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Conservative Supremes: superheroes of hypocrisy

Rumor has it that a major studio plans to make a movie based on Stretch Armstrong, the 1970s action figure whose limbs could be grotesquely elongated to enable super-human feats. If the project is still alive, producers should consider casting one of the five conservative Supreme Court justices who just stretched, contorted and twisted themselves silly to allow corporations to flood political campaigns with billions of potentially corrupting dollars.

The Robed Wonders purport to live by the conservative code that embraces narrow rulings and stable precedents and eschews sweeping, monumental pronouncements that abruptly disrupt the legal and political landscape. Not so in today's campaign finance decision, which involved Citizens United, the nonprofit that in 2008 produced "Hillary:The Movie," a scathing critique of then-Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton. The case pitted the legitimacy of laws meant to limit corporate influence over elections against the free speech rights of corporations to spend their political dollars however they wish. This case, the five justices must have mused, was too big, too important to tackle with anything less than heroic zeal.

So instead of nipping here and tucking there, they (KA-POW!!) did away with decades-old laws that curbed the ability of companies to spend unlimited amounts of money on, for example, TV spots and campaign ads that could single-handedly make or break a candidate.

I'm not unsympathetic to the argument that money -- whether political contributions to candidates or money spent on ads for or against a candidate -- is essentially speech and is thus protected by the First Amendment. And I certainly have no beef with the justices' decision to uphold disclosure requirements for individuals and entities, alike. But I find it incredible that the conservative core of the court used this case -- a case involving a nonprofit organization -- to expand the rights and powers of corporate players. I'm also dismayed that the justices did not make a greater effort to find some middle ground that would have permitted more speech for Citizens United but left intact some of the regulations for companies.

With most constraints now gone, one can only wonder how much money corporations will be willing to spend and how far they will be willing to go to ensure their candidates get elected. Here's one possibility: To Infinity, and Beyond!

By Eva Rodriguez  | January 21, 2010; 1:37 PM ET
Categories:  Rodriguez  | Tags:  Eva Rodriguez  
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Comments

What's even more disturbing is that the corporations will often not even have to spend the money - just the threat of it will be enough.

Given the clay feet that a lot of our elected officials have these days, this is a lousy turn of events.

The conservatives in the court, especially Scalia, are dangerous because they are so profoundly unaware of their own biases. I heard an interview with Scalia, and he really thinks he operates completely on reason. Yet he is one of the most profoundly opinionated people you will ever meet. There is no self-examination in any real sense, and not a shred of self-doubt. Maybe that got him on the Supreme court, but it makes his thinking sclerotic.

Posted by: Rozinante2 | January 21, 2010 1:58 PM | Report abuse

whatever -- who even watches commericals anymore? DVR and fastforward. or, increasingly cut hte cable and hook the computer directly to the TV (try it -- it's great and cut my cable bill in half)

Raw video is available of candidates on the internet. That's worth more than all the 30 second spots a company (or union) could buy. No amount of corporate money could have saved Allen after macaca went viral or Coakley after she deemed herself above actually talking to voters.

An email from a friend with a link trumps corporate money.

Posted by: NoVAHockey | January 21, 2010 2:00 PM | Report abuse

NoVAHockey - It doesn't matter who watches commercials. Clearly, every politician beliefs that there is a direct correlation between the money they spend and the votes they receive. I'd like to see you convince them otherwise.

In the meantime, we now know that our right to free speech is moderated by the amount of money we can afford to spend. So people (or corporations or organizations) that can contribute more have a greater "right" to free speech..

Your examples of raw video are illustrative, since most of that video is generated by paid "followers" from the opposing camp who follow candidates around with a video camera, waiting for a gaff that they can capture on film. So yes, money made a huge difference in the examples you cited.

Posted by: Buddydog | January 21, 2010 2:37 PM | Report abuse

Presumably, now that money equals speech, we can all send money to terrorist groups or countries which the U.S. has imposed sanctions. Rather than being seen as material support, it is now simply the free expression of a person's political views.

Posted by: Buddydog | January 21, 2010 2:38 PM | Report abuse

How do the Hillary partisans who blatantly tried to suppress legitimate political speech feel about the ultimate outcome of their efforts today?

Posted by: edbyronadams | January 21, 2010 2:38 PM | Report abuse

I find it incredible that the conservative core of the court used this case -- a case involving a nonprofit organization -- to expand the rights and powers of corporate players

So instead of nipping here and tucking there, they (KA-POW!!) did away with decades-old laws

______________________________________

Expanding their rights? How about they just got their rights back!! Last time I looked, the Constitution of the United States is way older than decades old laws. Are we going to allow free speech only if we agree with it? Finally the court is standing up for the Constitution! If you believe corporate influence is too much, work for a Constitional amendment that people actually get to vote on. Don't rely on packing the court with unelected lifetime appointment judges to do so!! The amendment process of the Constitution is there for a reason and structured as it is so that it's hard to take away rights like freedom of speech!

Posted by: LivinginthePromisedLand | January 21, 2010 2:40 PM | Report abuse

Conservatives purport to live by a code of narrow rulings and embracing precedents? Maybe...if you're a 19th century conservative reacting to the French Revolution.

Conservatives today embrace laws and rulings that stick to the language and original intent of the Constitution, and that do not intrude into people's basic constitutional liberties. And considering that McCain-Feingold is a very new law, it's not like the justices are sweeping aside decades of precedents. This is a fairly recent issue for the Court, and one that the Court hasn't entirely come to terms with yet.

Besides, even for people who want to limit free spending in campaigns, McCain-Feingold has been an utter disaster. Just look at the total campaign spending from all parties before McCain-Feingold and after. If anything, the campaign finance law encouraged even more spending and even more money flowing from special interests.

And, really, the distinctions that the law tries to make are so narrow as to be absurd. An individual does have free speech, but a corporate interest does not? So what is a corporate interest? A big business? A labor union? A group of people who get together and pool money just for the purpose of running a campaign ad since none of them individually has enough money to do so? It's impossible to draw meaningful distinctions among these, and even if Congress does, it just means that big businesses and labor unions will find ways to use non-profit advocacy groups to voice their election views...which is precisely what has happened.

Why do you think there has been such a proliferation of 527 groups and PACs? Even with limits on what PACs can spend, interested parties just set up a dozen or more PACs and then donate the maximum to each, with each PAC then donating the maximum to the candidates that these people want to support. The McCain-Feingold provisions haven't stopped money; they've made it easier to hide behind sham organizations, which means more is flowing than ever before.

Posted by: blert | January 21, 2010 2:41 PM | Report abuse

"When word concerning the plot of the movie Mr. Smith
Goes to Washington reached the circles of Government,
some officials sought, by persuasion, to discourage its
distribution. See Smoodin, “Compulsory” Viewing for
Every Citizen: Mr. Smith and the Rhetoric of Reception,
35 Cinema Journal 3, 19, and n. 52 (Winter 1996) (citing
Mr. Smith Riles Washington, Time, Oct. 30, 1939, p. 49);
Nugent, Capra’s Capitol Offense, N. Y. Times, Oct. 29,
1939, p. X5. Under Austin, though, officials could have
done more than discourage its distribution—they could
have banned the film. After all, it, like Hillary, was
speech funded by a corporation that was critical of Mem-
bers of Congress. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington may be
fiction and caricature; but fiction and caricature can be a
powerful force.
Modern day movies, television comedies, or skits on
Youtube.com might portray public officials or public poli-
cies in unflattering ways. Yet if a covered transmission
during the blackout period creates the background for
candidate endorsement or opposition, a felony occurs
solely because a corporation, other than an exempt media
corporation, has made the “purchase, payment, distribu-
tion, loan, advance, deposit, or gift of money or anything of
value” in order to engage in political speech. 2 U. S. C.
§431(9)(A)(i). Speech would be suppressed in the realm
where its necessity is most evident: in the public dialogue
preceding a real election. Governments are often hostile
to speech, but under our law and our tradition it seems
stranger than fiction for our Government to make this
political speech a crime. Yet this is the statute’s purpose"

Posted by: mharwick | January 21, 2010 2:41 PM | Report abuse

You argue that it would be OK for non-profits to spend and speak freely about political matters, but not other corporations. Are you kidding? Do you seriously think the Supreme Court should have determined what "types" of companies may speak freely on political issues? How do you decide which ones are OK? And what would prevent the corporations of the type you apparently think should be silenced from establishing the "right kind" of corporation in order to get out the message? That was the dumbest post I've ever read.

