People have the right to give up some rights in exchange for other considerations. This is part of contracts. But that doesn't mean that they have to give up rights. Yet corporations will routinely say "You have to give up your rights to do business with us".
and the business can then say "we refuse to give up our rights we will find a competitor who will work with us"
Somewhere along the lines, this turned into:
* We will not sell you a copy of this software (excuse me, license you to use this software on one computer) unless you agree to give up your rights
* We will not lend you money unless you give up your rights
* We will not do business with you, in your state, unless you agree that the laws of our state apply, and the laws of your state are meaningless
This -- This forcing people to accept non-negotiable contracts that create new, private law, that removes protections and rights of the federal government and the states -- should not be valid. Yet it is. Why?
Is it because corporations are considered people, and permitted to create contracts that alter the balance of rights?
Why should I, by buying your product, be able to help you hurt your competition?
If you don't want to support the companies lobbying then don't buy stuff and by doing such deprive them of funding.
So, you are saying that you believe in one dollar, one vote, instead of one person, one vote?
If everyone purchases an iPod, it is a good economic indicator that the iPod is a "good" product.
Lets start way, way back. I believe the worst offenders of this were the railroads of the 1800's. There was no requirement that a corporation act in a manner to benefit shareholders; the result was company owners that basically robbed the corporation, and took the money from shareholders for themselves.
The result of this? A requirement that, as I understand it, for publicly traded companies, the actions of the company must be designed to bring profit to the shareholders. (Someone who knows this area of corporate law better than me can probably give a better description than this.)
Now, consider two companies. Both make products. Both are good.
One company doesn't lobby for any law changes.
The other lobbies for a law change that helps them, and hurts their competition.
Corporation A has less expenses, and initially looks to have better return to shareholders. But corporation B gets the laws changed. Over time, B's profits increase, while the profits of B's competitors goes down.
Eventually, B is able to either buy out its competition, or put them out of business
The result? Corporations that lobby for law changes dominate the marketplace; corporations that do not become fewer and less successful.
This is just normal evolution. Instead of the selection of successful corporations by good products, it becomes the selection of successful corporations by good lobbying.
Corporations do not make their lobbying efforts public. Sometimes it is very hard to even determine which corporation actually owns which brand. The very idea that I should research my corporations before buying a product is crazy. Equally, the idea that the people who spend more money on products have a bigger voice, a bigger say in the political lobbying/advertising area is crazy.
The money a corporation is spending belongs to its shareholders. And if they, as a group, organized however they think appropriate, want to ask Congress to make a law that will benefit them, that's their right.
And the question is, who do the representatives represent?
Do house members represent people? Do senate members represent states? If so, does a corporation -- not a person -- have the right to lobby the house? Do corporations that are multi-state, or multi-national, have the right to lobby the senate?
I don't have answers for that. But apparently, the courts claim that political speech by corporations cannot be restricted; lobbying by corporations cannot be restricted; and now, spending by corporations on political matters cannot be restricted.
Do non-citizens have the same rights as citizens? Clearly back before the 14th, the answer seemed to be no. The 14th grants rights in state court to federal citizens, but corporations are not federal citizens -- they are neither "born" nor "naturalized".
What about non citizen, immagrant people? What about people in the country illegally? (Serious questions -- I don't know the answers)
Free speech of corporations
Do people have the right of free speech? Yes.
Can they come together in a group for that? Yes -- Republican party, Democratic party, MoveOn political action, etc.
Should those have any limits on what they spend for political events? No, because they are people acting as a group to perform political free speech
The money of a corporation that produces product X is actually the money of the shareholders. What gives such a corporation any authority to do political lobbying? If they are allowed to, and required to maximize
shareholder return, then they are required to; if they are only required to take action in the best interest of shareholders, then it's only a good idea, not a requirement.
Just so we're clear, the Citizen's United case wasn't about corporate donations to candidates, it was about corporations funding political ads near elections.
Az, in the edit of my OP wrote:OP's Opinion: This is bad, and the Supreme Court ruled in a manner counter to the Constitution.
Lets be clear here. How the court rules is just as important as what it rules.
Look at Dred Scott: If the court had ruled,
What my 10th grade US History textbook said wrote:The federal constitution does not define citizen; it is therefore up to each state individually. Mr Scott was in a state where he was considered "Free", and choose to go back to a state where he was considered "Slave" and "Not citizen". We are therefore required to consider him "Not citizen", and deny this claim of being free in a slave state
, then it probably would not have become such a major trigger. But that wasn't what the court actually said.
Look at Santa Clara v. Union Pacific. Other than a single reference by the head judge that they whole court was biased on a concern that was not actually addressed, and a quote out of context by the court clerk that was not actually supported by the decision, this is a minor tax issue that would be an obscurity.
Had the ruling simply been "Freedom of the press is freedom of the press", then that's annoying, but good constitutional ruling. Had the ruling been "A group of people getting together for political purposes maintain the same rights as individuals, and as such, this political organization has the same rights of donation as people do", that would have been good.
Justice Steven's Dissent wrote:All that the parties dispute is whether Citizens United had a right to use the funds in its general treasury to pay for broadcasts during the 30-day period.
