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One other aspect of today's Citizens United decision (now in HTML) worth noting.

Remember last week when I flagged the issue of anti-gay groups seeking to thwart public disclosure of their activities?  Well, it came up today again, as eight of the Court's nine justices upheld the requirements under McCain-Feingold that when corporations (or others) air independent expenditure ads, the ads need to come with a disclaimer and full disclosure as to the funders.  Among other things, wrote Justice Kennedy, "the public has an interest in knowing who is speaking about a candidate shortly before an election."  Moreover,

With the advent of the Internet, prompt disclosure of expenditures can provide shareholders and citizens with the information needed to hold corporations and elected officials accountable for their positions and supporters. Shareholders can determine whether their corporation’s political speech advances the corporation’s interest in making profits, and citizens can see whether elected officials are “ ‘in the pocket’ of so-called moneyed interests.” The First Amendment protects political speech; and disclosure permits citizens and shareholders to react to the speech of corporate entities in a proper way. This transparency enables the electorate to make informed decisions and give proper weight to different speakers and messages.

Who could disagree with something so innocuous?  Justice Thomas.

I dissent from Part IV of the Court’s opinion, however, because the Court’s constitutional analysis does not go far enough. The disclosure, disclaimer, and reporting requirements in BCRA §§201 and 311 are also unconstitutional....

Amici ’s examples relate principally to Proposition 8, a state ballot proposition that California voters narrowly passed in the 2008 general election. ... Any donor who gave more than $100 to any committee supporting or opposing Proposition 8 was required to disclose his full name, street address, occupation, employer’s name (or business name, if self-employed), and the total amount of his contributions. 1 See Cal. Govt. Code Ann. §84211(f) (West 2005). The California Secretary of State was then required to post this information on the Internet.

Some opponents of Proposition 8 compiled this information and created Web sites with maps showing the locations of homes or businesses of Proposition 8 supporters. Many supporters (or their customers) suffered property damage, or threats of physical violence or death, as a result. ...

Now more than ever, §§201 and 311 will chill protected speech because—as California voters can attest—“the advent of the Internet” enables “prompt disclosure of expenditures,” which “provide[s]” political opponents “with the information needed” to intimidate and retaliate against their foes.  Thus, “disclosure permits citizens ... to react to the speech of [their political opponents] in a proper”—or undeniably  improper  —“way” long before a plaintiff could prevail on an as-applied challenge.  

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

That's right: were there four more Justice Thomases, not only could corporations engage in unlimited pro-candidate speech, but individuals could give unlimited amounts to candidates -- and they could all do so completely anonymously.  

Too often, Justice Thomas gets accused of being an unthinking automatic second vote for whatever Justice Scalia says.  Untrue.  He's his own unique sphere of wrongness, and not even Scalia, Alito, Kennedy or the Chief Justice were willing to follow him on this one.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Thu Jan 21, 2010 at 02:16 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  OK, I'm never again going to accuse (10+ / 0-)

    Justice Thomas of having his head so far up Justice Scalia's arse that they breathe out of the same set of nostrils. You're right: he's his own unique spheroid of wrongness.

    •  What one CAN say is Thomas is a Scalia clone... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wishingwell

      ..except on those extremely rare occasions when Scalia evinces a slight glimmer of sanity.

    •  I'm glad you've learned your lesson. (0+ / 0-)
    •  Its time to Take back SCOTUS (0+ / 0-)

      There is no provision in the constitution for how many Justices sit on SCOTUS, that is decided by the Senate and has changed many times over history.  It is time for the Senate to add two new seats to the Supreme Court open for Obama's approval.
      As I understand it the Filibuster can be eliminated at the start of the next term by a simply majority vote on the rules to govern the proceedings of the Senate for that term.  Eliminate the Filibuster and put two new seats on the court for Obama to appoint.  TAKE BACK THE SUPREME COURT from these activist right wing justices appointed by Bush/Cheney.

  •  New Rules For Buying Judges (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    PsychoSavannah, Egalitare, MsGrin

    Given that many judges are elected, these rulings mean  local judges can be wholly owned by local or national businesses. That means feudalism at the local level.

    •  It's hard to square ... (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bernardpliers, Egalitare, MsGrin, Loge

      ... the Justice Kennedy who was so sensitive to such concerns in the Caperton coal case that he was willing to confirm a new due process right to an unbiased judge, with the one who today opened the door to more such efforts.

      Show Dems in R-Leaning Districts Who Voted For Health Care, Against Stupak: We've Got Your Back

      by Adam B on Thu Jan 21, 2010 at 02:20:58 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  You're conflating direct consequences with (0+ / 0-)

        indirect consequences.  A judge taking campaign contributions from a person and then not recusing himself from sitting in judge over a dispute in which that person is involved is different from recognizing a persons right to contribute to whomever he wants.  If we want to make sure that judges aren't bought, we should restrict them from accepting anticipatory bribes.

        How do you tell a predator from a protector? The predator will eat you sooner rather than later.

        by hannah on Thu Jan 21, 2010 at 02:31:00 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  What if the contributor doesn't like gays? (0+ / 0-)

          And the contributor makes that clear to the judge with a "wink and a smile".  

          Doesn't the make any contribution a bribe?  You don't need a direct line to connect the dots.  Which also makes it more difficult to prevent it from happening.

          Or am I missing something?