Posted by: Meximelt | January 21, 2010 2:45 PM | Report abuse

Did Rodriguez not read the ruling? It allows unions more spending freedoms as well.

Posted by: MarkatWash | January 21, 2010 2:47 PM | Report abuse

Some principles are more important than outcomes. I dislike the idea of unlimited corporate spending on elections, but I dislike the idea of restricting free speech rights absent a constitutional amendment even more.

Posted by: 1ofamillion | January 21, 2010 2:53 PM | Report abuse

Rozinante2 wrote:

The conservatives in the court, especially Scalia, are dangerous because they are so profoundly unaware of their own biases. I heard an interview with Scalia, and he really thinks he operates completely on reason. Yet he is one of the most profoundly opinionated people you will ever meet. There is no self-examination in any real sense, and not a shred of self-doubt. Maybe that got him on the Supreme court, but it makes his thinking sclerotic.

---------------------

This is very backwards thinking, and it shows a gross lack of awareness about what Scalia and others actually write in their opinions. The implication that one cannot hold an opinion and be reasoned at the same time is nonsense. Being reasoned means having an opinion, and being able to defend that opinion with logic and evidence. And, by definition, an opinion is a matter on which a reasonable person might disagree. In other words, two people can hold conflicting opinions...and both are still reasoned.

In this art of reason and argument, Scalia is a master. So are many of the liberal justices. They're all reasoned people; they all have opinions; they all have biases, and probably more so than most people, they are aware of what their biases are. Scalia, in fact, infuriates the left so much because he is so vocal and unashamed about his biases.

And don't we want justices who are certain in their opinions? Justices who are uncertain can't decide one way or another, and they are of no use in a legal proceeding. Legal cases demand a vote, and all of the justices go through a reasoning process to arrive at their decisions. Some are just more forceful and polished in presenting their final conclusions.

As for being sclerotic, aren't liberal justices just as stubborn? You just happen to agree with them more often, but from a conservative perspective, those liberal justices are every bit as unbending and uncompromising.

Posted by: blert | January 21, 2010 2:54 PM | Report abuse

This ruling is long over due. Unions and many of the Soros organizations having been spending unlimited amounts for years. It is time for a level playing field. Outlaw the spending for all or none.

Posted by: LynnWBarnes | January 21, 2010 2:58 PM | Report abuse

See, they're only supposed to decide if something is Constitutional in accordance with a strict constructualist view of that document; not whether it's good or bad or fair or unfair. BTW, it's not just corporations, my rights as a member of the NRA were restored as well.

Posted by: ronjaboy | January 21, 2010 3:00 PM | Report abuse

For those of you who claim this as a triumph of the constitutional protection for free speech, you have to believe in several fictions:
1) contributing money to campaigns is speech
2)corporations (or unions) are people

Since neither of these propositions are facts, but they are simply metaphors, today's decision does nothing to advance the principles the constitution was all about.

Posted by: fmjk | January 21, 2010 3:02 PM | Report abuse

"Potentially" corrupting? I can see it now, Brown/Palin 2012: Brought to you by ExxonMobile!

But I guess if it's legal, it's not corruption is it?

Posted by: Duodenum | January 21, 2010 3:04 PM | Report abuse

All the cancervatives can now sleep well again -- the political world has just been made even more safe for the IBMs and Exxons and Citigroups and other corporate shadow governments of this country, at the expense of the little guy yet again. As for those who think this will also affect the unions -- the day that the unions have as much money and power in this country as the fat-cat corporations have, the need for unions will cease to exist.

Score yet another one for the me-first and country-second cancervatives in this country...as they continue to obstruct and obfuscate the political process, now they'll do it by pouring even more wheelbarrows of money on top of the garbage they spew...

Posted by: gr8day4bsbll | January 21, 2010 3:07 PM | Report abuse

If you are so worried about cororations spending money to pubilize their political views, how do you permit the mainstream media to spend money on political views. The NY Times, the WaPo, the LA Times the Journel, NBC, ABC, CBS, MSNBC, CNBC, CNN, Fox News and hundreds of other newspapers and radio and tv stations do it every day and they are corporations too. And they spend really big money on politics.

Posted by: jdonner2 | January 21, 2010 3:10 PM | Report abuse

Instead of blathering like idiots, why don't you go to school and learn the law. Didn't your mother ever tell you that when you run your mouth the chances are you are just going to show people how dumb you are? I mean really. I don't mean to insult anyone, but get a clue.

Posted by: Obamasux | January 21, 2010 3:12 PM | Report abuse

The difference between a corporation and a human being is obvious: A corporation exists only as a legal fiction for commercial purposes. It is immortal, for all practical purposes, and most importantly, the managers of it's wealth are not the owners. They can choose to spend the wealth of the corporation for their own purposes, which in many cases may be anathema to the actual owners, the stockholders.

HUMAN BEINGS have inalienable rights, corporations do not. If people want to band together in a PAC for concerted action, that is completely different than a CEO of Exxon deciding to spend a bazillion dollars on Astroturf organizations that oppose climate change legislations.

If the Supreme Court had removed all of the silly restrictions on what an individual human being could do with their wealth, I would cheer. THIS decision, however, simply tightens the yoke that our corporate masters have around our necks.

Posted by: WarriorGrrl | January 21, 2010 3:22 PM | Report abuse

What I find troubling here is that the writer seems to draw a distinction between for profit and non-profit speech. Apparently Ms. Rodriguez feels that the likes of moveon.org should be allowed spend freely on hatchet jobs against any candidate they please, but for profit companies should not. The fact of the matter is many so-called "non-profits" have their own agendas to push, many of which involve large sums of money. (See ACORN). My personal belief is that limiting campaign finance spending favors incumbents over their challengers, no matter what the party. If the politicians can't take the heat, they should get out of the proverbial kitchen.

Posted by: rexlex1 | January 21, 2010 3:23 PM | Report abuse

I love it. One rule for Corporations, one rule for non-profits, one rule for unions, and one rule for individuals. C'mon girl think rationaly

Posted by: green102 | January 21, 2010 3:26 PM | Report abuse

Hmm, what counts more in the eyes of politicians? My vote, or the millions they receive in campaign contributions from special interests? Our government was bought by corporations years ago - this only finalizes the sale. I welcome our new/old Corporate Overlords and wait for any crumbs that they may throw my way.

Posted by: josetucson | January 21, 2010 3:35 PM | Report abuse

BuddyDog -- I don't see how this changes anything. How are the current issue ads that are legal and funded through soft money any different than what corporations
will run next cycle?

I agree with your point that speech is limited by money. But this is hardly a recent development. I do think that it's slowly changing due to the internet, which is giving a voice to those who otherwise would be excluded.

I also think we should error on the side of more speech and not more restrictions. I'm not thrilled by the idea of a company endorsing a particular candidate, but i'd rather have a company be upfront with its support --- (Walmart supports X for Congress) than simply giving soft money donations that fund an "issue ads" sponsored by some made up group that nobody has heard of.

