Breaking: Supreme Court strikes down some McCain-Feingold provisions; Update: Opinion added

posted at 10:35 am on January 21, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

In a 5-4 ruling, the Supreme Court abruptly called a halt to encroachments on political speech in the name of campaign finance reform.  It ruled that spending limits imposed on corporations and unions infringed on constitutional rights, ending decades of attempts to limit advertising on their behalf.  It also overturned McCain-Feingold provisions barring some kinds of advertising in the weeks before an election :

The Supreme Court has ruled that corporations may spend freely to support or oppose candidates for president and Congress, easing decades-old limits on their participation in federal campaigns.

By a 5-4 vote, the court on Thursday overturned a 20-year-old ruling that said corporations can be prohibited from using money from their general treasuries to pay for campaign ads. The decision, which almost certainly will also allow labor unions to participate more freely in campaigns, threatens similar limits imposed by 24 states.

The justices also struck down part of the landmark McCain-Feingold campaign finance bill that barred union- and corporate-paid issue ads in the closing days of election campaigns.

No word yet on language from the opinion, but the ruling shows both an impatience with a utilitarian argument for violating the First Amendment and the fault lines on the current court.  I doubt anyone will fail to guess the concurs and the dissents in the 5-4 vote.  Anthony Kennedy almost undoubtedly wound up as the swing vote.

In the first challenges to the BCRA (McCain-Feingold), the earlier court appeared to accept the notion that one has to break a few First Amendment eggs to get a clean-elections omelette.  This court has apparently decided that Congress should amend the First Amendment if it has grown tired of it, rather than pass laws that contradict it.  The fact that only five of the nine justices could reach that rather obvious conclusion shows how much judicial activism and Congressional overreach have in common — especially the sense that they can manipulate clear boundaries of power for whatever end they seek.

Will this open the floodgates to corporate and union money in elections?  Well, it never really left.  The restrictions in the BCRA and other campaign-finance “reforms” just forced the money into less-transparent channels, creating mini-industries of money laundering in politics.  This ruling will just allow the money to be seen for what it is, rather than hiding behind PR-spin PAC names and shadowy contribution trails.

The best campaign finance reform is still transparency.  If burning a flag in the street is free speech, then so are political contributions, especially when made in the open.  If the reformers in Congress want to clean up elections, then force immediate reporting on the Internet of all contributions to all presidential, Senate, and Congressional races, and full weekly financial reports on expenditures.  That will do more than all of the speech-restricting, unconstitutional efforts made since Watergate, and make the entire system a lot more honest.

Update: The opinion has been published here.  No great shock to see Justices Roberts, Scalia, Thomas, Alito, and Kennedy on one side with Justices Stevens, Ginsburg, Breyer, and Sotomayor on the other.  Here’s what Stevens sees as the “real issue”:

The real issue in this case concerns how, not if, the appellant may finance its electioneering. Citizens United is a wealthy nonprofit corporation that runs a political action committee (PAC) with millions of dollars in assets. Under the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (BCRA), it could have used those assets to televise and promote Hillary: The Movie wherever and whenever it wanted to. It also could have spent unrestricted sums to broadcast Hillary at any time other than the 30 daysbefore the last primary election. Neither Citizens United’s nor any other corporation’s speech has been “banned,” ante, at 1. All that the parties dispute is whether CitizensUnited had a right to use the funds in its general treasury to pay for broadcasts during the 30-day period. The notion that the First Amendment dictates an affirmative answer to that question is, in my judgment, profoundly misguided.

This is, not to be too blunt, patently absurd.  Free political speech is not free if the government can dictate when and where you exercise it.  It’s true that CU could have run the movie earlier than 30 days before the election.  They felt — not without reason — that their speech would be more effective using the same venues within 30 days of the election.  Assuming they break no other laws, what gives government the right to dictate when on the calendar they can exercise free political speech?  Apparently, being “rich” is a Constitutional exception through which the government can infringe on rights.

I’ll finish with Thomas’ final words on Citizens United v FEC:

I cannot endorse a view of the First Amendment that subjects citizens of this Nation to death threats, ruinedcareers, damaged or defaced property, or pre-emptive andthreatening warning letters as the price for engaging in“core political speech, the ‘primary object of First Amendment protection.’”

Update II: In case you need to come up to speed on Citizens United v FEC, this Cato video does a great job of explaining the case:

Ilya Shapiro reacts at Cato:

Today the Supreme Court struck a major blow for free speech by correctly holding that government cannot try to “level the political playing field” by banning corporations from making independent campaign expenditures on films, books, or even campaign signs.

As Justice Kennedy said in announcing the opinion, if the First Amendment has any force, it prohibits jailing citizens for engaging in political speech.

Update III: An important caveat from a lawyer who reads Hot Air:

Ed: Read your post on CU case after reading the syllabus and glancing at the dissents. Two things not apparent in your post: (1) the Court only struck down limits on independent expenditures, not on contributions (a point still missing from most of the commentary). (2) Thomas, citing threats on supporters of Prop 8 [Calif. gay marriage ban] and a right to “anonymous speech,” dissented on the grounds that disclosure requirements are also unconstitutional. The Majority (all 8 others) upheld the disclosure requirements. Therefore, quoting Thomas’s dissent after making your point that the only thing required is full disclosure is, well, inconsistent. BTW I wholeheartedly agree with you, not J. Thomas, on transparency/disclosure. The Prop 8 problem is the threats, not the disclosure of donor’s names.

