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The Supreme Court's radical defense of political speech

For almost four decades now, what has been done in the name of “campaign finance reform” has constituted the most dangerous assault on freedom of speech since the Alien and Sedition Acts. This is because the government, by regulating what can be spent in order to disseminate political speech and when political speech may occur, has asserted the astonishing right to dictate the quantity, content and timing of speech about the government.

On Thursday, however, the Supreme Court, in a gratifyingly radical decision, substantially pushed back the encroachments that the political class has made on the sphere of free political speech. This was radical only because after nearly four decades of such “reform” the First Amendment has come to seem radical. Which, indeed, it is. The Supreme Court on Thursday restored First Amendment protection to the core speech that it was designed to protect -- political speech. There will be no more McCain-Feingold blackout periods before primary and general elections -- periods during which political advocacy was restricted, just as public attention was most intense.

The court’s decision will be predictably lamented by people alarmed by the prospect of more political money funding more political speech. The Supreme Court has now said to such people approximately this: The First Amendment does not permit government to decide the “proper” quantity of political speech.

By George Will  | January 21, 2010; 11:27 AM ET
Categories:  Will  | Tags:  George Will  
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Comments


Does free speech include the right to swear?

As Bob Dylan correctly observed, "Money doesn't speak, it swears".

Posted by: edbyronadams | January 21, 2010 11:46 AM | Report abuse

The problem with the decision of the court is that it did not protect the "Free Speech" of the First Amendment. What the court protected is "Paid Speech." The First Amendment does not protect "Paid Speech." Free speech is what it says it is: free. Free speech should not be regulated. Nor should access to mediums of free speech be regulated. So, what needs to happen is to find a way to take the profit motive out of "Free Speech." Do I know how that will or can happen? No. But as long as the court did not uphold "Free Speech" but did uphold "Paid Speech" it seems to me nothing more than a sham to say the First Amendment is now protected.

Posted by: unchurch1 | January 21, 2010 11:48 AM | Report abuse

It's hard to get excited about rich people and corporations being able to have even more influence in politics.

Posted by: acebojangles | January 21, 2010 11:52 AM | Report abuse

Corporations are not people who are conferred "free speech" so that they are not oppressed by governments or large entities that can bully. Corporations are entities. They are "things." They are motivated by profit. They have unlimited pooled resources to over-pitch a viewpoint that preserves their profits and continues their existence as things. They are profit-making entities. They are not what the founders of the constititution intended. The founders protect people, not entities with the ability and monied resources to bully and oppress.

Posted by: eeave | January 21, 2010 11:56 AM | Report abuse

Where in the Constitution does it say that corporations are people? We need a state by state review of the definition of a corporation to say that they are not 'real' individuals. Corporations are not all owned or run by American citizens. There should be no way for a non-citizen to influence the outcome an election by contributing money to an electoral campaign. SCOTUS needs to step down from the ivory tower and put its' feet into the real world where political discourse has been heading downhill to which this decision will only accelerate. I guess more money = more freedom.

Posted by: reddotbuilding | January 21, 2010 11:59 AM | Report abuse

This is the final blow that will result in fiscal plutocracy running this country by its vast money power. This is fine to George Will but its the end of democracy as we at least thought of it.

Posted by: tarquinis1 | January 21, 2010 11:59 AM | Report abuse

I was also gratified by the Supreme Court decision. I'm going to celebrate by doing two things previously prohibited to me:

1. I am going to send money to Hamas, Al Qaeda, and other groups designated as "terrorist" groups. Now that my contribution can only be viewed as political speech, rather than material support, I will be breaking no laws.

2. I am going to provide funds to countries on which we've imposed economic sanctions. My money that will go to them is clearly now only a political expression of support, rather than a tangible medium for exchange.

We can thank our Supremes for this twisted logic: if money equals speech, then what I do with my money can no longer be regulated.

Posted by: Buddydog | January 21, 2010 12:00 PM | Report abuse

Will is changing the subject. Never have any of these laws stopped any of us from speaking freely. What he should do and what the Supreme Court should have noticed is see all of this for what it is -- bribery. I speak freely and often write things like this. I have passionately endorsed candidates, but have never donated a dime to any of them or their campaigns for I see that as a form of bribery whether there is a quid pro qua or not. What these laws should say is that anyone who wants could go out and speak about any topic, but what they cannot do is give money to a candidate even under the guise that it is not for the person but for his or her reelection campaign.

It is a sad commentary on the rest of us that we allow ourselves to be influenced by ads. All we need to do is sponsor debates and we can all watch, read voting records and decide how we will vote. No glitz, no yelling, no name calling, no inuendos, etc.

Posted by: TomfromNJ1 | January 21, 2010 12:01 PM | Report abuse

As ususl Mr. Will views our world and the constitution with his head shoved up his ass. Free speech, to strict constructionists, is a right in out constitution afforded to citizens, not corporations. Hell, since almost all corporations with pockets deep enough to engage in political fixing are now international in scope, finance and interest, to make it consistant we should allow anyone, anywhere, to contribute substantial amounts of corrupting loot amongst our already corrupt political class. Bin Laden International, as an already viable U.S. corporation could influence our defense budget through thoughtful and now protected contribution. Only fanatics, with an agenda that doesn't seem hidden to me would have the hubris to suggest that they are protecting free political speech. By increasing the volume of paid political opinion they have made it easier for the speech of ordinary average citizens to be ignored.

Posted by: Slimdugger99 | January 21, 2010 12:01 PM | Report abuse

Freedom of speech does not include the right to completely dworn out everyone because you have more money.

Also, will ignores the obvious falw in the court's thinking. Corporations are not people. they are not citizens. they are legal entities created at the suffereance of the people to allow for and facilitate commerce. therefore it is perfetly legitimate for congress to regulate them however they chose since commerce power is directly in the Constitution. Corporations cannot vote, they cannot run for office, they cannot because they are not people, they are not citizens. They are legal constructs.
Make no mistake, this takes us back to the very very bad old days when corporations simply bought themsleves a congress. They did it at the national level, but the worst damage was done in the state houses acros the nation. This is the worst decision since Plesy, a decision from the court most admired by the five imbeciles on the wrong side of every single decision that comes down the road.

Posted by: John1263 | January 21, 2010 12:02 PM | Report abuse

So we can now expect you to call Justices Rogers, Scalia, Thomas and Alito "activist judges"? You did, after all, use the word "radical" and this led me to anticipate a statement about judicial activism that I didn't see.

Posted by: DaveinNorthridge | January 21, 2010 12:02 PM | Report abuse

As usual, George Will is dead wrong. The court's decision was based upon the premise that corporations are identical to real persons. If you believe that, then it makes sense. If not, then it is nonsense. I think we would be wise to restrict freedom of speech to real persons, not to fictitious "persons." Corporations cannot, for example, be sent to prison. Real persons can, and that illustrates one of the many differences.

Posted by: nymec | January 21, 2010 12:09 PM | Report abuse

Terrible decision. Proved once again that money can buy everything in this country.

Posted by: DougNYC | January 21, 2010 12:10 PM | Report abuse

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.):

"For too long, some in this country have been deprived of full participation in the political process."
***********************

Conservatives, does your hypocrisy and anti-Americanism know no bounds?

Mr. McConnell, who exactly are the "some" to whom you refer? What are their names? Where do they live? Do they pay all of their legally required taxes?

Mr. Will, explain how a "gratifyingly radical decision" is anything other than the very judicial activism you constantly whine about? Explain exactly where in the Constitution a multi-national corporation has the same individual rights as a living, breathing citizen of the United States?

Posted by: abqcleve | January 21, 2010 12:14 PM | Report abuse

If, as Mussolini offered, fascism is defined as the merging of corporations and the state into a corporate state, then this decision by the supremes signals loud and clear their willingness to join in this country's march toward fascism, and in the name of the First Amendment. Ouch.

Posted by: dml1077 | January 21, 2010 12:16 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Will's deep analysis and theoretical construct is perfectly suited for the 18th and 19th centuries...or even prehistoric times..when the means of mass communication and political influence was restricted to drums, conch-shell horns, and smoke signals.

Posted by: kencasey | January 21, 2010 12:16 PM | Report abuse

Hey, George, isn't your wife a corporate lobbyist? Seems like I read that somewhere, oh yeah, in the Washington Post. Hmmm, now old straight and narrow Georgie wouldn't have a walletized point of view on this one, would he? I have to agree with eeave, corporations are NOT people, and therefore NOT allowed free speech. The members of that corporation might be people, and as such, they are INDIVIDUALLY guaranteed free speech, and as such, they are allowed to band together, pool their money, if they so desire, and do what they want with it; but telling the individual members of a corporation, "We are going to take some of the proceeds that YOU worked for and helped to earn and apply it to some hack-puppet that we can call a representative who will do things you may not agree with, and if you don't like it, you lose your job.", not only tilts the playing field by use of outright extortion, but robs the individuals who may not agree with the corporate tilt of their free speech. Any way you look at it, it is not a policy that is conducive to a true democracy or republic. Granting a corporation human status is the first giant step toward fascism, and an eventual concentration of all power to a small, elite group of people. Gosh, you know, kinda like we have now.

Sorry, Georgie, but your tired old arguments detail nothing more than a skinny old man as rotted with greed and personal aggrandizement as any Abramoffish lackey who ever stuffed his own pockets at the expensive of everybody else. Selling our government into fascism is not going to improve a single thing, not now, and not in the long run.

Posted by: whizkidz1 | January 21, 2010 12:25 PM | Report abuse

The myopic focus on the First Amendment ignores the Founders' much greater concern about political dialog poisoned by partisanship. Extending the First Amendment beyond people to corporations opens the floodgates to a tide of one-sided subsidized opinion, drowning out those who haven't the money to fight back. Because of partisanship "popular governments have everywhere perished" as Madison cautioned in Federalist 10. Because of the spirit of faction Madison warned, the old democracies were "short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths." How long will ours survive the decision to let corporations--whose lobbysists already corrupt and control our legislatures, skew and direct the votes of the people as well?

Posted by: Rafaelo | January 21, 2010 12:26 PM | Report abuse

Well, it's official. Will is a corporate schill. This ruling has nothing to do with "freedom of speech." It opens the door for corporations, the same ones who have destroyed our economy over the past three decades, to spend limitless amounts of money influencing elections. How on earth could anyone think this is a good idea?

And conservatives are supposed to be populists?! What a joke!

Posted by: LouisianaDoug | January 21, 2010 12:29 PM | Report abuse

So now Will's rich corporate friends will be allowed to "speak" even more. Coupled w/ the news that the House will unlikely consider the Senate version of the health care bill, and we have a real red-letter day for democracy and the well-being of our country. Let the downward slide continue.

Posted by: kennedys | January 21, 2010 12:34 PM | Report abuse

We've replaced the Tyranny of the Monarchy which the Founding Fathers fought so hard to throw off and protect against in the Constitution with a Tyranny of Money. The critical misjudgement of the Supreme Court was the earlier decision equating a corporation with a person. This decision is the fruit of that poisoned tree. Corporations had far too much political power from their political contributions before (even if washed through the Chamber of Commerce or other special purpose entities). Corporate influence is about to go off the charts. So much for one person, one vote democracy.

Posted by: M__M | January 21, 2010 12:35 PM | Report abuse

For years, George F. Will has equated the First Amendment with $$$. By Will's logic, the only free speech is purchased speech.

Posted by: RadicalGlove | January 21, 2010 12:36 PM | Report abuse

Here's an idea: for every comment posted on this page, delete "corporation" and insert "labor union" or "environmental PAC" or "MoveOn.org" or "Emily'sList" or whatever. This is only to prove a point. I am not particularly conservative or liberal, but I have a hard time understanding why speech is not speech is not speech. Even Bin Laden is allowed free speech with which we may all disagree, as long as it does not otherwise posit treason or illegal overthrow of the government, etc. So corporations can pay for speech in support of their positions, unions can pay for speech in support of their positions, Daily Kos can pay for speech in support of their positions, etc, etc, etc. No harm in too much speech is there? Unless you believe that I, and everyone else, is too stupid to be trusted hearing it? Then I would suppose we don't really want a democracy or republic, do we? Can't trust the folks to hear speech. We would need a benevolent dictatorship of the eastern elite. That would solve the problems of those who have a hard time with this decision. But it wouldn't fly very far. Ask Coakley.

Posted by: bdean1 | January 21, 2010 12:39 PM | Report abuse

A lot of great contributions to the board; thanks, folks. Not one conservative defender: I note they're all crowing on Milbank's board re: the MA GOP victory.

A strict constructionist view--if that were truly valid, as conservatives claim--would recognize that the framers of the Constitution had in mind soap boxes and letters to the editor and broadsheets, which you and I and Paul Revere Silversmiths, Inc. have equal access to.

But, of course, there was no such thing as Paul Revere Silversmiths, Inc. in the US until well into the 19th century. State legislatures and Congress have recognized and conferred limit rights to these entities, while deliberately setting up protections that limit their ability to exercise undue influence. The California (and others) referendum process, for example, was deliberately instituted to counter the undue influence of Southern Pacific on that state's laws.

The precedent for regulating corporations, then, is well settled. What is unprecedented in today's outrageous decision is granting dangerous, unlimited super-access to multi-national corporations. The SCOTUS has not only said that they now have unfettered control of mass media tools, which are the single greatest determinant of electoral success, but in effect, Congress cannot regulate their statements. For example, if a corporation has 1st Amendment free speech rights, what legal right does Congress have to limit cigarette manufacturers from proclaiming that smoking builds strong bones?

We are about to become a true fascist plutocracy. Teabaggers take note: you love to call Democrats fascists. You are about to see how your political party effects real fascism, as Mussolini envisioned it.

Posted by: abqcleve | January 21, 2010 12:43 PM | Report abuse

The libtards are whining about this because now corporations, who normally vote Republican, can now throw vast amounts of money into conservative campaigns and, maybe outspend the unions and their Moveons, Emilys Lists, etc. When matched dollar for dollar, the libs will really have to work. This is a fortuitous decision just before the November elections.

Posted by: panamajack | January 21, 2010 12:54 PM | Report abuse

Will is a perfect example of a corporate facist. Money is not speech, and corporations are not people.

Contact your Congress members now, and demand they pass a Consitutional admendment restricting the right of free speech to individual human beings and reserving the right to participate in the political process to individual citizens.

This is an outrage, an insult, and a direct contradiction of the principles of democracy, freedom, and liberty. The conservatives who support this decision have shown us where they really stand when it comes to defending the Constitution and Bill of Rights. They have sold us out.

My father and my uncles did not fight in World War II so that our country could end up as a corporate state run by a bunch of little facists.

Roberts, Thomas, Scalia, Alito, and Kennedy should be impeached and thrown out of the Supreme Court in disgrace.

Posted by: Chagasman | January 21, 2010 12:54 PM | Report abuse

"So corporations can pay for speech in support of their positions, unions can pay for speech in support of their positions, Daily Kos can pay for speech in support of their positions, etc, etc, etc. No harm in too much speech is there?"
********************

Ah, we have a bite! First, dear poster, I challenge you to ground your position in the Constitution. You can't.

Second, Daily Kos is governed by laws affecting political advocacy groups, which were not the subject of today’s ruling. Daily Kos isn’t a multi-national, profit oriented corporation. Daily Kos is more accurately compared with right wing advocacy groups like Veterans for Truth, the “swiftboaters.”

Third, “pay for speech.” Think hard about what that means. That glib little phrase hides the crux of the problem. The problem isn’t someone’s ability to stand on a street corner and be heard. The problem is influence, behind the scenes, before you even see a candidate on which to vote. How can you possibly be that naïve?

Today’s decision is the worst, most outrageously anti-individual freedom in my lifetime. It must be protested and overturned. Do not expect help from the GOP in doing so. They’ve tipped their corporate hands in the past: now, they’re blatantly wearing corporate logos in Congress and proclaiming, like their true leader, “So?”

Posted by: abqcleve | January 21, 2010 12:54 PM | Report abuse

Thank God, the Supreme Court (well at least the conservatives and moderate)protected the 1st Amendment. For those of you who think Corporations are things....according to the IRS code (brought to us by none other than progressive Woodrow Wilson) is an individual and is taxed as an individual so if they pay taxes, they should have the right to participate in the polititical process....and for you lefties out there....the unions are as big, if not bigger than most corporations and are at their very core corrupt and do very little for their members but suck up dues....how many union heads do you know that live in poverty, drive old cars, etc....they live very large off the backs of their members and lo and behold their free speech has been protected also. GOD BLESS AMERICA!!!

Posted by: conardkessel | January 21, 2010 12:59 PM | Report abuse

Repeal the Federal Reserve Act of 1913 and abolish corporate personhood and 99% of this countries problems will go away over night. We need a real revolution in this country and we need it now. This ruling is an absolute slap in the face of every American.

Posted by: owsmokey | January 21, 2010 1:03 PM | Report abuse

Dupont introduces your 2012 Kraft President of the United States brought to you by ExxonMobil, Sarah Palin.

Posted by: DurhamBully | January 21, 2010 1:05 PM | Report abuse

What this ruling is saying, is that from now on, instead of giving more money to workers or shareholders, the corporation can use this money to speak for thousands of employees and shareholders even if it goes against everything they stand for.

The profits of a company thousands of people worked to build can be used to broadcast the opinions of one CEO.

Posted by: JoeinMN | January 21, 2010 1:08 PM | Report abuse

"Protected the 1st Amendment"? From what threat? Is this like "protecting marriage"? You apparent preservationists are utter fools. The Constitution and the Declaration of Independence couldn't be clearer: all men are created equal; rights and responsibilities are individually enjoyed and borne; the 14th Amendment ensures that each human being has equal rights.

For heavens sake, conservatives: even your patron saint, Ayn Rand said that since only an individual man can possess rights, the expression "individual rights" is a redundancy (which one has to use for purposes of clarification in today’s intellectual chaos), but the expression "collective rights" is a contradiction in terms. Individual rights are not subject to a public vote; a majority has no right to vote away the rights of a minority; the political function of rights is precisely to protect minorities from oppression by majorities (and the smallest minority on earth is the individual). (http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/individual_rights.html)

At least one of you conservatives came right out and said the real motive out loud: this decision will help the GOP in November.

This is the beginning of true fascism, as Mussolini defined it: the merging of corporations and government.

Posted by: abqcleve | January 21, 2010 1:10 PM | Report abuse

Money is not speech - it's an amplifier for speech, and you can't ignore what else it is. If I turn my radio up to the point where I deafen you, you have a right to make me turn it down.

It seems like corporations have now achieved one more step on the road to real "personhood" in the eyes of the law. The basis for considering corporations persons is pretty fishy, but let's look at what kind of "persons" we are dealing with.

A corporation exists to provide profits to shareholders, and is limited in that pursuit only by the enforcement of the law. CEOs are obligated to maximize profits subject only to risk and the law.

So what we've got are a bunch of "persons," many of whom are very powerful, who are sociopaths. No conscience, except where public image is at stake, no memory of obligations other than legal debts, and no qualms about using power to advance themselves by injuring the public good.

Do we want this?

Posted by: Rozinante2 | January 21, 2010 1:11 PM | Report abuse

SCOTUS has merely confirmed that MONEY TALKS - more loudly and persuasively than those of us without the funds to buy and pay for communication outlets.

I have trouble fitting this in to the first amendment.

Posted by: maybat1 | January 21, 2010 1:12 PM | Report abuse

SCOTUS has merely confirmed that MONEY TALKS - more loudly and persuasively than those of us without the funds to buy and pay for communication outlets.

I have trouble fitting this in to the first amendment.

Posted by: maybat1 | January 21, 2010 1:13 PM | Report abuse

Only in America

SCOTUS defines a financial/legal term as HUMAN- CORPORATION

Mr or MRS? Does it matter?