As long as companies are required to disclose the fact they are sponsoring an ad I have no problem with it. I think it's just as likely to hurt than it is to help a candidate.


Posted by: NoVAHockey | January 21, 2010 3:37 PM | Report abuse

Here's a question for everyone:

What is the difference between, say, Hillary: The Movie and Primary Colors? The latter changes names, but the characters are all thinly disguised. Suppose both were released during election seasons. Would one deserve a ban and the other not?

I don't think that Congress or the Court has any business telling us what can and cannot be said when, or what constitutes political speech vs. art.

Posted by: blert | January 21, 2010 3:44 PM | Report abuse

Once again, the bold hypocrisy of the Right astounds. They preach endlessly about "activist" judges and respecting precedent... then completely ignore decades of precedent and become as activist as we've ever experienced in this country.
Bad is bad for the other guys.... bad is good for us, as Scallia shows us all once again. Talk about an activist court!
Guess we'll all have to incorporate so we can all throw unlimited $$$ around to buy votes with ( what's to stop us? ).
Insanely irresponsible decision that will hurt the average American. If anyone thinks that corporations, etc., can be trusted to do the right thing.... just remember what the Big Banks, Big Pharma, etc. have been up to over the years.
We are so screwed.

Posted by: badgervan | January 21, 2010 3:52 PM | Report abuse

Hypocrisy ?

I understand Obama walked out of a meeting with lobbyists today from BIG Labor, Health Care, Insurance, Wall Street Banks and condemned this decision as "a major victory for special interests".

Who is he trying to fool ?

Imagine Ted Kennedy, Bill Clinton or John Edwards stepping out of a bedroom and condemning adultery !! Its laughable !

This from the Presidential candidate who refused public financing and took in $200 million from... special interests !!

This from the President who has spent his first year meeting SECRETLY with oh.. EVERY special interest group ??

I am reminded that over 600 private jets flew into Washington for Obama's inauguration. Only 300 for Bushs at the height of the Bush bubble.

Hypocrisy ?? Nah.

Posted by: pvilso24 | January 21, 2010 3:59 PM | Report abuse

Union management functions on behalf of their membership in the same way that corporate management functions on behalf of their shareholders. We expect them to promote our interests.

The unions spent $1 million on the Coakley campaign alone, $500 million to elect Obama.
This decision restores the First Amendment rights of ordinary Americans who own stock individually or through mutual/pension funds to participate on an equal basis.

No wonder the Democrats are screaming. The last thing they want is for ordinary Americans to have a voice. It might make it harder for the Democrats' special interest groups.

Posted by: parkbench | January 21, 2010 4:01 PM | Report abuse

The thing to REALLY worry about is how the news media have become pernicious, partisan campaigners, rather than helpful, neutral reporters. And it isn't even subtle anymore -- it's obvious and blatant. Very sad.

Posted by: BadNews | January 21, 2010 4:01 PM | Report abuse

McCain-Feingold never really stopped corporations from supporting any candidate or cause. All they had to do was create a little PAC and they can spend as much as they want.
The corporations wait for us the voters to hire the politicians then they pay for them. And we just keep re-electing them. We're getting the government we deserve.

Posted by: north1 | January 21, 2010 4:08 PM | Report abuse

I am not a Democrat (although I do consider myself Liberal), but I have always been suspicious of "strict constructionism", or the philosophy that the point of judicial review is try to determine what the Framers meant at the time they wrote the Constitution. The Founding Fathers were great men, but they weren't gods. They were products of their time and had the sensibilities, knowledge and yes ignorance of that era as well. There was no such thing as a corporation in the modern sense at the time of the 1st amendment and therefore no way to foresee this issue. So trying to rad the minds of the framers on this one is just not possible.

Posted by: allknowingguy | January 21, 2010 4:09 PM | Report abuse

Well of course it's hypocritical. That was to be expected. It also shows just how much the right wing of this country is borderline facsist. No respect for the rights of the individual, all rights to corporate interests. By continuing to blur the line between big corporations and the government, we just take one step closer to facsist rule.
Not that the liberals of this country or the Democratic party will do anything to reverse it or even call attention to it. They are too busy being meek.

Posted by: wbowers | January 21, 2010 4:12 PM | Report abuse

Did Rodriguez not read the ruling? It allows unions more spending freedoms as well.

Posted by: MarkatWash
***************************

The largest union I know of is the Teamsters. Since 1990, they've contributed $24.4 million to political races. That's a little over $1 million per year spread all over the country. They're the only union who has these kinds of resources: next biggest is SEIU and although they apparently spent millions in 2008 (much of it borrowed), they clearly don't have the income generating power of the Teamsters or even the UAW.

Compare the new "influence" granted those three organizations against, say, the Fortune 500, each member of which is now accorded unlimited ability from their far vaster resources to influence legislators.

But wait, there's more: you guys have been hell-bent on passing laws prohibiting unions from using dues on campaign contributions. That little goal of yours is unaffected by today's ruling.

How can you possibly be so naive as to think unions compare in any way, shape or form with the checkbooks of corporations?

I'll add one more thing: give me a union "input" to an election any day. At least I'm assured in their case that their interests are American. That's not the case for a multi-national corporation.

Posted by: abqcleve | January 21, 2010 4:17 PM | Report abuse

"This is very backwards thinking, and it shows a gross lack of awareness about what Scalia and others actually write in their opinions. The implication that one cannot hold an opinion and be reasoned at the same time is nonsense. Being reasoned means having an opinion, and being able to defend that opinion with logic and evidence."
--posted by a member of the public, who will remain nameless to save him/her embarrassment, earlier this afternoon

********************

Conservatives, you are not qualified to vote.

Posted by: abqcleve | January 21, 2010 4:19 PM | Report abuse

How quaint that we could be trusted to think for ourselves.

Posted by: hipshot | January 21, 2010 4:23 PM | Report abuse

So I'm sure those denouncing the Citizens United decision, which struck down a federal law as violative of the First Amendment, are equally incensed about the Court's decision in U.S. v. Eichman, which struck down the federal flag-desecration statute, also on First Amendment grounds. (People should note that Scalia and Kennedy stood up for the rights of free speech, and that Stevens was in favor of suppressing speech, in both cases.)

Posted by: entonces_99 | January 21, 2010 4:23 PM | Report abuse

Where's "original intent"? I thought the Supreme Tort was filled to the brim with "original intent" geniuses like Scalledya, who purport to not only know the original writings of our founding fathers -- but their very THOUGHTS as well!

Corporations didn't even exist in 1776. They are an unfortunate product of some legalistic chicanery from the 19th century.

This ruling today just simplifies vote buying for corporations. Of course if the unions are paying attention, they could play too, I guess. Wouldn't THAT be interesting?

Posted by: tony_in_Durham_NC | January 21, 2010 4:31 PM | Report abuse

So will corporations now be able to exercise their Second Amendment rights?

Posted by: rcasero | January 21, 2010 4:51 PM | Report abuse

how about the unlimited spending of Unions ? Those pigs walk right through the front door of the white house. Last time those pigs walked thru, it cost the taxpayers(non union) 60 billion $'s(exempted union health plans from federal tax). Soooooo glad Obama's pandering health bill is going down.Thank you Brown and MA.

Posted by: snapplecat07 | January 21, 2010 4:52 PM | Report abuse

Here's why the Roberts court made this decision. Corporations give to the GOP over Dems by a 60-40 clip. And this is exactly the kind of large business campaign stacking that Jefferson, Madison, and Jackson fought against for decades.

