Despite Scott Brown’s election, which was a huge political event here in the US; a decision made by the Supreme Court this week is actually even bigger news. It is a huge boon to the rights of corporations as artificial persons. Artificial people you ask? Yes, and I am not talking about robots or androids. Since a footnote in the 14th Amendment and then subsequent sets of precedent-setting court decisions, corporations have enjoyed the same rights as US to even include 1st Amendment rights. You can read a good ‘HowStuffWorks’ article below that contains everything you need to know to get you up to speed.
So this week, the Supreme Court ruled that barring corporations from contributing in certain ways to in an election campaign impinges on the corporation’s 1st Amendment rights and is hence illegal. The decision overturns years of precedent and says that along certain guidelines, corporations can contribute money in support/detraction of a candidate. What this means is that while they still can’t contribute but so much direct ‘soft money’ directly to a campaign, they can do things like spend as much as they want buying their own ad time on behalf of an opponent.
Just think about this. Corporations and unions who have millions (and sometimes billions) of disposable dollars can campaign on behalf of any official that they want. If they like someone, they can advertise, endorse, etc on their behalf to help get the person elected. If they don’t like someone, they can conversely advertise against them or throw money behind the support of the opponent. Does that sound like a gross conflict of special interests in campaigns and the democratic process? This court ruling overturned a century of court precedent and law and basically kills campaign finance reform.
I was well amused by the following comment by KWATSON in a reaction to this article at WorldMag.com
Dear Congressman X,
We here at Mega-Too-Big-To-Fail-Bank would like you to reconsider the legislation to tighten regulations intended to keep us from operating like giant casinos. We have a fiduciary responsibility to our shareholders to maximize profit; therefore we are reducing our bonus pool from $10 billion to $9 billion in order to have a billion dollar fund to run advertisements against anyone who dares to mandate we stop acting like drunken sailors with other people’s money.
Please forward this to every lawmaker, Thank you.
DO YOU HONESTLY DOUBT THAT THE SENTIMENT IN THE COMMENT IS SPOT-ON!?!
My fellow conservative friends argue that corporations legally have the same rights as people. They argue that if the voters are numb enough to not think for themselves and believe every ad they see on tv, then so be it – it is legally allowed by the bounds of the law. No offense, America, but I do not have too much faith in us right now. We have repeatedly elected non-representative representatives who are already beholden to special interest. How is that going to get better when you give the special interests even more power? Poeple will listen to those ads and vote more corporate lackeys into office.
This is a dark day and for once, I side with the liberals on this one. I support The Constitution and The Founder’s intent behind its drafting. I also support personal freedoms. Corporations despite their legal definitions are not people. Through precedent, a fortuitous footnote, and their inherent money and power (read influence); corporations now have the same rights as you and I.
The founders explicitly distrusted institutions – to include standing armies, an overly strong central government, and specifically, corporations. Distrust of corporations is best shown from the onerous activities and taxes the colonies had to endure under companies like British East India Company; which wielded a lot of power in the English Empire. It was the Microsoft or Exxon-Mobile of its day. It is their tea that our forefathers threw in the Boston Harbor because while they were being taxed on that tea, they had no representative in parlaiment to oppose the taxes. That is where ‘no taxation without representation’ comes from.
So, I ask again – How do you think The Founders would feel about this decision?
Regarding this case, in her dissenting remarks, Justice Ruth Bader-Ginsberg sarcastically but rightly commented: “A corporation is not endowed by its Creator with inalienable rights.”
There is a lot of truth in that statement. Remember, this same Supreme Court in 1857 made the Dred Scott Decision and you see how well that turned out 4 years later…