The conceit that corporations must be treated identically to natural persons in the political sphere is not only inaccurate but also inadequate to justify the Court’s disposition of this case.
In the context of election to public office, the distinction between corporate and human speakers is significant. Although they make enormous contributions to our society, corporations are not actually members of it. They cannot vote or run for office. Because they may be managed and controlled by nonresidents, their interests may conflict in fundamental respects with the interests of eligible voters.
Before turning to the question whether to overrule Austin and part of McConnell , it is important to explain why the Court should not be deciding that question.
Essentially, five Justices were unhappy with the limited nature of the case before us, so they changed the case to give themselves an opportunity to change the law..
The dissent is easy to read and understand. It basically says that the SCOTUS made too broad of a ruling, for wrong reasons, when it should have ruled narrowly. It raises questions about allowing people who are not members of our society trying to manipulate our society.
The 55 page ruling, however, was not -- I cannot understand it. From what I've understood from other people's comments, it remove all spending limits that corporations have on any form of political manipulation. It actually goes so far as to say that otherwise, YouTube and Mr. Smith Goes To Washinton would be illegal at election time, and I do not understand this claim.
As far as I can tell from the ruling -- and I may have this wrong -- the first amendment
Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press
is being taken as an almost absolute -- anything and everything that anyone or anything wants to say for political reasons
is valid, but you may have to disclose who you are. This is not extended to non-political issues. There are lots and lots of court cases that hold some limitations on this supposed freedom of the press.
Decision page 18 wrote:As a practical matter, however, given the complexity of the regulations and the deference courts show to administrative determinations, a speaker who wants to avoid threats of criminal liability and the heavy costs of defending against FEC enforcement must ask a governmental agency for prior permission to speak. See 2 U. S. C. §437f; 11 CFR §112.1. These onerous restrictions thus function as the equivalent of prior restraint by giving the FEC power analogous to licensing laws implemented in 16th- and 17th-century England, laws and governmental practices of the sort that the First Amendment was drawn to prohibit.
This is the single clearest point I found in the decision. The idea that you have to ask for permission to speak, and that the behavior is to act as a licensing law -- a license to speak -- that the first amendment is made to prevent.
Is that how the courts actually rule? Not as far as I (a non lawyer) can tell.
If these FEC rules and regulations are too excessive? If it's too hard to comply with them, or tell if you are even in compliance? Fine, strike them down.
According to this ruling, the FEC's restrictions on speech are so unfounded, so impossible, and just by their nature so abhorrent, that it must be completely removed. Lets change that from "FEC" to "FCC". Does the 7 words decision -- which was recently upheld
, suddenly fall apart? About two years ago, someone challenged "Fear Factor" for being in the same category as the 7 words case. The trial court judge threw it out of court, claiming that the plantiff should just use their remote control and change the channel. The 7 words second case came after that, and the courts upheld the restriction on free speech. Never mind that these two cases are completely opposed -- there's no logical way within the constitution to uphold one and throw the other out without even considering it. And yet now we are throwing out another set of restrictions that actually have meaning and purpose, without actually preventing speech or opinion. Nothing in the rules being overturned prohibited people from saying what they wanted to say, even a corporation -- it merely put some restrictions on spending during the time right before an election. Do we now say "Election canvassing at a polling station is unrestricted"? Can people be shoving voting cards in you hands as you walk to the polling place?
Decision, page 23 wrote:Laws that burden political speech are “subject to strict scrutiny,” which requires the Government to prove that the restriction “furthers a compelling interest and is narrowly tailored to achieve that interest.” WRTL, 551 U. S., at 464 (opinion of ROBERTS, C. J.).
And according to this, the protection of free speech and freedom of the press is not an absolute. Are you allowed to print blatant lies? Are you allowed to slander? If your goal is to make sure that the voices of people are heard, and that the opinions of corporate interests do not dominate the political operations, can you say that "Hearing what people want to say is compelling, given that people run this country"?
If the government gets to decide who is and who is not the press, and then limit and regulate those that they deem to be 'not the press,' then it's not really a free press at all.
But we already have restrictions on the press.
Not only stuff like "7 words", but I've seen people forced to take down web pages in the early days of the internet. A while ago, there was a book that spelled out, in detail, how to kill someone -- and apparently it was banned by the courts. Something along the lines of "Freedom of speech does not include step by step how to break the law". And yet we've got these step by step "how to break into computer systems" programs, that are used by competent system admins to test their own systems for problems that need fixing. Of course, if you do that at work, you risk getting three felony convictions against you (2 counts of breaking into the system that he was hired to administer, and 1 count of copying a password file to another machine. Apparently, testing for weak passwords or system holes was improper for a system admin. Apparently, a program that shows you how to break into a system -- so you can plug holes is valid, but a book on how to kill someone -- so you can plug security holes is not legal.) Some shows are so horrendous that they must be prohibited, others are "Just change the channel".
Now, while this court case is the "flash point" for me, the real issue for me is the abusive nature of supreme court rulings, that go beyond the authority granted it in the constitution. Since the reboot, that will require a different thread to continue discussion in.