I’m a lawyer from Los Angeles.

Duly noted; I had not picked up on that distinction.


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This is a ruling I don’t support. Corporations aren’t human beings, entitled to the same constitutional rights, in my opinion.

But, it was expected. It’s here. And it’ll be interesting to see how it’s dealt with on a practical level or where it leads.

AnninCA on January 21, 2010 at 9:53 PM

Surprise! Sotomayer against free speech.

lilium on January 21, 2010 at 10:13 PM

If you remain unclear, I remain unpersuaded.

Are you talking about a democrat controlled government colluding with democrat controlled companies?

daesleeper on January 21, 2010 at 9:45 PM

Democrat? You think this is about Democrats and Repubicans? It’s not. It’s about corporations that will be able to overwhelm the electoral process by dint of pure spending power.

Corporate entities are loyal to only one party…themselves. They will, in effect, be able to run their own candidates for office.

chumpThreads on January 21, 2010 at 10:18 PM

Surprise! Sotomayer against free speech.

lilium on January 21, 2010 at 10:13 PM

I think there are very legitimate arguments on the other side of this issue. The minority opinion raises very clear questions about the basis of the ruling.

AnninCA on January 21, 2010 at 10:32 PM

Why are liberals wrong on every single issue?

Also, Chief Justice Roberts was President Bush’s greatest contribution to freedom in our country.

scotash on January 21, 2010 at 10:34 PM

BTW I wholeheartedly agree with you, not J. Thomas, on transparency/disclosure. The Prop 8 problem is the threats, not the disclosure of donor’s names.

Odd for a libertarian.

You object to a ten-minute search at an airport by a TSA officer you’ll never see again…

but want the government to maintain a public record of your address, name, who you gave to, and how much, that anybody can look at, forever…

Chris_Balsz on January 21, 2010 at 10:40 PM

This is a ruling I don’t support. Corporations aren’t human beings, entitled to the same constitutional rights, in my opinion.

AnninCA on January 21, 2010 at 9:53 PM

No, they are groups of human beings. Treating them as individuals is a legal convenience. But if you try to restrict the rights of a corporation, you restrict the rights of the human beings that make up the corporation.

Perhaps you think corporations are just business entities, but they include all groups of people with a certain structure organized for a set purpose, which can be profit, political activism, free health care, and charity.

You can’t restrict corporations for profit without applying the same restrictions to, say, a non-profit running free clinics in urban areas, or the NEA, or Greenpeace, or a chain of nonprofit hospitals.

And directly to the point, if the purpose of the corporation is political activism, and you restrict their political speech, you are in effect restricting the rights of citizens to organize for political speech.

There Goes The Neighborhood on January 21, 2010 at 11:04 PM

Corporate entities are loyal to only one party…themselves. They will, in effect, be able to run their own candidates for office.

chumpThreads on January 21, 2010 at 10:18 PM

So when I go to work tomorrow for the large corporation that employs me, offers me benefits, and pays well, I am not only working on products that people choose to buy, but I am also feeding the dragon that desires to devour me? This game is hard!

daesleeper on January 21, 2010 at 11:05 PM

There Goes The Neighborhood on January 21, 2010 at 11:04 PM

Where is corporate personhood in the Constitution? What clause?

Your twisting of the words of our Founders, and your judicial activism are revolting.

Again, as Jefferson said…

“I hope we shall . . . crush in [its] birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength and bid defiance to the laws of our country”
-Thomas Jefferson

crr6 on January 21, 2010 at 11:09 PM

Democrat? You think this is about Democrats and Repubicans? It’s not. It’s about corporations that will be able to overwhelm the electoral process by dint of pure spending power.

Corporate entities are loyal to only one party…themselves. They will, in effect, be able to run their own candidates for office.

chumpThreads on January 21, 2010 at 10:18 PM

As long as corporations are not able to force you to buy their products, but have to persuade you, they’re just not the big things to be afraid of.

A corporation in bed with the government, on the other hand, can get laws passed to favor them. So it’s the potential of corporations partnering with government force, AKA fascism, that we should watch for.

And that is exactly what Obama tried to give us with the takeover of GM and Chrysler, and special deals with insurance and pharmacy industries to help get socialized medicine pass.

Which didn’t involve a lick of corporate spending.

By all means, don’t trust corporations. They tend to make start up and make their money in a free market, then try to get the government to help “regulate” their market.

But corporate spending on political speech has never been the big threat.

There Goes The Neighborhood on January 21, 2010 at 11:18 PM

A corporation in bed with the government, on the other hand, can get laws passed to favor them.

Right. Like if a corporation gives candidates excessive amounts of money. Or runs ads for them. etc etc.

The point is right in front of you. You just need to grasp it.

crr6 on January 21, 2010 at 11:28 PM

Right. Like if a corporation union gives candidates excessive amounts of money. Or runs ads for them. etc etc.

The point is right in front of you. You just need to grasp it.

crr6 on January 21, 2010 at 11:28 PM

Indeed zombie!

daesleeper on January 22, 2010 at 12:33 AM

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.

