You know, letting corporations donate to political campaigns and have free speech rights will destroy the country. Giving corporations the right to speech, like us, is a monumental threat to democracy. They would make us all beholden to the 1%. They would buy campaigns, transform this country into a plutocracy or, worse yet, a full blown corporatocracy. Who knows what terrible things they could do to our country. Why, with their money and resources, they would be able to warp and corrupt public opinion, and turn them against the government. They might even lead a campaign to stop online censorship!
I find it somewhat amusing that the progressives who railed against Citizens United so furiously are now finding themselves the beneficiaries of that decision. Citizens United allowed corporations and such organizations as unions to spend money on political campaigns, though they could not be donated to political parties or candidates, and had to be spent separately. What else was the SOPA Strike Wednesday but a political campaign, with Hollywood on one end trying to use the political system to do away with due process in order to reap more profits, and tech companies and grassroots citizen-activists on the other trying to prevent such a mockery of law? I’m not a legal expert, but it would appear to me that if Citizens United hadn’t been decided the way it were, and the McCain-Feingold Act was still in place, this campaign might not have gotten off the ground, or if it did, it might not have been as wildly successful as it was.
Compare your statement of January 21, 2010 (emphasis mine):
Today, the Supreme Court further tilted the playing field in favor of business corporations in public elections. By allowing unlimited corporate treasury expenditures that explicitly support or oppose particular candidates, the Court has increased the already excessive influence that corporations exert in our electoral system. And we believe the Court wrongly treated corporate expenditures the same as union expenditures, contrary to the arguments we made in our brief in this case. Unions, unlike businesses, are democratically-controlled, nonprofit membership organizations representing working men and women across the country, and their independent speech should accordingly be given greater protection.
The AFL-CIO supports a system of campaign finance regulation that promotes democratic participation in elections by individuals and their associations; protects legitimate independent speech rights; offers public financing to candidates while firmly regulating contributions to them; and guarantees effective disclosure of who is paying for what.
with this story in POLITICO today, August 22, 2011 (emphasis mine):
The AFL-CIO is getting ready to pump even more money into elections by forming a super PAC and targeting developments in the states, the Associated Press reported Monday.
Last week a severe blow was dealt to the long-term prospects of ObamaCare. U.S. District Court Judge Henry E. Hudson ruled that the Minimum Essential Coverage Provision (commonly referred to as the “individual mandate”) is unconstitutional. ObamaCare required weeks of arm-twisting and bribes, along with a labyrinthine process of obscure parliamentary procedures, to get the bill passed without a final vote. Even then it required Nancy Pelosi keeping her caucus in Washington (and away from the growing number of voters back home vehemently and vocally opposed to the bill) until nearly midnight on Christmas Eve in order to get the bill to pass by a hair.
There are a number of constitutional issues with the health care “reform” legislation, but none may be more important to implementing it than maintaining the individual mandate. There is no doubt that this is not the end of the issue. The Obama administration will appeal the ruling and eventually it will end up in the Supreme Court. However, that may not be a hospitable venue for the arguments that Obama will make before the court to protect this provision.
The Supreme Court issued a significant ruling this week on the subject of campaign financing. It is a complex subject and the opinions authored by the Court illustrate this complexity checking in at 183 pages (read here if you dare). I have read most of them and will offer my thoughts.
In the 2008 election cycle, a group called Citizens United produced a film called Hillary: The Movie which was apparently quite an unfavorable depiction of the Presidential hopeful. Citizens United intended to distribute the film as an on-demand pay-per-view on DirecTV. The commercials which supported the film were deemed an “electioneering communication” by the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia and the film was not shown. Citizen United is a non-profit 501(c)4 corporation which has special non-profit status in that, unlike standard non-profit 501(c)3 charitable corporations, they can participate in the political process via lobbying and and campaigns. If this sounds complicated already, then welcome to the world of campaign finance in the United States.
Podcast: Scott Brown, SCOTUS, Citizens United, Air America, “Birther” Bill, Guests: Eric von Haessler & Mike Hassinger
From the Cato Institute: Three years ago the United States Supreme Court handed down its decision in Citizens United. Later, lower courts followed Citizens United in deciding SpeechNow v. Federal Election Commission, the legal foundation for Super PACs. The nation has now experienced mid-term and president elections governed by these decisions. Bradley Smith is a former commisioner at the Federal Election Commission.
As the election is quickly approaching, TV viewers across the country will no longer be bombarded with non-stop ads from Super PACs and interest groups. And Wednesday would be a good time to have a discussion about the future of campaign finance.
In early 2008, a group called Citizens United sought to air commercials for their documentary that was highly critical of then-Senator Hillary Clinton. This appeared to violate federal election rules that prohibited corporations and unions from broadcasting “electioneering communications” within 60 days of an election. Citizens United sued the Federal Election Commission and ultimately won a landmark Supreme Court case that expanded corporations’ right to political speech.
The issue of campaign finance is hotly contested. Many argue that Citizens United has opened up a floodgate of corporate spending that threatens to erode American democracy. They also argue that a corporations should not have the same rights as individuals.
In this video, Professor Brad Smith of Capital University explains why he believes the Supreme Court made the correct decision in Citizens United. He argues that restrictions on corporate speech violate our Constitutional right to free speech.
It’s a touchy subject, as people generally don’t concern themselves with defending the rights of well-financed organizations and corporations. But in a free society, citizens must be allowed to come together and present their argument. More speech is better than less speech.
Even though he has been left for dead by many Republicans, a new poll commissioned by Citizens United shows Todd Akin leading Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) with three weeks to go until votes are counted:
Wenzel Strategies, a Republican leaning pollster, found Akin leading McCaskill 49 to 45 percent with 7 percent undecided.
Both candidates are underwater, though, on favorability. Forty-five percent of voters rate Akin favorably, with 49 unfavorable. McCaskill is viewed favorably by 44 percent and unfavorably by 52.
Broken down across gender lines, McCaskill has a 7-point advantage among women, leading Akin with 50 to 43 percent support. Among men though, Akin holds the edge, with fifty-five percent of men backing Akin to 39 percent who support McCaskill.
There are some harsh words being thrown at Republicans who abandoned Akin after his controversial comments on abortion and rape. They feel that the controversy has largely blown over, much like Akin believed it would in the days after the comments. But McCaskill is trying to remind Missouri voters with a recent ad featuring a rape victim.
This film takes a look at some Democrats and independents from swing states who voted for Barack Obama in 2008 — believing in the rhetoric of “hope” and “change”: however, these voters are less than thrilled with the way he has handled the economy since entering the White House.
If you like the documentary, you can purchase it here for $19.95.
If you’ve been paying attention to President Barack Obama and his allies in Congress over the last few years, then you know the appreciation for free speech is, well, non-existent. This problem isn’t limited to the Obama Administration or Democrats; after all, a Republican Congress and Republican president brought us one of the worst pieces of legislation in the last decade with the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act. However, the Obama Administration does bring us examples of contempt for free speech.
The exercise of free political speech is one of our bedrock principles in this country. Our Founding Fathers fought against the tyranny of King George III, who frequently sought to take the liberties of colonists and burden them with oppressive taxes. The Founding Fathers, using their natural right to free speech, fought back, condemning King George. With the Bill of Rights, they sought to recognize certain fundamental, natural rights to ensure that the federal government knew its bounds; among them was right to free speech.
The very clear wording of the First Amendment — “Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press” — hasn’t always prevented the federal government from passing laws to silence critics. Not long after the Constitution and Bill of Rights were ratified, President John Adams signed the Alien and Sedition Acts into law, which made it a criminal offense to criticize his policies.