          •  Judges are in a somewhat different (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            oklahoma cherokee

            category because they can only consider matters that are brought to them.  They don't initiate actions.
            Most people are more likely to be influenced by their close associates and friends.  So, if corporate attorneys are recommended to judgeships and defense or civil rights attorneys aren't, then the pool is going to be skewed.  But none of that is dependent on campaign contributions, which I happen to think judicial candidates ought not to accept.

            How do you tell a predator from a protector? The predator will eat you sooner rather than later.

            by hannah on Thu Jan 21, 2010 at 02:58:08 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  Distinctions That Federalist Society Judges Love (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          hannah

          Sort of like saying torture is OK because it's not "punishment."

          The Constitution was left fairly vague to allow the government flexibility, but the GOP uses it to find the narrowest and most convoluted interpretations,

  •  "One more thing," as Columbo would say (11+ / 0-)

    These claims of harassment are largely bullshit.

    Show Dems in R-Leaning Districts Who Voted For Health Care, Against Stupak: We've Got Your Back

    by Adam B on Thu Jan 21, 2010 at 02:19:14 PM PST

  •  Hey Clar, what was the name of that porn star (0+ / 0-)

    you kept going on about?

    "I still say a church steeple with a lightning rod on top shows a lack of confidence."

    by logsol on Thu Jan 21, 2010 at 02:20:09 PM PST

  •  Well Thomas is a special kind of dumb (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DRo

    He's the mean dumb lackey that is in wayyyy over his head and thinks that being stupid is best.

    They've got Charles Darwin trapped out there on highway 5" Bob Dylan

    by NearlyNormal on Thu Jan 21, 2010 at 02:20:41 PM PST

    •  Yup... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      NearlyNormal

      Nothing worse than a truly stupid person who thinks/knows he isn't stupid, especially if said stupid person has a modicum of power.

      I think, therefore I am........................... Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose AKA Engine Nighthawk - don't ask!/don't tell!

      by Lilyvt on Thu Jan 21, 2010 at 03:01:33 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Bush Senior nominated this idiot. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BachFan, DRo

    To shore up his support amongst minorities after the departure of the truly great Thurgood Marshall.

    Cold hearted orb/That rules the night/Removes the colours From our sight/Red is gray and/Yellow white/But we decide/Which is right/And/Which is an Illusion

    by KingofSpades on Thu Jan 21, 2010 at 02:21:06 PM PST

  •  Were there for more like him ... (8+ / 0-)

    ... the Thomas Court would have ruled that only corporations and wealthy individuals are allowed to speak and anyone who disagrees should be jailed.

  •  Not to mention (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    PsychoSavannah

    the front corporations spring up like mushrooms.

  •  The guy who was obsessed with Long Dong Silver (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    oklahoma cherokee, DRo
  •  Money is advocacy without an advocate: (6+ / 0-)

    the point being, to provide the maximum political power to the wealthy without the political backlash of the hoipolloi finding out who is manipulating what.

    Used to be, conservatives were for unlimited contributions but with complete disclosure, arguing that the people could decide who was being bought off and who had agendas.  Apparently the fct the people CAN decide that is making Thomas nervous.

    These conservatives are profoundly anti-democratic.

    Subsidies without cost controls, regulatory reform means that citizens get a little more awful insurance at a huge cost to taxpayers. Like Part D but worse.

    by Inland on Thu Jan 21, 2010 at 02:22:00 PM PST

    •  Of course they are (2+ / 0-)

      If there was real democracy in this country, the right would be shit outta luck.

    •  Actually, conservatives are very (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wishingwell, oklahoma cherokee

      anti-person, unless that person is somehow attached to property.  That's the characteristic that makes the corporation, which is, after all, made up of people who are reluctant to risk their private property in an enterprise.  What makes the person that's attached to property attractive is that the threat to remove that property gives the power-brokers a handle on them.

      Worthless persons are a threat because they're difficult to manipulate.  So, in effect, whenever "no more taxes" is held out as a promise, it's really a subtle threat to people who care about their assets to fall in line, or else.  Republicans having been voted out of power are now intent on carrying out their deprivative intent.  It's their own people who have to be punished for not being sufficiently supportive.  The vote in Massachusetts is not going to satisfy because Brown, the Independent Republican is a wild card.  

      How do you tell a predator from a protector? The predator will eat you sooner rather than later.

      by hannah on Thu Jan 21, 2010 at 02:48:57 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Here was Alexi's statement (10+ / 0-)

    and our diary on the matter

    "I profoundly disagree with today's Supreme Court ruling.  The very corporate special interests that got us into this economic mess should be given less power to influence elections, not more.  I am proud to be the first U.S. Senate candidate in Illinois history to refuse money from corporate PAC's and federal lobbyists because I believe that to get our economy back on track and create the next generation of good-paying jobs, we have to break the grip of corporate interests in Washington.

    "My likely Republican opponent Mark Kirk doesn't believe there is a problem.  In his decade in Washington, he has taken more corporate PAC money than just about any other politician.  He then voted their way on one reckless Bush economic policy after another.  That is why he refused to disclose how he would have voted on the confirmation of Justice Sotomayor and that's why he still won't speak about it even today.  He cannot be trusted to be an advocate for working families or the middle class," Giannoulias said.

