Constitutional amendment petition: run government for people, not monied interests

Discuss

105 Responses to “Constitutional amendment petition: run government for people, not monied interests”

  1. TEKNA2007 says:

    Finally, some push-back against the flawed notion that “a corporation is a person”. Sign me up!

  2. Snig says:

    American Health Care Policy:
    Brought to you by the people who invented pre-existing conditions and denial of care excuses while paying CEO’s the cost of a nice single family house each week.

    American Foreign Policy:
    Brought to you by Halliburton and Blackwater, who changed their name back because they can now afford to buy all the congressman they need to get approved, and don’t get a fuck what the voters think.

    American FDA:
    Brought to you by slaughterhouses who aren’t to fussy about shit in the meat.

    American Occupational Health and Safety, Consumer protection commision:
    Dismantled for the protection of corporations.

  3. Razzabeth says:

    I, for one, welcome our wealthy overlords.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Two more overly obvious points to add to the excellent arguments of earlier posts, on why this ruling is stunningly bad:
    (1) Corporations are made up of people. Do you poll every shareholder and employee on their political opinions to decide how the money should be spent? Of course not. The CEO or board would get to decide the politics of every single person that makes up and owns that company. For this to make any sense at all, at a minimum you would have to have 100% consensus across employees and shareholders, or proportional dollars by proportional vote within the company. Then, if the corporation did something illegal, you’d have to arrest every single employee and shareholder too.
    (2) A corporation does not exercise citizenship as defined by an interest in decision making for the common good. A corporation, by DEFINITION, has to always maximize gains in a zero-sum world. That’s not a citizen.

    You let them control politics, and all consumer protections, corporate transparency laws, and human rights protections start going out the door(for example, for communities next to mining company operations).
    Corporations will act in their own logic against protections to citizens that stand in their way. So the people with the least money or voice, will see LESS protection of their rights. What is the point of the justice department if not to protect people’s equal rights under the law?

  5. Stay_Sane_Inside_Insanity says:

    I agree with the end corporate personage part, but is it just me or did that last bullet point come out of nowhere? The only explanation I can come up with is that this Supreme Court decision was so earth-shattering that it literally split open Patrick Henry’s grave, and he’s now leading his Anti-Federalist Zombie Cavalry into the middle of this debate.

    • sleze says:

      “* Protect local communities, their economies, and democracies against illegitimate “preemption” actions by global, national, and state governments.”

      Yeah, someone please explain how this bullet has ANYTHING to do with campaign finance reform/corporation status as a person. It sounds like it wants local laws to trump state and federal laws. I don’t agree with that.

      Because laws are all inclusive, I won’t be signing any petition until that get cleared up.

  6. pixleshifter says:

    if you don’t amend, you’ll end up one day with a corporation as president.

  7. Anonymous says:

    “Corporations are associations of share holders, and as such have a right to have a say in politics”.

    Shareholders already have their say in politics as individual citizens. The Corporation = citizen ruling asserts that each shareholder is also entitled to purchase additional voting leverage not afforded the common man. In a Democratic Republic, all citizens are provided one vote; but in our current abasement of Democracy all corporate shareholders may legally purchase additional leverage and votes. Exactly how many votes may a shareholder have in this “American Democracy”? No more than his wallet will permit. Sounds like what our founders wanted. Not.

  8. NeonCat says:

    The Supreme Court got it right.

    This amendment is sour grapes. You want freedom of speech as long as it is speech you agree with.

    It will never pass.

  9. NeonCat says:

    And to be frank I wish Boing Boing was a politics free zone. Politics is the very opposite of a wonderful thing.

  10. MichaeltheG says:

    @Stay_Sane (Totally stole my Patrick Henry thunder though “Anti-Federalist Zombie Cavalry” is goddamn genius)

    Yeah, I was ready to add my name to the list (not that is necessarily does anything) but I couldn’t quite rationalize that last bullet point either, After spending the better part of 10 minutes trying to find more details about the actual “motion” instead of just the same vague bullet points, I had to pull back and call shenanigans. Liberty Tree has been in bed with some pretty out there groups and I am not quite ready to throw my lot in with theirs and take a bunk at the compound.

  11. SKR says:

    Finally the SCOTUS decides to give some liberties back. To those of you predicting doom because of all the money in politics I ask, “did the laws that have been invalidated actually reduce the amount of money that corporations were spending on government lobbying?” The answer to that is a resounding no. If the laws didn’t work anyway, what is the harm to getting rid of them? At least now the bribery will be obvious and reported. Anyone that thinks you can get the money out of Washington is an idiot. The only way to stop corporations from trying to bribe politicians is by limiting the power of those politicians to the point where it isn’t economically advantageous to bribe them. As long as the government hands out favors to a select few, the many will compete for those favors by spending money.