Posted by: TheTruthPlease | January 21, 2010 5:00 PM | Report abuse

As usual Rodriguez is her normal liberal self. There is nothing in the Constitution of the United States that allows a law stating who can give to campaigns, who cannot give to campaigns, and when they are allowed to give. It is irritating that many journalists seem to regard the Constitution as irrelevant. For all of the people that think this means an advantage for one party or another - this did not help any one party when there was no law. For unions to be exempt from the original law was far from fair. I have read several comments that said you cannot compare unions and corporations. Why not? There are many union organizations and the majority of them give to the Democratic Party. That is a fact - look at the deal that Obama was willing to give the unions on healthcare. I think people in this country are sick of all of the government interference in areas that should not concern them. If the government would concern themselves with our national security and leave major issues to the states the population of this country would be in much better shape. Rodriguez is another example of a journalist that is out of touch with the majority of the country. She and others like her may be the reason that major newspapers and most of the news companies are slowly and painfully losing circulation!

Posted by: srfarmer2003 | January 21, 2010 5:04 PM | Report abuse

This needs to be a two faceted issue. While I don't like corporations being granted the same rights as individuals, I can follow the logic to a point.

The 2nd change that is absolutely *essential* is to ban *any* contributions to politicians at all. Have publicly funded campaigns to keep money from being blatant bribes as it is today.

If a company wants to run advertising and spend money to send people to talk with politicians, fine. Individuals can do the same thing. But simply giving politicians money is where the real problem lies.

Posted by: rpixley220 | January 21, 2010 5:26 PM | Report abuse

The gift that just keeps on giving-George Bush's destruction of the American middle class. Thank goodness we finally got rid of the barbaric muffling of the free speech rights of big business and labor unions. I haven't been able to sleep well in years knowing how unfair it was to limit how many Congressmen and presidents could be owned by corporations. We deserve to have the best Congress that money will buy. I have a suggestion, however. Why don't we stop paying Supreme Court Justices a salary and let them sell decisions on the open market as proof of the superiority of capitalism. And these strict Constitutionalists are not being activist in their emasculation of Congress with this decision? We are so stupid and so doomed.

Posted by: wilsonjmichael | January 21, 2010 5:28 PM | Report abuse

"The money powers prey upon the nation in times of peace and conspire against it in times of adversity. It is more despotic than a monarchy, more insolent than autocracy, and more selfish than bureaucracy. It denounces as public enemies, all who question its methods or throw light upon its crimes. I have two great enemies, the Southern Army in front of me and the Bankers in the rear. Of the two, the one at my rear is my greatest foe.. corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money powers of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until the wealth is aggregated in the hands of a few, and the Republic is destroyed." - Abraham Lincoln

The Supreme Court should have listened to Abe.

Posted by: Gracefulboomer | January 21, 2010 5:31 PM | Report abuse

Corporations are made up of people. I have interests in many corporations ~ ownership, membership, church affiliation, etc.

Anything that restricts those corporations restricts my rights.

I'm tired of fascists having the upper hand in this country. Time for a bit of equality.

George Soros and his clown college can just go to Hell ~ everybody's back now and no quarter will be given.

Posted by: muawiyah | January 21, 2010 5:55 PM | Report abuse

thetruthplease writes:Here's why the Roberts court made this decision. Corporations give to the GOP over Dems by a 60-40 clip. And this is exactly the kind of large business campaign stacking that Jefferson, Madison, and Jackson fought against for decades.

-and the unions ? they give 100% vs 0 to the Dems. Then they walk into the white house and get a $60 billion exemption in the health care bill. The UAW also got a bump up over secured creditors via Odumbo. What a slimy relationship. Obama also sends the SEIU locals to town meetings to yell /scream and act like thugs. I dont think IBM ever did that. If you want to ban corps, Union pigs should not get a free pass.

Posted by: snapplecat07 | January 21, 2010 5:56 PM | Report abuse

TheTruthPlease ~ given that the law has prohibited corporate contributions for 100 years just where do you come up with the Republicans getting more of those nonexistent corporations than the Democrats?

You will need to explain all of this in some manner.

Posted by: muawiyah | January 21, 2010 5:58 PM | Report abuse

tony_in_Durham_NC ~ corporations have a LONG LONG history. The issue is limited liability for the owners, and the issue here is the RIGHT of the owners to exercise their RIGHTS within and though corporations.

Our Constitution recognizes (and protects) the right to contract, and corporations constitute part of that particular right.

What you've done is confound the push for uniform contract law throughout the United States in the early 19th century with the "existence" of corporations.

Two different topics.

Posted by: muawiyah | January 21, 2010 6:03 PM | Report abuse


Interesting that most people from these comments, probably have money invested in their 401K's and other investments that own mutual funds.

Many of these funds probably own stocks in pharmaceuticals that produce and sell birth control pills, morning-after pills, or let's say surgical tools produced specifically for abortion.

Let's say those companies want to support candidates, more than likely from the Democratic Party, who support a woman's right to choose, and run ad after ad right up until election day, depicting the old back alley abortion clinics and what women would face if Roe v. Wade were overturned and all these procedures, and prescriptions were banned.

Do you think that would have an affect on how women would vote?

Something for you to think about!


Posted by: helloisanyoneoutthere | January 21, 2010 6:13 PM | Report abuse

Isn't it ironic that the Chicago thug who just was complicit in pacifying opposition to his health care scam by buying off Senators, the corrupt unions, making deals with Insurance companies, pharma and Acorn and paying out billions to Goldman Sachs is suddenly concerned with the influence of special interests? I guess it's only OK if a thug liberal does it! Well guess what? The game is over! What's he afraid of? The man child needs to stop whining and crying, understand that he is a failure and run out the rest of his term by doing as little additional damage as possible! Grow up man-child!!!!

Posted by: yankee11 | January 21, 2010 6:13 PM | Report abuse

"I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. Corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed."
- Abraham Lincoln

We are well on our way on the road to perdition. A free press and people are given First Amendment rights to petition the gov't about their grievances, corporations are not mentioned. You must laugh at conservatives that say card check is too coercive, while a "bundling" meeting of execs is not.

Posted by: jameschirico | January 21, 2010 6:35 PM | Report abuse

We have a system of checks and balances. Both Congress and the President must act swiftly to check this egreious and dangerous ruling. COngress should immediately take up legislation EXPLICITLY stating that a corporation is NOT a citizen and is a LEGAL CONSTRUCTION IN THE PURSUIT OF COMMERCE CREATED BY GOVERNMENT AND IN EXISTENCE AT THE SUFFERANCE OF THE GOVERNMENT. Therefore it is not entitled to the same rights and priviledges that citizens have. The president should immediately have the FCC issue rules to broadcasters regarding political advertising and reinstate the equal time rule. Congress may also want to visit the issue of reconstituting the reach and scope of the federal courts. The Constitution gives them that power. tom delay wanted to do "court stripping" to stop the court from protecting our rights. In this case Congress could either add two judges to balance out the right wing extremists, or they could smply put campaign law outside the jursidiction of the court.

The judicial activsts of the past used the bench to expand the rights of the people and to act as a bulwark against state tyranny. This conservative judicial activism seeks to strip away democracy itself. Disgraceful trolls. Through alito and roberts bush will be sh itt ing on our nation for another generation.

Posted by: John1263 | January 21, 2010 6:45 PM | Report abuse

As usual Rodriguez is her normal liberal self. There is nothing in the Constitution of the United States that allows a law stating who can give to campaigns, who cannot give to campaigns, and when they are allowed to give. It is irritating that many journalists seem to regard the Constitution as irrelevant.
=============================================
Typical conservative that never read the 14th amendment, that allows states to pass campaign limits that don't infringe on a 1st amendment free press or the right of "people" to petition the gov't to air their grievances. That is people, not corporations, nor unions.

Posted by: jameschirico | January 21, 2010 6:51 PM | Report abuse

It's not the big domestic corporations I'm afraid of. For a few dollars, any terrorist organization or foreign government can incorporate itself and buy itself enough candidates.