    A Senator to speak for us. Visit www.AlexiForIllinois.com to learn more.

    by Alexi for Illinois on Thu Jan 21, 2010 at 02:22:03 PM PST

    •  sorry, no (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      VClib

      The fact that you think some elements of society are "bad" or advocate policies that you do not like, does not permit you to somehow reduce their first amendment rights to continue advocating for what you believe in. In case you forgot, sometimes people who think that YOU and your policies are "bad" get elected - do you really want them to have the authority to decide that unions are "too powerful" and cause "too much harm," therefore they should knock it off with all that get-out-the-vote stuff?

      Sean Parnell
      President
      Center for Competitive Politics
      http://twitter.com/...

      Congress shall make no law...

      by Sean Parnell on Thu Jan 21, 2010 at 02:57:00 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Why the Presidency is worth fighting for. (10+ / 0-)

    Supreme Court appointees.  We're going to have Thomas for years.  President Obama may have the chance to appoint more Justices in his first term.  His first appointee is stellar.  

    Life is good. Injustice? Not so much.

    by westyny on Thu Jan 21, 2010 at 02:23:15 PM PST

  •  Nice... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    PsychoSavannah

    The only saving grace of a similar lack of limits in Oregon is our strict reporting rules.

    Thankfully they didn't gut those.

    "Polls are like crack, political activists know they're bad for them but they read them anyways."-Unknown

    by skywaker9 on Thu Jan 21, 2010 at 02:23:36 PM PST

  •  Adam I have a related question (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    musing85, lgmcp, Back In Blue

    that I hope I can ask here.

    In the openthread earlier I asked:

     Maybe we're screwed? (7+ / 0-)

    Our side in the Prop. 8 case is (in part) arguing that laws passed against GLBT people are because of animus toward GLBT people. You can't do that and we're trying to say that maybe the federal courts and SCOTUS should see GLBT people as a suspect class - a group that faces discrimination.

    Well, at least one SCOTUS justice, Scalia, has said that it's totally cool for certain groups, like gays and murderers, to face animus:

    Of course it is our moral heritage that one should not hate any human being or class of human beings. But I had thought that one could consider certain conduct reprehensible — murder, for example, or polygamy, or cruelty to animals — and could exhibit even "animus" toward such conduct. Surely that is the only sort of "animus" at issue here: moral disapproval of homosexual conduct."

    (From his dissent in Romer v. Evans.)

    It seems like our argument will be talking past at least one of the SCOTUS justices' arguments. He says of course they face animus! Why shouldn't they? He's wrong of course (gays are in no way similar to murderers) but I'm not sure the other conservatives would disagree.

    What do you think of that? Can they really say that maybe we should pass laws against gays because we hate them? If so and given this post, I'm not thinking a Supreme Court review of the current Prop. 8 case would go well for our side.

    "Everybody lies... except POLITICIANS? House, I do believe you are a romantic."

    by indiemcemopants on Thu Jan 21, 2010 at 02:24:23 PM PST

  •  I get your point (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lgmcp, Sean Parnell

    But, in Justice Thomas' defense, it does seem like we need a way to track campaign donations that does not violate people's right to privacy.  Not from a Constitutional standpoint- I can't defend his position on that basis- but as a matter of good public policy.  I can see where individuals (NOT BUSINESS) should be protected from potential harassment.

    I mean, flip the above scenario.  Your employer constantly makes anti-gay slurs, and is vocal on his position on prop 8.  You don't want to rock the boat, can't risk losing your job.  But, you want to support prop 8- how do you do it without your boss finding out?

    If there is anything I have learned from Scooby Doo, it is that the only thing to fear is crooked real estate developers.

    by JakeC on Thu Jan 21, 2010 at 02:24:54 PM PST

    •  How about this? (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JakeC, Back In Blue, DRo

      Pass laws that include political beliefs among the list of personal attributes for which you can't be fired.  Only a few states have them now.

      Also, consider raising the public disclosure limits, esp. with ballot issues.

      Show Dems in R-Leaning Districts Who Voted For Health Care, Against Stupak: We've Got Your Back

      by Adam B on Thu Jan 21, 2010 at 02:26:59 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Hmmmmm (0+ / 0-)

        I've been fired for such, indirectly, and didn't like it much.  But then, I've let people go for such, in turn, indirectly.

        It makes sense to me to have race and gender as protected classes because people can't help how they are born.  Religion, while it doesn't quite meet that standard, is related because it is so strongly correlated with ethnic and family traditions.  Politics, while on the same continuum, is much farther along it in the direction of what is public, voluntary, and freely chosen.  

        "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

        by lgmcp on Thu Jan 21, 2010 at 02:35:41 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Hmm (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        PsychoSavannah

        While I have no problem with the first one, the problem then becomes litigating it.

        Second one would probably do it- raise it to a level so at least the average individual doesn't get caught up in it.  Besides, since (from my perspective at least) the real purpose of these laws is so that we know who is in a position to wield influence down the road- is the guy who gave a couple of hundred dollars really that person?  I mean, can I walk into my Senators office, remind him of the $250 I gave last cycle, and put my list of demands on the table?

        If there is anything I have learned from Scooby Doo, it is that the only thing to fear is crooked real estate developers.

        by JakeC on Thu Jan 21, 2010 at 02:36:28 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  You donate to a candidate and it's public. (0+ / 0-)

      Period.

      Otherwise, rich people will buy influence with impunity.