  12. MichaeltheG says:

    If I come up with a good idea for something, start a corporation with others who voluntarily want to help, and see that there is pending legislation to hurt my business, then why in the hell shouldn’t we spend money to defend our interests?

    And if I’m a wealthy Middle Eastern head of state or a billionaire Russian mafioso, why shouldn’t I spend my money to get US politicians to defend my business interests?

    Uhmmm…. Well as to the first gent, you can spend money as an individual to support your business interests. No one has suggested that you can’t. You either don’t understand the difference between what the court ruled on and previous campaign contribution laws, OR you are purposely conflating the two in a “Paper Tiger” argument. This is BB Sonny Jim, we are word-obsessed tech nerds, some of us with legal credentials. Try harder.

    @ Antinous the Moderator. Do you think that those sorts of individuals don’t ALREADY throw an awful lot of money at our elected officials right now? I am not trying to be Captain Conspiracy or anything, but I would posit that every Multinational Petrochem company is already beholden to foreign interests. Be they Saudi Aramco oil sheiks or Gazprom Oligarch’s in Putin’s pocket.

    Basically, SCOTUS just removed all the roadblocks that required those corporate actors to at least be creative when they subverted the wants and needs of the many to serve their own ends.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Simple, concise, and “doable”…

    AN AMENDMENT TO THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION
    to restore the primacy of democracy and the rights of citizenship:

    SECTION 1. The rights, responsibilities, and privileges granted to citizens of the United States as enumerated in this Constitution, its amendments, and extended through case law, are exclusively reserved for human beings.

    SECTION 2. All non-living entities in the United States and its territories shall be subordinate to any and all laws enacted by the people and their elected governments.

    SECTION 3. The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

    Let’s change America for the better.

    - Jay Dub

    • SKR says:

      @Anon#99

      rights are protected by government not granted. the constitution grants powers (and few at that) to the government but the rights were considered to be natural or a priori rights by the founders.

  14. Antinous / Moderator says:

    Do you think that those sorts of individuals don’t ALREADY throw an awful lot of money at our elected officials right now?

    Winston Churchill: Madam, would you sleep with me for five million pounds?
    Socialite: My goodness, Mr. Churchill… Well, I suppose… we would have to discuss terms, of course…
    Winston Churchill: Would you sleep with me for five pounds?
    Socialite: Mr. Churchill, what kind of woman do you think I am?!
    Winston Churchill: Madam, we’ve already established that. Now we are haggling about the price.

  15. Jewels Vern says:

    You don’t need to amend the constitution. You need to remove uppity judges from the bench.

  16. Anonymous says:

    I also will be supporting the ammendment, but it needs filling out and detailing, to define exactly what the limitations will be and why item 3 fits in. I suspect that what they are getting at is to prevent organizations such as the WTO from making laws for the US without our specific approval.

    I suggest that the authors take a first cut a developing a more Legalistic amendment with Where-as’s describing the wrongs that we are trying to counter and the exact restrictions we want to add to the Constitution. Let’s also see if they could attach a WIKI page for others to augment the amendment to see if the crowd could develop a better amendment.

    p.s. The link does not work for my browser, on the other hand the link: http://www.boingboing.net/2010/01/21/lessig-on-giving-cor.html does.

  17. querent says:

    Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power.

    –Benito Mussolini

    my answer, as always, is economic decentralization. watch where ever dollar goes. ever dollar you spend is a political act.

  18. Anonymous says:

    There are some simple actions that could dramatically cut down on corporations spending money. For instance:

    -You can only donate or spend money towards/against an election of someone if you are in the area they represent.

    This means your home address or corporate headquarters have to be in that district. Impact: Offshore companies? Can’t spent zip. The rest are restricted to 1 state for senate or governor, 1 district for representatives. Same goes for people, so no wealthy organizations piling in to some small area. Of course, spending for presidential elections are open to all domestic residents.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Bullet points one and two I’m more than happy with. I do think it’s important to realize that nowhere in The Constitution does it suggest that SCOTUS should be the final interpreter of constitutional issues. “The People” will need to bring about campaign finance reform.
    Bullet three, though, as others have stated, is problematic at best. Can you imagine applying this to Birmingham in 1964?

  20. wobblesthegoose says:

    “And if I’m a wealthy Middle Eastern head of state or a billionaire Russian mafioso, why shouldn’t I spend my money to get US politicians to defend my business interests?”