Your problem crr6 are the clauses “Congress shall make no laws”,”or abridging the freedom of speech”.When I took the ASVAB test I scored in the 96 percentile in reading comprehension.I understand exactly what it means.As a typical “liberal” you want to bend the meaning of what the amendment clearly states.The same way your side wants to twist the interpretation the 2nd amendment to fit your fallacious agenda, period.It obviously doesn’t say “or prohibiting the freedom of speech except in the case of corporations”.
You’re all worried about influence pedaling and I understand your concern.The Constitution gives us,We the People, all the power and tools we need to prevent this via the Bill Of Rights.If elected officials commit crimes against the nation and Constitution, and the legislative branch takes no action to rectify the situation, we vote them out and install reps who will follow the Constitution,the executive branch prosecutes the guilty,and SCOTUS strikes down any law in violation of The Constitution.But you’re an educated person and already know this.Now if the process and system is so screwed up we’re pass the point of no return, so corrupt it doesn’t work as the founders intended, maybe it’s time we prune that tree Jefferson alluded to back to its roots and give it some intensive irrigation.But that would be all bad for your side wouldn’t it.

McBride on January 22, 2010 at 1:16 AM

Hmm. I’d have thought crr6 SUPPORTED the ACLU

Chris_Balsz on January 22, 2010 at 1:41 AM

Pretty much every single commentary I’ve heard/read from a liberal is anti SCOTUS. Which means it must be a good decision.

Also nobody seems to be making the contribution/expenditure distinction. It’s one thing for Microsoft to give a candidate $100M to run for president. I’d be 100% opposed to that. But if MSFT wants to spend $100M advertising for the candidate, or against the candidate’s opponent, go crazy guys.

angryed on January 22, 2010 at 8:06 AM

Corporations aren’t human beings, entitled to the same constitutional rights, in my opinion.

AnninCA on January 21, 2010 at 9:53 PM

The people who own corporations are human, and they don’t loose their rights just because they join together with other humans to make money.

MarkTheGreat on January 22, 2010 at 8:31 AM

Right. Like if a corporation gives candidates excessive amounts of money. Or runs ads for them. etc etc.

The point is right in front of you. You just need to grasp it.

crr6 on January 21, 2010 at 11:28 PM

In your mind, if I can use the term that loosely, anyone or anything that gives money to a politician is in bed with that politician?

The point you are trying to make, doesn’t exist, you are the only one who sees it.

MarkTheGreat on January 22, 2010 at 8:34 AM

I just love all these anti-corporate types screeching about the rights of corporations that should never have been taken away by the govt in the first place. Hey dummies, do you have any idea about the staggering number of corporations it took to create, assemble, and market that computer you’re typing your stupidity on?

All leftists are raging hypocrites.

runawayyyy on January 22, 2010 at 9:05 AM

So when I go to work tomorrow for the large corporation that employs me, offers me benefits, and pays well, I am not only working on products that people choose to buy, but I am also feeding the dragon that desires to devour me? This game is hard!

daesleeper on January 21, 2010 at 11:05 PM

You’ve just stated one of the nastiest truths about the American free market – the corporations who sign our paychecks can be every bit as tyrannical as big government.

Make no mistake, the people in charge would LOVE to bring back child labor, 14-hour workdays, and company stores simply because they all helped profits.

Dark-Star on January 22, 2010 at 9:58 AM

Make no mistake, the people in charge would LOVE to bring back child labor, 14-hour workdays, and company stores simply because they all helped profits.

Dark-Star on January 22, 2010 at 9:58 AM

You’ve said some very stupid things over the years, but this has got to be the stupidest.

You honestly believe that the people who run corporations are so evil that they would do anything for profit?

If corporations would love to bring back child labor, please explain the fact that child labor had been virtually eliminated long before govt got around to banning it. The only places it still remained, were also the places exempted from the child labor laws.

There’s nothing stopping companies from demanding their workers work 14 hours a day, right now. 14 hour days were once required, given the productivity of the day, that is how long a person had to work in order to build enough widgets so that he could earn enough money to feed a family. With modern technology, the same number of widgets can be built in much less time. That is why the work week dropped, it had nothing to do with govt.

MarkTheGreat on January 22, 2010 at 10:07 AM

Corporations can be tyrannical, but they never are, for one simple reason, we the worker, can leave if we don’t like the circumstances. Companies have to compete for the best workers, even in bad times like these, they still have to compete.

More so, companies have to compete for customers. Would you shop at a company that had a reputation for abusing it’s workers?

MarkTheGreat on January 22, 2010 at 10:09 AM

profits.

Dark-Star on January 22, 2010 at 9:58 AM


No! Not Profits!
Anything but profits! What is with the knee-jerk class warfare revulsion to earning and obtaining wealth? Do you not aspire to do better one day? Or would you rather there be a flat worker wage? One wage for the serf and a better wage for the Lords?

Child labor existed before the corporation ever existed. It is because of the capitalistic culture that birthed the corporation that we were able to advance to a state where children no longer had to work. Corporations were part of the machinery that freed both child and man from the back-breaking day long toil of real work.

daesleeper on January 22, 2010 at 10:14 AM

Do unions and trial lawyers give more to Dems than corporate America gives to the GOP?

