Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Going After Citizens United

The only way to overturn the Supreme Court’s ruling that money is speech in political campaigns and thereby protected by the Constitution is to change the Constitution.  Which is exactly what Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) is setting out to do.

“There’s just no way around it,” he says. “There’s no way to get to transparency and disclosure as long as the decision stands. I don’t see a way around it, anyway.” Instead, Udall is the driving force to repeal Citizens United through a constitutional amendmentThe amendment would give Congress the constitutional power to regulate the raising and spending of money in national elections, and it would give the states the same power to regulate spending in their elections. The amendment strikes at the fundamental heresy that lies at the heart of both Citizens United and Buckley v. Valeo, the 40-year-old case that made CU inevitable, given the correct composition of a future Supreme Court: namely, that money is speech. To this, of course, was added the equally preposterous notion that corporations are people and that, therefore, they have the same free speech rights as you, me, and the guy on the next bar stool. (How preposterous? Google Santa Clara County vs. Southern Pacific Railroad some time and get a good look at how corporate personhood got birthed on the wrong side of the constitutional blanket.) Pass the amendment, and all of the entangled absurdity of Citizens United goes away. One doomsday machine takes out the other.

While I admire the sentiment and endorse the idea, it will never pass.  Count on it.  There’s too much corporate interest in keeping the ruling as it stands.  Another argument is that for all the hue and cry over Citizens United and the predictions that the election would be handed over to the folks with all the dough to buy and sell it as they please, it didn’t exactly work out that way.  Sheldon Adelson, Karl Rove, and the Koch Brothers got bupkus for their billions.  So why change the foundation of our governing laws to solve a problem that turned out to be nothing much?

Because the idea of corporations having the same rights as a person is Newspeak.

5 barks and woofs on “Going After Citizens United

  1. Interesting take on this by the editorial board of the New York Times yesterday. As they point out, the ruling for the Times and also the Washington Post at the trial over the leaking by Ellsburg to the Times of the Vietnam papers and brought before the Supreme Court by the Nixon administration had nothing to do with those papers being corporate beings with free speech rights and everything to do with First Admendment. The right of the people to know the truth and therefore the right of the papers to print it was key to the final ruling. Justice Alito is simply and completely wrong in maintaining corporations have the same rights as the press – or you and me. He needs a refresher in constitutional law. Maybe our President can give him a couple of short lectures.

    • “First Admendment” – GREAT typo, FC.

      My first thought when Multiple Position Mitt was going off on how “corporations are people – they’re lots of people” was “Don’t they all have voting rights of their own already?”

      Money=speech, as CLW puts it, is a great way to select a Pope (the best leader of the biggest/best-tithing diocese gets priority). As a way to sElect a US President? Not so much.

      The one good thing that came from CU as far as I can see is all the Reichwing dollars that got thrown away in a campaign to sElect the boss from Office Space as pResident. Next time, perhaps, we could place a few key libprog outlets in better position to absorb some of that largesse, and start getting all that wasted spending to places where it will do, if not precisely more good, certainly less harm.

      Otherwise, I’m with CLW.

      • Thanks for the hat tip on the unintended “d”. Right now I’m addressing a grievance committed by SCOTUS and that’s covered therein as well, eh?

  2. Yes, “this time” CU didn’t prevail in the presidential election but local (county and state) elections are a very different matter. If the local elections can be consumed then it will be only a very short time until the national election gets caught in the big suck.

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