      "Progress" is the core of progressive. Two steps forward. One step back.

      by captainlaser on Thu Jan 21, 2010 at 02:43:31 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Don't you mean *defeat* Prop 8? (0+ / 0-)

      That's the same sort of confusing "black is white" bullshit that let it slide past in the first place.

      If it's
      Not your body
      Then it's
      Not your choice
      AND it's
      None of your damn business!

      by TheOtherMaven on Thu Jan 21, 2010 at 04:17:29 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I don't approve of targeting opponents (6+ / 0-)

    at their homes.  Focus on Family doesn't call my house whenever I donate to Equality NM, and I don't want them to start.

    Do unto others as ye would be done by, is my motto.

    However, public petitions are, yeah, public.  Don't sign them unless you are willing to be known. But, just because we know, doesn't mean anything goes.

    "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

    by lgmcp on Thu Jan 21, 2010 at 02:26:00 PM PST

  •  Justice Thomas obviously doesn't (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Back In Blue, RickMassimo, Egalitare

    understand that the Constitution aims to restrain and restrict agents of government from abusing a person's inalienable rights.  It doesn't guarantee it won't happen and it doesn't address what ordinary persons might try to effect.  
    The Constitution is not some magic shield.  

    How do you tell a predator from a protector? The predator will eat you sooner rather than later.

    by hannah on Thu Jan 21, 2010 at 02:26:22 PM PST

  •  So, to sum up the conservative position: (5+ / 0-)

    Corporations can give unlimited political contributions because it is theoretically possible that that will not result in a bought-and-sold government.

    But you can't find out who's giving to whom because it is theoretically possible that you wil do something "improper" with this knowledge.

    Why do conservatives hate people?

    Fight until we win. Then we can begin arguing about the details. - Kwickkick (RIP) 2009

    by RickMassimo on Thu Jan 21, 2010 at 02:27:06 PM PST

  •  Exactly right. Thomas is a travesty. (4+ / 0-)

    And this is just the latest example. He is truly an embarrasment to good jurisprudence.

    Be the ball, Danny.

    by Simian on Thu Jan 21, 2010 at 02:28:22 PM PST

  •  So Justice Thomas believes... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Back In Blue, Egalitare, JC from IA

    ...that "Free Speech" implies the freedom to not be challenged for the views one espouses.

    Nice.      

  •  We need to push this disparity in speech rights. (0+ / 0-)

    They can not have it both ways.

    "Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all" Andrew Carnegie

    by pantherq on Thu Jan 21, 2010 at 02:28:40 PM PST

  •  May I ask a favor here? Short K.I.S.S.? (0+ / 0-)

    I can't see clearly.

    Can anybody give me a quickie summary?
    Thanks.

    Media Reform Action Link http://stopbigmedia.com/

    by LNK on Thu Jan 21, 2010 at 02:28:52 PM PST

  •  You're right: Thomas is his own man. (0+ / 0-)

    He can out-wingnut Scalia pretty much any time he so choses.

    Most of the time, it's just too much effort for him, I think.

  •  Will this come back to haunt him? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lost, PsychoSavannah, LNK

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

    Ok, so the First Amendment can be used shield individuals who fund interest groups to spend money to, say, ruin careers or promote discrimination, but there is no constitutional protections for equal rights?

    Huh.  Whaddya know?

    The most violent element in society is ignorance.

    by Mr MadAsHell on Thu Jan 21, 2010 at 02:29:20 PM PST

  •  Thomas is so far to the right... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wishingwell, Egalitare, JC from IA

    ...that he even manages to shock Scalia sometimes, which is mind-blowing, if you think about it. That was basically George H.W. Bush pissing all over Thurgood Marshall's grave.

  •  And did he rely on any evidence.... (0+ / 0-)

    ....in making this conclusion?

    Tonight I'm going to party like it's 1929.

    by Bensdad on Thu Jan 21, 2010 at 02:29:40 PM PST

  •  Well, one thing Republicans have proven is that (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DRo

    anyone in America, no matter how stupid, ill-informed, or opposed to our constitutional principles can aspire to, and receive the GOP endorsement for the highest offices in the land.

    Thomas, Palin, Quayle, Agnew, Cheney, Nixon, Bush - the list goes on and on.

    "You can't put a civil rights issue on the ballot and let the people decide. .... . If you left it up to the people, we'd have slavery......" ~ Jesse Ventura

    by rontun on Thu Jan 21, 2010 at 02:30:26 PM PST

  •  They have made it possible for deep pocketed (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    PsychoSavannah, Iculus3

    corporations to buy legislative influence without even having to go though the trouble of sending money.

    I say we amend the constitution in two ways.

    1. Define and limit the rights of corporations and other non-citizens.
    1. Declare that only citizens may make political contributions and declare that reasonable limits may be placed on those contributions by congress.

    Something like that.

  •  I wonder if Anita Hill (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DRo
    made any contributions to Obama's campaingn?  Clarence could get mad.

    Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves. -Henry David Thoreau

    by Iculus3 on Thu Jan 21, 2010 at 02:31:21 PM PST

  •  thomas is mentall ill. (0+ / 0-)

    everyone knows it.