Grow Fins on January 21, 2010 at 2:04 PM

Without unions and trial lawyers, the Democrat party wouldn’t even exist.

MarkTheGreat on January 22, 2010 at 10:18 AM

If you could cite something that isn’t underwritten by the creepy Mr. Moon, you might have more credibility.

Grow Fins on January 21, 2010 at 2:06 PM

I don’t like the person who owns the company that produced this. Therefore it is wrong.

Typical liberal logic train.

MarkTheGreat on January 22, 2010 at 10:19 AM

To all the liberals:

Why should a corporation (which is a group of individuals – shareholders) not be able to have free speech but a union should?

Is it because you don’t like corporations but you like unions? Is that what you believe is a rational arbiter of who should get free speech?

I am willing to agree to limit the speech of corporations if we also limit the speech of ALL other groups of individuals – unions, professional associations, pacs, the ACLU, etc. After all what is the purpose of the trial lawyers association – who happen to own the DNC? To help its members make money! What is the purpose of a union – who also own the other 1/2 of the DNC? To help its members earn more money!

To claim that one association of individuals should not have freedom of speech (because you happen not to like them) but other associations of individuals that you agree with should, is fascist at best. You simply want to censor those you perceive as disagreeing with you.

Also, why should the media have free speech? After all, most media is corporate. CNN, NY Times, ABC, CBS, MSNBC, the Washington Post – all corporate entities. How is that different?

Monkeytoe on January 22, 2010 at 10:22 AM

But corporations are not persons. They are not people. If they have such rights, they don´t come from the constitution.

el gordo on January 21, 2010 at 2:28 PM

1) Corporations are made up of people. People don’t lose their rights merely because they join a group.

2) Rights don’t come from the constitution.

MarkTheGreat on January 22, 2010 at 10:23 AM

Right. Like if a corporation gives candidates excessive amounts of money. Or runs ads for them. etc etc.

The point is right in front of you. You just need to grasp it.

Hmm, what about trial lawyers? Unions? I seem to recall that O! is in bed with “bigPharma” to try and pass his health care monstrosity. How’s that going?

I love how liberals are so eager to censor anyone they disagree with. Their true Mao, Fidel, Stalin, colors are coming out.

Monkeytoe on January 22, 2010 at 10:25 AM

Can someone explain to me the rationale behind not having limits on union or corporation spending but having them on individual contributions? If it’s OK for a union to buy an election, why isn’t OK for Bill Gates to buy one?

ProfessorMiao on January 21, 2010 at 4:55 PM

There are limits on how much you can give to a candidate. These limits apply to everyone.

There are no limits on how much of your own money you can spend on independant ads in support of a candidate. (It used to be that corporations were not allowed to do this, but by this ruling, they now can.)

MarkTheGreat on January 22, 2010 at 10:29 AM

But corporations are not persons. They are not people. If they have such rights, they don´t come from the constitution.

Again, same with unions, the boy scouts of america, PETA, the ACLU, the democrat party – why should the democrat party get to run ads? It is not a natural person.

This argument fails b/c if corporations have no rights because they are not natural born persons, then no other group of people have the right – because any group or association is by definition not a “person”.

Instead, what you are really arguing is that an entity formed by a group of individuals to make a profit should not have rights. But again, that is not a credible argument. What is it about seeking profit that diminishes one’s rights? And, what is “seeking profit”? As I’ve argued repeatedly, many “not for profits” seek benefits for themselves or their members – unions, professional associations, political parties. So, why is one form of seeking “profit” evil but the other is not?

Monkeytoe on January 22, 2010 at 10:31 AM

The first amendment protects individual rights. Not the “rights” of corporations. Do you believe our Founding Fathers intended corporations to be afforded the same constitutional rights as individual Americans?

If the first ammendment only protects individuals, why did they write in a way that protects everyone, including corporations? As to the intent, their were businesses in that day, and those businesses were very active in politicing. Yet none of the founders tried to ban it. So it’s pretty easy to point out that the founders had no problem with businesses playing a role in the political sphere.

No one’s anti-2nd amendment. We’re anti-radical, ahistorical readings of the 2nd amendment becoming binding federal law, which is what happened in Heller. That’s for sure. But that’s an argument for another day.

crr6 on January 21, 2010 at 4:58 PM

If you read the quotes of the founders, you will find out that they favored complete and absolute freedom of individuals to own weapons. Any weapons they could afford, they were permitted to have.

Any actual reading of the words of the constitution make it quite clear that the right to bear arms is an individual right, and it is an unlimited right.

MarkTheGreat on January 22, 2010 at 10:33 AM

Hey, the SCOTUS ruled exactly the way that the ACLU amicus brief had suggested, but Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a former member of its board of directors and one of its general counsel in the 1970s, voted the opposite way.

J_Crater on January 22, 2010 at 10:35 AM

So nobody sees any issue with a union or corporation being able to buy a senator or president?

HeroesforGhosts on January 21, 2010 at 6:13 PM

You seem to be of the opinion that donating to a candidate is the equivalent of buying them.

Yes, I have a problem whenever people want to lock any voice out of the political sphere.

