-length ads or "infomercials". How would that matter anyway?

Brian O'Connell said...

Regardless, the claim Citizens United has nothing to do with money is a flat out fabrication intended to portray the debate as about being free speech versus not free speech and nothing more.

But it is only about speech. You said earlier that the court would see through the obvious sleight-of-hand in the case of a law prohibiting individuals from spending more than $100 to publish a book. The upshot there is that you can't use dollar restrictions to prevent someone from doing what is otherwise within their rights.

So corporations either have free speech rights, or they they don't. And if they do have free speech rights, as you admitted earlier, then a restriction on their spending on speech is equally a cheap trick to get around those rights.

If they don't have free speech rights, then just say so.

Of course, that cheap trick was invented by politicians in order to get around this very problem.

Ralph L said...

Just like any other paid advertisement is speech, and regulated
It is? By whom?

flyerhawk said...

Whoa. Where did I say corporations had free speech rights? I said that it is unlikely that a law barring individuals from spending money on a book would get tossed out.

Corporations are legal entities that only have standing based on the rights defined by their charter and recognized by the government.

If we define in their charter that they are restricted from engaging in political activity in any way is that a matter of signing a valid contract or an abridgment of the free speech rights of the newly created legal entity?

flyerhawk said...

Ralph,

The Federal Communication Commission regulates what can and can't be advertised.

Maguro said...

Flyerhawk - So what you're saying is that Congress could pass a law prohibiting newspapers and TV stations owned by corporations from, say, endorsing political candidates?

Would such a law be constitutional or not? What say you?

flyerhawk said...

I'm saying that the concept that the corporate charter is inviolate is a contemporary conceit.

Obviously given the corporate friendly makeup of the current high court it isn't likely that the current view of corporate entitlement is going to change however I see nothing in the Constitution that guarantees their existence much less their rights.

That is not say I wish to do away with corporations. That would be folly. However we are talking about the rights of corporations and barring stare decisis support for their existence, I see nothing that guarantees them anything.

Maguro said...

You're not answering the question.

Would it be constitutional for Congress to pass a law prohibiting newspapers and TV stations owned by corporations from endorsing political candidates?

Yes or no.

flyerhawk said...

Of course it would Unconstitutional. The Citizens United ruling made it Unconstitutional.

Are we to now engage in Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc debates?

Brian O'Connell said...

Whoa. Where did I say corporations had free speech rights?

Earlier: NO ONE is arguing that corporations not be free to say whatever they want.

I assume "NO ONE" includes you. This is part of your this law has nothing to do with free speech and is only about the regulation of corporate spending argument.

flyerhawk said...

Fair enough, Brian. While I don't really think corporations have any inherent rights, I will concede that they have the practical right of free speech.

Ralph L said...

The Federal Communication[s] Commission regulates what can and can't be advertised.
In Liberal Fantasyland. Do they regulate newspapers, advertising fliers, street signs? Do TV stations check their FCC handbook before accepting ads? How long did it take the goverment to get psychic Miss Cleo off the air?

Your world-view is so strange, it's difficult to argue with you.

flyerhawk said...

Does the FCC regulate what is allowed to be aired or not? It is a yes or no question?

As usual, you guys look at what is commonly accept regulation and assume that this is somehow different than controversial regulation in a way other than degree.

Yes the FCC DOES check their FCC handbook before accepting content of ANY kind.