    "but I would not be convicted by a jury of my peers. still crazy after all these years".....

    by JadeZ on Thu Jan 21, 2010 at 02:33:03 PM PST

  •  Foriegn corporations can contribute too (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    PsychoSavannah, DAO, Egalitare

    According to Greg Palast

    I'm losing sleep over the millions — or billions — of dollars that could flood into our elections from ARAMCO, the Saudi Oil corporation's U.S. unit; or from the maker of "New Order" fashions, the Chinese People's Liberation Army. Or from Bin Laden Construction corporation. Or Bin Laden Destruction Corporation.

    Right now, corporations can give loads of loot through PACs. While this money stinks (Barack Obama took none of it), anyone can go through a PAC's federal disclosure filing and see the name of every individual who put money into it. And every contributor must be a citizen of the USA.

    But under  today's Supreme Court ruling that corporations can support candidates without limit, there is nothing that stops, say, a Delaware-incorporated handmaiden of the Burmese junta from picking a Congressman or two with a cache of loot masked by a corporate alias.

    •  The issue wasn't addressed by the Court (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      PsychoSavannah, DRo

      Citizens United had no foreign contributors.  Congress could pass a narrowly-tailored ban on election-related speech by foreign-dominated entities and it would likely be constitutional.

      Show Dems in R-Leaning Districts Who Voted For Health Care, Against Stupak: We've Got Your Back

      by Adam B on Thu Jan 21, 2010 at 02:36:08 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  But if disclosure (0+ / 0-)

        were discontinued, then what?

      •  Why not stipulate (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        DRo

        that every share of the corporation must be owned by and American Citizen?

        •  likely not narrowly tailored enough (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          DRo

          I'd anticipate SCOTUS would say that only corporations with more significant foreign ownership carry the threats which the Constitution allows Congress to combat.

          Show Dems in R-Leaning Districts Who Voted For Health Care, Against Stupak: We've Got Your Back

          by Adam B on Thu Jan 21, 2010 at 02:41:07 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Which can be easily avoided by creating a whole (0+ / 0-)

            forest of companies that own companies that own other companies, and shifting the ownership of shares around at appropriate times. And the percentage of ownership doesn't necessarily align with the proportion of influence within a corporation. You can have a whole string of companies that have a 50% + 1 stake in the next company, and you can control the company at the end of the chain by having a 50% + 1 stake in the one at the beginning and nothing else, if you get all the company charters in the right way. But you will still own only a tiny percentage of the company at the end of the chain.

            Any law to regulate that kind of thing would probably have more holes in it than a Swiss cheese.

            The FOX is a common carrier of rabies, a virus that leaves its victims foaming at the mouth and causes paranoia and hallucinations.

            by Calouste on Thu Jan 21, 2010 at 02:53:07 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  That would affect every publicly (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Adam B

          traded company.

          The FOX is a common carrier of rabies, a virus that leaves its victims foaming at the mouth and causes paranoia and hallucinations.

          by Calouste on Thu Jan 21, 2010 at 02:53:55 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Nitpick: (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Adam B

      every contributor must be a citizen or legal permanent resident (greencard holder) of the USA.

      The FOX is a common carrier of rabies, a virus that leaves its victims foaming at the mouth and causes paranoia and hallucinations.

      by Calouste on Thu Jan 21, 2010 at 02:45:51 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Freedom of speech does not protect you (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dharmafarmer, Clarknt67, Iculus3

    from the consequences of that speech.  Even W. understood that.

  •  I don't agree with disclosing petiton signers (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    PsychoSavannah, Sean Parnell

    I actually do think that creates a chilling effect on reasonable people -- who may not want, say, their boss to know they supported putting some issue he hates on the ballot.

    There is no other rational purpose to disclosing the names of petition signers other than to harass and shame those people -- or try and prevent them from signing a petition in the first place.

    •  well, there's also detecting fraud. (4+ / 0-)

      In many states, it's up to private citizens to challenge petitions, not the SecState's office burden to verify.

      Show Dems in R-Leaning Districts Who Voted For Health Care, Against Stupak: We've Got Your Back

      by Adam B on Thu Jan 21, 2010 at 02:39:48 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  States should verify all petitions. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Adam B, Sean Parnell

        And the information should not be publicly revealed unless there are legitimate questions about the validity of specifc signatures.

        This is a double edged sword, of course. A ballot measure petition to REPEAL an anti gay marriage amendment would be subject to the same disclosure rules -- and would perhaps even be more problematic for many of the signatories.

    •  P.S. -- (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sean Parnell

      I think disclosure of the names of people who sign a petition to put something on the ballot is only one step removed from disclosing the names of people who voted for or against a particular measure -- or even a candidate.

      The same "argument" in favor of discarding with the secret ballot applies to publicly revealing the names of petition signatories. You want to "expose" people who vote a certain way.

    •  With respect, I fully expect any petition... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Clarknt67

      ...that I sign to be public record.

      Expecting some kind of "privacy shield" when adding one's name to a demand for action (because that's what a petition is) is citizenship cowardice.

      "Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will." -- Frederick Douglass

      by Egalitare on Thu Jan 21, 2010 at 02:46:09 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  While I sympathize (3+ / 0-)

      with your viewpoint, I disagree.  As Back In Blue says just above you, having the freedom of speech doesn't protect you from the consequences of that speech.  The first amendment is designed to protect speech from government interference.  If individuals disagree with your speech, that is their right.  Exercising free speech sometimes requires courage.  It would worry me more if people were allowed to take measures that influence legislation (and thus affect other people's lives) in secret.