MarkTheGreat on January 22, 2010 at 10:35 AM

No one’s anti-2nd amendment. We’re anti-radical, ahistorical readings of the 2nd amendment becoming binding federal law, which is what happened in Heller. That’s for sure. But that’s an argument for another day.

crr6 on January 21, 2010 at 4:58 PM

Ahistorical? That is simply factually incorrect. The only “scholarly work” that attempts to claim that the founders did not intend this to be a personal right is that of Michael A. Bellesiles: Arming America, The Origins of a National Gun Culture, which was demonstrated to be a complete hoax and fraud with made-up “research”. there is no credible research supporting your revisionist history and multitudes of credible research showing that the founders intended the 2nd amendment to be an individual right.

I hate people who believe in a “living constitution.” If the constitution is living, it means whatever you want it to mean, which means that it means absolutely nothing. It is the worst kind of mob rule.

Monkeytoe on January 22, 2010 at 10:45 AM

The first amendment protects individual rights. Not the “rights” of corporations. Do you believe our Founding Fathers intended corporations to be afforded the same constitutional rights as individual Americans?

Again, if an association of individuals (which is what a corporation is) does not have 1st amendment rights, then no association of individuals does, and the gov’t is free to censor all groups – which includes unions, political parties, professional organizations, pacs, PETA, the ACLU, DailyKOS, and every other non-person that attempts to influence elections. that is simply an absurd reading of the 1st amendment.

Monkeytoe on January 22, 2010 at 10:50 AM

You honestly believe that the people who run corporations are so evil that they would do anything for profit?

Yes. Look at the tobacco industry.

Grow Fins on January 22, 2010 at 12:30 PM

Yes, I have a problem whenever people want to lock any voice out of the political sphere.

I thought you supported Main Street, not Wall Street. Why can’t you see that allowing corporations to flood our political process with billions of dollars of “contributions” aimed at propagandizing the public and demonizing opponents, buying candidates etc. is a bad thing? Much of that corporate cash comes from elsewhere (China, the Middle East). Are you just too stupid to understand this?

Effectively this decision “locks” the voices of ordinary Americans out of the political process.

Grow Fins on January 22, 2010 at 12:40 PM

You honestly believe that the people who run corporations are so evil that they would do anything for profit?

Yes. Look at the tobacco industry.

Grow Fins on January 22, 2010 at 12:30 PM

Spoken like a true leftist. All corporations are evil – in fact – the profit motive is evil. We should just get rid of capitalism altogether.

Really, it does not matter – even if corporations are pure evil – they still have 1st amendment rights. Speech is free whether you like the speaker or not. I don’t like most commy liberals, but they still are entitled to freedom of speech. that is the difference between the left and the right. The right actually believes in the constitution and rights. The left only believes in what it thinks will help them gain power and control.

Monkeytoe on January 22, 2010 at 12:42 PM

The right actually believes in the constitution and rights.

Ha ha ha. Hilarious if it wasn’t so sad. We’ll see how your corporate overlords feel about the constitution shall we?

Grow Fins on January 22, 2010 at 12:44 PM

Why can’t you see that allowing corporations to flood our political process with billions of dollars of “contributions” aimed at propagandizing the public and demonizing opponents, buying candidates etc. is a bad thing? Much of that corporate cash comes from elsewhere (China, the Middle East). Are you just too stupid to understand this?

Funny, I did not hear the left complaining about O!’s online cash raising, which clearly received money from foreigners, or Clinton’s getting money straight from the Chinese gov’t.

Also, how is it that evil corporations CORRUPT CORRUPT CORRUPT but unions and the trial lawyers who outright own the democrats are perfectly fine spending millions upon millions to purchase their president and congress?

It’s not about what you say it’s about. You just want to censor those you perceive as disagreeing with you. So stop lying to yourself and others.

Monkeytoe on January 22, 2010 at 12:45 PM

Grow Fins -

You are actually the most honestly facsist leftist I’ve come across on these forums. You are quite open in your contempt for the constitution and your desire to silence anyone who disagrees with theh left’s agenda through the use of political power. I commend you on your brown shirt honesty.

Monkeytoe on January 22, 2010 at 12:46 PM

Monkeytoe

Don’t you have poisoned candy to sell to kids or something?

Grow Fins on January 22, 2010 at 12:46 PM

I note, for the record, that no leftist has bothered trying to explain to me why unions, political parties, and corporate media (CNN, the NY Times) should have first amendment rights but corporations should not. Because they know there is no logical argument for it. if one type of association of individuals has no rights, then no type of association fo individuals has rights. Otherwise, you are hypocritically deciding who has rights based on your feelings toward the group.

Monkeytoe on January 22, 2010 at 12:48 PM

You are quite open in your contempt for the constitution and your desire to silence anyone who disagrees with theh left’s agenda through the use of political power. I commend you on your brown shirt honesty.

My contempt is you and the corporate cot-tails you and your ilk ride on, braying sanctimoniously about “rights” when all you care about is profit, not people. Go dump arsenic in the water supply and pass it off as “fluoridation”.