Who needs wars when they can buy candidates?

All this from SCOTUS justices who say that they believe in settled law. Not in this case they don't. Corporations have the same citizenship rights as illegals.

Posted by: chi-town | January 21, 2010 6:52 PM | Report abuse

Unions don't have a tiny fraction of the money that corporations do. What imbelcile is so stupid that they beleive that unions spent a million on the Coakley campaign or 500 million on Obama? Are you that challenged? Obama didn't spend 500 million total on his own camapign. exxon however had excess proifits of more than 50 BILLION through stealing our money in 2008 alone. Do you maybe think they would have a billion or two laying around to buy themselves a congress? This is the worst ruling since Plessy, and almost as bad as Dred Scott. Of course the conservatives who wrote this opinion are fans of the court that wrote Plessy, and Blacker (same court - and the decision they used as the thinly vieled "reason" for electing bush)

Make no mistake - those conservatives cheering this because they think it will help republicons - our interest no longer matter in politics. Your company will have no restrictions period over what it will do to you, how badly it will treat you, and what violence it will visit on you if you protest. There is a REASON we started restricting corporate influence a century ago. If you are so ignorant of our nation's history you are a disgrace.

Posted by: John1263 | January 21, 2010 6:53 PM | Report abuse

Roosevelt barely keep the fascists from establishing a foothold in America during the 30's (coincidentally the last major crisis we had) and they attempted to assassinate him for it.

We've been sliding down this path since Reagan and yes I'm including Clinton, but this might be the final step to subjugating an under educated and complacent populace. Make up our own minds......have you talked to anyone this decade?!? You want to see a class war??? You ain't seen nothing yet.

Posted by: theobserver4 | January 21, 2010 6:56 PM | Report abuse

The COnstitution gives COngress the explicit power to control commerce. Interantional and interstate. Corporations are legal entities - legal creations or laws passed by government -- that exist because the government says they may exist. They do not live, breathe, walk, talk, vote, run for office. They are not citizens. Allowing these fictional creations to have the same COnstitutional protections as you or me is an egrerious and twisted perverion. COngress needs to use the commerce clauses, and define corporations as expicitly NOT being ctizens. Then they have no claim to 1st Amendemtn protections. Period. A gross perversion at the very least.

Posted by: John1263 | January 21, 2010 6:57 PM | Report abuse

The purpose of these laws was to protect us from this overpowering wave of information that swarms the airwaves prior to an election. That information might not be correct and we would not be able to make informed decisions. Well, what about Keith Olbermum and the things he said just prior to the Massachusetts election? Shouldn't he be restricted?

Its the slippery slope. Lets guard our rights jealously.

Posted by: hipshot | January 21, 2010 7:06 PM | Report abuse

Just what this country needs, the best government money can buy. We have already given the rich and privileged our airways to spew their hate and nonsense, now the supreme court is letting them buy the politicians...outright, instead of under the table like they used to. SCOTUS, what a bunch of right wing fools, supply side idiots, etc. lets just hope the president can spend enough money fast on education so that at least our kids can know how to spot lies, inuendo, and rumors when they see it. Their parents obviously can't. Once again, the rich and privileged opinion makers get their way. Its another sad day for the land we used to call AMERICA.

Posted by: beegmo | January 21, 2010 7:11 PM | Report abuse

john1263 writes:Unions don't have a tiny fraction of the money that corporations do. What imbelcile is so stupid that they beleive that unions spent a million on the Coakley campaign or 500 million on Obama? Are you that challenged? Obama didn't spend 500 million total on his own camapign. exxon however had excess proifits of more than 50 BILLION through stealing our money in 2008 alone

--funny how they spend so little yet walk out with 60 Billion in exemptions in the health care bill. That is SIXTY BILLION DOLLARS. And the even more disgusting part is the UNIONS then promise to vote for Odumbo's supporters. Did you ever hear of Exxon workers doing that ??? Are you deaf and blind ? And then you have ACORN who not only got gov funding but bragged about registering Democratic voters. I think you need to open yr eyes.

Posted by: snapplecat07 | January 21, 2010 7:16 PM | Report abuse

Just what this country needs, the best government money can buy. We have already given the rich and privileged our airways to spew their hate and nonsense, now the supreme court is letting them buy the politicians...outright, instead of under the table like they used to. SCOTUS, what a bunch of right wing fools, supply side idiots, etc. lets just hope the president can spend enough money fast on education so that at least our kids can know how to spot lies, inuendo, and rumors when they see it. Their parents obviously can't. Once again, the rich and privileged opinion makers get their way. Its another sad day for the land we used to call AMERICA.

Posted by: beegmo

--------------------------------------------------

We'd have to start respecting education in this country for that to happen. This really just freaks me out quite a bit. I see polls where people think Saddam was behind 9/11 still??!? and watch clowns like Glen Beck throw up 6 random things and always link them to Mao and people gobble it up like its gospel.

I'm dreading to see what happens in the next say 5 years where we might spin so far out of control that we can't recover. Obama better get his health care/bank reform/environmental agenda through before the money pours in both sides from BoA, Exxon, and Aetna and we really turn fascist. Pinkerton will be guarding the polling stations in 10 years....

Posted by: theobserver4 | January 21, 2010 7:36 PM | Report abuse

I like this article. Why do we never hear from this woman (who can write and is not insane)instead of Will, Krauthammer, Broder, Cohen? Out with old, in with the new, I say.

Posted by: kurthunt | January 21, 2010 7:52 PM | Report abuse

I don't like this ruling. However, what makes it perfectly acceptable for unions to contribute money however they see fit? I'll say it again, I don't like this ruling...but I also don't like the double-standard that liberals seem to ignore. The whole political machine is a mess void of any common sense.

The latest health care reform debacle is the icing on the cake. Back-room deals, closed doors, bribes, etc. What happened to this country? Our politicians are beyond corruption (both sides). This ruling opens the door for more of that.

I'm ultra-conservative. I'm also sick of it all. I won't vote any Republican or Democrat into office that will easily slide into this business-as-usual display in Washington.

There should be a mandatory reading list for any elected official. We can start with the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Then pick 5 or 6 items from our founding fathers so they value the responsibility they've been given.

Posted by: jp347 | January 21, 2010 8:07 PM | Report abuse

I remember when Hugo Black was a liberal hero. Black took a literalist approach to the First Amendment; no restrictions on free speech meant NO restrictions. If that opened the door for public dissemination of pornography--for example-- that was a cost of freedom. Liberals are not willing to
apply the same standards to corporate political speech. Talk about hypocrisy.

Posted by: sernoff | January 21, 2010 8:16 PM | Report abuse

A good check on how corporations have power already. When is the last time anyone ever voted for a bill that would do something that the major industry in their state didn't like? If they did, that industry would just give millions of dollars to beat him/her next time around.

Good luck changing health care. It will NEVER happen. The health care lobby will ensure it doesn't by using the power of the dollar to bribe one party against the other. As a result, no limits on their control of who they help, when they help and how much they charge will ever be enacted.

We will continue to have a health care system where those with insurance get the most profitable treatments where possible and those treatments that save money but cut profits will be avoided. We will continue to have a system where nothing gets done unless it makes a profit.

Posted by: steveboyington | January 21, 2010 8:25 PM | Report abuse

WaPo is a for profit corporation. NYTimes likewise. If I can't spend my money to say what I'm constitutionally allowed to say...then limit the MSM too. No more "endorsing candidates"...and by the way, scrub their slanted reporting too.

Posted by: wjc1va | January 21, 2010 8:47 PM | Report abuse

And why are liberals not hypocrites for whining about the kind of "sweeping, monumental pronouncements that abruptly disrupt the legal and political landscape"?