Just like US SENATE defines majority of 100= 60 not 51!

Only in America!

No wonder AMERICA sucks at SCIENCE and MATH!

Posted by: sasha2008 | January 21, 2010 1:13 PM | Report abuse

Yes, of course, Will is right in a general sort of way. Newspapers and other media folks may have their say; and global giants may continue to own our government, bought and paid for. But look into the small and medium sized town newspapers, in which an editor may deny freedom of expression to some while giving it to others in the form of letters and/or blogs to letters to the editor. There continues to be social and economic 'war' in the United States. We are all equal. But some are more equal than others, namely the unwashed masses. Well, Will, 'radical' would take us to the root of the problem, which is the difference between the word 'democracy' and its referent. Now, Yawl have a nice day, hear?

Posted by: gasup2 | January 21, 2010 1:14 PM | Report abuse

You constitutional scholars are focusing on the corporations part and forgetting about MoveOn, NRA, Brady Campaign, WWF, etc. that now have their speech back. All this means is that American citizens can once again band together in groups to increase their political voice. I don't believe the Framers were restricting the 1st Amendment to just individual people, to lose their voice when they joined a group, than I believe the restricted the 2nd Amendment to Sates and muzzel loaders. BTW, corporations are equivalent to peole in the law, which is why you can sue them, fine them or other such.

Posted by: ronjaboy | January 21, 2010 1:16 PM | Report abuse

This is one of the worst Supreme Court rulings ever, wrapped in the Trogan Horse of free speech. It may haunt us for decades to come. Corporations are not citizens. Individuals are. Most individual citizens do not have the money, power or political and legal resources that corporations have. Europe, Here I come!

And to George Will: Stop sucking on a lemon, ditch your bow tie and wear those blue jeans you got for Christmas!

Posted by: pjs1965 | January 21, 2010 1:16 PM | Report abuse

If Corporations want full personhood and 1st amendment rights than they should also be included in any criminal laws and Capital Punishment like any actual person.

Companies want all the benefits without any of the consequences. If a company's product causes the death of ONE single person it should get the DEATH PENALTY.

You start seeing alot of companies being dissolved for criminal actions maybe they will rethink the Ridiculous idea that a company should get personhood under the laws of the constitution.

Posted by: ezne1son | January 21, 2010 1:17 PM | Report abuse

Corporations are regulated by governments, often severely and sometimes badly. They deserve the right to be able to respond and combat government malpractice. The argument that corporations are not "people" is idiotic. Pro-life or environmental groups are not "people" either, and yet they are almost invariably free to speak their minds.

Posted by: theduke89 | January 21, 2010 1:19 PM | Report abuse

Great, now there's nothing at all to stop corporations from buying adds for candidates that repay them with favors. For some reason, the Court thinks a limited liability organization of disempowered shareholders is capable of expressing a point of view. Meanwhile, its ok to stick protestors at a party convention in a chainlink cage underneath an overpass.

Surely, the First Amendment is saved.

Posted by: bwwww | January 21, 2010 1:20 PM | Report abuse

Will was a paid wh0re for Conrad Black, so it's no wonder that he's for institutionalized prostitution.

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

We will now have the best government that money can buy! Way to trash the Constitution Of The United States SCOTUS! Just makes a person feel all warm and fuzzy doesn't it?

Posted by: Sonny53 | January 21, 2010 1:24 PM | Report abuse

This ruling is a breath of fresh air and a blow against creeping statism. The distictions made in some of these posts, between free speech and "paid speech", is nonsense. Political activity was never meant to be confined literally to "speech" or writing in newspapers. To "speak" more effectively today requires methods that require money. Controlling how we, as individuals or groups, spend our money for political reasons is what is fascist. Leftists who try to label this ruling "fascist" should worry more about the government's and specifically the Democratic Party's increasing interconnectedness with Big Business and Big Labor, which allows the government to choose winners and losers. Now all interest groups can make their case to the voters with equal opportunity.

Posted by: Hank14 | January 21, 2010 1:24 PM | Report abuse

SCOTUS got this one right. Campaign Finance Reform was always a smokescreen designed to draw attention away from the intended benefits large contributors received for their money, instead focusing upon how much money is given. In the wake of this decision we are now encouraged to turn our gaze to the real problem--what the money buys. The time for the complete repeal of Corporate Welfare has come. A tax code that only permits deductions for individuals and families and which offers no subsidies, specially-scheduled rates, or exemptions to business enterprise will do far more to solve the problem of the corrupting influence of business upon politics than anything done to curtail what is donated to a campaign.

Posted by: StJacques | January 21, 2010 1:25 PM | Report abuse

It is astonishing how dense some of these posts are. We have been sliding to corporatism for years, plummeting to it for the past two. We already have the best government that money can buy. The restrictions on political expression did nothing to stop it, and often helped it.
If you want to fight corporatism, stop the flow of your government's money faucet, and limit government spending only to its appropriate purposes.

Posted by: Hank14 | January 21, 2010 1:31 PM | Report abuse

More of socializing losses and privatizing gains. It's time for the civil libertarians to rise to power and straighten out this countries moral compass. The constitution isn't worth a 1 sheet of toilet paper anymore. Thankfully Americans are waking up to the fact that we do not have two political parties anymore, they are all on the side of the corporations and they can't hide it anymore. Their time is coming to an end.

Posted by: owsmokey | January 21, 2010 1:32 PM | Report abuse

StJacques - well said my friend

Posted by: owsmokey | January 21, 2010 1:34 PM | Report abuse

I think this is the very first time I have EVER agreed with George Will. You said it, brother!

Posted by: miller2 | January 21, 2010 1:40 PM | Report abuse

is anyone surprised that george will supports the corporate state over the will of the people?

say goodbye to the united states of america and give a great bit shoutout to the corporate state of america.

Posted by: mycomment | January 21, 2010 1:45 PM | Report abuse

I'm gonna link this Will blog with a column he wrote 2 - 3 weeks ago noting that "Atlas Shrugged" sold about 400,000 copies last year. All good, to Will, who constantly warns that if we put too much of a yoke on the rich they'll walk.

When Rand wrote Atlas Shrugged, in 1957, the top 1% of us made about 8% of the pie, and paid taxes at a top rate of about 91% (45% for cap gains).
When Ronnie Rayguns took control, it was still 8%, but the tax rate was cut to 70%.

Now, after 28 years of the "age of reagan" the top 1% gets 23.5% of the pie (as of 2007) and pays a top rate of 35% (15% cap gains).

And Will still speaks of Atlas Shrugging?

And similarly, his writing about all the need to lift the "limits" on free speech?


Any doubt that we're heading towards Plutocracy?

Posted by: Paul521 | January 21, 2010 1:50 PM | Report abuse

It was unfair to restrict businesses from advocating their position. The left had free reign. There will probably be so much advertising now, that the messages will drown themselves out. In Nevada, Harry Reid is buying every ad in sight. He's still way down on the polls. I believe people can take in information and make up their own minds.

Posted by: kenpasadena | January 21, 2010 1:52 PM | Report abuse

You constitutional scholars are focusing on the corporations part and forgetting about MoveOn, NRA, Brady Campaign, WWF, etc. that now have their speech back.....

Posted by: ronjaboy
******************

Nothing personal, but you conservatives are morons. Today's decision affects for-profit CORPORATIONS, many of the most powerful of which are owned by non-US interests. It does not affect 527 or 501c3 organizations, which have their own regulations. It doesn't even touch individual contribution limits. It hands unparalleled power to entities that already are by far the most powerful entities in this nation.

Do you want to tell me there's equivalence between WWF and IBM?

Conservatives, at this point, I can't even tell if the issue is you're too stupid to recognize the difference or you just don't care because you perceive this as a "win" for your side.

It is a profound loss for every American citizen and it must be rectified.

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

George Will: How dare you equate this ruling with a defense of free speech. Corporations are not people. Their only responsibility is to shareholders meaning that their primary goal will be to "purchase" elections that will pay dividends. The PUBLIC, comprised of people, has the right through congress to regulate the airwaves that it owns. Contrary to what you say, this is perhaps the greatest attack on free speech in our nation's history. You stand with those who would pass a new alien and sedition act.

Posted by: wcwilson2 | January 21, 2010 1:54 PM | Report abuse

Why should we bother to vote anymore, Mr. Will? The campaigns will be completely bought and sold by corporations with their greed-at-all-costs agendas.

Big Pharma and every insurance company in the land must be screaming with glee this morning.

One good thing -- now I KNOW that I can never again trust another word that comes out of any candidate's mouth, because I KNOW that each word will really belong to whatever corporation paid the highest bid.

This is a good thing, Mr. Will? I have a feeling that if a more liberal court had made this decision, you would have been screaming about fascism. You have totally lost all credibility, and this Supreme Court 5 have lost their minds.

Posted by: lanehatcher | January 21, 2010 1:55 PM | Report abuse

why is that anytime i see this bow-tied wimp cheer anything, i know without reading further this country has slipped further into an ayn randian plutocracy?

Posted by: jimfilyaw | January 21, 2010 1:56 PM | Report abuse

Corporations do not have first amendment rights - WE THE PEOPLE do!

The word "corporation" does not appear in the Constitution or Bill of Rights!

Posted by: jsmith021961 | January 21, 2010 2:01 PM | Report abuse

Guess what? In time, corporate taxes will drop to zero. And who will make up the difference? You and me.

Posted by: jps4 | January 21, 2010 2:02 PM | Report abuse

Buddydog hits it right on the nose. The Court is saying that money is speech so how can we tell people what to do with their money. If I purchase drugs, couldn't I argue that I'm making a political statement that I think drugs should be legal?

I forget who said it, but there is a great quote... Speech may be free but some can buy more of it than others....

Posted by: smith6 | January 21, 2010 2:11 PM | Report abuse

While I find the ruling a good thing for free speech, I find it disheartening as well because it effectively says that a corporation or a large organization is the equivalent of a person. This now says that there's no real difference between a contribution from you or me when compared with a contribution from GM, Google, the SEIU, AARP, and so forth. As much as I hate to say it, the SCOTUS got this one wrong and in fact should've denied any corporation or large organization from making any kind of political contribution whatsoever. Contributions should only come from individual people. Far too often, member dues subsidize political contributions to specific candidates or ideals, regardless of what the individual member prefers. Yes, the member can request that his or her portion either be refunded or sent to a different candidate, but doing either of these can cause that member problems. If it's related to the person's job, it could potentially cause employment issues. I would much rather see corporations and organizations lose the ability to "buy" our politicians than see them dictate what's best for individuals.

Posted by: kiltedknight | January 21, 2010 2:14 PM | Report abuse

"Buddydog wrote:

We can thank our Supremes for this twisted logic: if money equals speech, then what I do with my money can no longer be regulated.
"

****

I object to paying taxes so does that mean when I pay no taxes to the IRS I'm merely exercising my right to free speech?

Posted by: dcp26851 | January 21, 2010 2:15 PM | Report abuse

As a person who ignores political ads, I couldn't care less. I don't even watch debates on TV; reading the transcripts gives me a more unbiased view of actual IDEAS.

Whether this puts the stupid people voting at risk of being any stupider, well I don't see how this was possible, and this is out of my control anyway. It would take quite a totalitarian state and carefully crafted eugenics to create a population that is thoughtful and rational enough to move mankind toward any sort of long-term survival in this wild, wild universe.

Anyway, have you people not noticed that several major news outlets devote most of their content to a particular political platform?

Posted by: Wallenstein | January 21, 2010 2:24 PM | Report abuse

The last election especially demonstrated that attempts to control election spending are foolish and hypocritical. obama promised to abide by the rules, then said "never mind." Regardless, we are still talking about millions and millions. The regular person is locked out of the process. The dems made it a point that unless you can attract major money, the party would not support you in an election. The same is likely true for the republicans. So who is being protected by phony spending limits? Once you get past a certain sum (as it has with the limitations-before this court ruling), what's the difference?!

Posted by: familynet | January 21, 2010 2:25 PM | Report abuse

"Radical" is right--this is most egregious piece of judicial activism since Bush v Gore. Where in the Constitution does it equte "corporations" with "people"?

Posted by: steveandshelley | January 21, 2010 2:25 PM | Report abuse

Some thoughts on people who agree with this position.

1. To say that Unions are "bigger" than corporations shows just how out of touch some people are... Unions have been losing numbers and influence since the 1980s. Do you really think the UAW or the Teamsters has more money than Exxon/Mobil or GE?
2. MoveOn, Emily's list, etc. are NONPROFIT advocacy groups that are pushing ideas just like Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, National Rifle Assoication, etc. Corporations are FOR PROFIT and there speech would be focused on securing even MORE PROFIT. For example, it would be in the interest of the JOHN DEERE corporation to push for candidates that will limit work-place safety rules because it is "expensive" to make your workplace safe and it cuts into profit. Speech that is suporting a monetary self-interest is different from speech that supports the right to own a gun.
3. Right now Blue Cross, Aetna, United Health Care along with Exxon/Mobil, Haley Burton, etc. are all sipping the Champaigne because between what has happened in Massachusetts and in the Supreme Court they know for sure that THEY truly run the country.

Posted by: smith6 | January 21, 2010 2:26 PM | Report abuse

How refusing to hear Chuck Schumer, D-NY, peeing his drawers over this SC decision. You have to live by the Constitution, Chuckie!

Posted by: nmg3rln | January 21, 2010 2:27 PM | Report abuse

As usual, George Will has gotten it wrong. If the CEO of a company wants to donate money out of his own pocket to a candidate, he/she (probably he) has that right. If this case was about forcing CEOs not to donate at all, then I'd be with him on it. But this is about corporations, which don't vote in elections, overwhelming ordinary Americans. Our system is supposed to be about an equal voice for everyone - this is an assault on democracy. More money doesn't benefit us. And it's not the decision that fits with what America is supposed to be.

Posted by: ravensfan20008 | January 21, 2010 2:27 PM | Report abuse

it is utterly staggering how intellectually misguided Mr. Will is. Perhaps he is just being dishonest. Corporations represent one interest: making money. The bottom line is the bottom line for a reason. They do not represent the will of the investors, their employees, or, for that matter any person. They represent the perfectly valid goal to profit. They may cloak their drive for profit in something else, but in every single case the drive remains the same. Now the voice of making money is louder and even more alluring to a group of politicians that already had a hard time distinguishing between the will of the people and that of their need to be re-elected.

Posted by: portlandmike | January 21, 2010 2:28 PM | Report abuse

George, since you are the lackey of the propertied and moneyed classes, it is doubtful that you would understand that a cap on spending was to protect the freedom of speech of those less well off. Freedom of speech can be suppressed directly or indirectly. While limiting the amount of money fat cats can spend to get out their message is a direct suppression, the effect of their extravagant spending is an indirect suppression. The status quo will never change if there is no way to challenge its assumptions and prerogatives. You, obviously, come down on the side of the government protecting the prerogatives of the better people. Allowing unbridled spending on campaigns eliminates the probability of messy populist third parties.

Posted by: csintala79 | January 21, 2010 2:31 PM | Report abuse

A couple thoughts for those who want to equate organizations such as MoveOn, Veterans for Truth, WWF and the like with corporations. There are two very important differences. 1. The organizations exist specifically to exert influence based on the positions (opinions) they espouse. Meaning that when you give money to Veterans for Truth you do so as a direct result of your agreement with their use of dubious tactics to undermine Democratic candidates for office and you EXPECT them to spend your money that way. Corporations, on the other hand, exist specifically to sell goods and or services for more money than it costs to make or provide them. Buying stock in or working for these corporations is not motivated by an agreement you may have with the political opinions of the corporation's executives. Nor do you expect company revenue to be spent on furthering those executives' opinions. (i.e. you might think Apple is a great company to own stock in, but you don't have to agree with Steve Jobs' politics) 2. Corporations do not have opinions. Corporations to not have brains and therefore are incapable of forming an opinion. Further, corporations do not speak. They lack the biological structures necessary to form both thoughts and sounds.

This new decision gives the PEOPLE who run corporations the ability to assert direct influence on the democratic election process, and thus grants preferred status on the wealthy i.e. the people, who can form opinions and who can speak AND who decide how a corporation's revenue is spent.

It also means that if Bloomberg gets sick of Mayoring New York, he can spend some of his billions to buy the Presidency. I bet Steve Forbes is already planning his own Forbes, Inc. funded run in 2012.

Posted by: moderatelyLeft | January 21, 2010 2:31 PM | Report abuse

As usual the radical left is unhinged by the thought that the government can't control every aspect of our lives.

Let us hope that this is just a first step in bringing back the liberty the founding fathers left us.

Posted by: grsjaxaolcom | January 21, 2010 2:33 PM | Report abuse

StJacques:

What do you think the chances of repealing corporate welfare will be when corporations are able to throw as much money as they want at politicians?

Posted by: acebojangles | January 21, 2010 2:33 PM | Report abuse

George Will refers to the "political class." Just what the hell does that mean? Congress? our elected officials that almost never vote in the interests of the vast majority of the people or our environment, but had to at least make it look like they were limiting corporate speech? These conservative commentators have no limits on their sophistry--it will live in infamy like the corporations. They thump the bible, but over and over again turn the hope of our democratic republic into despair wreaked by those who worship mammon, which Jesus said was the root of all evil.

Posted by: moonbean0 | January 21, 2010 2:33 PM | Report abuse

I have always been taught, and I have always known that the First Amendment protects the right of an individual, and has never been understood to protect the rights of a Corporation, held unaccountable by its very legal status, to enter the fray of backing this candidate over that.

Posted by: swatkins1 | January 21, 2010 2:34 PM | Report abuse

Major news media are public corporations with financial and ideological interests in the outcome of elections. Their reporting (or lack of it in the case of Edwards) could have more effect on outcome than corporate advertising. Should the media be prohibited from any relevant commentary for 30 days prior to elections?

Posted by: daihbidh | January 21, 2010 2:34 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 2:39 PM | Report abuse

For those who've never read it (and that seems to be most of you), here's the text of the First Amendment:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

It doesn't make any distinctions between "free" or "paid" speech; it doesn't vest the freedom of speech in just individuals; it doesn't say that political speech is okay at certain times and not at others. "Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech." Simple. The Court finally got one right.

Posted by: dcraker | January 21, 2010 2:39 PM | Report abuse

To read some of these comments, it is astonishing the amount of support exists out there for limits on speech. Too much freedom! SOMEBODY STOP IT! Very, very, very revealing.

Posted by: Craig_Colgan | January 21, 2010 2:42 PM | Report abuse

Just as predictably, only George Will and conservatives who think buying an election is as American as Mom and apple pie think this is a positive development. Corporations DO habitually support Republicans (as Panamajack suggests, except he thinks that's great), because they're well aware that Republicans are the more likely to offer them unrestricted power and to not oppose their monopoly on people's wallets.

Did you ever stop shouting long enough to consider that many of those monolithic corporations are not American-owned, or wonder where your money is going? Do you want faraway absentee landlords in foreign countries to have direct input to who is the leader of your country? One would not think so, judging by the level of American squalling during the largely positive world reaction to Obama's campaign, but perhaps I'm wrong. Perhaps these selfish Ayeholes are absolutely down with the president being the Arabs choice, or the Chinese (to whom you owe your soul, lest we forget) as long as the president projects a tough-guy, my-country-can-beat-up-your-country attitude, relaxes gun laws and promises cheap gas.

Watch and see how this reversal is taken advantage of in the next election. Lily Tomlin was right - no matter how cynical you become, you can never keep up.

Posted by: marknesop | January 21, 2010 2:42 PM | Report abuse

A couple things that most here miss.

1. Corporations are treated as persons in law. (all law, like contract law etc). There is a lot of case law to support this. Look up the definition of person in Black's Law Dictionary.