Grow Fins on January 22, 2010 at 12:49 PM

I note, for the record, that no leftist has bothered trying to explain to me why unions, political parties, and corporate media (CNN, the NY Times) should have first amendment rights but corporations should not. Because they know there is no logical argument for it. if one type of association of individuals has no rights, then no type of association fo individuals has rights. Otherwise, you are hypocritically deciding who has rights based on your feelings toward the group.

Paid speech is not the same as free speech.

Grow Fins on January 22, 2010 at 12:49 PM

So nobody sees any issue with a union or corporation being able to buy a senator or president?

HeroesforGhosts on January 21, 2010 at 6:13 PM

Are you seriously suggesting that the current crop of senators (on both sides of the aisle) and the president have not been bought?

Surely you don’t want anyone here to honestly believe you are that naive?

runawayyyy on January 22, 2010 at 12:50 PM

Grow Fins,

No, I love watching your incredibly uneducated spin on the constitution and how it does not apply to any group of people – only individuals themselves. The sheer idiocy makes me smile every time I see it.

The funniest thing to me is, I bet you think you are actually making some kind of rational argument.

Monkeytoe on January 22, 2010 at 12:50 PM

I note, for the record, that no leftist has bothered trying

to explain to me why unions, political parties, and corporate media (CNN, the NY Times) should have first amendment rights but corporations should not. Because they know there is no logical argument for it. if one type of association of individuals has no rights, then no type of association fo individuals has rights. Otherwise, you are hypocritically deciding who has rights based on your feelings toward the group.
Paid speech is not the same as free speech.

Out of all the stupid things you have said, this is the dumbest. Last I checked, reporters are paid and media outlets run for profit. Also, all union officers are paid. And all officers of PETA, workers at the ACLU. And, they all do fundraising. The organizations make money. They pay out bonuses to their officers.

And, they all pay for their media advertising.

So, by your idiot logic paying for advertising is not not protected by the 1st amendment?

Monkeytoe on January 22, 2010 at 12:53 PM

Paid speech is not the same as free speech.

What does that even mean? I assume then that lawyers representing clients can be censored, even at a trail. After all – their speech is “paid speech”.

Idiot.

Monkeytoe on January 22, 2010 at 12:55 PM

Monkeytoe, I applaud your effort, but you’re throwing pearls before swine. You’ve already nailed the problem growbrain has, his utter contempt for freedom. See, by her own logic, all a corporation would have to do is give their money to, say, me and as long as I’m not running for office I can say whatever that corporation tells me to say, buy whatever airtime I like. This is, in fact, the essence of journalism in the modern era. But growbrain will never make this connection because she hasn’t been told to by those who tell her what to think. Ironic, isn’t it?

runawayyyy on January 22, 2010 at 12:56 PM

The left is trying to craft an argument that the status of the speaker defines whether or not they receive 1st amendment rights. So, they get to decide who gets to speak freely based on teh speakers status.

today they decide that unions are o.k. because they are “not for profit” but corporations are not o.k. because they are.

What is tomorrow’s decision going to be regarding status? Once you claim that the 1st amendment depends on status and that you are the arbiter of which status gets free speech, you have effectively made free speech a privilege to be handed out by the gov’t instead of a right that everyone has.

I simply don’t get how the left does not see this.

Monkeytoe on January 22, 2010 at 12:58 PM

And, by the way, the issue in the Supreme Court decision was not whether or not corporations had 1st amendment rights – all court decisions have found they do.

The issue was whether the time/place/manner restrictions placed on speech was permissible. So the left is really going nuts about the wrong thing – this decision did not decide the issue they are so upset about, that issue was decided a long, long time ago.

Monkeytoe on January 22, 2010 at 1:01 PM

Clearly Grow Fins is not in the productive class of society. Capitalism, personal property rights, and the freedom to form corporations has done more to free humankind from the toils of agrarian life than any pointy headed professorial textbook on Marxism. Why is individual liberty such a threat? Corporations donate millions of dollars to various charities, pay their employees ‘a living wage’, offer retirement and health benefits, and did I mention they employ people? There is no such thing as fairness. There is such a thing as justice. If you spent the time and energy that you do whining, and actually worked at bettering yourself you might be happier fins. Stop being a damn victim and do something. I’d rather see you as potential rather than a pathetic whining leech.

daesleeper on January 22, 2010 at 1:07 PM

My contempt is you and the corporate cot-tails you and your ilk ride on, braying sanctimoniously about “rights” when all you care about is profit, not people. Go dump arsenic in the water supply and pass it off as “fluoridation”.

Grow Fins on January 22, 2010 at 12:49 PM

What a child. Since you claim to care about people, please tell me the name of the homeless individual you decided to let stay with you?

Didn’t think so you little, hypocritical piece of sheet.

ClassicCon on January 22, 2010 at 1:39 PM

My contempt is you and the corporate cot-tails you and your ilk ride on, braying sanctimoniously about “rights” when all you care about is profit, not people.

The profit motive has done more to increase length and quality of life than any other factor in history. And, profits are not possible without rights. If you don’t have property rights, you have no right to any profit from your endeavors. In which case you end up with the failure of communism.

Hating the idea of profit is silly. That is the same thing as hating success. If you go to school to get an advanced degree to get a good job to lead a better life, what is that? It is the profit motive. You are profiting from your endeavors.