      •  We are talking about 2 different things. (0+ / 0-)

        Making campaign donations is different than actually signing a petition or casting a ballot.

        The former is funding speech. There is a fundamental principle involved in that the hearer has the right to know who is speaking and what their possible motivations are in order to adequately assess that speech's value.

        The latter goes to the very cornerstone of our democracy. The ability to MAKE electoral choices without fear of reprisal from other people (or the Gvt) that disagree with you. Why you signed the petition or voted the way you did is irrelevent. This is not true when you are assessing the value of speech.

        •  2 different things (0+ / 0-)

          You could say that there is also a difference between signing a petition and voting, as well.  I guess to me it depends on where you want to draw the line. Because there are so many different paths to affecting legislation depending on what jurisdiction you're in, it's hard for me to generalize.  But, in a referendum situation that requires a petition before a public vote, it doesn't bother me to hold people accountable for the choice to sign on.  

          I dunno...I have to think about it some more.  I understand your point about fear of reprisal in making electoral choices, but at the same time I'm not comfortable with the idea of not holding people accountable for their actions.

        •  Um, no, not really (0+ / 0-)

          When you sign a nominating or qualifying petition, you are not casting a ballot. Merely signing the petition does nothing. If contributing money to a campaign is "funding speech," then signing a petition is "enabling speech." By that token, I should, in your words, have the right "to know who is speaking and what their possible motivations are."

    •  The rational purpose (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Clarknt67

      may include validating the names on those petitions...making sure they are all real people.  

    •  Seems to me (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Clarknt67

      That the best way to solve that problem is to do away with ballot initiatives. Ballot initiatives are cancerous to good and stable government.

      •  That's ironic in the extreme... (0+ / 0-)

        ...because the initiative arose out of the 19th century Progressive movement to curb the abuses of bought and paid for corrupt state legislatures.

        We might want to keep them around the way the Supreme Court is headed. Just sayin'.

        •  Not really (0+ / 0-)

          The initiative system might have worked for those purposes in the 19th century, but today it is primarily used as a cudgel for corporations and powerful interest groups to pass legislation that they cannot otherwise move through state legislators. The original goal of the progressive movement in supporting the the initiative system - to curtail corporate power - has been turned on its head.

          The situation in California, where the people have shown a willingness to vote themselves into a systemic impossibility and where there is an almost 1:1 correlation between money spent on a ballot measure and the success or failure of that measure really strongly demonstrates why our government was set-up as a representative democracy.

    •  What's amazing about Thomas's dissent (0+ / 0-)

      is that the record in the case didn't have any evidence that Citizens' United donors ever were harassed.  Instead, Thomas relied on the complaint in the Perry case and some newspaper articles -- i.e., hearsay not within an exception -- to argue for invalidating the statute.  If the petitioner failed to raise a triable issue of fact, it is not entitled to relief from an adverse summary judgment ruling.  The possibility that other donors in other cases might be harassed doesn't entitle Citizens United to prevail on an as-applied challenge, and Thomas's reasoning does not support a facial challenge to disclosure provisions, writ large -- it would have to be problematic, always for such a challenge to have merit.

      "This world demands the qualities of youth: not a time of life but a state of mind[.]" -- Robert F. Kennedy

      by Loge on Thu Jan 21, 2010 at 06:56:12 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  "The Youngest, Cruelest Justice" (6+ / 0-)

    That's how the New York Times characterized Thomas following one of his very first dissents, when he stated that a prisoner had no 8th Amendment action when a jailer knocked his teeth out.  I just loved this, right out of the gate!  

    Only four months after taking his oath as a Justice, Clarence Thomas finds himself rebuked by a seven-member majority of the Rehnquist Court for disregarding humane standards of decency. The withering reprimand, included in the Supreme Court's majority opinion in a prison case Tuesday, is this:

    To deny, as the dissent does, the difference between punching a prisoner in the face and serving him unappetizing food is to ignore the concepts of dignity, civilized standards, humanity, and decency that animate the Eighth Amendment.

    See "The Youngest, Cruelest Justice," HERE.    Ignoring the concepts of dignity, civilized standards, humanity, and decency.  You got that right!  And keep in mind:  he was in a dissent when O'CONNOR AND REHNQUIST WERE IN THE MAJORITY!  And they HATED criminals.

    And this after his sworn confirmation testimony that he used to sit in his chambers at the U.S. Dist. Ct. for Dist. of Columbia and watch prisoners marched into the jail down the way, thinking "There but for the Grace of God go I."  Sworn testimony, that was.  

    Ah, Clarence.  Twenty years has passed since then, and consistency remains thy name.  You consistent bastard.

    "Lawyers, I suppose, were children once." To Kill A Mockingbird

    by DC Scott on Thu Jan 21, 2010 at 02:37:52 PM PST

  •  Er, that sounds like Anonymous Free Speech there (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pd, dharmafarmer, Back In Blue, Clarknt67, Loge

    Justice Thomas.  

    Er, that's just a tad dumb, no?

    Oh and that line about funders being subject to a variety of responses including retaliation before a "plaintiff could prevail on an as-applied challenge"  

    That's pretty much how the justice system works.  You get to seek recompense after you been harmed, assuming you actually have a basis to do so.