2. The courts have ruled consistently that $$=speech. i.e., I can exercise speach through spending $$. I may find it better to give my opinion by donating to a group that can run a TV ad since I can't afford to run one on my own.

If you support the first amendment, this is a natural outcome.

Posted by: morme | January 21, 2010 2:43 PM | Report abuse

ITS OFFICIAL! AMERICA IS A CORPORATOCRACY!!! THE SOTUS ORDAINED IT SO!!!

Posted by: demtse | January 21, 2010 2:44 PM | Report abuse

ITS OFFICIAL! AMERICA IS A CORPORATOCRACY!!! THE SOTUS ORDAINED IT SO!!!

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

Freedom of speech is a liberty that every REAL PERSON should enjoy.

Posted by: Bill64738 | January 21, 2010 2:46 PM | Report abuse

A lot of the mistake my liberal friends make is conflating "speech" with "votes".

Corporations can now speak all they want, but it doesn't mean anyone has to buy what they're selling. After all, we don't all run out and buy all the garbage they sell in their commercials, do we?

I'm no big business apologist, but let's face facts -- as a significant part of our economy, corporations have a story to tell, one that we would do well to listen to, and factor into our OVERALL voting decisions.

(It's also worth noting that this frees restrictions on other sorts of organizations that tend to lean in a more leftward direction -- unions, non-profits, social organizations, advocacy groups, etc.)

Posted by: TheGlobalizer | January 21, 2010 2:46 PM | Report abuse

This is fantastic! Good for Scotus! Now American subsidiaries of foreign companies can fully participate in our electoral process. China Metal, Dubai Harbors, Airbus and others who have been ignored and trampled on, can now have their voices heard. We will finally get some balance to Haliburton and the Carlisle Group. I look forward to some foreign entity offering top dollar for Fox News.

Posted by: roger27 | January 21, 2010 2:47 PM | Report abuse

I can hardly believe this, but I shouldn't be suprised... the Supreme Court seems to be of the opinion that spending money is a form of free speech. It's discomforting to know that the Constitution apparently says that the rich have more free speech than I.

Finally, this country has the freedom to ignore the lower class's right to freedom. Democracy can officially be bought and sold.

Posted by: joshlct | January 21, 2010 2:50 PM | Report abuse

So Will, do u see a problem with a corporation majority-owned by China, or India, or Saudi Arabia, funding 24/7 ads for a particular politician? I don't know, say Walmart, Citibank, ExxonMobil.

Take your time, Will. We'll wait.

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

George, you are absolutly right - the first amendment is radical and it is the way we govern ourselves. Jefferson, Madison, and others were radical. But, they are our radicals. They understood the concept of individual freedom.

And this business of "corporations" not being people? Excuse me, but it is a human mind that creates the ideas, the human hand the implements the idea, and the humans who populate all organizations, without exception. And, their right to assemble is not predicated upon the particular part of the IRS code that someone has determined they fall under. Further, freedom of assembly and freedom of speech are not exclusionary.

It is only the liberals who have dominated the Main Stream Media who love these encroachments on our freedoms, because under the McCain Feingold law, they were able to maintain their free speech rights while denying rights to others.

Now that I think of it, that's like the SEIU going in favor of Obamacare because someone else will pay the penalties, and they get a free ride because of who they know.

It reminds me of gangsterism, really... the Democrat ideas...

Posted by: Cdgaman | January 21, 2010 2:55 PM | Report abuse

To the person who thinks libs "wants the government to control everything." Do you want coporations to control everything? Why is it people get so upset about "government take over" but don't mine "corporate take over."

To the person who sees this decision as a natural since the court sees $$=speech; the court has also said that the people through their government representatives have a legitiment reason to ensure that elections do not have the appearance of corruption.

To the person who thinks that those opposed to this deicison are for restrictions on free speech.. it isn't the fact that people want restrictions on free speech, they want to make sure that all sides are heard. Speech/Ideas should be based upon the merit of what they have to say, not the fact that someone has more money to say their speech more often and to a larger audience and that is why that speech is being heard...especially when they have a monetary incentive to do so (therefore making more money and thus a greater chance at spreading their speech, etc., etc.,)

Posted by: smith6 | January 21, 2010 2:56 PM | Report abuse

I don't think the founding fathers had corporations in mind when they penned the first amendment.

Posted by: Duodenum | January 21, 2010 3:03 PM | Report abuse

"It is only the liberals who have dominated the Main Stream Media who love these encroachments on our freedoms, because under the McCain Feingold law, they were able to maintain their free speech rights while denying rights to others." from Cdgaman

Tell me... how has YOUR freedom of speech been enroached upon by the McCain Feingold law?

Posted by: smith6 | January 21, 2010 3:05 PM | Report abuse

We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Corporation, insure intra-corporate tranquility, provide for the common defense of corporate practices, promote the general profit, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and corporate spin-offs, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Posted by: jps4 | January 21, 2010 3:15 PM | Report abuse

the ruling class has spoken again. i hope all those who commented here in favor of the ruling are already at the top of a corporate hierarchy, stand to inherit a secure base of old money, are already securely independently wealthy, or are an irreplaceable highly placed, highly paid lackey of someone else in one of the just described situations (and are okay with being the lackey). because if you support it and you aren't already in one of those situations, you're just kidding yourself -- it doesn't help you. yes, you have an outside chance of getting there if you aren't there already but the odds are NOT in your favor. you also have a chance of drawing to an inside straight but you shouldn't bet on it. responding with vitriol and/or calling me names does not change that reality. this ruling is part of the ongoing class warfare being waged by the ruling class against everyone else -- including you.

and george will is, as always, one of those lackeys. that's why he supports it. of course he can't actually come right out and admit that. thus he would disagree with what i have to say.

Posted by: allyourbasearebelongtous | January 21, 2010 3:18 PM | Report abuse

If you didn't think politicians, by and large, have been bought and paid for already by PACs and their supporters, just wait till by the corporations and industry overlords "sponsor" the 2010 election.

"The United States of Oligarchies" has just been christened. The common man just got the shaft.

Posted by: B-rod | January 21, 2010 3:21 PM | Report abuse

George... you are way off base on this one. This decision has nothing to do with free speach. This is all about the money; where do we keep getting these people to make decisions like this. Now, we can look forward to losing even more of a voice in politics. Big Corporate and Union money will now prevail and the lies and half truths will abound.

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

location of right to free speech - Bill of Rights - applies to individuals not corporations - I just asked a 3rd grader

the tree of liberty must be...fed dollar bills

Posted by: in12 | January 21, 2010 3:24 PM | Report abuse

I guess I have trouble realizing that "corporations" or inanimate objects somehow have "rights". I think the SCOUS made a serious mistake here. Corporations should stay out just as unions, professional associations (Trial Lawyers Association now known as the Justice Association or whatever), etc. Money should come directly from the people. Corporations should not be given rights from the Bill of Rights.

Posted by: staterighter | January 21, 2010 3:25 PM | Report abuse

I'm proud that we live in a country where (by a vote of 5-4) free speech still means something.

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

As usual the radical left is unhinged by the thought that the government can't control every aspect of our lives.

Let us hope that this is just a first step in bringing back the liberty the founding fathers left us.

Posted by: grsjaxaolcom
----------------------

Right, like the freedom for gays to marry! Correct?

Or is it only proper when government intervenes to limit the liberties of those you do not support?

Posted by: B-rod | January 21, 2010 3:27 PM | Report abuse

The real problem is that Terrorist have given a bad name to Anarchist. Now that the Supreme Court has codified corporate rule over our elections, using the legislative & judicial branches to keep the executive branch unfettered from lobbyist undermining the public interest has become untenable.

Grassroots can not compete against Exxon, United Health, & General Dynamics in terms of campaign contributions so now it's not We the People, but We the Corporations making policy. We the Anarchist do not approve.

Posted by: GarrisonLiberty | January 21, 2010 3:30 PM | Report abuse

For me, here's the bottom line for why this is such a disastrous ruling. In according corporations the same political input as ordinary, individual citizens, the SCOTUS has permitted companies beholden only to stockholders to advocate for wars that they will not serve in. Ordinary citizens, beholden to the commonweal, will be the conscripts. Corporations will be the profiteers.

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

I can't wait to see the 2012 Republican Pres. primary debates- Eight people with corporate sponsor patches covering their suits like NASCA drivers. Actually, Palin's Facebook page reportedly shows her photo with a "This Space For Rent" stickie on her forehead.

Posted by: BBear1 | January 21, 2010 3:42 PM | Report abuse

The problem I have is granting a non-human entity (i.e. corporations) the same consitutional rights as human beings. I have grave misgivings treating corporations as extensions of humans. They are often driven by a logic that has little to do with human aspirations and often distort human interactions. I find it hard to believe our founding fathers had this in mind.

Posted by: kchses1 | January 21, 2010 3:43 PM | Report abuse

Dummycrats don't have any problem with the SEIU taking union dues out of the paychecks of NON-UNION EMPLOYEES and then using the money to campaign for obama.

Obama outspent McCain 5 to 1 in the 2008 election. Most of that money came from unions. Once in power obama stole $787 billion to pay the unions back - this is ILLEGAL.

Getting the message out in the era of mass communications takes lots of money. Most individuals don't have it but Corporations do. The employees and shareholders of Corporations are all individuals - allowing these people to pool their resources in order to make their voices heard is far more democratic than allowing union contributions. Union leadership never consults the rank and file before backing candidates - Corporations would have to.

The only way that dummycrats have been able to retain power for as long as they have is by lying to the American people. With this ruling they will no longer be able to pull the wool over the people's eyes, and the SEIU thugs will have to go to prison.

Posted by: gfr1231 | January 21, 2010 3:55 PM | Report abuse

Free speech now has a price tag. If you can afford it, you can exercise it. If you can't afford it, tough luck. This is an absolutely ridiculous ruling. The voices with the money will drown out all other voices. I don't call this free speech. It is also far from honest debate. Paid voices will spread even more misinformation and propaganda, knowing that the voices which can't pay will have no means of responding. This is a sad day in the United States.

West Fork, Arkansas

Posted by: tglynfinley | January 21, 2010 3:55 PM | Report abuse

Even John McCain in 2008, did not abide by the rules of McCain-Feingold.

Posted by: vigor | January 21, 2010 3:56 PM | Report abuse

stephendavid2002 wrote:
As long as Corporations are considered "PERSONS" under the law - except that corporations enjoy a protection under law greater than any mere citizen - for example Coporations cannot be incarcerated or even arrested for acts against the law... then "corporate corruption of our democracy" will remain established.

"With a stroke of the pen, five Justices wiped out a century of American history devoted to preventing corporate corruption of our democracy."

no... with the acceptance of the idea that Corporations are "persons", wealth white judeochristian men (and thier uncle thomas like sidekicks) subvert equal protection and due process.

Posted by: stephendavid2002 | January 21, 2010 3:56 PM | Report abuse

Please consider the following 4 types of "speech":

ADVERTISING
"We here at OILCORP are dedicated to finding and exploiting domestic sources of energy while constantly researching more eco-friendly sources."

"We here at OLDPEOPLE have insurance plans, travel discounts and other products designed for senior citizens."

"We here at MFL (Muskrat Federation of Labor) represent the interests of workers in the Muskrat industry. MFL claws for YOU!"

ADVOCACY
"We here at OILCORP believe that it is in America's best interest to drill in the Alaskan Wildlife Reserve."

"We here at OLDPEOPLE support the idea of universal health care."

"We here at MFL believe all workers have a right to a living wage."

CANDIDACY
"We here at OILCORP support MR. X for governor because he . . . "

"We here at OLDPEOPLE support Ms. Y for senator because she . . . "

"We here at MFL support vegetarians!"

CONTRIBUTIONS
OILCORP gives $$$ to MR. X's campaign (or his national party.)

OLDPEOPLE gives $$$ to Ms. Y's campaign (or her national party.)

MFL gives $$$ to as many vegans as it can.

SCOTUS has conferred on OILCORP the same status for "candidacy" as OLDPEOPLE and MFL already have. While this may seem egregious for all the reasons that have been posted, it is in keeping with equal status under the law. Yes, you have to bite the bullet and recognize that corporations are being given the same rights as advocacy groups and unions.

The debate this should lead to (in my opinion) is how much ANY of these groups should be allowed to spend in the political process. Most people might grant (however grudgingly) the ability of the groups to advertise and advocate. But many of us feel that actively supporting a particular party or candidate, or directly giving them money, crosses a line.

The most straightforward solution would be to say that only individual, real PEOPLE can make campaign contributions and ads - and that contributions are limited to some cap. Either media would have to allow campaign ads for that capped amount of money, or people would just have to live with the fact that their individual contributions would be part of the money spent for ads by the campaign itself. This may seem draconian because it denies the Muskrat laborers to collectively speak politically. BUT IT GETS AN AWFUL LOT OF "BIG $" OUT OF THE POLITICAL PROCESS.

Personally, I believe that if unions and AARP can have a voice in the process (even if all their members might not agree with the candidate), then corporations are entitled to the same right. Yes, the fact that most unions and advocacy groups are mostly Americans, while a corporation may be a wholly-owned subsidiary of a foreign entity raises questions. But that's minor compared to the overall effect that these entities have on buying elections.

Posted by: CAvoter | January 21, 2010 4:02 PM | Report abuse

Hey all, corporations ARE, legally, regarded as a "person," having the capacity to hold and sell property, sue and be sued, etc. "just as a natural person may." Dartmouth College v. Woodward, 17 U.S. 518 (1819).

This is law school 101 folks, ask any first year law student whether a corporation is legally a person, they'll tell you yes.

As a "person," a corporation is entitled to 1st Amendment free speech protection just like you and me.

Posted by: adhughes | January 21, 2010 4:02 PM | Report abuse

Since corporations are 99.9 percent pure white supremacist, the Republicans can count on a big boost from last minute racist/sexist speech used on election days.

50% unemployment for black males (who, when employed, make only about 58% of what a white male makes for the same job...); unequal pay for women; jobs that pay the average worker less than the cost of living in the area in which they live....

Corporations have free speech and superior protection under law: they even have Chief Justice (execute the office to the President of the United States faithfully) Roberts to consider them as "persons" - something Roberts barely thinks of Obama and Michelle as...

(Michelle - a real person- should start wearing her real hair as a sign of protest... corporations don't have hair... michelle can't wear her natural hair because she's black... and America is still a land of racism and sexism)

Posted by: stephendavid2002 | January 21, 2010 4:10 PM | Report abuse

I hate to break it to you anti-corporate folks (who probably work for a corporation) but money has always bought speech. It cost money during the days of our founding fathers to pay for the copying and distribution of speech. Politics have always been and always will be a rich person's game.

Can you imagine if there was a media blackout for only certain organizations during the days of our founding fathers? You couldn't distribute papers endorsing one candidate or another in the days before an election?

That's insane and laws prohibiting it should never have passed, especially in this age where a single person can broadcast using the internet.

Posted by: swalsh37331 | January 21, 2010 4:19 PM | Report abuse

dcraker:
"It doesn't make any distinctions between "free" or "paid" speech; it doesn't vest the freedom of speech in just individuals; it doesn't say that political speech is okay at certain times and not at others."

You'll note that it also doesn't say that handing over bags of cash qualifies as speech.

"The Court finally got one right."

Wrong.

Posted by: presto668 | January 21, 2010 4:20 PM | Report abuse

The SCOTUS just overturned one hundred years of precedent and commonsense. The Constitution doesn't regulate "proper" speech? So what? The Constitution doesn't regulate a lot of things we find harmful in our society. And while we should protect the fundamentals of the first amendment, we should also protect the free speech of the people who will be drowned out by big corporations and unions.

Corporations and big unions cause corruption in government and inequality in our society. And thanks to the ambivalence of the American people they should have an easy go of it.

Posted by: sherminta | January 21, 2010 4:20 PM | Report abuse

Here's a cute quote:

"For me, here's the bottom line for why this is such a disastrous ruling. In according corporations the same political input as ordinary, individual citizens, the SCOTUS has permitted companies beholden only to stockholders to advocate for wars that they will not serve in. Ordinary citizens, beholden to the commonweal, will be the conscripts. Corporations will be the profiteers."

Oh please, get your knickers un-bunched. I guess you don't worry too much about someone advocating for taxes they don't have to pay, do you?

In any event, the word you used is "advocating"; the word Will uses is "speech". So Exxon can spend $20 billion on advertising "speech" or "advocating" for T. Boone Pickens to be President, or whatever other cause, political or otherwise, the management of that corporation deems worthy of spending its shareholders' money on.

I for one could not be worried less. I don't buy their gasoline, why should I vote for their candidate? Because they advertise the most? Does that mean we all drink Budwieser because Anheuser spends the most on advertising?

Are you worried? Does $ equal votes? You know it does not. Or Ross Perot would have been elected.

Read the Constitution; I have, it was required reading in Constitutional Law. I read it again this afternoon looking for the amendment to the First Amendment. Couldn't find it. Speech shall not be abridged. Hasn't changed a bit.

The only thing that has changed is the US becoming a liberal nanny state, where people cannot be trusted to make decisions for themselves, so Pelosi, or Gingrich, or whomever, must make the decisions for them.

Posted by: bdean1 | January 21, 2010 4:24 PM | Report abuse

George, the only reason you think this is a good decision is because you assume that corporations will give more money to the Republicans. It's amazing that you are so accepting of the fact that this decision reveals John Roberts to be a major pathological liar during his confirmation hearings. That doesn't matter to you as long as you get the decision you want. It never ceases to amaze me when, supposedly "good Christian people" pretend they cannot understand where all the moral decay is coming from when all they have to do is look in the mirror. Our children watch this hypocrisy and refuse to hear anything we have to tell them.

Posted by: dhampton100 | January 21, 2010 4:25 PM | Report abuse

The point of allowing corporations to heap millions of dollars worth of ads onto an already cluttered political discourse is not to advance the cause of free speech, but rather to smother discussion. Equating 'money' with 'speech' is ridiculous, particularly when its done by supposedly 'strict constructionists' like George Will.

Posted by: jhm2133 | January 21, 2010 4:27 PM | Report abuse

This decision was to be expected from the Roberts court. But the prospect of even more fake, ginned up political advertising sickens me. Four years ago we passed the billion dollar mark for a single campaign and the politicos have just gone on to spend even more ever since.

I don't know about you. But I learn nothing from such garbage. Rather, just the opposite.

Posted by: rtandrew | January 21, 2010 4:33 PM | Report abuse

Dummycrats don't have any problem with the SEIU taking union dues out of the paychecks of NON-UNION EMPLOYEES and then using the money to campaign for obama.

Obama outspent McCain 5 to 1 in the 2008 election. Most of that money came from unions. Once in power obama stole $787 billion to pay the unions back - this is ILLEGAL.

_____________________________
What are you talking about? Obama out spent Mc Cain 2.5 to 1. Labor only gave approx $1.1 million. It's illegal for the unions to force employees to contribute to a campaign. If that happened the SEIU has a good case for a lawsuit. Facts please!

2008 campaign contribution breakdown:
http://www.opensecrets.org/pres08/sectorall.php?cycle=2008

Posted by: sherminta | January 21, 2010 4:34 PM | Report abuse

Does this mean corporations also have the right to bear arms?

Will you are officially a fool. A consistent fool, but a fool none-the-less. As we watch this country rapidly descend from a meritocracy to a plutocracy I hope someone out there has the guts to stop this madness. I am not as rich as Rupert Murdoch, but my voice should count as much.

Posted by: rcasero | January 21, 2010 4:34 PM | Report abuse

It's wonderful to read the hyperventilations of the left wing fever swamps. Sorry, the Ministry of Truth is being dismantled and the union bosses won't be the only...ahem citizens free to care and feed their pets in the Democratic Party any more. A horrible week for statism, a great one for the rest of us. There is change you can believe in.