And where do you think the money comes from for things like charity? it does not grow on trees. The gov’t cannot simply print an endless supply of money (well, it can, but then that money would be worthless). the money has to come from somewhere for all of the gov’ts entitlement programs. And where is that – people/companies pursuing profits.

Also, where are jobs going to come from if not for companies pursing profits? Are we to return to an agriarian society where every person farms his own land for sustenance?

Hating profits is idiotic. And believing that you cannot support capitalism and individual rights is even more idiotic, as you cannot have capitalism without individual rights.

The people who hate individual rights are people who believe in the gov’t being responsible for everything. If your faith is entirely in the gov’t, then you don’t want people to have rights that limit the gov’t’s power.

Monkeytoe on January 22, 2010 at 2:04 PM

I thought you supported Main Street, not Wall Street.

Grow Fins on January 22, 2010 at 12:40 PM

There is no difference.

MarkTheGreat on January 22, 2010 at 2:09 PM

Yes. Look at the tobacco industry.

Grow Fins on January 22, 2010 at 12:30 PM

I’m not aware that the tobacco industry forced anyone to buy their product.

MarkTheGreat on January 22, 2010 at 2:10 PM

Ha ha ha. Hilarious if it wasn’t so sad. We’ll see how your corporate overlords feel about the constitution shall we?

Grow Fins on January 22, 2010 at 12:44 PM

typical lefty logic, anyone who doesn’t agree with me is either evil, or bought off.

MarkTheGreat on January 22, 2010 at 2:11 PM

My contempt is you and the corporate cot-tails you and your ilk ride on, braying sanctimoniously about “rights” when all you care about is profit, not people.

Grow Fins on January 22, 2010 at 12:49 PM

Once again, anyone who disagrees with you is evil.

MarkTheGreat on January 22, 2010 at 2:12 PM

Paid speech is not the same as free speech.

Grow Fins on January 22, 2010 at 12:49 PM

Back to the, people who disagree with me are bought off, meme.

MarkTheGreat on January 22, 2010 at 2:13 PM

Hating the idea of profit is silly. That is the same thing as hating success.

Monkeytoe on January 22, 2010 at 2:04 PM

In my experience, most leftists are at the core, very unsuccessful individuals. Since they have been taught from birth that they are special, they cannot accept that the fault for their failures lies within themselves, so they have to invent boogy men that they can assign this blame to.

MarkTheGreat on January 22, 2010 at 2:16 PM

In my experience, most leftists are at the core, very unsuccessful individuals.

Anecdote is not fact. If it were, all conservatives would be racist blowhards who are dim as light bulbs and watch too much FOX news.

Grow Fins on January 22, 2010 at 2:21 PM

MarkTheGreat

The product is addictive you moron.

Grow Fins on January 22, 2010 at 2:22 PM

The product is addictive you moron.

Grow Fins on January 22, 2010 at 2:22 PM

Actually it is habit forming, not addictive. Regardless, so what. Everybody knows that it is habit forming. That has never been a secret. It is also a habit that can be broken, as millions do every year.

So once again moron, who have they forced to buy their product?

MarkTheGreat on January 22, 2010 at 2:32 PM

Anecdote is not fact. If it were, all conservatives would be racist blowhards who are dim as light bulbs and watch too much FOX news.

Grow Fins on January 22, 2010 at 2:21 PM

Once again with the anyone who disagrees with me is evil meme.

Anecdote is not fact, however anecdote backed up by scientific studies is approaching the level of reliable evidence.

As for racism, your side owns that. The only racists I have ever met are liberals. The further to the left, the more racist they are.

MarkTheGreat on January 22, 2010 at 2:34 PM

I note, for the record, that no leftist has bothered trying to explain to me why unions, political parties, and corporate media (CNN, the NY Times) should have first amendment rights but corporations should not. Because they know there is no logical argument for it.

Monkeytoe on January 22, 2010 at 12:48 PM

I actually did destroy that argument in the previous page. You didn’t answer it, because you can’t. The “speech” of CNN and the Ny Times is protected by the clause right after the “free speech” clause in the Constitution. Go ahead and look it up.

As for unions, I don’t think they should have any more rights under the Constitution than a corporation should have. The legal fiction of corporate personhood applies to any organization with a corporate structure, not just those that are for profit. As for your assertion that corporate personhood is “settled law” in the United States…that’s true but it doesn’t mean that law isn’t highly controversial, and it doesn’t mean the law is correct. Research the genesis of corporate personhood in the U.S., specifically Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad. You’re woefully ignorant on the subject, and you demonstrate your ignorance in every post.

crr6 on January 22, 2010 at 2:46 PM

Again, Monkeytoe, if the Founders intended the free speech of corporations such as the nytimes and cnn to be covered by the free speech clause, why did they insert “freedom of the press” right after it? Just for fun? Remember, as the court said in Marbury v. Madison, “It cannot be presumed that any clause in the constitution is intended to be without effect”.

I don’t expect you to respond, because you can’t. But if you do, at least show some spine and admit you were wrong.

By the way, which 3rd tier law school are you attending?

crr6 on January 22, 2010 at 2:50 PM

Again, Monkeytoe, if the Founders intended the free speech of corporations such as the nytimes and cnn to be covered by the free speech clause, why did they insert “freedom of the press” right after it?