    Thomas equates anonymous speech with free speech.  I don't see it.  Free speech goes to your freedom to say things; it does not protect you from ridicule you may be subject to as a result of exercising your free speech rights.  

  •  Does not this decision coupled with the Persons (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Back In Blue, DRo

    Decision under the 14th Amendment, put corporations under the same giving restriction as Persons?

    I.e. doesn't this limit corporations to giving $2600 per candidate in the primary and $2600 per candidate in the General?

    Should make for another great SCOTUS case.

    "Progress" is the core of progressive. Two steps forward. One step back.

    by captainlaser on Thu Jan 21, 2010 at 02:41:35 PM PST

  •  Just wait america.... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Back In Blue

    Your corporate masters will have the supreme court filled with Justice Thomas clones.

    It might not happen today, it might not happen in a year, but eventually, with they being free to corrupt, they'll do it.

  •  This is probably the longest piece of writing (0+ / 0-)

    submitted by Thomas since he's been on the highest bench.  It would be helpful if he'd worry some about all the threats against the President, not to mention those made to common citizens who do not live in California or vote on such referenda.

  •  "He's his own unique sphere of wrongness" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    irishwitch

    Thank you for this.

    Much of life is knowing what to Google

    by JanF on Thu Jan 21, 2010 at 02:46:58 PM PST

  •  i'm speechless! which is ironic (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    irishwitch
  •  The threat to representative government (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Its any one guess, DRo

    “Today the business once transacted by individuals in every community is in the control of corporations, and many of the men who once conducted an independent business are gathered into the organization, and all personal identity, and all individualities lost. Each man has become a mere cog in one of the wheels of a complicated mechanism. It is the business of the corporations to get money. It exacts but one thing of its employees: Obedience to orders. It cares not about their relations to the community, the church, society, or the family. It wants full hours and faithful service, and when they die, wear out or are discharged, it quickly replaces them with new material. 

The corporation is a machine for making money, but it reduces men to the insignificance of mere numerical figures, as certainly as the private ranks of the regular army.

    ~ Fighting Bob La Follette

    speech on the Dangers Threatening Representative Government, Mineral Point, Wisconsin, July 4, 1897

  •  Remember when conservatives used to (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    irishwitch, DRo

    whine about 'activist judges'?

    :crickets:

    "I feel stupid and contagious. Here we are now, entertain us" - Kurt Cobain

    by Jeff Y on Thu Jan 21, 2010 at 02:52:44 PM PST

    •  Let's see (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      irishwitch, Jeff Y

      The struck down a statute of long-duration, threatening an entire regime of campaign regulation.  They refused to decide the case on as-applied grounds (the narrower ground).  Even though none of the parties, or the courts below, addressed the constitutionality of Austin and McConnell, the Court sua sponte  ordered additional briefing on their Constitutionality . . .

      Yup, no judicial activism here, move along.  IOKIYAR.

      "This world demands the qualities of youth: not a time of life but a state of mind[.]" -- Robert F. Kennedy

      by Loge on Thu Jan 21, 2010 at 07:03:32 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I wonder if any of the t-baggers will be upset (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wishingwell, Jeff Y

    then again, their too stupid to understand what this means.

  •  Ya know.... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    irishwitch

    Ever since I sat transfixed at the figurative skewering of Anita Hill during Clarence Thomas' hearings in the early 90's, I realized he was one very troubled and a thoroughly despicable person.  
    So far I haven't been proved wrong.
     
     

    I think, therefore I am........................... Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose AKA Engine Nighthawk - don't ask!/don't tell!

    by Lilyvt on Thu Jan 21, 2010 at 02:56:36 PM PST

  •  Exactly WHO was killed by anti-8 followers? (0+ / 0-)
  •  Hmmmm. Not sure how I feel. (0+ / 0-)

    I imagine a law that specifically protects cross-burning and the display of nooses from being categorized as hate speech because they occupy a unique place in American history and folklore and are part of the religious practice of certain practitioners.

    The citizenry of whatever great state got caught sleeping when that law passed is outraged and immediately begins a ballot initiative to repeal the odious law.

    However, they are legally required to disclose their name, address, etc.

    Free speech? Yeah, I've heard of that. Have you?

    by dinotrac on Thu Jan 21, 2010 at 03:04:44 PM PST

  •  And of course the protections were not an issue (0+ / 0-)

    for antiabortionists who did the same thing to healthcare providers. Thomas' weirdness (nothwithstanding his false consciousness as a conservative, his love of RVing and wacky religion) makes him the saddest suceessor to Thurgood Marshall.

    Some opponents of Proposition 8 compiled this information and created Web sites with maps showing the locations of homes or businesses of Proposition 8 supporters. Many supporters (or their customers) suffered property damage, or threats of physical violence or death, as a result. ...

    "...calling for a 5" deck gun is not parody. Not by a long shot." (gnaborretni)

    by annieli on Thu Jan 21, 2010 at 03:08:56 PM PST

  •  yeah (0+ / 0-)

    we're pretty f*cked. We need a conservative justice to retire soon. As it stands, the justices most likely to retire are ginsberg, souter or stevens. I really hope they retire before we get a Rep president or else we're screwed for the next generation.

    •  I pray for... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      irishwitch

      ...sky fairies to bring home some of their blessed children on the High Court sooner rather than later.

      Thomas and Scalia aren't the healthiest looking dudes.  Type II diabetes or cardiovascular disease for either would be a blessing to our Republic.