Posted by: diana11777 | January 21, 2010 4:36 PM | Report abuse

So George advocates corporate purchase of elections even more blatant than what has happened before. It used to be that the biggies had to find some sort of fig leaf behind which to hide their dirty dealings. Now its OK for the biggest bidder to buy whatever is necessary to pollute and distort the public interest. Election for sale! Election for sale! Step right up!

Posted by: frodot | January 21, 2010 4:37 PM | Report abuse

SCOTUS considers Corporations to be "persons" - except Corporations are NOT persons.

(If you allow SCOTUS to provide protection under law to corporations as if coporations are persons equal to us citizens so far as rights are concerned except not when it comes to responcibility, then you are complicit in your own disparagement...)

Amendment XIV
Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws


Maybe Obama will appoint AIG to replace the next person retiring off SCOTUS?

a Chief Justice AIG would probably be able to give a proper oath of office for the next President....

what do you think? (not you, I'm talking to the corporations posting here)

"With a stroke of the pen, five Justices wiped out a century of American history devoted to preventing corporate corruption of our democracy."

no... with the acceptance of the idea that Corporations are "persons", wealth white judeochristian men (and thier uncle thomas like sidekicks) subvert equal protection and due process.

Posted by: stephendavid2002 | January 21, 2010 4:39 PM | Report abuse

When we revolt, I say we lop this doooshbag's head of first.

Posted by: kurthunt | January 21, 2010 4:43 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Will never stops in revising history to fit his twisted view of the political landscape in this country. Corporations are not people they don't vote and as such amoral constructs that they are should not be promoting their own money swiping agendas. George Will is just another sell out/paid hack.

Posted by: P-Wave | January 21, 2010 4:50 PM | Report abuse

That corporations and other artificial entities have First Amendment rights and other constitutional protection is absurd. But for corporate personhood under the 14th amendment, there would be no First Amendment issue at all. And the really amazing thing is that corporate personhood appeared in the law without any discussion or analysis by the Supreme Court in the 1880s and has never been reconsidered since.

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

death cannot come soon enough for the conservative pieces of sh_t on the SCOTUS.

and their supporters.

Posted by: strictly_liberal | January 21, 2010 4:54 PM | Report abuse

Speech is "free" or none of us are free. This BS of attempting to differentiate between "free speech" and "paid speech" has go to go.

Time to turn America into a modern state which gives up the superstitious nonsense that any such thing as "word magic" exists ~ it doesn't.

POWER TO THE PEOPLE ~ the right of free assembly is bound up throughly with the right to speak, and my corporate interests are certainly as dear to me as my own billfold.

Huzzah to the Court.

Death to those who would suppress free speech, and their running dog lackeys

Posted by: muawiyah | January 21, 2010 4:54 PM | Report abuse

This is the, "The Oligarchs Shall Rule the Stooges," syndrome we all argue over. Should oligarchs turn the people into stooges? Why not?

Posted by: AIPACiswar | January 21, 2010 4:56 PM | Report abuse

the ruling class has spoken again. i hope all those who commented here in favor of the ruling are already at the top of a corporate hierarchy, stand to inherit a secure base of old money, are already securely independently wealthy, or are an irreplaceable highly placed, highly paid lackey of someone else in one of the just described situations (and are okay with being the lackey). because if you support it and you aren't already in one of those situations, you're just kidding yourself -- it doesn't help you. yes, you have an outside chance of getting there if you aren't there already but the odds are NOT in your favor. you also have a chance of drawing to an inside straight but you shouldn't bet on it. responding with vitriol and/or calling me names does not change that reality. this ruling is part of the ongoing class warfare being waged by the ruling class against everyone else -- including you.

and george will is, as always, one of those lackeys. that's why he supports it. of course he can't actually come right out and admit that. thus he would disagree with what i have to say.

Posted by: allyourbasearebelongtous | January 21, 2010 5:02 PM | Report abuse

it seems to me if you regulated entities, that would give some "Super authority" the same right to regulate spending by political parties and candidates. is that not correct?

Posted by: braswell1 | January 21, 2010 5:03 PM | Report abuse

So Bernie Madoff had a First Amendment right to deceive the public.

Posted by: Garak | January 21, 2010 5:03 PM | Report abuse

Some of you people are truly amazing. I don't have time to read all of this but what I have so far seems to focus on the idea that big corporations are not people.

True, but so what? Paid advertising has been alive and well since the dawn of the nation, and laws restricting that have merely resulted in those with a political interest to set up "nonprofits" to handle the ad money. This decision at least holds the promise that such subterfuge will be less necessary.

And by the way, just because a company has an interest in something doesn't make it evil. Nor are all corporations "big business". How about small business trade associations? Don't they function similarly?

Sorry, but Will is right on this one.

Posted by: JeffRandom | January 21, 2010 5:03 PM | Report abuse

Free speech is not free. And its a lot less free after today.

Posted by: jryan758 | January 21, 2010 5:04 PM | Report abuse

A stake in the Heart of our Constitution. The last one of our three Branches of Government has fallen to the stranglehold of aristocracy. Judge Sotomayor's suggestion to review immediately the Corporations' status as individuals is now critical to save what little is left of our Democracy.

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

Very important that: Government of the corporation, by the corporation, for the corporation, shall not perish from this Earth. Better yet, they should own it.

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

"Oh please, get your knickers un-bunched. I guess you don't worry too much about someone advocating for taxes they don't have to pay, do you?"?????????????????

corporations advocating to lower coporation taxes does not make coporations "persons"


"In any event, the word you used is "advocating"; the word Will uses is "speech". So Exxon can spend $20 billion on advertising "speech" or "advocating" for T. Boone Pickens to be President, or whatever other cause, political or otherwise, the management of that corporation deems worthy of spending its shareholders' money on."
??????????????????????????

coporations don't have a right to "speech" or "advocacy" - PEOPLE DO. coporations are NOT persons: they can't be arrested, they can't be incarcerated, they can't serve as a member of SCOTUS (except to the extent the Chief and his side kicks are serogates for them...)

"I for one could not be worried less. I don't buy their gasoline, why should I vote for their candidate? Because they advertise the most? Does that mean we all drink Budwieser because Anheuser spends the most on advertising?"
??????????????????????????????????

corporations don't waste money on advertizing: advertizing i not done in vain - anymore than racism is done in vain. just because they may sell an inferior product they must prop up with more advertizing than a competitor doesn't mean that the advertising is not distorting the true value of what is being advertised...


"Are you worried? Does $ equal votes? You know it does not. Or Ross Perot would have been elected."????????????????????

Again, piss will never sell as well as water - even if you spend 10 times on advertizing piss than you do on advertizing water.


"Read the Constitution; I have, it was required reading in Constitutional Law. I read it again this afternoon looking for the amendment to the First Amendment. Couldn't find it. Speech shall not be abridged. Hasn't changed a bit."

speech shall not be abridged for people! corporations are NOT persons or citizens or humans: corporations can't read (are YOU a corporation? can corporations masterbate?)


"The only thing that has changed is the US becoming a liberal nanny state, where people cannot be trusted to make decisions for themselves, so Pelosi, or Gingrich, or whomever, must make the decisions for them."

The only thing that has changed is the US becoming a government of the corporations, by the corporations, and for the corporations... and corporations are NOT people.

Posted by: stephendavid2002 | January 21, 2010 5:06 PM | Report abuse

the ruling class has spoken again. i hope all those who commented here in favor of the ruling are already at the top of a corporate hierarchy, stand to inherit a secure base of old money, are already securely independently wealthy, or are an irreplaceable highly placed, highly paid lackey of someone else in one of the just described situations (and are okay with being the lackey). because if you support it and you aren't already in one of those situations, you're just kidding yourself -- it doesn't help you. yes, you have an outside chance of getting there if you aren't there already but the odds are NOT in your favor. you also have a chance of drawing to an inside straight but you shouldn't bet on it. responding with vitriol and/or calling me names does not change that reality. this ruling is part of the ongoing class warfare being waged by the ruling class against everyone else -- including you.

and george will is, as always, one of those lackeys. that's why he supports it. of course he can't actually come right out and admit that. thus he would disagree with what i have to say.

Posted by: allyourbasearebelongtous | January 21, 2010 5:07 PM | Report abuse

When corporate rights are deemed equal or greater than individual rights, we have got no hope. Corporate rules of Congress will destroy democracy.

Posted by: dummy4peace | January 21, 2010 5:07 PM | Report abuse

Hey cool now we're all in a bidding war for justice, vs giant businesses that have endless cash. Let's all collect our pennies and make our OWN HOMEMADE commercials, and really show those corporations who's boss!

That light at the end of the tunnel is an oncoming train.

Posted by: AIPACiswar | January 21, 2010 5:09 PM | Report abuse

the ruling class has spoken again. i hope all those who commented here in favor of the ruling are already at the top of a corporate hierarchy, stand to inherit a secure base of old money, are already securely independently wealthy, or are an irreplaceable highly placed, highly paid lackey of someone else in one of the just described situations (and are okay with being the lackey). because if you support it and you aren't already in one of those situations, you're just kidding yourself -- it doesn't help you. yes, you have an outside chance of getting there if you aren't there already but the odds are NOT in your favor. you also have a chance of drawing to an inside straight but you shouldn't bet on it. responding with vitriol and/or calling me names does not change that reality. this ruling is part of the ongoing class warfare being waged by the ruling class against everyone else -- including you.

and george will is, as always, one of those lackeys. that's why he supports it. of course he can't actually come right out and admit that. thus he would disagree with what i have to say.

Posted by: allyourbasearebelongtous | January 21, 2010 5:09 PM | Report abuse

If I'm not mistaken Corporations are made of stockholders which are usually "people". Unions are also made up of "people". Advocacy groups are made up of "people". Need I go on?

Posted by: dpayne2 | January 21, 2010 5:09 PM | Report abuse

The measurement for me that this decision will endanger the voice of 'the people'and our democratic process is the level of glee expressed by the politicans that can't wait for the new influx of money that will further corrupt our democratic process. Can the Justices on the court be so blind as to not recognize the negative impact that money plays in the current system?

Posted by: rmclane | January 21, 2010 5:12 PM | Report abuse

Bad law fails.

George Will will never be intelligent enough to understand why that is, still illiterate after all these years.

But then, who expected differently?

This is the same group that gave us supply-side and Iraq/Afghanistan.

How will this be different?

It won't.

It will blow up in their faces, too.

So, who cares?

Posted by: thegreatpotatospamof2003 | January 21, 2010 5:13 PM | Report abuse

When I murder George Will, it will be free speech.

Posted by: kurthunt | January 21, 2010 5:14 PM | Report abuse

Well if corporations can now express their first amendment right to free speech, I think it's high time they paid the price for that individual freedom of free speech; income taxes

I know I'd feel much better if corporate America was seeing the bulk of their income going to protect their Constitutional Rights, just like the rest of us taxpaying American individuals.

Posted by: JenAZ | January 21, 2010 5:15 PM | Report abuse

George Will is DEAD wrong on this issue, and so was the conservative majority of the Court. This decision is not a first amendment / free speech matter at all - it's a foil - a red herring - employed by those who wish to solidify the right wing's political dominance over this nation. It's disgraceful. I'm surprised that somebody so intelligent as George Will would take such a stupid point of view.

Corporations are profit-driven entities. They are NOT citizens. In fact, they are inherently anti-people. And when you give corporations the loudest megaphones, they will drown out everyone else.

Today's decision is a breathtaking display of judicial chutzpah. Those of you who either cannot or will not see the obvious here should have your heads examined. This is a TERRIBLE decision for our democracy and the people of this country. We will all pay a price, no matter our political allegiances.

Posted by: commpro | January 21, 2010 5:15 PM | Report abuse

What this ruling is saying, is that from now on, instead of giving more money to workers or shareholders, the corporation can use this money to speak for thousands of employees and shareholders even if it goes against everything they stand for.

The profits of a company thousands of people worked to build can be used to broadcast the opinions of one CEO.

Posted by: JoeinMN | January 21, 2010 1:08 PM |

Yes exactly what the Unions have been doing for years. Kind of levels the playing field does it not? I do remember last year the constant headlines about Obama out collecting donations like it was a contest. You never stop to ask yourselves just where the funds came from just blindly believed it was from the unwashed masses. Because he never took public funds he was not audited. Have you bothered to note who your liberal Representatives get there funds from? Open Secrets will list them for you. Why not run on over and check them out? Then you will see who wrote the health care bill with Obama and company. Health Care Corporations and others. Quite an eye opener. So as you gripe about this ruling remember you feed at the same pot you are just angry others can now do the same it is no longer an exclusive club and that is your real problem.

Posted by: jace1 | January 21, 2010 5:16 PM | Report abuse

Yes exactly what the Unions have been doing for years. Kind of levels the playing field does it not? I
-------------
Right.

So you're saying a union has the same financial power as Standard Oil?

Good to know.

Oh, brother.

See what I mean?

Posted by: thegreatpotatospamof2003 | January 21, 2010 5:18 PM | Report abuse

As a next step, we should give corporations the right to vote. One share, one vote. The logic? It's simple. Corporations are people; all people are created equal; ergo, corporations must have equal rights — and no right is more important than the right to vote. The people end up voting, by proxy, through their ownership of shares.

Posted by: BaracksTeleprompter | January 21, 2010 5:19 PM | Report abuse

This decision is pleasing to the likes of George Will who is basically a paid Republican shill anyway...

But in no way can this decision be right. Yet it serves as proof that Republicans are dedicated to the very judicial activism that they accused Democrats of.

Republicans win again 5 to 4.

Let's see how this works out, and who will be the first politician to put his office up for bid on Ebay... Let's see how long before Republicans seek to change naming rights to the White House...

"Coming to you Live from the Fox News White House in Washington D.C."

This Supreme Court decision will NO-DOUBT turn out like Bush v. Gore... A complete disaster.

Posted by: gmoore40 | January 21, 2010 5:22 PM | Report abuse

This decision comes to you courtesy of the Republican Party, whose presidents nominated all five of the justices who struck down decades of precedent and tipped - no, overturned - the playing field of all campaigns. Any doubts about where the sympathies of the Republican Party really lie should be put to rest after this; it is not the party of the people, despite its claims. The will of the people now becomes the will of the corporation. Your Congress, now for sale. Your country, now owned by the corporation. It's okay to give business a voice in campaigns; SCOTUS has given business the right to shout down all other voices.

Posted by: cyclemadness | January 21, 2010 5:24 PM | Report abuse

StephenDavid2002: "coporations [sic] don't have a right to "speech" or "advocacy" - PEOPLE DO."

You miss the point entirely. Corporations are made of of people just as SEIU, AARP and NRA are. SCOTUS has merely given them the same right to assemble, bargain, etc., that the others have.

If all of you can hold that corporations are somehow evil, too-powerful or unrepresentative of real people, then others can make the same arguments against SEIU, AARP and NRA. And if you argue that its unfair because corporations have more money, that just begs the discrepancy between SEIU and MFL.

The real problem is that big $ buys politicians. In that regard, corporate $ are no better or worse than union $. If you want to really bring the democratic process back to "the people" then argue for real $ reform in campaign financing, not just demonize one group you abhor while giving a pass to another group with which you agree.

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

If all of you can hold that corporations are somehow evil, too-powerful or unrepresentative of real people, then others can make the same arguments against SEIU, AARP and NRA. And
------------
You're assuming parity with the unions, and it simply doesn't exist. The nature of the large corporation is such that it is simply an extension of those, at the top, with an already disportionate share of power. What social dynamic is most likely to follow? We already know this from history, but not that d0ofus right wing, apparently missing a portion of its brain.

That is why the laws exist in the fitst place.

I swear to god, first supply side, then Afghanistan, now this, I've never seen anything, well, this stupid.

But honestly, who cares? You people are so over...

Posted by: thegreatpotatospamof2003 | January 21, 2010 5:30 PM | Report abuse

I.E. A 2 state grassroots 2 year movement is able to drum up 2.6 million dollars to advocate against the pollution created by mountain top strip mining and wants new health regulations. 1.8 million people have signed the petition, they are backing Joe Superguy.

In the boardroom of Wankoff Dirty Coal Company, 15 members agree to rake off from there polluting profits 44 million to buy ads to tear Superguy apart with Smears, lies and the magical idea of non-evasive clean coal production.

The 44 million dollar argument unsurprisingly wins.

And George Will unsurprisingly is the perfect rube to clap happily like a drugged corporate ape.

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

Anything.anyone or coporation that can terminate an employee just because they have used bad language within the work place that wasn't even directed at anyone in particular but was mearly a statement of discuss an because the employee was being retailate against by the employer an the employee had sense enough to relize it tha he/she was being retailated against with rergards to a retailatory transfer an the employee was protesting against the action of the retailatory transfer that proved to be a retailtory transfer that ended in a perment termination

Posted by: pbjbeach@yahoo.com | January 21, 2010 5:31 PM | Report abuse

"You're assuming parity with the unions"

No, I'm not. I'm assuming that big $ buys power. I absolutely agree that this ruling will give corporations even more say in government. And I absolutely think that, prior to this ruling, SEIU and other unions had a big say in government.

I oppose both.

Posted by: CAvoter | January 21, 2010 5:34 PM | Report abuse

Now, even US-based foreign corporations can buy our representatives. And if those corporations are government-owned - as with Chinese corporations - those foreign governments will be buying OUR representatives. This is one of the most damaging Court rulings ever!

Posted by: jay_casey | January 21, 2010 5:37 PM | Report abuse

stephendavid200, CAvoter ~ corporations are certainly made up of human beings.

Alas, the Leftwingtards think of "corporations" much the same as they do unborn children ~ as just meat ~ and frankly, I've been tired of the Courts tolerating their mean attitude for quite some time now.

I have rights. I have a right of free association. I have a right of contract. I have a right of speech, and with the internet, of the press.

The fascistic McCain/Feingold BS was attacking all of those rights and making me less of a human.

My speech extends beyond pounding on the keyboard or going to a demonstration and holding a sign. It includes, by extension, my right to contract ~ and spend my money, and if I want to spend my money on a group (a corporation) that invests in politicians of whom I approve, why that's the right my forefathers fought and died for in 1775!

Regulation of speech is a European idea, not at all American, and it should be rejected by all real Americans.

Posted by: muawiyah | January 21, 2010 5:39 PM | Report abuse

"Your Congress, now for sale." Where have you been? Congress has always been for sale. This decision has no impact on that sad fact.

Posted by: dcraker | January 21, 2010 5:41 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Will's continual disingenuous ranting about protection of First Amendment rights ever since McCain-Feingold was signed into law has been nothing short of nauseating. The only silver lining in this unfortunate decision by the Supreme Court to grant moneyed organizations the same rights as ordinary citizens hopefully means that he can now cease his mind numbing, excruciating water torture type whining.

Mr. Will should now stick to what he does best - waxing nostalgically over the good old days of baseball. Or, can we as readers expect Mr. Will to take up the cause of players such as McGwire and Sosa, and justify the use of performance enhancing drugs as a logical extension of an athlete's right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?

Posted by: MillPond2 | January 21, 2010 5:42 PM | Report abuse

George you're losing your mind. People invest in corporations because they expect to earn a profit. They do not invest in them to support particular political views or policies. To say that a corporation is an entity for political purposes is just hogwash. They have no vote. They shouldn't be allowed to use their largesse to influence those who do.

Posted by: winjack | January 21, 2010 5:43 PM | Report abuse

I've just read the opinions (http://www.supremecourtus.gov/opinions/09pdf/08-205.pdf) and it's even worse. Read Justice Stevens' dissent and you'll see why: the majority has created its own procedural precedent for SCOTUS adjudication by bringing in issues to the specific Citizens United case that were not before the Court. They then based their opinion, overturning 100 years of precedent on the permissibility of monitoring and limiting corporate participation in elections, on issues that were not argued before the court.