It’s an odd argument that, in the absence of qualifiers, the authors meant “only for individuals” in the second clause, then removes the restriction in the third clause, then goes back to it (but specifically this time!) in the fourth clause. A plain reading of the Amendment allows for no regulation of political speech. Period, regardless of source:

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.

JohnTant on January 22, 2010 at 2:57 PM

I thought you supported Main Street, not Wall Street.

Grow Fins on January 22, 2010 at 12:40 PM

There is no difference.

MarkTheGreat on January 22, 2010 at 2:09 PM

Please campaign on that.

Seriously, if conservatives would just openly say what they think more, Americans would hate them. Your appeal is limited to how much you can distort and lie about your beliefs.

crr6 on January 22, 2010 at 3:11 PM

crr6 on January 22, 2010 at 3:11 PM

All this bad news has launched you into self-parody?

daesleeper on January 22, 2010 at 3:16 PM

The “speech” of CNN and the Ny Times is protected by the clause right after the “free speech” clause in the Constitution. Go ahead and look it up.

crr6 on January 22, 2010 at 2:46 PM

Ah yes, the old the govt gets to decide who gets free speech argument.

In your mind you believe that you destroyed it. Then again, in your mind, you actually believe that you make sense.

MarkTheGreat on January 22, 2010 at 3:24 PM

crr6 on January 22, 2010 at 2:50 PM

So you agree that the ACLU and PETA have no free speech rights? They aren’t individuals and they are not members of the govt recognized press.

MarkTheGreat on January 22, 2010 at 3:25 PM

crr6 on January 22, 2010 at 3:11 PM

It constantly amazes me how much the left hates it when somebody succeeds.

MarkTheGreat on January 22, 2010 at 3:26 PM

It constantly amazes me how much the left hates it when somebody succeeds.

MarkTheGreat on January 22, 2010 at 3:26 PM

These poor creatures that won the lottery of birth to be born in the USA and all they do is whine and work to destroy every single institution that makes this country great. What a bunch of reprobates.

They want to lynch the goose that lays the golden eggs.

daesleeper on January 22, 2010 at 3:29 PM

Ah yes, the old the govt gets to decide who gets free speech argument.

MarkTheGreat on January 22, 2010 at 3:24 PM

What are you talking about? Substantively address the point, or go back to the little kids corner.

It constantly amazes me how much the left hates it when somebody succeeds.

MarkTheGreat on January 22, 2010 at 3:26 PM

Again, what in God’s name are you talking about?

crr6 on January 22, 2010 at 3:30 PM

Again, Monkeytoe, if the Founders intended the free speech of corporations such as the nytimes and cnn to be covered by the free speech clause, why did they insert “freedom of the press” right after it? Just for fun? Remember, as the court said in Marbury v. Madison, “It cannot be presumed that any clause in the constitution is intended to be without effect”.

For one thing, the FOUNDERS didn’t write Marbury v Madison. For another, we have a centuries-old tradition of free speech by organizations. As somebody asked you, where does the Constitution guarantee the speech of the Democratic Party? And finally, as to the difference between freedom of speech and freedom of the press, when was the last time a Fortune 500 company successfully sued the government for access to facilities and meetings?

Chris_Balsz on January 22, 2010 at 4:01 PM

crr6 on January 22, 2010 at 3:30 PM

I’m talking about you and the absurd arguments that you are trying to make.

You seem to be the only one who has trouble understanding the points that I have been making.

Then again, you don’t deal well with reality on the best of days.

MarkTheGreat on January 22, 2010 at 4:22 PM

Mike Pence was on Greg Garrison’s show this morning talking about a case he filed and lost in the Supreme Court on McCain-Feingold back when he (Mike) had the show. He also said that he met with some senators yesterday about running against Senator Evan Buh-Bayh and that he and his wife will think and pray about it over the weekend. You can get audio of the show here

He is also checking to see if the decision wil affect his case – let’s hope so.

darwin-t on January 22, 2010 at 8:11 PM

A corporation in bed with the government, on the other hand, can get laws passed to favor them.

Right. Like if a corporation gives candidates excessive amounts of money. Or runs ads for them. etc etc.

The point is right in front of you. You just need to grasp it.

crr6 on January 21, 2010 at 11:28 PM

Frankly, this sort of obtuseness is tiresome. A corporation is a group of people. Why should a group of people lose rights that they already had as individuals?

Two doctors open a clinic. Based on legal advice, they form a corporation. Do they suddenly lose the right to free speech because they formed a corporate entity?

In the “minds” of liberals, yes.

Or does a corporation only lose rights when it gets above, say, 20 individuals? 50? 100? 500?

The real reason leftists hate corporations is because they believe profit is evil. Unfortunately, they are typically not bright enough to realize that a non-profit corporation is still a corporation.

Or is profit itself what makes corporations evil?

Churches are also pretty close to corporations, even though they don’t exist to make money. But a church is by definition a group of people called together for a specific purpose. Very close to the definition of a corporation.

Since churches are not run for profit, should they be exempt from this hatred of corporations? If you know the left, you know the answer.

There Goes The Neighborhood on January 23, 2010 at 1:58 AM

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