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View Diary: Five Montana Supreme Court justices vs. Citizens United (65 comments)

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  •  The Speech Is What Possesses the Freedom, Seems (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ed in Montana

    to this layman's eyes, so it's not especially important to the rightwing where it comes from.

    They're not saying it's bad to chill corporations they're saying it's bad to chill speech. Or constrain the amount of the speech.

    Looking at the way they word these discussions I don't see how limiting corporate personhood can make any difference in this issue.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Wed Jan 04, 2012 at 08:37:31 AM PST

    •  the concept of "corporate personhood" (7+ / 0-)

      Doesn't come up at all in any opinion in Citizens United No one questions that corporations have free speech rights; the question is "how much?".

    •  CU had nothing to do with "corporate personhood" (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      johnny wurster, VClib

      Which is why all these calls for "ending corporate personhood" will do nothing to change the law set out in that decision.  

      Remember the First Amendment is not a right given to persons.  It says -- as you noted -- that the Government can't restrain speech:  "Congress shall make no law . . .  abridging the freedom of speech."  The CU majority held that means essentially "no matter where the speech comes from," whether it comes from "natural persons" (in the words of the Court) or from associations or groups of persons (which includes corporations, unions, political parties, partnerships, whatever).  

      •  Ah, but it is (7+ / 0-)

        Once you say the association or group of person holds the right independently of the individuals engaging in speech, then you indeed are in the world of corporate personhood. Should a campaign ad paid for by a corporation be treated as political speech by the corporation, or as a series of commercial transactions at the end of which paid actors exercise their right to speak for money and paid television stations exercise their right to broadcast the ad? To call it political speech by a corporation is indeed to treat the corporation as a "speaker" instead of as a legal fiction that can act only through its agents.

      •  It expanded 'corporate personhood' fiction (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Eric Nelson

        and how it interacts with federal laws attempting to regulate campaign finance for the public good, so it's not really accurate to say CU has nothing to do with that legal fiction.

        Someone in a very expensive suit is at the front door and says he wants to foreclose on our democracy. Where should I tell him he can put his robosigning pen?

        by Into The Woods on Wed Jan 04, 2012 at 01:28:59 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Justice Stevens on "personhood" in C.U. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          TexDem, Into The Woods

          Justice Stevens

          The fact that corporations are different from human beings might seem to need no elaboration, except that the majority opinion almost completely elides it. Austin set forth some of the basic differences. Unlike natural persons, corporations have “limited liability” for their owners and managers, “perpetual life,” separation of ownership and control, “and favorable treatment of the accumulation and distribution of assets … that enhance their ability to attract capital and to deploy their resources in ways that maximize the return on their shareholders’ investments.” 494 U. S., at 658–659. Unlike voters in U. S. elections, corporations may be foreign controlled. [snip]
          It might also be added that corporations have no consciences, no beliefs, no feelings, no thoughts, no desires. Corporations help structure and facilitate the activities of human beings, to be sure, and their “personhood” often serves as a useful legal fiction. But they are not themselves members of “We the People” by whom and for whom our Constitution was established.
          - emphasis added

          So it is true that personhood wasn't relevent to Roberts opinion, yet it was very relevant in the dissenting parts of Justice Stevens opinion along with whom Justice Ginsburg , Justice Breyer, and Justice Sotomayor join.

          •  Even The Majority, In Overruling "Austin" (6+ / 0-)

            and invalidating the federal election law in question in CU, removed the pre-existing distinction that had been upheld in "Austin" imposing additional restrictions on "independent" expenditures by corporations because they were corporations.

            The law in question was described by the Court as follows:

            ...Federal law prohibits corporations and unions from using their general treasury funds to make independent expenditures for speech defined as an “electioneering communication” or for speech expressly advocating the election or defeat of a candidate. 2 U. S. C. §441b. ...

            So defining the elements of "corporate personhood" and deciding whether the differences between a 'corporate person' and a 'flesh and blood person' can justify different treatment under the law is the very heart of the question addressed by the Court in CU.

            The opinion of the Court and the concurrences all repeatedly refer to rights held by "persons" and "citizens" and invoke the underlying sovereignty of the "people" and need for freedom of speech in the excercize of that sovereignty as justification of their decision, but those rights are extended to property taking the form of corporations solely because of the concept of "corporate personhood" and only to the extent that such "personhood" is deemed to entitle those artificial entities with the same bundle of rights granted to flesh and blood people who are citizens of the United States.

            To say that Citizens United has nothing to do with the concept of "corporate personhood" is to stand the opinion on its ear and ignore the very core of the debate.

            Someone in a very expensive suit is at the front door and says he wants to foreclose on our democracy. Where should I tell him he can put his robosigning pen?

            by Into The Woods on Thu Jan 05, 2012 at 10:46:29 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  so (0+ / 0-)

        who had standing to sue then?

        I want to limit the power of government. Specifically, I want to limit the power of government to create artificial superpeople and give them the same rights as human beings.

        by happymisanthropy on Thu Jan 05, 2012 at 08:00:09 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  except that's a logical & empirical fallacy: (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ER Doc, Trey Sugarleaf

      The idea that "the speech" creates itself is a logical and empirical fallacy akin to spontaneous generation or the various forms of "free lunch" that are prohibited in physics.  

      Speech obviously and necessarily comes from a speaker.  The wording of the 1st A refers to the right of "the people" to peaceably assemble etc., and it's inconceivable that the Founders could have assumed that speech came from anywhere other than "the people."  

      What we need is a constitutional amendment to the effect that the law must comport with science.  That would be somewhat indirect for this case, more direct for other types of cases, but none the less.  

      "Minus one vote for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

      by G2geek on Wed Jan 04, 2012 at 11:34:17 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  But they also claim (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Trey Sugarleaf

      That free speech includes the unlimited right to pay someone else to repeat your speech, over and over, using a tireless machine, that echos the repeated speech in every household in the town.  

      No-one quibbles about free speech.  It's the paid echos that are intolerable

      Here's an idea: how about the people run the government and the corporations can line up for whatever we leave for them.

      by J Orygun on Wed Jan 04, 2012 at 08:47:08 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

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