If that isn't activism, conservatives, please tell me what is.

Posted by: abqcleve | January 21, 2010 5:44 PM | Report abuse

It is gratifying to see that most posters here disagree with this despicable act of judicial activism by SCOTUS. Free Speech is the right of people, not corporations. Corporations are by definition amoral and unaccountable - they exist only to generate profit - regardless of the human and environmental impact. In many cases they operate in this country but are controlled by foreign interests. Should Chrysler (soon to be a division of FIAT) be allowed to influence American elections?

Another example of how "when money talks, Republicans listen."
This conservative court has just sold American democracy to the highest bidder. I hope Congress and the President will act to safeguard the real Constitutionally protected free speech - that of American citizens.

Posted by: ArmyBrat68 | January 21, 2010 5:47 PM | Report abuse

This article is a piece of kerrr-app. This guy needs to be fired for making the world a worse place.

Posted by: areyoukidding1 | January 21, 2010 5:47 PM | Report abuse

These people are doing everything they can to maintain FULL control over the USA government.

Posted by: OneFreeMan | January 21, 2010 5:47 PM | Report abuse

"Does free speech include the right to swear?"

Ever since Cohen v. California (which held that "one man's obscenity is another man's lyric), yes it does.

Posted by: entonces_99 | January 21, 2010 5:48 PM | Report abuse

kchses1 ~ one more time ~ I have ownership in, or membership in, a good number of corporations. Some are large. Some are small.

It is MY RIGHT to contract with them in a variety of ways ~ as an owner, a customer, an officer, a patient, or whatever.

If you restrict the rights of any of those corporations YOU INFRINGE ON MY RIGHTS in my right to freely contact!

Are there not enough dictatorships in this world that you people can't simply be satisfied to go to some of them and leave us alone to relish and enjoy our freedom.

Posted by: muawiyah | January 21, 2010 5:49 PM | Report abuse

This may be one of the worst decisions in Supreme Court history and only effete pointy headed intellectuals fail to grasp what it means. It declares entities created by the govt, even foreign owned entities, to have the rights of American citizens. It does nothing to enhance the rights of actual citizens but gives a proxy to corporate owners that exaggerates their voices far beyond what their individual wealth would bring them - they now become the voices of their shareholders.

Over 30% of wealth in the hands of 1% of our population, media ownership concentrated in fewer and fewer hands, and now this. Mr will is a toady for the moneyed elite not a real American conservative.

The American people have just seen much of the power to shape our future passed not just disproportionately to our own wealthy but to that of foreign lands.

Posted by: mgferrebee | January 21, 2010 5:50 PM | Report abuse

Bullsnot, George.
At the core of political speech is the vote of the individual citizen, influenced by whatever sources that citizen chooses to heed. If corporations and unions, which can't vote, are not limited in what they can spend, they can fund inescapable speech in the form of advertising.
This might seriously impinge on my right to ignore their mesaage, which is another form of political speech.
The five members who made up the majority in this case need to have their own ties to corporate America checked out.

Posted by: jlhare1 | January 21, 2010 5:52 PM | Report abuse

panamajack: "The libtards are whining about this because now corporations, who normally vote Republican, can now throw vast amounts of money into conservative campaigns and, maybe outspend the unions and their Moveons, Emilys Lists, etc. When matched dollar for dollar, the libs will really have to work. This is a fortuitous decision just before the November elections."

Ding ding, we have a winner for "Most moronic post of the day!" The competition was fierce, but this idiot gets the prize for thinking that corporations vote.

LOL @ this brain-dead teabagger.

Posted by: koolkat_1960 | January 21, 2010 5:53 PM | Report abuse

There they go again, writing law from the bench, judicial activism at it's worst. "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." I see the word people, I don't see the word corporation. Individuals may be protected under this language, corporations are not. They did the same thing in 2000 overriding state law when no federal law superceded it, making Dubya the president.

Posted by: jameschirico | January 21, 2010 5:53 PM | Report abuse

It's hard to get excited about rich people and corporations being able to have even more influence in politics.
Posted by: acebojangles
==========================================================================================
Rich people have a right to petition the gov't for a redress of grievances, corporations do not.

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

Mr. Will,

You are off base as usual. Today there was a tragic mistake made by SCOTUS, and I predict it will cause immense problems for our already troubled nation. The SCOTUS decision immediately serves to disenfranchise American citizens from the governance of their nation.

In your fevor to push the so-called business agenda at every turn, you miss the basic fact that whereas Corporations may be legal entities; corporations are not citizens, and their right as entities only exist because these are conferred by individual states and by not the federal government or a federal court!

* A corporation is not a citizen of the United States and it exists only if an individual state's secretary of state issues a certificate creating it.

* A corporation may likewise be dissolved, and sometimes dissolution can occur involuntarily by an action of a state's secretary's of state.

* A corporation may file articles of dissolution and cease to exist after its purpose is fulfilled.

* A corporation founded in one state doesn't have any rights as an business entity in another state until it successfully registers there and it maintains that registration.

* No corporation anywhere is entitled to vote in an election, and corporations don't appear in the rolls of registered voters anywhere.

* A corporation can't vote in its own elections.

* A corporation may be owned entirely by foreign nationals who can't vote in the U.S., who may not have residence here, and who may be enemies of the American State.

* To exist as a corporation the only obligation are to maintain a legal and servable address, file Articles of Incorporation and pay taxes.

Thanks to SCOTUS these corporations have now become an essential and protected part of the American campaign funding process.

In making this decision SCOTUS dropped the ball in a very big way, and in a very bad way on this one. It's going to cause many problems. Our nation's founders never contemplated such a travesty of justice as this and such a usurption of power by the judiciary.

And you Mr. Will, an undeclared member of the brothood of complainers about "judicial activism"! My, my...where's the objection today?

Plain and simple, for everyone who frets and gets frantic over "judicial activism", this opinion by SCOTUS is just that...it's legislating from the bench in a very clear and dangerous manner.

It seems to me a good way to put speed bump in the road is to for congress to pass a law that any corporation donating money to any campaign (a candidate or a cause) must first register in every state and be required to be in "good standing" in every state. This increases the chances 50-fold of finding a chink in the armor.

The best solution is for congress to pass a law that overrides SCOTUS decision.

Go fly a kite Mr. Will.

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

"It does nothing to enhance the rights of actual citizens but gives a proxy to corporate owners that exaggerates their voices far beyond what their individual wealth would bring them - they now become the voices of their shareholders."

EXACTLY! Look, if you were livid about Bush's relationship with Haliburton, why aren't you livid about Obama's relationship with SEIU? It is the SAME proxy that exaggerates their voices!

Not trusting corporations is one thing, but giving preference to one affiliated group while denying it to another is patently unfair.

Read the opening of Mr. Will's column, again:

"This is because the government, by regulating what can be spent in order to disseminate political speech and when political speech may occur, has asserted the astonishing right to dictate the quantity, content and timing of speech about the government."

That is true. I can't say it strongly enough: If you feel this decision corrupts the electoral process by giving corporations too much of a voice, where were you when the head of SEIU was visiting the White House more than anyone else and getting serious millions in stimulus money?

The problem isn't that corporations are now able to make an even stronger impact on the electoral process. The problem is that our government can be bought. Until you get rid of the quid-pro-quo of campaign contributions, you're urinating into the wind if you just gripe about which group spends the most.

Posted by: CAvoter | January 21, 2010 6:09 PM | Report abuse

I guess this is what all the conservative working people out there wanted. The multi-national corporations will now run our country openly.

I've had it with the stupidity of the American working class. Do they really think this will, in any way, benefit them? How?

Free speech all right. The Bush Supreme court, who eight years ago appointed our president and now are legislating, are a bunch of technocrats simply doing the bidding of their corporate cronies and masters.

I've had it with the Repubs and the gutless Dems.

Posted by: MNUSA | January 21, 2010 6:10 PM | Report abuse

Dear George. You were against granting Habeas Corpus rights to non-civilians. You are for granting free speech rights to corporations & currency.

Can you explain how a corporation deserves to receive more rights than a person does?

Posted by: Stephen431 | January 21, 2010 6:10 PM | Report abuse

Just becuase the Constitution proves inconvenient to modern reality doesn't mean you disregard it.

Posted by: moebius22 | January 21, 2010 6:13 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Will: you are a bought and paid for hack....

Posted by: bromisky | January 21, 2010 6:14 PM | Report abuse

Well, there you go, tea party America... here's a cause you can sink your teeth into... if this doesn't get your crew activated, your cause is just the fraud that millions see you as...

Posted by: seakeys | January 21, 2010 6:18 PM | Report abuse

Miss Prissy has gone certifiably insane.

How anybody can defend this conservative judicial activism, which undercuts the roots of our democracy, is beyond belief.

Unless you're a Republican hack who wants to hoover up the campaign $$$ from your corporate masters. Oh wait....

Posted by: losthorizon10 | January 21, 2010 6:24 PM | Report abuse

Quite the slap in the face to McCain Feingold isn't it. I always thought it generally offensive to tell an American citizen how much money he can gift in support of his ideas, so I suppose on some level this is a good judgment.


Perhaps instead of trying to regulate how much Americans can spend to speak freely in support of there ideals, congress should provide a medium to fairly balance campaign speech and the bully pulpit (aka force multiplier) that money has become.


I'm out of ideas on this one, I hate a drift to a corporatist form of government as much as the next guy, but also fear middle America excluded from the political process as well. Federally funded campaigns, set number of publicly funded debates (3-6) for one sound good superficially but what provision is available for Joe average to get involved? What keeps our two party system from entrenching further and much what it has been, an exclusive club for rich spoiled elites (and their children)?


Off the top of my dome I would suggest grabbing the ten smartest Senators and Congressmen and having them bounce ideas around in a brainstorming session. Get some fresh ideas for America on this one, but Washington would just grab the ten dumbest. Come to think of it I can guarantee thats what Washington would do, grab the ten dumbest stuff cotton balls in their ears and run concurrently with all their ideas. Seems like thats whats been happening in Washington of late.

Posted by: Homunculus | January 21, 2010 6:39 PM | Report abuse

Wil's reasoning is rediculous. What the Suprem Court has dne is nailed the coffin on the idea of "of the people, by the people, for the people." Wenow belong to whoever has the money, and the regular voter hs lost his voice completely. And this abhorent ruling on the day that Sachs announced the billions it is giving out in bonuses - how many politcians would sixteen billion buy? If they can blow off sixteen billion for bonuses, can't they blow off the same to "take care of business?" Our justices are a joke. They belongin the pocket of big business. They should be considered traitors. I'm considering a move to a democratic country.

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

Corporations are no different than unions and 503c organizations. Only people speak and people are free to join together in different ways to try and amplify their message. This is a good thing across the board but some wish to still the voices they disagree with. Shame on them. Folks upset with this ruling probably think the world of our Neocommie neighbor, Hugo Chavez.

Posted by: MDDem1 | January 21, 2010 6:46 PM | Report abuse

George Will is a criminal mongoloid who championed the failed ideology of the last thirty years.

Posted by: garrafa10 | January 21, 2010 6:47 PM | Report abuse

Will, I just wish James Madison, et al were around to tell you what a jerk you are.

So much for the right-wing "anti-activist" liars Bush implanted in the Court.
The agenda is clear. March backwards through time undoing every progressive-leaning decision previous Courts have issued.

What's next? Reaffirming Dred Scott?

Go ahead and ignore the incredible violence being done to our democratic system of government. We can slide into plutocracy with pure hearts - ISN'T THAT RIGHT?

Posted by: st50taw | January 21, 2010 6:51 PM | Report abuse

So that was an attack on free speech, a nakedly partisan movie designed to visciously attack a rival candidate as well as challenge the laws, while bong hits for Jesus was not?

If you want free speech it all has to be free Will. Even the unpleasant stuff - except calls for violence.

Posted by: Ozreader | January 21, 2010 6:52 PM | Report abuse

How about we just make it official and put Senate and House seats on eBay and award them to the highest bidder. This is not freedom it's fascism. Corporate America with deep pockets are now legally able to buy our elected officials. This is a worst assault on our democracy by the Supreme Court since they awarded the White House to George W Bush.

Posted by: mjoy | January 21, 2010 7:00 PM | Report abuse

Ok boys and girls, regardless of what your OPINION is... here is what the first amendment actually says:

Congress shall make NO LAW respectig and establishment of religion, OR prohibiting eh free exercise thereof; OR ABRIDGING THE FREEDOM OF SPEECH, or the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Mecain/Feingold WAS the congress makeing a law the abridged the freedom of speech. Like it or not, it is a fact.

The suprem court judged based on the facts.... not on feeling.

Posted by: markandbeth92 | January 21, 2010 7:08 PM | Report abuse

Actions such as this by the Supreme Court will lead to a further loss of democracy in this country. Mr. Will's opinion will be echoed by Fox News and others such as Rush Limbaugh. That speaks for itself.

Posted by: LouisAdler | January 21, 2010 7:09 PM | Report abuse

OMG!

This is what you conservatives are out there fighting for?

You think they play tricks now? Just wait!

George Bush and his Daddy have the most far-right judges on the bench

TIME LIMIT SHOULD HAD APPLIED TO THE SUPREME COURT AS WELL!

Posted by: dove369 | January 21, 2010 7:14 PM | Report abuse

I'm ashamed of you, Mr. Will, and deeply disturbed both by the Supreme Court's decision and your defense of it.

I suggest you spend some time on Hoovers.com... just start plugging in the names of American companies; I think you'll be astonished at how many aren't. In other words, we've given a disproportionate political voice to entities that (1) are not people and (2) would not be citizens even if they were.

But, hey, since we're in a crowded theater, let me just end my comment in this manner:

FIRE!

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

This decision by the Supreme Court effectively ends representative democracy in the United States. The international banking cartel controls almost everything, including most politicians. This fact is so obvious and yet so few people are awake to the reality. Most Americans don't even know that the Federal Reserve is a privately-owned bank that has never been audited by Congress, which relinquished its power to coin money to the bank in 1913. That is when the republic fell. Is it any wonder that 40 million Americans lack health insurance despite spending more on health care services per capita than any other country in the world? The United States is a representative democracy only in form, not in practice; for, corporations have seized control of the political process to advance their own interests. According to Mussolini, this is the essence of fascism.

Posted by: Aurellano | January 21, 2010 7:18 PM | Report abuse

Anthony Scalia rules: You have the right to carry a gun, and openly I may add!

Now Kennedy rules: Big Businesses can manupliate our politics. As lobbyist aren't doing that already!

Could someone please tell me if the North really won the Civil War? Because right now, it's obviously clear the South is improsing their will upon the rest of the Country.

UNITED STATES HAS OFFICIALLY BECAME THE STATE OF TEXAS!!!!!

WHERE ARE THE TEABAGGERS NOW? TOLD YOU THEY WERE A FRAUD!!!

AND BY TODAY'S RULING IT WILL BE OKAY TO BE A FRAUD!

WHAT A COUNTRY... ASSSSSSS-BACKWARD'S

Posted by: dove369 | January 21, 2010 7:26 PM | Report abuse

Sweet. Now just think how much money Goldman Sachs can donate to make sure we bail them out quicker next time!

Posted by: steveboyington | January 21, 2010 7:27 PM | Report abuse

I think the SCOTUS missed the issue in that money is not the equivalent of speech, it merely impacts the volume. Money allows candidates and support groups access to media. A well funded campaign buys TV and radio time to broadcast its message over and over. By contrast, without access to similar funding, a campaign still can get out its message, it just will not have the same access to the media with the same frequency. Speech is not prohibited, but its form and frequency are changed. I am not aware those were protected.

Both campaigns get their messages out. The level of funding only impacts the "volume" of the messages, who hears what how often.

Campaign finance reform was about reducing the influence of money in a political campaign. In the status quo, large corporate interests, or well funded populist interests, could drown out their opposition with waves of money (volume). The desired state should be where both sides in a campaign have an equal opportunity to get their messages heard by the voters. Decisions should be made on the quality of the ideas and not on the funding each side can raise.

Posted by: williamhn | January 21, 2010 7:29 PM | Report abuse

I work for a pretty big corporation. I bet we could hire ourselves a few Pinkerton guards and "donate" some money to the local sheriffs department so they won't interfere when we go about ransacking our competitors office. God Bless the GOP.

Posted by: steveboyington | January 21, 2010 7:30 PM | Report abuse

Corporations have no right of free speech. Corporations are not people. They do not breath and walk, not flesh and blood. Their rights as "persons" under the law does not extend to a right of free speech in an election. But then the Supreme Court also just ruled that an invasive species of carp which will ruin the ecology of the Great Lakes should be allowed to enter these lakes. I guess to the Supreme Court these fish have a right to live there no matter how damaging. All for the purpose of "commerce". In other words for the benefit of corporations. And John Behner says that it was a victory for free speech. I say it has nothing to do with free speech of natural persons or citizens. If corporations were citizens then I guess they should have a vote too. Thats how ridiculous it is. What it was is a victory for corporations at the expense of individuals and smaller interests. I suspect that the same people who think that corporations have all these rights are the same ones who would deny that animals have any natural rights whether it is specified in law or otherwise. Rights such as the right to food, water, and shelter and anything having to do with the way humans treat animals and relate to the environment. They are the same people and corporations who run puppy mills and the like.

Posted by: repudar711 | January 21, 2010 7:38 PM | Report abuse

I agree that political speech should not be limited. I disagree with the decision several years ago that money is speech. I also disagree that corporations and groups are protected by the constitution. It applies to individuals. To hand a person a fist full of dollars doesn't include the transfer of any ideas or speech. It's an attempt to purchase goods, services, or elections period. That's how the political parties both handle it as well as corporations and unions to buy an election to control government. Money is used to control their members or others. Money is not speech.

Posted by: cliftono | January 21, 2010 7:39 PM | Report abuse

Ah excellent! Now I know why Willie boy wears a bowtie rather than a necktie! The intellectually superiority of the fact that it uses less cloth! Brilliant!

(It also cuts off the blood to the twerp's brain.)

Posted by: AIPACiswar | January 21, 2010 7:47 PM | Report abuse

The only saving grace in the decision is that it establishes a precedent that a hyper-activist court may ignore precedent, history,plain language, and common sense to overrule longstanding law because of its political views (this is after all the same gang that overrode the electoral will of the people to appoint George W Bush president). Thus it sets the stage for a later Court to overrule this absurd decision and restore some political order. Just where in the Constitution are corporations given any rights against the people?

Posted by: jklfairwin | January 21, 2010 7:50 PM | Report abuse

The crazies on the supreme court made the US a fascist state today. Will likes it. Big surprise!

Posted by: Jihm | January 21, 2010 7:51 PM | Report abuse

And, Clarence Thomas didn't think The Court went far enough!

His written dissent has all the logic and power of a Junior High School book report, just pitiful. Wow what tripe out of a Court.

Sotomayer suggested they reexamine the designation of corporations as, "persons." I'd say so.

Posted by: AIPACiswar | January 21, 2010 7:53 PM | Report abuse

Apparently, many people posting here didn't notice that there was an election in Massachussets last Tuesday in which the Democratic Party spent millions and millions on their candidate, much more than the Republican candidate spent, and the Dems lost anyway - so the basic premise of those who criticize the Court's decision was proven false only a few days ago.