The writer is too mired in her own mindless partisanship to recognize that if this is evidence that conservative justices are hypocrites, then the liberal justices must be too.

There is no doubt that Rodriguez is a hypocrite.

Posted by: bobmoses | January 21, 2010 8:51 PM | Report abuse

This decision is a tragic misreading of the document we used as our founding principles: The Constitution. It begins, "We The People," and applies to human beings - organic entities, not ephemeral ones such as corporations.

The only immediate remedy is for Congress to draft a very narrow campaign funding limit - in a bill which states that any entity, whether organic or ephemeral, has the same exact funding limit: $1,000 for any one candidate for any one race. That would mean that Citigroup could spend exactly $1,000 on any one candidate, the same as you or I.

Any group or association of entities, whether organic or ephemeral, would have a spending limit of $1,000 per individual member.

That should help hold the line, and prevent corporate interests from overwhelming our already heavily influenced legislators.

This court is severely twisted in its thinking if it can equate flesh-and-blood human beings' FREE speech with corporations' PAID speech.

This decision is not only "activist," but unConstitutional. I would urge the general public, while urging Congress to act on the above legislation, to also call for the immediate impeachment of Roberts, Scalia, Alito, Thomas, and Kennedy for breaching their Constitutional Oath.

Posted by: RoughAcres | January 21, 2010 8:52 PM | Report abuse

What will it take to have the terms of our Judicial Court limited to two or three terms?
This is a case for term limits in lieu of a lifetime term that they now serve.
Definitely needs the legislative branch of government to look into this if it needs a constitutional amendment!

Posted by: SeniorVet | January 21, 2010 8:55 PM | Report abuse

Conservatives won't be happy until this country turns into one of the sad rightwing corporate dictatorships of Latin America in the 1960s and 70s, with death squads, corruption and 98% of the population living as dirt-poor serfs to the other 2%.

Money talks, so it's the same as speech, and speech is all good.

I wish we could send these conservatives to the jungles of South America, where they could all live in eternal, unfettered "freedom" - until they kill each other off with their total contempt for laws of any sort. These people are the poorly-evolved branch of our human family tree, and it's about time society gives up on coddling them as they bring civilization down.

Posted by: B2O2 | January 21, 2010 9:04 PM | Report abuse

Just remember, corporations historically do not favor one party over another in their campaign contributions -- they give their money to incumbents. This court decision is a great boon for the status quo.

Posted by: jb1151 | January 21, 2010 9:10 PM | Report abuse

Most liberals and conservatives are about equally hypocrites on the issue of judicial "activism." When a liberal dominated Supreme Court issues widely sweeping rulings, such as the Warren court, conservatives gripe about "activism" and liberals cheer. Vice versa, when a conservative dominated high court acts accordingly to the wishes of most conservatives.

A federal judge ordered the New York city firefighters to devise an easier test so more minorities will be guaranteed to pass. Somehow I doubt if many liberals will decry this decision as "judicial activism."

Posted by: Aprogressiveindependent | January 21, 2010 9:14 PM | Report abuse

People, I think after this decision it's even more IMPERATIVE that everyone get familiar with the campaign finance site opensecrets.org. It's a great place to look up which corporations own which Senators and Representatives.

www.opensecrets.org

After any news article about an industry interest, when particular members are quoted, it's crucial to look up how much he's been bribed by them. Our government just took another giant step into Corporate Rule thanks to these robed Republican thugs. We have to take matters into our own hands and do the "bribe money" reporting, because our corporate-beholden (due to their dependence on ad dollars) media isn't very likely to.

Posted by: B2O2 | January 21, 2010 9:29 PM | Report abuse

"With most constraints now gone, one can only wonder how much money corporations will be willing to spend and how far they will be willing to go to ensure their candidates get elected."

Yeah, kind of like the Washington Post does? Your employer is, in fact, a corporation. Shame on you, you arrogant slob.

Posted by: HookInMouth | January 21, 2010 9:38 PM | Report abuse

1ofamillion wrote, "Some principles are more important than outcomes. I dislike the idea of unlimited corporate spending on elections, but I dislike the idea of restricting free speech rights absent a constitutional amendment even more."

Well said. The right to *publish* political speech is integral to robust freedom of political speech. This machine is designed for unhindered political speech to allow the best argument to win and govern. Allowing government to ration the power of its citizens to pool their resources in order to publish political arguments leaves the government itself as the only speaker capable of publishing its views at all times - not, I wouldn't think, the American way.

Posted by: douglaslbarber | January 21, 2010 9:50 PM | Report abuse

So much for the disdain of "activist judges"! It would be hard to top this one. And to think there was a time when I respected the Supreme Court. Sort of like believing in the tooth fairy and Santa Claus. By the time these guys are replaced, there will be not a single remnant of democracy in this country. People think that fascism happens somewhere else, think again.

Posted by: Nora3 | January 21, 2010 9:51 PM | Report abuse

"corporations have become enthroned, and an era of corruption in high places will follow. The money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its rule by preying upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is concentrated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed." -Abraham Lincoln

Posted by: Chip_M | January 21, 2010 9:53 PM | Report abuse

I remember when Hugo Black was a liberal hero. Black took a literalist approach to the First Amendment; no restrictions on free speech meant NO restrictions. If that opened the door for public dissemination of pornography--for example-- that was a cost of freedom. Liberals are not willing to
apply the same standards to corporate political speech. Talk about hypocrisy.

Posted by: sernoff


-----------------------------------------------------

Excuse me but you have you ever seen a corporation eat, breathe, sleep or do anything a human does? Have you ever confused your spouse for a corporate HQ? I'm amazed at how many people just shuffle along as if this will help their side win some political end game even if it takes power out of people's hands and puts it in EFT accounts. This is likely good for both parties, great for incumbents, and a sure loser for the American people.

Posted by: theobserver4 | January 21, 2010 10:13 PM | Report abuse

Ms. Rodriguez, Thank you for your commentary. You're exactly right. The justices are hypocrites (or are delusional). Money weights speech. Those with more money have more access to a finite amount of media time (television, radio). Even if you add in all the other types of methods to reach voters (FaceBook, Twitter, etc.). People only have 24 hours in a day. People can only pay attention to a finite amount of speech in a single day.

Rulings such as this one, while dismaying, will not dim my determination to see that speech is truly free in this country one day.

As MLK said, "the arc of history is long and it bends towards justice."

Posted by: org2 | January 21, 2010 10:17 PM | Report abuse

Chip_M, that's a great quote. You've clipped the beginning of the sentence, which reads "As a result of the war, corporations have become enthroned...."

Long study of US history has convinced me that the main actor who becomes more powerful as a result of American wars is the federal government. And endless wars beginning with the Civil War have made this government far too powerful, compared to the power of its citizens to seek redress.

No private individual citizens' freedom to speak his mind is a match for this behemoth.

And this court decision does not preferentially permit spending on political speech by people who band together to form a business corporation. It re-establishes the right of all citizens to band together and pool their funds *in any manner they see fit* in order to exercise, as groups, their right to publish and publicize their political opinions.

Posted by: douglaslbarber | January 21, 2010 10:22 PM | Report abuse

All the conservatives posting here who are celebrating the SCOTUS opinion are forgetting several facts, the most important being that the owners or majority stockholders of many of the largest and richest US corporations are not US citizens, but are either foreign countires, foreign corporations or foreign citizens, who will now be allowed to influence US elections at will, with no controls at all.

They also forget the fact that corporations are creations of the state. They are not human beings and as such have no standing under the Constitution and no rights.

Instead of leveling the playing field, the Supreme Court has made it even more uneven, because no matter how many members a union or private organization has, it cannot equal the power or resources of the corporate world. Any assertions to the contrary are outright lies.