  •  I thought there already were laws against (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    musing85, indiemcemopants

    harrassing, intimidating and committing violence against other citizens?

    Or are teh gays, like the terrorists in Gitmo, so superpowered by their evil ordinary rule of law is incapable of containing the threat they pose to real Americans?

  •  Democrats should immediately make populist hay... (0+ / 0-)

    over the latest Supreme Court decision..."I am personally appalled that large corporations basically have carte blanche to buy and pay for any candidate that wants to work for them....I know that goes on already, but don't come to me as a voter and tell me who you want, because I'm never fucking voting again until something is done to reform this.  

  •  Impeach Scalia, Roberts, Alito, Kennedy. (0+ / 0-)

    Thomas is deranged.

  •  Who woulda... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    irishwitch

    Thunk that the most rightwing asshole on the U.S. Supreme Court in the past 20 years would be a fucking black man?

    Jeebus I'm living in bizarro world.

  •  Minus the physical home address. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Adam B, dizzydance76

    Victims and witnesses, in stalking cases and other violent crime cases, are entirely cut out of the political process by requirements that place their physical addresses in public databases.

    Unless you've been there yourself (I have: helped send a stalker to prison) you have no idea how dangerous these situations are.  I managed to get my stuff confidentialized by court order, but it took doing a day's worth of legal research and filing a document with the court.  

    There is NEVER a justification for publishing a physical home address as distinct from some electronic means of contact or a mailing address that is not identical with the home address.  

    The only reason someone shows up at your house without having first obtained your consent, is if their intentions are not something you would consent to.  

  •  Heh, you're much more fun when you're allowed (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    musing85

    to give free reign to your interpretations of cases.  I mean, I appreciate that you give such good and largely objective summaries of cases when you feel that you can't get personally involved, but this is so much more fun when you do.

    Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

    by pico on Thu Jan 21, 2010 at 03:46:59 PM PST

  •  Did Justice Thomas make any comments during... (0+ / 0-)

    ... the court proceedings? He rarely ever asks questions or engages in debate. Compared to the other justices, he's rather mute. Some think that this is simply his style on the bench. Decades ago, the justices rarely spoke during proceedings. IMHO, it may be because Thomas is not quite as qualified as his counterparts. He's a smart guy, just not Supreme Court material.

    "As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly."- Arthur Carlson

    by bobinson on Thu Jan 21, 2010 at 04:20:53 PM PST

    •  His mind is made up (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bobinson, irishwitch

      He doesn't give anyone the opportunity to confuse him with facts by asking questions.

      The way to combat noxious ideas is with other ideas. The way to combat falsehoods is with truth. - William O. Douglas

      by PSzymeczek on Thu Jan 21, 2010 at 05:34:53 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I'm not even sure he's that smart. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bobinson

      I watched those hearings and was underwhelmed. I think that Bush Daddy knew he needed to find an African-American conservative judge, and that's a pretty small group. Thomas was what he came up withg.

      The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

      by irishwitch on Thu Jan 21, 2010 at 07:35:45 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  When did Corporations become individuals? (0+ / 0-)

    How is it that a Corporation has rights of free speech?

  •  Thomas is opposed (0+ / 0-)

    to the same reasoning that overturned inter-racial marriage laws in Virginia. Since Thomas's spouse is caucasian and they married in Virginia, the irony if his ideology is rich.

    •  What's your basis for this? (0+ / 0-)

      I think he would oppose those laws under his jurisprudence, since he'd see a ban on interracial marriage as not being "color blind."  He objects to any race-conscious remedial measures to overcome the legacy of segregation, but I am unaware of anything in his jurisprudence that would support this.

      He would have upheld a statute banning the burning of crosses without separate proof of an intent to intimidate, for instance, in Virgina v. Black.  

      "This world demands the qualities of youth: not a time of life but a state of mind[.]" -- Robert F. Kennedy

      by Loge on Thu Jan 21, 2010 at 07:08:34 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Well, ostensibly, (0+ / 0-)

        he is an originalist; that is, he believes that the intent of the framers is paramount. That they thought of the idea of inter-racial marriage (as most Virginians did up until long after 1967) as repugnant is no secret. One might argue that the phrase "all men are created equal" creates the grounds for racial equality but clearly the framers - all of them really - would have been aghast at the prospect of a white man marrying a black woman and, in Thomas's case vice versa. Thomas cannot rigorously enforce a textually rigid Constitution on the one hand and then drop that enforcement when it doesn't suit him. The Constitution does not specifically mention the right of anyone to marry a person of a different race; in fact it doesn't mention marriage at all. In that case, Thomas must be of the opinion that rights not specifically given to the Federal government are those belonging to the States. On this basis, he must be opposed to the Supreme Court overthrowing miscegenation laws.

  •  Time to amend (0+ / 0-)

    It's time to begin the amendment procedure to add the 28th Amendment:

    Any reference to "persons" within this Constitution shall be construed to refer to "natural persons."

    Or words to that effect.  I'll let the constitutional scholars word it properly.

  •  I just thought of something... (0+ / 0-)

    ...corporations can even get married (via merger), yet gay citizens can't.

    Even granting the degree to which politics had already grown more plutocratic, this decision effectively makes the plutocracy official. And meanwhile actual humans are treated as second-class citizens.

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