Similarly, many Dems accuse the GOP of not proposing any ideas of their own on health care reform. Nonsense. They have a proposal that includes allowing people to buy health insurance across state lines and caps on medical malpractice suit awards, both overwhelmingly supported by the American people, but they are not allowed to present them on the Senate and House floors and most of the mainstream media refuse to report them. Why, then, should a corporation not be allowed to donate funds to the GOP, or even fund its own ads, to enable the GOP to get promulgate their proposals as broadly as the Democrats do? If Dems get FREE advertising for their ideas from airtime paid for by the CORPORATIONS CBS, NBC, ABC, MSNBC, CNN and NPR, why should other corporation not be allowed to fund their messages - and to donate time they have purchased, to the GOP, too?

And finally, would those who supported the old law agree or disagree that that law should have applied to ALL corporations EQUALLY, regardless of whether that corporation is, say, a pharmaceutical company, or a newspaper? If Exxon can't endorse a candidate in the pages of the NY Times 60 days before an election, then the NY Times should not endorse a candidate within its pages itself, either. Or if the Times can, then Exxon can, too.

Posted by: gschwim1 | January 21, 2010 8:01 PM | Report abuse

NOW I know what is meant when people say we're becoming a banana republic. Corporations will now be the leading voice for the people.

Well good. Who wants a democratic republic? The founding fathers obviously had all their heads up their as**s. Its the company and property owners who should determine who runs this country. Look at what a great job the banks and investment houses have done for us.

John Birch lives!!! Now if we could just get more religion in government things would be perfect.

Posted by: tmcproductions2004 | January 21, 2010 8:03 PM | Report abuse

First the Supreme Court's ruling on eminent domain, and now this!

What's next? Corporations can now take our land for their own gain and now they're able to complete the purchase of our elected representatives.

The third strike must have something to do with election day. Is there something in the Constitution the Supreme Court can overturn so "one man, one vote" becomes meaningless?

Maybe so, since Justice Alito has already made his intentions known he disagrees with the decision by the Warren Court in the 1960s involving electoral districts to have equal populations and helped ensure greater representation of urban minorities.

But I'm sure we don't have anything to worry about, right?

Posted by: helloisanyoneoutthere | January 21, 2010 8:06 PM | Report abuse

This is indeed a bad decision by the supreme court. It has decided that corporations and businesses are citizens too, and that their money is equivalent to free speech. By the same anology the Court should simply allow each Corporation to vote too ?? The more money the company has the more votes it should be able to cast !! right. The corporation does not have rights of citizenship - this is a concoction of corporatism run amuck.

Posted by: amathur16 | January 21, 2010 8:11 PM | Report abuse

This 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 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.

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

Posted by: RoughAcres | January 21, 2010 8:15 PM | Report abuse

Washington Post is a for-profit corporation; NY Times is a for-profit corporation. If others cannot publish their views..if they are called "corporations" rather than individuals, if they are limited by strangling laws, and the anti-liberal statists on this board seems to think that is just...then let these laws apply to the MSM too.

Posted by: wjc1va | January 21, 2010 8:20 PM | Report abuse

I will now send more money to the NRA to help more conservatives. Liberals hate level playing fields. Live with it. Been a bad week for the Democratic communists who now like to called "progressives." BWaHahahahahahah

Posted by: rchaa27aa | January 21, 2010 8:31 PM | Report abuse

Well if political speech, and the idea that political speech through money is so important, that a corporation, which cannot vote or hold office, can spend unlimited amounts on our elections.....

Then what about illegal aliens? They can't vote. But are affected by government policy, can they make unlimited contributions?

What about foreign companies, foreign governments? Can't vote, can't hold office, but can they give unlimited funds to candidates?

If you draw the line with illegals and foreign governments then you are drawing lines, and its further evidence this opinion is judicial construction of the ideas of the justices who wrote it, not based on any real fundamentals.

Because the government does have the power to draw lines against not real people or other categories of "people". It's what our government is for.

Posted by: camasca | January 21, 2010 8:31 PM | Report abuse

liberal dems do NOT know what has hit them

the closest analogy is drug ads on network tv

patients come into their doctors office demanding a named drug--before corparate ads the doctor had to suggest the drug

see, effective advertising works

and the corporate world is much smarter than most politicians

political lobbying has gone from retail to wholesale

and now the dems can BLAME the loss of the houses on nov 2, 2010 on this decision

this is one of the supreme court's BEST decisions EVER

Posted by: ProCounsel | January 21, 2010 8:36 PM | Report abuse

What this means is that we, the people, will have to do more to void the endless attempts to manipulate us.

One venue should be the internet. Unfortunately, when you look at WaPo threads during elections, you see a name-calling rhetoric that is kindred to political sloganeering.

We need to understand what propaganda is, how it is used, especially during campaigns, and how we are affected by it.

There is a way out of Droidness....

Posted by: Farnaz1Mansouri1 | January 21, 2010 8:38 PM | Report abuse

So many posters exclaim this will be a corporate take over. PLEASE! First, so what if it is if it comports with the CONSTITUTION. I know, I know what an inconvenient truth that there are certain fundamental liberties that the masses can't trample--one of them is free speech. If corporations want to waste their money (most won't) on projecting their voice why stop them. I don't see T. Boone Pickin pickin up a lot of support for his gas and wind farms and that guy is on tv 24/7. Sorry that this up sets the libs so but there are such things as fundamental liberties. Guess they'd have to follow the law or change the constitution....

Posted by: lovinliberty | January 21, 2010 8:41 PM | Report abuse

There are a lot of unintelligent comments on Will's editorial which say that "corporations aren't people." Corporations are groups of people. If a corporation was nothing more than an abstract "entity", how could it speak to begin with? The reason corporations can speak is because they are composed of individuals with constitutional rights.

Posted by: cuginip | January 21, 2010 8:43 PM | Report abuse

The decision had less to due with constitutionality and more to do with politically enabling the party that brought them to the SCOTUS.

Posted by: labman57 | January 21, 2010 8:56 PM | Report abuse

The Supreme Court has regressed from election theft/ appointing a President (2000) to deciding that democracy can be even more in the hands of corporate America. Sweatshop owners worldwide are cheering.

Posted by: revbookburn | January 21, 2010 8:58 PM | Report abuse

cuginip, Corporations are separate entities from the people who run them. That is the whole reason corporations were created in the first place.

Posted by: repudar711 | January 21, 2010 9:01 PM | Report abuse

For those who are upset with the Court's decision, did you notice that "The American Civil Liberties Union and the National Rifle Association supported Citizens United." Also, it is not just corporations that have been freed of restrictions; so too have unions. I'd rather have the Court go too far allowing freedom of speech than too far restricting it.

Posted by: MrBethesda | January 21, 2010 9:01 PM | Report abuse

Impeach Roberts, Scalia, Alito, Thomas, and Kennedy. Their votes allowing corporation the right to spend unlimited money influencing elections is wrong, totally wrong, and will end up destroying our democracy. Nowhere in the Constitution does it say corporations, creations of the state, are human beings with the same rights as human beings. The same goes for unions or any other organizations.

This is a travesty. As a citizen, I expect my representatives to work to preserve our democracy and our freedoms. Money is NOT speech. Unlimited money is unlimited corruption. Stop the madness. Introduce a bill admending the Constitution and defining speech as just that, written or spoken words, not money, and restricting the right to participate in the political process to INDIVIDUAL HUMAN BEINGS, not organizations, not corporations, not businesses, period.

Posted by: Chagasman | January 21, 2010 9:05 PM | Report abuse

What our wacko right-wingnuts seem to miss is that Supreme Court has made every foreign investor a defacto voter. Consider, for example, the rather large cash holdings of the Chinese Communist Party. With this ruling they can simply invest and through that investment take away your freedoms quite legally. Say invest in an XE (the new name for Blackwater), then use contributions from that XE to get their chosen candidates elected, and finally have that US government contract out national security to this Chinese owned XE. Far fetched? Perhaps, but no more than the "death panels" the right wingnuts dreamed up this summer. But foreign investors will definitely take note...

Posted by: jreed11665 | January 21, 2010 9:07 PM | Report abuse

The first amendment guarantees free speech, it doesn't say for whom. Which means everyone!
Free speech means no censorship by government ever! For any reason. Period. It is not the role of government to make sure we don't hear the point of view of "evil corporations".

Posted by: arch0082 | January 21, 2010 9:07 PM | Report abuse

Reply to acebojangles who wrote:

"StJacques:

What do you think the chances of repealing corporate welfare will be when corporations are able to throw as much money as they want at politicians?"
------------------------------------------

In my opinion, the environment for repealing corporate welfare just took a dramatic step forward with this decision. We need to separate two important points here; one which unites most who are commenting here and a second which divides them.

The first point is that most of us are united in the belief that "big money" (however you define it) has too much influence in politics and that most of what is bought is economic advantage for the few to the disadvantage of the many, which we equate with corruption because it is exactly that.

The second is that there is widespread disagreement about the means to curtail the corrupting influence of big money in politics as revealed in our reactions to this decision, which I wholeheartedly support, though many disagree with me. But with respect to corporate welfare, can we say the present campaign finance system does anything to curtail it?

I am absolutely convinced that the result of McCain-Feingold and the Supreme Court's 1907 and 1990 decisions on corporate financing of campaigns not only has done nothing to curtail the growth of corporate welfare, it may have even made the problem worse. The results of congressional legislation over the past 20 years alone speak for themselves--the big guys got what they paid for.

But since there remains a relatively common belief among most of us that the corrupting influence of money upon politics is still with us, now that SCOTUS has ruled to protect corporate speech, what other options are left to us to curtail that influence? There is really only one--to take away what they get in tax breaks and special favors in legislation. The legislated special favors will be very hard to keep track of, that is simply left to our eternal task of vigilance. But the manipulation of the tax code--the real bread and butter of corporate welfare--can now be addressed within the framework of a united belief among both supporters and opponents of this decision that the influence of corporate money upon our political process is debilitating.

The chances for the repeal of corporate welfare just improved dramatically in my opinion. We should simply strive for a tax code that gives deductions and breaks ONLY to individuals and families. Let every business enterprise make its money honestly.

And when the corporations put up money to stop this, it will be reported and back to vigilance we will go to stop them. John Adams said it best "Liberty is always unfinished business." No court can save us from that.

Posted by: StJacques | January 21, 2010 9:11 PM | Report abuse

Oh goodie, now I can yell FIRE in a crowded theater because the harm my free speech may do is not longer a consideration under law. What to go SCOTUS!

Posted by: Fate1 | January 21, 2010 9:14 PM | Report abuse

This decision is very timely. The banks and moneyed interests get extra special treatment, and this is only consistent with that principle. Naturally the Republicans support it. They're pretending to be populists and for Main Street when it comes to health care and the recession, but George Will speaks for most of them in saying this decision is a good thing for corporate America.

Posted by: mikebythesun | January 21, 2010 9:15 PM | Report abuse

We have heard so much about Obama thrashing the constitution without any specific section ever memtioned. Here we have the K-R.A.T.S. Kennedy. Roberts,Alito, Thomas, Scalia making the most unconstitutional decision in our nations history and we have people like Will cheering. I thought the Right-Wing was against the cloning of people.

Posted by: mjacobson7 | January 21, 2010 9:17 PM | Report abuse

Someone said: "There are a lot of unintelligent comments on Will's editorial which say that "corporations aren't people." Corporations are groups of people. If a corporation was nothing more than an abstract "entity", how could it speak to begin with? The reason corporations can speak is because they are composed of individuals with constitutional rights."

But a corporation that spends its money to fund a candidates campaign is not the same as an individual citizen spending their money. The distinction is plain. Corporations are creations of the state. The state defines all the rules: how a corporation is formed, how it must operate within the law, etc. The state can write any law it wants pertaining to corporations, including, if it so desires, an outright ban on corporations. It cannot do the same for citizens. The Constitution grants no rights to corporations, but does so to human beings. Corporations may be composed of human beings, but that does not give those human beings the right to participate in the political process with all the money and power of the corporation behind them, which gives them an unfair advantage over their fellow citizens, who can only act on their own. This is the crux of the matter.

Too bad, America. Too bad most citizens are too stupid to understand what is being done to them. Too bad that the so-called conservatives are really nothing but facists in disguise, corporate facists, who want more than anything the ability to bend the government to the will of the corporations. This SCOTUS ruling takes us back to the end of the 1800s, when corporations treated citizens like slaves and ran government for their own benefit.

Posted by: Chagasman | January 21, 2010 9:18 PM | Report abuse

Why shouldn't people, corporations, unions, clubs, etc. (or any other group of people--because that's what we're talking about here) not be able to give as much as they want to whomever they want whenever they want, as long as it's disclosed?

If Candidate A wants to be bankrolled by Corporation X, or if issue B is going to be pushed through ads exclusively by Union Z, who cares? If the source of the funding is disclosed, let people make up their own minds. What -- you're going to assume that they can't and come up with rules restricting what people (and groups of people) can say or give or spend under the guise of protecting voters from unfair influence? If that's what you're worried about perhaps we should just make it harder to register to vote, because that attitude betrays a pretty low opinion about the intelligence of the American voter.

And all this "boo, hiss" about the dreaded corporations -- I don't get it. If you work for a corporation or own stock in a corporation (or in a fund that invests in corporate securities, or a pension that does) I've got some news for you, Mr. and Ms. Anti-Corporate Radical: that corporation you're railing against is you.

And if we're going to say that corporations can't have a political voice, where does that stop? If you're going to restrict what Chevron can do or say, but not the AFL-CIO, SEIU, Sierra Club, Amnesty International, and Human Rights Campaign, what you're doing is supporting a test that says political rights are based not on objective characteristics but on subjective measures. It's not what or who you are that matters, but rather what you do or say. And if you're willing to go down that road, you've left liberty, and democracy, and American constitutional tradition far behind.

Posted by: dcpost1 | January 21, 2010 9:27 PM | Report abuse

The impression I get from all who disagree with this Decision is that you have very little trust in yourselves or your fellow-citizens to be independent. The corporations will be buying ads and hiring spin-doctors. Big deal. If I don't want to watch or listen to whatever they produce, I'm free as a bird to tune 'em out. You can do the same. Exercise your rights. Live and let live. This is America.

Posted by: ironmule | January 21, 2010 9:31 PM | Report abuse

Its quite hard to believe that Will buys his own drivel/BS. I can stand on my roof top and scream at the top of my lungs that candidate X "pals around with terrorists", and is determined to bring about armagedon. The first amendment gives me this right. Screamimg at the top of my lungs my inane ramblings on my rooftop, costs me nothing, and is my right (unless of course the neighbors complain) influences maybe 2 or 3 people's opinions, tops. Ah, but if I had crazy bank and stupid wheels, and could purchase the airtime, my opinion could be broadcast on my local network affiliate, complete with a powerful musical sountrack, apocryphal special effects and brainwashing dialogue. My opinion therefore would have the opportunity to influnce thousands, maybe millions. This isn't free speech. It's buying influnce, regardless of whatever twisted logic the Supreme Court uses to defend it. The framers had no clue, could not have anticipated that we would be able to communicate to millions instantaniously. They knew the difference between free speech and influence peddling, however, and would have been appalled by todays Court opinion. Will dares to bring the
Alien and Sedition Acts into this discussion? The Sedition part of the Acts made it a crime to "publish false, scandalous and malicious writing" against the government. Today's Court opinion gives Corporate America and anyone who can bundle together enough cash to say anything they want, as loudly as they want, to anybody they want, as long as they can afford it. Democracy be DAMNED!

Posted by: rcupps | January 21, 2010 9:33 PM | Report abuse

Smack on center, Will!

The first pig to squeel was the POS in Chief Obama.

Long may he reign.

Posted by: RightyatBat | January 21, 2010 9:35 PM | Report abuse

Will is clear - either the govt controls speech or the Constitution.

Give me the Constitution or I will give you death.

Posted by: RightyatBat | January 21, 2010 9:37 PM | Report abuse

"The impression I get from all who disagree with this Decision is that you have very little trust in yourselves or your fellow-citizens to be independent. The corporations will be buying ads and hiring spin-doctors. Big deal. If I don't want to watch or listen to whatever they produce, I'm free as a bird to tune 'em out. You can do the same. Exercise your rights. Live and let live. This is America."
Posted by: ironmule

So yuo agree I can now yell FIRE in a theater, since you can decide whether to panic or not?

Posted by: Fate1 | January 21, 2010 9:41 PM | Report abuse

Government of the people, by the corporation, for the corporation.

Posted by: ikkymudd | January 21, 2010 9:46 PM | Report abuse

"The impression I get from all who disagree with this Decision is that you have very little trust in yourselves or your fellow-citizens to be independent. The corporations will be buying ads and hiring spin-doctors. Big deal. If I don't want to watch or listen to whatever they produce, I'm free as a bird to tune 'em out. You can do the same. Exercise your rights. Live and let live. This is America."

Amen, brother.

Do you realize that not a single one of you little Che lovers has made a quality argument against the decision in this case? I could put down every single opposition argument here. The saddest thing, however, is that the least common denominator of all your arguments is that other people can't think for themselves. Yet everything you guys say is asinine.

And whenever someone refers to "yelling 'fire' in a movie theater," you can stop listening to that person. That person generally doesn't know where that phrase came from or how it was applied.

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

George,

Buy a time machine, go back to the writing of the Constitution, and ask the Founders if they believe, as the Supreme Court now does, that MONEY IS SPEECH.

Better have your escape route planned ahead of time, unless you enjoy the feel of being tarred and feathered.

Posted by: norriehoyt | January 21, 2010 9:54 PM | Report abuse


I guess the designation of the corporation as a citizen by the activist conservatives on the court cann be compared to making illegal the weight limits in prizefighting. Why can't a 250 pounder fight a 106 pounder for the flyweight title if he chooses? We would otherwise be limiting his freedom.

Posted by: bobtich | January 21, 2010 9:57 PM | Report abuse

"The first amendment guarantees free speech, it doesn't say for whom. Which means everyone! Free speech means no censorship by government ever! For any reason. Period. It is not the role of government to make sure we don't hear the point of view of 'evil corporations.'"

Thank you. It's stunning how stupid people overthink this one. If you really think we need government to regulate what we can hear from big, bad corporations, then you need some serious understanding of how the real world works.

Posted by: HookInMouth | January 21, 2010 9:57 PM | Report abuse

"I guess the designation of the corporation as a citizen by the activist conservatives on the court cann be compared to making illegal the weight limits in prizefighting. Why can't a 250 pounder fight a 106 pounder for the flyweight title if he chooses? We would otherwise be limiting his freedom."

Congratulations. You just made the single stupidest argument here.

Posted by: HookInMouth | January 21, 2010 9:59 PM | Report abuse

A government as powerful as that of the USA would be tickled pink to have citizens who were allowed, as individuals, to speak their minds, but who were forbidden from pooling their funds in order to be able to publish and publicize their political opinions.

That would leave government as the sole speaker permitted by law to publish and publicize political arguments when such publishing and publicizing cost more than one individual could afford.

I disagree with George Will most of the time, and I think that the pole star of his ideology is that what's good for big business is good for the nation.

However, on this issue, I couldn't agree with him more strongly. If the price of allowing Americans to band together in order to publish political arguments unhindered by their government is unhindered political advertising by business corporations, I say pay it.

Posted by: douglaslbarber | January 21, 2010 10:05 PM | Report abuse

The court is assuring that corporate America can buy the House, Senate and White House... the people be damned. This has nothing to do with the 1st Amendment it has everything to do with protecting the wealth of a relative hand full of the elite.

Posted by: Billy1932 | January 21, 2010 10:08 PM | Report abuse

The amount of misinformation in here is quite astonishing. What the Court said was that organizations were free to spend their own money spouting off their own opinions. It did NOT say that organizations could give money directly to candidates; direct contributions are still prohibited, so unions still can't funnel money directly to favored candidates, only to their PACs.

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

Between the Mass.election and the Supreme Court decision REVEREND WRIGHT SAID IT RIGHT.