The Supreme Court has basically handed the government, and the Treasury, of the United States of America to a bunch of faceless corporations who care little about the welfare of the citizens. Corporations are neither patriotic nor moral by nature, instead their loyalities lie only with their stockholders. Even now, US citizens are complaining that the Congress and the President does not represent them, listen to them, or respond to their demands. What do conservatives think will happen when corporations, due to their massive economic power, control Congress lock stock and barrel?

Roberts, Scalia, Alito, Thomas, and Kennedy are traitors to the USA. They have done the bidding of their masters, the Bush family and the Carlyle Group, the new Masters of the World.

Posted by: Chagasman | January 21, 2010 10:25 PM | Report abuse

The old saying money talks is passe, money will now absolutly scream. I guess the political coventions will now be selling naming rights. Anyone who doesn't think that our government isn't bought and paid for I'd like to talk to you about some beacfront property in Arizona.

Posted by: duckvanman | January 21, 2010 10:39 PM | Report abuse

Let me get this right. You are "dismayed" that the Supreme Court didn't "find some middle ground" to allow a corporation access to the rights granted under the first amendment?

Incredible. If only Citizen's United had been advocating for something you were for, perhaps allowing them equal access to the right to free speech would be OK.

For once, the Supremes actually stood up for the plain meaning of the Constitution (unlike their disgraceful Kelo decision). Free speech is free speech, regardless of who says it. Read the decision and thank god for someone like Mitch McConnell, who has constantly opposed the most dangerous piece of legislation since the Alien and Sedition Act.

Posted by: druglobbyist | January 21, 2010 10:46 PM | Report abuse

It is constitutional amendment time!
When, in 1886, the Supreme Court decided that a railroad company would be entitled to the same rights granted to human beings by the 14th amendment, it committed a travesty. Speak of courts' legislating! Speak of "extra" rights. And these justices call themselves "strict constructionists"?
The time has arrived for a constitutional amendment, specifying that all rights granted under the constitution are applicable only to natural born persons, unless otherwise specifically stated by the text. THAT is strict constructionism.
And while at it, why not undo that other Supreme Court decision, to the effect that monetary donations to election campaigns are to be regarded as free speech? Money is not free speech; money is power. If you have a million dollars, you have access to a million times more "free" speech, and therefore, power, than the citizen with one dollar.
We will always be more corporatists than true democracy, until we reverse both of these Supreme Court excrescences.

Posted by: armondavid | January 21, 2010 10:48 PM | Report abuse

I'm surprised that I can't find a single fellow liberal who is gladdened by the fact that now, groups of like-minded people can raise funds and use them to publish political advertisements in November during election years.

All this talk about "corporations" being or not being persons, with its undertone that corporations are malevolent, neglects the fact that six people contributing $25 apiece to buy a 2 inch classified ad in the Pitt News advocating for kindness to hamsters are, in the eyes of the law, acting "corporately".

Do *all* of my fellow Democrats really want to argue that once I team up with a fellow citizen, and don't do it under the auspices of an officially recognized political party, I've given up my first amendment rights?

Posted by: douglaslbarber | January 21, 2010 10:57 PM | Report abuse

Thank God, the gag is removed. At least the Supreme Court is trying to protect free speech. This moves the country closer to the vision of our Founding Fathers.

Posted by: mock1ngb1rd | January 21, 2010 11:05 PM | Report abuse

douglasbarber, in essence I agree with you that the government has become too powerful and that the average citizen has little power to redress their grievances, however I believe this ruling serves only to make that situation worse. I think it is naive to believe that even very large groups of citizens who band together can hope to match the funds available to huge multinational corporations who already wield far too much power in Washington. Never underestimate the power of propaganda to convince people to vote against their own self-interest. Regardless of where people fall on the political spectrum I think this is terrible news for all Americans.

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

Posted by: Chip_M | January 21, 2010 11:06 PM | Report abuse

Wow! Talk about Judicial Activism. This is Economic Due Process all over again. This is New State Ice (Brandeis in dissent) all over again! Another case of history repeating. Amazing, amazing. What a sanctimonious bunch. Can you imagine, these are the same folks who go up to Capitol Hill and chastise everyone in site for invalidating Congressional actions based on Constitutional Principles. This is the height of hypocrisy. These boys are too much. How can Obama and the political process possibly restore America with Right Wing Economic Due Process Activists in charge of the Court? This whole line of reasoning was totally discredited almost a century ago. God Help America. The writing is on the wall for the decline of the Great Nation. FDR managed to finally get the Court to uphold the New Deal. Obama, never strong out of the blocks to begin with, appears helpless against these forces. We have trouble on our hands. God Save the Republic!

Not so long for this World as he once was, Justice Stevens really came out of the woodwork to write a masterful dissent of great historical significance. He seems to have learned from the Gore/Bush decision the importance of calling these five spades "spades". Bless him for this extraordinary service to our country. May his courage, long into tenure when may would have retreated, in service to our nation, be long remembered and gratefully appreciated. Thank you, Justice Stevens.

My Goodness! After Gore/Bush I thought I could never see anything more bold and bald from the Court, well look now... is there anything that is beneath these dangerous distorters?

Posted by: JasonRowe46 | January 21, 2010 11:07 PM | Report abuse

Chip_M wrote, in part, " I think it is naive to believe that even very large groups of citizens who band together can hope to match the funds available to huge multinational corporations who already wield far too much power in Washington. Never underestimate the power of propaganda to convince people to vote against their own self-interest".

But Chip, if you're right, Democracy is a farce in any case. I know what you're saying, on darker days I fear it's right. But if it *is* right, Democracy is a fool's errand.

Posted by: douglaslbarber | January 21, 2010 11:12 PM | Report abuse

Now individuals, their associations and their money can by spent as they chose, and no government approval required:
this is a blow for freedom and against certain individuals (i.e., a government official) telling other individuals that they cannot spend their money in a way that 9s not approved.
How the heck did this ever get started in a country noted for its freedom of expression?

Posted by: irvnx | January 21, 2010 11:56 PM | Report abuse

douglasbarber, it certainly becomes a farce when corporations are granted the same rights as individuals. They are by nature far more powerful than individuals, and they now have unfettered power to buy elections, and by extension, laws that protect their interests over the interests of individuals. That's not to say that I believe all corporations are malevolent, but they are self-interested by necessity, and rarely in accordance with what's best for individuals or even their own employees. I truly believe we've just opened Pandora's box.

Posted by: Chip_M | January 22, 2010 12:01 AM | Report abuse

The Supreme Court's favorite pet is the asian carp. That is what they should be called, the carp court.

Posted by: repudar711 | January 22, 2010 12:10 AM | Report abuse

Chip_M, the "corporations" that most interest me are groups of like minded voters who coalesce and fund-raise around an issue, and who have been severely restricted by McCain/Feingold.

Any time more than one person acts in concert, they're acting "corporately" in the eyes of the law.

Posted by: douglaslbarber | January 22, 2010 12:18 AM | Report abuse

What a surprise. The conservative members of the Supreme Court skewing elections towards republican victories. Who would have ever suspected? Most of the same poor excuses for Supreme Court Justices that appointed George W Bush to the Presidency are still with us. Having done what they did in 2000, why be surprised at anything they do at all? The fact that this dumps right on our representative democracy apparantly had no downside to these idealogues. When you really stop and think about it though, it's not like our Democracy has worked for the people for a long time anyway. Time after time you see majorities of more than two thirds who adamantly want something only to watch our ELECTED officials vote against them. When Clinton was President, more than sixty five percent polled didn't want him impeached. The republicans didn't slow down for a second. Right now, today, poll after poll shows that Americans of all shapes and sizes want a strong Public Option in the healthcare reform and they want it in the sixty five to seventy percent range. Of course, EVERY elected official with the exception of a few Progressive Democrats loves to get on the TV and tell us that we're NOT GETTING IT. Did I miss something, or am I wrong when I think that the people of the United States are ultimately supposed to be in charge? Don't worry, I realize that's not how it really is, only how its supposed to be.