Posted by: moxford0 | January 21, 2010 10:17 PM | Report abuse

Between the Mass.election and the Supreme Court decision REVEREND WRIGHT SAID IT RIGHT.

Posted by: moxford0


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

You are free to leave. Please do.

Posted by: HookInMouth | January 21, 2010 10:18 PM | Report abuse

Unchurch -

The word "free" in free speech does not refer to money. It refers to the freedom to speak, not whether speech is paid for or not.
*rolls eyes*

Posted by: SCOTSGUARDS | January 21, 2010 10:20 PM | Report abuse

Good lord, what a bunch of muddled thinking in response to Will's crystal clear article.

Money to pay for ads in politics equals free speech. Period.

For those who feel that money for political ads corrupts politics, I say two things: (1) A better argument will prevail over a lesser argument, so the political parties better get their act together on what they stand for. (2) The crime in politics involving money is GOVERNMENT SPENDING, not campaign contributions.

I'd also like to remind progressives on this website of your party's support of regulation of cable TV content with "net neutrality" (whatever the heck that is). What about those trial balloons for a publicly supported (ie taxpayer funded) Washington Post and New York Times? How about the White House czar proposing that content of the internet be regulated? And finally, there's the White House website itself, trying to steer us toward or away from certain websites.

Why is there so much suspicion about ideas among progressives? If the progeny of the Weather Underground, Black Panther Party, NAMBLA, Socialist Workers' Party are so brilliant, let's see the ideas out in the open, honestly discussed, and voted in to law.

Progressives should expect a lot more, not less, discussion of issues such as health care reform, global warming science, and the welfare state.

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

Most corporations are run by liberal fascists, and most corporate money goes to Democrats. The Constitution guarantees freedom of speech - no limits. I don't crete if big money rules politics - it always will. McCain Feingold and other unconstitutional government suppression is about protecting incumbents, not campaign reform. McCain is one of the most cynical political hacks around. He's very comfortable in his Senate sinecure, selling out Americans for amnesty. He doesn't want any upstart challengers who respect the will of the people - he's an elitist. Campaign finance laws are a scam to protect incumbents and the Democrat party. They are designed to keep good people like Palin and Scott Brown out of the race.

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

Today's ruling, from the last remnants of Bush’s Republican agenda, the Supreme 5, is the continuation of the neocon’s policy of taking away the rights of America’s citizens and putting the power in the hands of their corporate sponsors. But, since we as a nation failed to heed Dwight D. Eisenhower’s warning years ago. The military-industrial complex has gained control and they do not want us to get an inch of it back. As we wallow through the shattered remains of true Democracy in this country, with the corporate mouthpieces spewing their lies, senators pimping out their daughters, and our financial, utility, and pharmaceutical institutions robbing us blind, let us bid welcome to the dawn of Corpocracy and bid farewell to the dusk of Democracy.

Posted by: JD76 | January 21, 2010 10:22 PM | Report abuse

If corporations (BTW That includes most if not all special interest groups, Chambers, Unions, Charities, Schools, anyone who has a few bucks can get incorporated in any state) are "people" and have all the same rights, then they have the same restrictions. Under the equal protection clause, that should remove all the special benefits they have. No more oil depletion allowances, no ethanol subsidies, no farm subsidies, no business expenses, etc.
Oh I am sure that the Court will never agree to that. But, that is just how illogical this ruling is.

Posted by: GWMan_FL | January 21, 2010 10:24 PM | Report abuse

George is wrong most of the time, but he couldn't be more right now.

Free speech is free speech.

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

"The Constitution guarantees freedom of speech - no limits."
Posted by: doctorfixit
-----------

Then why can I not yell FIRE in a theater?

Posted by: Fate1 | January 21, 2010 10:26 PM | Report abuse

Well, the ruling wasn't just regarding businesses; it was about limiting the participation in political speech by any individual or group of individuals.
Second, there are such things as ethics rules for politicians, corporate boards, charities, etc. And we the people as citizens and shareholders hold them responsible. If you think your politician is corrupt, don't elect him. Restricting contributions is not a way to correct political corruption.
Third, this shouldn't matter at all! As Americans, are you saying that your vote is bought by whoever puts more signs up or has more TV advertisements?! Know the issues and know the candidates. That is our responsibility as citizens and political contribution laws, or lack thereof, should in no way restrict that.

Posted by: portmanrc | January 21, 2010 10:37 PM | Report abuse

Then why can I not yell FIRE in a theater?

Posted by: Fate1

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

(Oh, Jesus Christ) OK. The difference between the proverbial "yelling 'fire' in a crowded theater" and saying "vote for X" is that the former generally has a substantive, immediate effect. It's an act, not an idea. And if it's false, it's extremely dangerous. (No, like "dangerous" as in people die. Not "dangerous" as in "my candidate might not win.") The latter doesn't necessarily spurn someone into action, especially an action that puts people's lives at risk for no reason.

No one says, "Fire?! Hmm, let's think about that one for a second."

By the way, Justice Holmes was the person who coined this often abused cliche. He wrote it in a case that permitted imprisonment of a speaker opposing the draft in World War I. Do you still like this cliche?

Posted by: HookInMouth | January 21, 2010 10:41 PM | Report abuse

As founder, chairman and CEO of "People United for Government Subsidies to Lovers of Necco Wafers", I have directed my press secretary - oh, that's me, never mind - to express my approval of this court decision in no uncertain terms.

On a more serious note, whatever issue-oriented fundraising group you'd like to form, just became free to raise money and buy advertising time. Before today, John McCain's preening as a "reformer" which began when he got caught with his hand in the till during the Savings and Loan scandal prevented you from getting together with like-minded people and buying an ad around election time.

Sometimes I think that this country would be a lot better off if more people appreciated the remarkable virtues of Necco wafers.

Posted by: douglaslbarber | January 21, 2010 10:41 PM | Report abuse

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Cz4vcQKWfA
says it all. RIP George Carlin!

Posted by: habeshaw | January 21, 2010 10:41 PM | Report abuse

Fairness requires that any entity from which government demands taxes must be allowed the free speech necessary to promote the candidates who they believe will act in their best interest.

Take away the taxation, and you take away the necessity of granting such a voice.

Corporate taxes are employer taxes, and employer taxes force employers to allot to the government dollars that otherwise could be spent on employees.

Take away that taxation, increase the capacity for employers to hire, and THEN, there is a basis for doing away with corporations or any other untaxed group having any basis for spending money on political campaigns.

Posted by: Dr_Greg | January 21, 2010 10:45 PM | Report abuse

The word "free" in free speech does not refer to money. It refers to the freedom to speak, not whether speech is paid for or not.
*rolls eyes*

Posted by: SCOTSGUARDS

Hey wiz kid, if the government says you can say whatever you want to say but you can't spend money on a microphone, then it's not really free speech.
*rolls smarter eyes*

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

If we don't have justices that don't know the difference between individual free speech and oganized propaganda we can say goodbye to democracy. I am quite ready to leave this dump.

Posted by: OldCoot1 | January 21, 2010 10:59 PM | Report abuse

Dear Mr Will: I respect and admire your conservatism and your intellect, and I agree with you most of the time. But in this case, you and the SCOTUS got it wrong. Justice Stevens made my point. Under the Constitution the voice of a corporation can hardly be equivalent to the voice of one of us; the "people." This decision is a victory for big money and special interests in campaigns. And those of us with less of it, have lost. McCain- Feingold understood this. You do not.

Posted by: rdtucker321 | January 21, 2010 11:10 PM | Report abuse

This decision wasn't about freedom of speech, no matter how Robert's twisted logic tries to justify this decision. This decision legitimizes influnce peddling by those intenties that can afford to do the influencing i.e big oil, insurers, the banking industry etc. As of today, if you have the budget for it, your speech is more free then those of us (including most of us saps pissing and moaning on this blog) who can't afford a multi-million $ add campaign. The Democracy playing field, allready hopelessly rigged against us Suzy Housecoats and Joe Sixpack/Plumber, is now off limits.

Posted by: rcupps | January 21, 2010 11:10 PM | Report abuse

HookInMouth wrote: (Oh, Jesus Christ) OK. The difference between the proverbial "yelling 'fire' in a crowded theater" and saying "vote for X" is that the former generally has a substantive, immediate effect."

Well, a Willie Horton ad the night before an election can have a very immediate effect. I see no difference.

HookInMouth wrote: "It's an act, not an idea. And if it's false, it's extremely dangerous. (No, like "dangerous" as in people die. Not "dangerous" as in "my candidate might not win.") The latter doesn't necessarily spurn someone into action, especially an action that puts people's lives at risk for no reason."

But not all ads are ideas. The Willie Horton ad was not an idea. Either was the ad about McCain's black love child. These were slander (ok, mis-in-for-ma-tion) intended to have an immediate effect. They may have had the same effect on getting someone out of a chair to run somewhere as someone yelling "fire".

HookInMouth wrote: "No one says, "Fire?! Hmm, let's think about that one for a second".

Well, I've been in some situations where someone saw something and panicked, in my case yelling about an oxygen tank leaking nearby (could have killed lots of people had a heat source been around, which there was). Luckily he mistook a CO2 tank for an O2 tank. No one panicked. As for me, if I heard FIRE in a theater but smelled no smoke or saw no flame, I'd probably look around calmly for more evidence. But I see how some people might panic and run out injuring themselves and others. But hey! What about my free speech? If one person can run an ad and tell a lie to affect the outcome of an election, then get sued later for slander after the damage is done, why can't I yell FIRE in a theater and be sued later? Why is my constitutional right to free speech limited before I *might* hurt someone with my speech but a corporation's not?

HookInMouth wrote: "By the way, Justice Holmes was the person who coined this often abused cliche. He wrote it in a case that permitted imprisonment of a speaker opposing the draft in World War I. Do you still like this cliche?"

Well now we get into the argument of people and corporations. A president of a corporation has his own individual speech AND his corporate speech. Is he two people? Does he have double the free speech of you and me? Why can he not yell FIRE in a theater but can run a last minute ad spouting lies with no time for refuting them? Since when does a corporation have more right to free speech than any one person when both can cause equal damage by abusing their freedom of speech?


Posted by: Fate1 | January 21, 2010 11:18 PM | Report abuse

I am sort of surprised George Will is applauding a "radical" decision. But these days hardly anything is surprising from conservatives or liberals.

May I offer my "radical" idea, there should be a constitutional amendment banning any organization, including a corporation or union, from making any campaign contributions. Individuals should be limited to one hundred dollars for an candidate, indexed every decade for inflation.

The amendment should allow any organization or individual to freely write any book or release any film, having any perspective, before and during any campaign season. The restrictions on the film about Clinton was censorship and repression of freedom of speech. That is clear, but equally clear is special interest groups, on the left and right, have all but pervasively corrupted the political system in this country.

Posted by: Aprogressiveindependent | January 21, 2010 11:29 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?

I am not sure how to view Mr. G. Will in this. As with Rush Limbaugh, intelligence is not the issue. I think Mr. Will is, rather, completely willing to put his substantial intellectual skills to use toward an entirely political agenda.

Posted by: JasonRowe46 | January 21, 2010 11:42 PM | Report abuse

I am disgusted by the illiterate denunciations of Will's opinion of this SCOTUS decision by leftists, liberals and totalitarian toadies here - no doubt, sycophants of the WaPo, unlike me.

No one begins with the clear and unequivocal language of the Framers - "Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech..." (if memory serves me).

Since McCain-Feingold and the 1990 decision clearly do abridge liberty of political expression, THEY ARE UNCONSTITUTIONAL.

I guess "Liberalism is a Mental Disorder" is truth in advertising - not just a book by some crank on the radio.

Posted by: Orson2 | January 21, 2010 11:42 PM | Report abuse

A landmark decision -- and you can take that to the bank!

Of course, now you'll have to ....

See:


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

Posted by: MikeLicht | January 21, 2010 11:44 PM | Report abuse

"May I offer my "radical" idea, there should be a constitutional amendment banning any organization, including a corporation or union, from making any campaign contributions. Individuals should be limited to one hundred dollars for an candidate, indexed every decade for inflation."
Posted by: Aprogressiveindependent
------------------------

That is not what happened today. What happened was SCOTUS decided companies, who before could not role out propaganda the night before an election, like the Hillary movie, can now do so. They equate millions of dollars to make a movie that misrepresents a persons views to be speech equal to you speaking into a microphone. This will now allow Willie Horton ads or McCain black love child ads to be aired the night before an election, by companies with lots of money, with no time for response or correction. They ignore the damage this can do to the voting public, they ignore the negative influence it can have on citizens, they ignore the damage it can do to a democracy.

You see, we're all suppose to be able to filter that stuff out. Yet, for some reason, I cannot yell "fire" in a theater because people are too stupid to know I'm lying. So even if I yell "fire" and no one is hurt, I go to jail, but a corporation can now run the Hillary movie, misrepresent her and influence millions of voters and its all constitutionally protected speech. Why is our democracy so unimportant that the SCOTUS sees no reason to protect it, only people in movie theaters?

Posted by: Fate1 | January 21, 2010 11:54 PM | Report abuse

So if the Chinese Embassy, which may employ US workers (think janitors), wants to write a couple billion in checks for candidates to exercise its right to free speech in the US election, by the logic of today's decision, the Congress is powerless to stop them?

Or since it's the Chinese Embassy, it's not a living entity that can vote and run for office, the Congress can bar them?

Posted by: camasca | January 21, 2010 11:59 PM | Report abuse

Replies to three comments:

At 10:45 PM Dr_Greg argued that fairness requires that if corporations are taxed they should be allowed to speak, and added that he'd be willing to give up corporations' rights to political speech if they were no longer taxed.

Interesting argument I haven't heard before. However, I wouldn't look kindly upon Exxon volunteering to give up my right to form, say, a pro-life lobby, in exchange for Exxon not having to pay taxes.

At 11:10 RCupps wrote, "This decision wasn't about freedom of speech, no matter how Robert's twisted logic tries to justify this decision. This decision legitimizes influnce peddling by those intenties that can afford to do the influencing".

That term "influencing peddling" - tell me - isn't anyone who thinks they are offering a persuasive argument (for instance, you) deliberately peddling their influence?

At 11:42 Orson2 wrote, in part "the clear and unequivocal language of the Framers - "Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech"".

Although I don't cotton to the language of the rest of Orson2's post, I think he or she should add "the right of the people lawfully to assemble" as an essential consitutional right, and one closely associated with freedom of speech. If I can't get together with six people who agree with me and buy TV time, my freedom of speech isn't worth much - and it's been taken away by means of denying the spirit of my right to assemble.

Posted by: douglaslbarber | January 22, 2010 12:05 AM | Report abuse

A president of a corporation has his own individual speech AND his corporate speech. ... Why can he not yell FIRE in a theater but can run a last minute ad spouting lies with no time for refuting them? Since when does a corporation have more right to free speech than any one person when both can cause equal damage by abusing their freedom of speech?

Posted by: Fate1 | January 21, 2010 11:18 PM | Report abuse

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

Everyone who agrees with this person should be reconsidering their opinions by virtue of such agreement.

Corporations are just people who come together in a mutual effort. If they want to speak in a unified voice, that's their right. The "Willie Horton ad" was indeed an idea -- the idea that Michael Dukakis was soft on crime as a governor. If you disagree with that idea, you and everybody else have the right to express an opposing idea. No government can sanction that idea - no jail for speaking an idea. And it wasn't a "corporate" idea. In fact, the dearth of corporate speech in 1988 probably contributed more to misinformation than the opposite.

There's no such thing as "abusing freedom of speech." Think about how obnoxious that phrase sounds.

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

Everyone has an equitable right to free speech. Not everyone has an equitable right to fund the candidate of their choice, as each is constrained by their individual means. The freedom to express one's self and the freedom to express one's self through campaign donations are in no way comparable.

Posted by: dokbionic | January 22, 2010 12:25 AM | Report abuse

barber:

"...Exxon giving up my right to..."

Interested to dialogue with you, but is this a typo? Uncertain what this means. Sorry. Maybe just a sign that I need to go to bed.

Posted by: Dr_Greg | January 22, 2010 12:35 AM | Report abuse

Dr_Greg, here's where that crack comes from.

1) You argue that if corporations aren't taxed they'd be willing to surrender the right to spend on political speech.

2) I argue that the court's decision frees up citizens to form all sorts of advertising-buying coalitions, which I see as a great thing.

3) I would guess that given a choice between "speaking its mind" and "paying no taxes", Exxon would take "paying no taxes". (I might be wrong there, but it's my guess).

4) On that basis, Exxon might be willing to buy in to a legal ruling which prevents any group of 2 or more citizens pooling their money, which does not pay taxes, from buying political advertising.

5) In that case, the 5 people I've so far gathered who support federal subsidies for people who crave Necco wafers would be prohibited from buying advertising - or, our contributions to our advertising fund might be taxed. In either case it would be a dark day for people hoping for help with their wafer craving.

Posted by: douglaslbarber | January 22, 2010 12:55 AM | Report abuse

It is language carried to the absurd. By this Court's definition ANY legislation whatsoever would interfere with free speech. The spending power itself would interfere with free speech. Justice Stevens has recorded for history, in his impeccable nearly one hundred page opinion, the clear marker of a society of reason. His dissent will long survive the disingenuous majority opinion. We live in a time where reason falters from our collective mind.

Posted by: JasonRowe46 | January 22, 2010 1:00 AM | Report abuse

You liberals are ALL wrong.

But you have an argument AT ALL because the opponents of McCain-Feingold made an elementary, but critical mistake.

They said this issue is about free speech, and you counter, no, it is about conglomerated money (corporations, etc.)

The Founders were wise and knew that liberals (or any other form of statist)would take the stand that they do about conglomerated money. So they also said, doggoneit, THE FREEDOM OF THE PRESS SHALL NOT BE ABRIDGED.

What is "THE PRESS"? BY VERY DEFINITION it is some physical thing that disseminates information, including speech. In the modern world it would include print, radio, TV, Internet, etc (and don't you dare try to say, "Naw, just print". You know VERY WELL what the Founders intended.)

Since The Press ALWAYS includes some physical infrastructure THAT COSTS MONEY TO BUY OR BUILD OR RENT (like paid ads) OR USE IN ANY WAY -- and often LOTS of money -- well, this issue (and the arguers made a mistake in not framing it this way) IS ALWAYS about the use of money to procure a Press (or equivalent)to make a point.

You people who are who saying the First Amendment allows you to restrict corporate or conglomerated speech (I know you WISH it did, but that is not the issue), do a thought exercise with me.

Back right after the Constitution was ratified say a business -- maybe a newspaper, but not necessarily -- a corporation of some kind used money to buy a Press and started making political handbills. Do you honestly believe the Founders would tolerate a move to say they did not have FREEDOM TO USE THEIR PRESS just because they were a company? Heck, ONLY "corporations" bought presses! But that extends to asking someone who owns a Press to take money to print soemthing for them -- called advertising. It is ENTIRELY INCONCEIVABLE that the Founders would have tolerated someone saying they could not take their money and RENT (so to speak) part of a press run (Called advertising.)

Now, you may say restrictions on the FREEDOM OF THE PRESS are good and desirable, but your preference or desire is not relevant to the fact that the "Freedom of he Press shall not be abridged." Which is EXACTLY what McCain-Feingold did, and was rightly struck down.

The PRESS -- A thing, that costs money (often lots of it) to buy, and money to use -- well freedom in the use of this expensive thing to get your information out, shall not be abridged.

You are wrong to say it is OK to restrict it and the pleadings in the court were wrong to hinge their argument on "freedom of speech." By doing so they allow you to use the solipsism that "Speech was not being restricted." Yeah, BUT Freedom of the PRESS clearly was restricted by McCain-Feingold, so lay off our liberty to conglomerate money and buy press time.

Posted by: GrewUpWithPost | January 22, 2010 1:41 AM | Report abuse

Even the USA's most ardent defenders no longer believe that the point of political freedom is that it will enable most voters to recognize the best argument.

So we now argue over how to regulate the manipulation of voters in a manipulocracy.

Meanwhile our armies are trying to spread Democracy throughout the world.

Frankly, about now Kentucky Fried Chicken looks more like "the best thing the USA contributed to the world" than democracy.

Yeah, I know, the cognoscenti hate that stuff, but I defy even one of them to brew it up in their own kitchen.

Posted by: douglaslbarber | January 22, 2010 1:45 AM | Report abuse

GrewUpWithPost wrote, "You liberals are ALL wrong....The Founders were wise"
--------------
Back to the history books for you, buddy. Every American soldier, north or south, who died in the civil war cries out from the grave in criticism of those who worship "The Founders" as gods.

And there were so horribly many.

Posted by: douglaslbarber | January 22, 2010 2:07 AM | Report abuse

TO DOUGLAS BARBER:

No one would argue that the Founders were infallible, and I do not. I use the Founders intent to illustrate WHAT THE BINDING CONSTITUTION SAYS AND MEANS EVEN TODAY.

You apparently believe that the Founders got this call (IN THE CONSTITUTION!) wrong in some way. You are entitled to your opinion and you are entitled to try to amend the Constitution. But what you can't say is just because you don't like something that is esconced in the Constitution it should be ignored. Freedom of the Press is in there and should be heeded until the Constitution is changed. You are welcome to try.

Posted by: GrewUpWithPost | January 22, 2010 2:25 AM | Report abuse

If you people would take the time to, you know, read the ruling instead of simply reacting to your imagination of what the ruling is, you would learn that:

1) the decision does not invalidate bans on direct contributions to candidates by corporations or unions
2) the decision is a triumph for free speech by everybody. "Corporation" is many types of entities; businesses yes, but also non-profits, labor unions, and other groups.

As much as I know you liberals hate to have to hear opinions that differ from yours, it's not going to kill you. Really.

Posted by: jb1123 | January 22, 2010 2:33 AM | Report abuse

So you think the 1st Amendment protects only a right to talk about politics?

Not to write books? Make films? Hold up signs? Post on the Internet?

The law that was overturned by the Supreme Court would have held Thomas Paine liable for a felony had he been a corporation - even a corporation owned by one person, himself.

Thomas Paine's pamphlets are *precisely* the kind of speech the Founders wanted to protect. Today people make films, write books, and post web sites.

This decision was a major victory for free speech - everyone's free speech.

Posted by: jb1123 | January 22, 2010 2:41 AM | Report abuse

Mr. Will, this is the most profoundly shallow interpretation of the court's ruling I have yet to read. Even your 'reasoning' is vague and scatter-shot.

If you believe that our country will be better off, then you are profoundly wrong.

There is no citizens' rights group or union that can counter the influence of the mega-corps and grossly wealthy special interests -- those who are already so entrenched within our government that any hope of an 'equal opportunity for all' is in vain.

I wonder how you can sleep at night, and I believe you and those blind ideologists like you will live to regret this very sad, terribly unwise ruling.

Posted by: Frank57 | January 22, 2010 7:51 AM | Report abuse

this was a close question. on the one hand, as some talking-head said yesterday, when the founders used the term, "we the people," they surely had only natural humans in mind, not corporations (such as the hudson's bay company). so, it is not unprincipled to argue that corporations have no first amendment rights at all, and therefore their speech can be restricted 100%.

on the other hand, as another talking head said yesterday, if media companies have free speech to say what they want when they want, then there is no principled reason to restrict shoe companies, health care companies, law firms, barber shops, or any other kind of company from having the exact same rights as nbc, cbs, or fox, which generally are equated with those of natural humans.

in the final analysis, the nod has to go to the side of siding with the corporations and unions here. if corporate free speech is not protected then any person opposing this supreme court decision also would have to have opposed the new york times from having the right to publish the pentagon papers. either corporations have free speech or they don't. moreover, a corporation is entitled to free speech because although it is a legal fiction in one sense, it is also nothing more than a tool of actual living humans, who are "we the people." if i want to give money to a campaign or speak out, i am free to do so. just because i associate with other humans or just by myself in corporate form should not mean i lose my rights any more than if i buy a pen or a computer to get out my message.

i also remember that george mcgovern had just a few big contributors to get his campaign off the ground. unless my memory is faulty, that shows that from either the right or the left, this is a good decision, because sometimes ideas and candidates need venture capital just as much as products and services.

keevan d. morgan, esq., chicago

Posted by: oakhill1863 | January 22, 2010 9:12 AM | Report abuse

The elite have millions of "good" reasons for controling the speech of people who disagree with them. People coming together to pool their money for a cause should not be limited in their free speech at any time but must of all during elections. It is not just corporations whose speech was controlled by this unconstiutional law. It was all groups.

The other speech oppression game liberals are going to see go down in flames is their efforts to criminalize politically incorrect speech of individuals as "hate speech."

Kiss it goodbye liberals. We are not Euro Peons after all. We have a constitution and it might still mean something.

Posted by: sj121387 | January 22, 2010 10:52 AM | Report abuse

I never understood while it terrible for one company like IBM or Exxon to get involved in politics, but other companies like GE (the owner of NBC) or the New York Times Company should have completely unfettered access to my eyes and ears. At least now Phillip Morris can waste as much money trying to influence my vote as CBS.

Posted by: sceptic5 | January 22, 2010 11:55 AM | Report abuse

This is flippin hilarious. When the "lefties" get away with it its perfectly fine. First off, don't bother responding to this because I could give a rat's-asss about what a bunch of "give me someone else's money so I can be a drain on society" socialists think. The far above comment was correct. Replace "corporation" with "move-on" or "union" and all the little gayfers(libs) start gleefully jumping up and down in gay merriment. I am so enjoying sitting in my federally funded chair and office listening to the moaning and squirming. What's even more hilarius is that Obama keeps giving fed employees raises to keep us loyal and we press the "R" every chance we get. What a bunch of dumbasss crybabies. Here's another thought-If you don't have good insurance, get off your asss and do something about it and if you can't afford insurance for your kids, well that should have crossed your mind before you opened your legs (hint, hint).

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

Here's another "Radical" idea:

Let's limit the size, scope and influence of our government. If throwing huge sums of money at politicians had no benefit, because they had limited power to dispense, it would dry up in a hurry.

Those evil corporations, labor unions, PACs, bankers, would still have to spend their money influencing the people that had the ability to affect their well-being, but that would consist of individuals who earned and spent their own money as they saw fit.

I don't see a distinction between "free" and "paid" speech when I consider how much control I want to give the government (Republican, Democrat or Independent) to control it.

Conversely, much of the posting here devolves to: Give the government more power and limit the ability of those I disagree with to influence it.

Posted by: Resolute1 | January 22, 2010 1:32 PM | Report abuse

Those who wrote that corporations are not entitled to First Amendment protections are completely wrong. There is a long list of supreme court cases that explicity recognize that the First Amendment extends to corporations. Corporations, just like individuals, have ideas, thoughts, input that can add to the "free market" place of ideas, and therefore, are entitled to protection. Political corporate speech, by extension, also is protected.

For those who argue that money is an issue bear in mind that the First Amendment does not put restrictions on political speech based on how much money an entity or person has; it merely protects that person's/entity's speech. So, money is inconsequential to the right of speech.

The opinion is a well thought out, well reasoned one that is hardly judicial activism; it reflects careful thought that protects one of our country's basic rights: freedom of speech.

Posted by: nobamahere2012 | January 22, 2010 3:48 PM | Report abuse

McCain and Feingold are rightly concerned about special interest money in politics, but their solution was no solution at all. Will is right. Political speech in the US should never ever be regulated. That said, our terrible corrupt system must be reformed. See http://centermovement.org/campaign-reform/a-victory-for-the-first-amendment/

Posted by: AmericanOwl1 | January 22, 2010 4:01 PM | Report abuse

I see arguments that there is a difference between "free" speech and "paid" speech. How incredibly silly!!

Newspapers have to purchase the means (ink, paper, labor, machinery, etc.) to write, print, and distribute their "free" speech. They recoup those costs through the profits they earn. In other words, they pay to support or criticize politicians and policies.

Corporations will have to purchase the means (advertising firms) to write, print/broadcast and distribute their "free" speech. They recoup those costs through the profits they earn. In other words, they pay to express their opinions in support or opposition of politicians and policies.

Unions must do the same in order to distribute their messages. They too pay to express their support or opposition.

As a private citizen, I have to reach into my pocket and pay for a political advertisement. So I too have to pay to express my support or opposition.

Even the beggar on the street is selling his speech (if you give him a dollar, you just paid for his right to ask for it).

So what's the difference between all of these different types of speeches? Nothing. The rant that there is some distinction between paid and free speech is moronic.

Unless your are talking to yourself or some friends, there is no such thing as free speech. Even protesters have to pay for gas, poster board, wooden stakes, paint, costumes, bull horns, etc.

And then there are those who want to argue that the Constitution only gives the right of free speech to a person; not a corporation. Really? Then why were unions exempted? Why then should print and broadcast media be exempted? They aren't individuals.

Like protesters, newspapers, broadcasters, corporations, political organizations, etc. are all just groups of people who want to express their opinions--some just have to pay more than others to do it.

Besides, the Constitution makes no such distinction.

The fact is that there is clear, unambiguous, and overwhelming evidence that the founding fathers meant to protect political speech, regardless of its source.

We are a better country when all groups, whether they be newspapers, corporations, unions, environmentalist, or the lady's knitting club are allowed to express their political opinions freely--whether you or I agree with those opinions or not is irrelevant.

Think about it. The people who enacted the restrictions on freely expressing political speech are the very ones who have the vested interest in suppressing it--the incumbents. The real crime is that the fox has been guarding the hen house all these years.

In my opinion, if there is any doubt what so ever, then the nod goes to the Constitution.

Posted by: fmb501 | January 22, 2010 4:06 PM | Report abuse

Well said keevan d. morgan, esq., chicago

Posted by: fmb501 | January 22, 2010 4:17 PM | Report abuse

Buddydog you are confused.

The ruling did not affect the restriction on the amount of money you can give to a candidate nor did it equate giving material support to terrorist as free speech.

If you want to take your money and purchase and ad in the NYT to support terrorism (only one of many newspapers who would probably support your views), then have a nice day. It's your right.

But if you want to give your money (material support) to terrorists, then your family and friends have the right to visit you in prison.

Do you see the difference? You still can't give unlimited money to candidates, but you can buy as many advertisements as you want. You can't give money to terrorists, but you can buy as many advertisements as you like to support them.

If you don't see the distinction, then you may be looking at 20 to life.

I'd recommend that you do your homework before you do anything rash.

Posted by: fmb501 | January 22, 2010 4:28 PM | Report abuse

Slimdugger99,

Allow me to point out that the Constitution grants the right of free speech (and more specifically political free speech). It does not constrain that right in any way.

Next, corporations, like unions, newspapers, broadcasters, protesters, and the Lady's Knitting Club are all made up of people. Newpapers publish the most outrageous lies imaginable based on free speech. Unions have a right to express distribute their political tripe. Protesters are nothing more than a corporation without a name--they are an organized group of people just like a corporation.

Allow me to also point out that the very people who have imposed the restrictions on free political speech have been the politicians--the very ones who most benefit on restricting their opponents' abilty to criticize them.

The fox has been guarding the hen house. when their is a shred of doubt about whether a politician's legislation or the Constitution should prevail, then the nod should always go to the Constitution.

You don't like that? Then submit your amendment to the Constitution to exempt corporations, et al from the right of free speech.

Posted by: fmb501 | January 22, 2010 4:46 PM | Report abuse

Rafaelo,

Allow me to commend you on your brillant out of context interpretation of the Federalist papers.

Nowhere in the Fedralist Papers are corporations addressed as being a threat to a democratic government and especially in terms of free policical speech.

If you want to talke about political corruption, you need to address your remarks to the House and Senate. Have you not noticed the buying and selling of votes in order to pass legislation that the people do not want?

There is no corruption in a corporation, a union, the Lady's Knitting Club, or PETA expressing their opinions.

The corruption is in the House and Senate buying and selling votes, catering to special interests, and not representing the will of the people they represent in their districts.

The AMA announced its support of the Obama health care bill. I disagree, but should it be disallowed because the AMA is not a person? AARP announced its support for the health care bill. Should they be muzzled because they are not an individual?

I'd like to know what the difference is between a corporation, union, or anyone else expressing support for or against a bill or policy and expressing the support or opposition for a candidate.

Grow up. Neither the Constitution nor the Federalist Papers have languge prohibiting corporations from expressing their opinions freely and openly.

Posted by: fmb501 | January 22, 2010 5:01 PM | Report abuse

M__M you are wrong.

More than half the states do not have similar restrictions on corporations with regard to state elections.

Have you seen any outrageous interference from corporations in those states?

Freedom of speech is the most powerful right that we all have.

In many respects, the explosion of political discourse on the Internet is the ultimate embodiment of free speech.

Without it, we would not now know that climate change is a scam. We would not know that the melting glaciers are nothing more than conjecture of an obscure academic in India which was included as fact in the UN's ICC reports.

Free political speech is the most sacred of all of our freedoms. Without it, we are doomed to the dictates of government.

I say the more people and organizations can express their opinions freely, the more informed we will be and the more the seats in the House and the Senate will be those of the people instead of those of the politicians.

Posted by: fmb501 | January 22, 2010 5:14 PM | Report abuse

abqcleve,

I apologize, but you are a complete idiot.

There is a huge difference between free speech and lies. If you don't understand that, then you are hopeless.

Free speech was never meant to protect lies. You can't yell "FIRE" in a crowded theater when there is no fire. It may be free speech, but you'll go to jail.

You are positing a false primise: to wit that free speech protects lies and misrepresentations.

No, what we are taling about here is the ability of individuals, unions, corporations, and other groups of people to express their opinions. No one, including SCOTUS, is advocating that free speech protects libel, lies, or any other kind of negligent misrepresentation.

Your entire primise is completely misleading and wrong.

The Constituion grants freedom of speech. Nowhere does it restrict that freedom.

Bravo to the SCOTUS for recoginizing that individuals and groups of individuals have a right to express their opinons.

Posted by: fmb501 | January 22, 2010 5:30 PM | Report abuse

Hey whizkidz1, you brain dead moron.

Dosen't your mother, father, wife, brother, sister, friend, teacher, employer, collegue, et al have the same opinion as you?

If so, does that mean the you can't express your own opinion without being accused of being influenced by all of the people you know?

Cheeze. Your entire arguement is that no one can possibly have their own opinion.

What a freanking moron.

Posted by: fmb501 | January 22, 2010 5:37 PM | Report abuse

BARBER SAID:
Dr_Greg, here's where that crack comes from.

1) You argue that if corporations aren't taxed they'd be willing to surrender the right to spend on political speech.
==========================================

MY RESPONSE:
Important correction: I argue that corporations are entities currently subject to being taxed even though they are not inherently humans (i.e., endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights and so on and so forth).

And that, logically, if they are to be recognized by government as subject to taxation, there is also a principle in our government from which the First Amendment arguably was born, which is "no taxation without representation." To wit, if they are to be taxed, then then ought to have some right to help influence the process so that they are represented by those they prefer to represent them.

And yes, technically, if you take the principle to its most extreme conclusion, they also ought to be able to vote. I'm not advocating for that here, though I think that is, in fact, a condition worthy of some debate. All I'm advocating is that they should have, as long as they are subject to taxation, some uninhibited voice in the process.

As to the balance of what you said, I'm not suggesting that anyone except the government itself should be given a choice between the two...

Mr. Obama, you can either regard corporations in the same light as individuals and tax them... OR... you can regard corporations as different than individuals, and not tax them. If they're the same as individuals, they have every right to have a voice in the process to the degree that they desire to do that... if they are not, then they don't.

That's the standard.

And, the truth is, they are NOT individuals. Corporate taxation is the biggest sham going, with global warming not far behind. People pay taxes. Corporations only pass taxes on to their customers... ie, people.

It's just mindless and absurd that we allow politicians to complicate the system by taxing corporations and operate their righteous facade as-if they're working for the little guy when they tax the organization who, were it not for the tax, could be giving the little guy a damn job.

Hope I've made better sense the second time around.

Posted by: Dr_Greg | January 22, 2010 5:38 PM | Report abuse

Cheeze, TomfromNJ1, what are you talking about???

The SCOTUS did not change the limitations on donating to candidates, it only said that EVERYONE has a freaking right to express their political opinion whether that EVERYONE is a union, a corporation, a protest group, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, or whoever.

Limits on contributions to individual candidates remain in place.

For crying out loud, read the freaking decision instead of relying on the Huffington Post.

Posted by: fmb501 | January 22, 2010 5:43 PM | Report abuse

I give up. This is the Washinton Post blog and it is going to be dominated by people who have not read the SCOTUS decion nor the Constitution nor the Federalist Papers.

Instead, we get emotional clap trap about urban myths.

Having said that, this is a forum of free speech and everyone has a right to their opinions.

Posted by: fmb501 | January 22, 2010 5:48 PM | Report abuse

What is so difficult for George Will to understand that the People are Sovereign in Parliament not a handful of people contemptuous judges? The Democrats should now enact legislation in the House of Representatives to reverse this ruling and then enforce it for as long as they are able to remain in office. They should do this on the basis that the Supreme Court has exceeded its authority and sought to usurp the sovereignty of the People in Parliament.They should propose when Obama seeks re-election that if successful they will enact constitutional reform of the Supreme Court and Senate.

Posted by: GerrySmith | January 22, 2010 6:55 PM | Report abuse

Indeed re-reading George Will's article he fails to mention this all important central point. Since when has it been a democratic principle that issues as important as speech rights for democratic elections should be decided by a handful of individuals appointed and not elected?

Posted by: GerrySmith | January 22, 2010 7:03 PM | Report abuse

bdean1 and Will The Schill you miss the point. The Fascist Five's ruling is all about allowing CEO's of rich corporations to blackmail politicians by threatening attack ads to drown out election campaigns if they don't do the CEO's bidding.

Posted by: GerrySmith | January 22, 2010 7:14 PM | Report abuse

If you don't think CEO's can be sociopathic crooks Will how about contemplating that the Financial Crash was triggered by naked short selling of Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers:-

http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2009/3/5/16720/74815/703/705113

The SEC seem to think there's an angle worth investigating!

Posted by: GerrySmith | January 22, 2010 8:15 PM | Report abuse

This scares the red poop out of the red diaper babies posting here.

Why?

Because now the UNIONS and KOS and all the other Statists will have to compete with their deadly enemies: American Capitalists.

Great decision.


BTW: Goldman Sachs buys Obama for $995,000.

For his presidential campaign in which Wall Street regulation was a mantra, Obama's top source of funds was investment bank giant Goldman Sachs, whose employees, partners, and executives gave him $995,000 -- that's the most any politician has raised from any one company in a single election since the age of "soft money" ended.

Read more at the Washington Examiner: http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/columns/Beware-the-Goldman-Sachs-populist-82293977.html#ixzz0dPs11nUQ

Posted by: RightyatBat | January 23, 2010 2:13 AM | Report abuse

Regulation of speech in the form of limiting or prohibiting certain types of spending in political campaigns has a long and sordid history. What most of the left wing posters here don't seem to realize is that the main effect of these limits has been to protect incumbents.

George Will is right, this SCOTUS ruling protects free speech. The 1st amendment says congress shall make "no law" restrictign freedom of speech, all the blather about corporations to the contrary.

Posted by: joelammers2000 | January 23, 2010 8:10 AM | Report abuse

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