Both parties offer us candidates who don't keep their campaign promises. Both parties have mouthpieces on the payroll who are paid to tell the supporters that it only LOOKS like a broken promise. If you persist in not believing them, you get a canned song and dance about Perfect being the enemy of the good and other sayings that mean GO AWAY. We have NO intention of living up to our promises. By the way, remember to turn out and vote on election day. One of these days, we're going to come to a point where Progressive voters realize that the Democratic party is a roadblock to most of their agenda. We're going to come to a point where Progressive voters realize that they have to separate themselves from a party that is afraid to lead. Given power to make change, they stalled and delayed, all the while trading away everything of value and getting NOTHING in return.

Posted by: fredfawcett | January 22, 2010 12:36 AM | Report abuse

I understand that, but even if every citizen in a local or state election pooled their resources they can still be easily outspent by a large enough business corporation with interests in the laws of that locality that might affect their bottom line, be they labor laws, pollution laws, consumer protection laws, or a thousand other things where the interests of citizens are almost guaranteed to run counter to them. Combine the new influence they've just been granted with a media that may be a subsidiary of the same corporate interests and the deck is stacked against the average citizen in a huge way.

Posted by: Chip_M | January 22, 2010 12:36 AM | Report abuse

Chip_M, but you seem to assume that the amount of money spent will trump the quality of the argument made. Again I'll say it, if that's true, we should quit this sham of Democracy and move on to something better.

If we no longer believe that the better argument, once heard by all voters, doesn't win the election, we no longer believe in elections, and it would be better if we got a tad more forthright about exactly what system of government we favor.

Posted by: douglaslbarber | January 22, 2010 12:46 AM | Report abuse

Wonderful news. Thank God America is waking up before it's too late. Another Great Day For Freedom.

Posted by: mock1ngb1rd | January 22, 2010 1:12 AM | Report abuse

tho money is certainly some sort of speech, it definitely isn't of the "free" persuasion. an oxymoron to end them all.

Posted by: daphne5 | January 22, 2010 1:22 AM | Report abuse

I'm going to stake a claim to a patent, and a copyright, and a trademark here.

The USA is a "manipulocracy".

If you use that term, my lawyers will be vigilant to see that you buy me a beer.

Posted by: douglaslbarber | January 22, 2010 1:27 AM | Report abuse

So long democracy and so long economy. We are currently living through the fallout of what economic neo-liberalism and corporate greed have accomplished in the past eight plus years and it will only be a prelude, a warmup to what is now sure to follow. The only saving grace will be that the total collapse of the economy through lack of corporate self control will also bring about the possibility of a democratic re-awakening.
The price will unfortunately be severe economic hardship which will in all likelihood be worse than that experienced in the great depression.

Posted by: meaning | January 22, 2010 3:37 AM | Report abuse

Sorry people, this is not a left / right issue. Either you believe in the first amendment or you don't!. Even the leftist legal scholar Jonathan Turley, agrees that the ruling is consistent with the constitution of the United States.

Posted by: VastRightWingConspirator | January 22, 2010 7:13 AM | Report abuse

Any voter that forms their vote casting on tv ads, perhaps shouldn't be voting at all.
It is as awful as voting for someone because of the way way they look. Research the person and the party they belong to, i. e. the party's platform which will tell you what they stand for or against.

Posted by: ambrose3 | January 22, 2010 7:59 AM | Report abuse

Ms. Rodriguez doth protest too much on this. She doesn't seem to mind organizations like labor unions, MoveOn, and shills for George Soros to give freely to promote socialism, communism, and erosion of basic rights set forth in our Constitution; but she wails like a stuck pig over the thought that corporations can now amass their vast wealth to go head to head with these groups. Perhaps they can outspend these leftist groups and get an alternative view across. Networks and other mainstream media outlets have effectively censored these groups by allowing some groups to buy air time and denying the same opportunity to conservative groups. Those days are now over, so the playing field is now even.....just as it should be. It's going to really be ironic to see all the liberal media outlets falling all over themselves to take corporate money to bolster their balance sheets and pay these whining liberals their inflated salaries!!! My hat's off to the Supreme Court for finally realizing this was a deck stacked against true free speech.

Posted by: panamajack | January 22, 2010 9:36 AM | Report abuse

Sorry people, this is not a left / right issue. Either you believe in the first amendment or you don't!. Even the leftist legal scholar Jonathan Turley, agrees that the ruling is consistent with the constitution of the United States.

Posted by: VastRightWingConspirator | January 22, 2010 7:13 AM

--------------------------

Agreed that this isn't a partisan issue, but the appropriate response isn't to grant corporations the right to inject their vast wealth into bids for political influence, it's to recognize that obviously corporations can't be logically treated as individuals.

In a way, the Supreme Court has done us a big favor, though. They've shown us the ramifications of accepting that corporations are equivalent to individuals with individual rights. This is a loophole that has been lurking below the radar for a long time, and hopefully it can now be corrected.

Posted by: ponkey | January 22, 2010 11:40 AM | Report abuse

Now, if new food regulations are being considered, ConAgra will get more consideration than the families who consume it. Big tobacco will once again run the show, rather than health advocacy groups that don't have the same amount of funding. And forget about health care reform. Blue Cross and Novartis will pull the strings, not the senior citizen who has to make a choice between buying food or medication. This is disgusting, and I seriously wonder if corruption has infiltrated the Supreme Court. I'm wondering if any of the conservative justices have opened an offshore account recently.

Posted by: CAC2 | January 22, 2010 12:34 PM | Report abuse

Ambrose3 wrote: "Any voter that forms their vote casting on tv ads, perhaps shouldn't be voting at all."

Yes, that would be nice, but it's not the world we live in. Most people aren't particularly interested in facts. He who repeats their lie the most often ends up defining "reality". What percentage of people in this country still believe that Saddam Hussein was behind the 9/11 attacks? Voters are fairly easily manipulated. It would be wonderful if the most convincing, logical, fact-based arguments always win, but far more often it's simply a matter of who can outspend who, and who most effectively plays on people's fears and prejudices.

Posted by: Chip_M | January 22, 2010 1:23 PM | Report abuse

What did we expert after Bush v. Gore? I would say they are untouchable, but they can be impeached. If the grounds for impeachment is incompetence, then impeach Kennedy.

Posted by: gtinla | January 22, 2010 2:20 PM | Report abuse

The people will become corrupt and will deserve corrupt government. Well friends, that's what we got. Government of Wall Street, By Wall Street and For Wall Street. The best money can buy. Just erase WE THE PEOPLE from the Constitution, or better yet just let the corporations and wall street write us a new one. I'm sure the supreme court will back them. Bye, bye democracy been nice knowing you. We've just twittered it away.

Posted by: Franklin89 | January 22, 2010 2:40 PM | Report abuse

Oh boo hoo hoo!

Posted by: Viennacommuter1 | January 22, 2010 2:43 PM | Report abuse

"Don't rely on packing the court with unelected lifetime appointment judges to do so!! "

Like the Bush administration did? He relied on packing the supreme court with lifetime appointed judges that supported his political agenda and they haven't failed him so far!

Posted by: massmedia77 | January 22, 2010 3:05 PM | Report abuse

A landmark Supreme Court decision -- and you can take that to the bank.

Of course, now candidates will have to ....

See:

http://notionscapital.wordpress.com/2010/01/21/freedom-of-speech-2010/

Posted by: MikeLicht | January 23, 2010 3:08 PM | Report abuse

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