    Presumably because you still can’t buy votes for politicians.

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      Presumably because you still can’t buy votes for politicians.

      I can just buy a controlling interest in a US corporation and then use that to buy US politicians from my undersea volcano cave lair.

  21. glaborous immolate says:

    Clicking some of the prolix “learn more” articles on the site, indicates that that “third bullet point” about local laws means they want to reverse the Court’s tendency to stop localities or states from regulating or prohibiting ‘interstate’ commerce.

    Ages ago, oleomargarine was made from slaughterhouse scraps. States banned it, and tried to regulate it (discouraging people from buying it: protecting their dairy industries run by all independent yeoman farmers with strong morals no doubt!) by insisting it be colored pink or made smelly.

    The court decided to step in and remind everyone that states had no right to ‘regulate’ interstate commercial articles in that way.

    Same reason new england states were prohibited more recently from requiring labels that say “this has BGH” in it, if the corporation (which has free speech rights) didn’t want to.

  22. Anonymous says:

    We have always had large corporations which could give as much support to any issue as they want without any interferience. The media can either support of work against any issue they deam worthy. CNN-ABC-CBS-NBC-Fox … all have never been limited on their campaign contributions under the guise of campaign coverage.

  23. technogeek says:

    Corporations are trading on the fact that they are granted “personhood” under the law.

    So: Set a “reasonable” limit on donations per person. $100k, for example, would not limit most individuals … but would limit how much damage any one person could do, corporate or … uhm … discorporate.

    I’m not attached to that particular number; I just want to keep them from outspending real humans by an unreasonable amount.

  24. Wardish says:

    Since Corp’s are now people, I can assume they can vote and even be electors.

    I should go out and register 30 or 50 million corporations and elect myself for whatever I wish.

    And if you think that would cost to much. I suggest a review of what a Billion dollars is.

    • Fred Ochsenhirt says:

      Corporations aren’t “now” people. 1 USC 1 has defined persons as including “corporations, companies, associations, firms, partnerships, societies, and joint stock companies” since 1947. This personhood works both ways – Title 29 empowers the NLRB to to prevent “any person” from engaging in any unfair labor practice, for example.

  25. OoOoOo says:

    MoyerS

  26. Bevatron Repairman says:

    I don’t understand the bugbear of corporate personhood: at its most basic, it lets people associate in ways that are not at the whim of the state. Remove personhood, and corporations (or non-profits, or universities, or whatever) and their rights become completely subject to the whim of the state. If you think rent-seeking is bad when the government can dole out this much money, just wait until corporations depend on political patronage not to be put out of business.

    Still the anti-corporate personhood movement, it is a small meme, but there are those who love it.

    In any event, I cruised on over to the linked site and, kel surprise!, all the corporations they put in their header are the most cliched right-wing companies one can possibly muster. So, I’m a little skeptical of their motives to keep organizational money out of politics — just the ones they don’t agree with.

  27. Rindan says:

    Money is speech. If you made a law declaring that no one my spend money on any political movement, opinion, or organization, you might as well just void the first amendment right there. Freedom of speech is supposed has two parts. The first is the protection from being imprisoned for what you say, essentially making thought crimes illegal. That is nice, but it is just as important as the second piece, that being the ability to project your speech to convince others. Until we live in a Star Trek utopia, this will take money. A freedom for the government to ban the use of money in pursuing speech amounts to banning the projection of speech. I am pretty dead set against giving the government to declare that I can’t use or collect money to influence public opinion.

    Frankly, I doubt the “good” things in this need a constitutional amendment.

    -I am willing to bet that you can declare corporations non-persons simply through legislation.

    -There are not many persons who do not have the right to vote who are over the age of 18. The few people who have had their rights stripped (criminals mostly) can have their rights given back through simple federal legislation.

    -I really doubt that point 3 is what the authors of this think it is. Are you really okay with local law trumping federal law? Readjusting the balance between the various levels of argument would require one very hardcore amendment on its own. Hell, just read the constitution. Local law is supposed to trump federal law already in all but a few rare instances. The Supreme Court has slowly rolled back what is pretty clearly spelled out in the constitution on the balance between local and federal. You can try for a round 2, but you would really need some tight ironclad language and I really doubt you are going to get much support, especially from liberal groups.

    I personally think that this petition is pretty silly and ill conceived.

    • Anonymous says:

      In that case our government ought to finance broadcasts for poor people. There’s no sense in having a constitutional freedom only some people can exercise.

      Unless having the opportunity for speech is good enough, in which case money isn’t speech, just a means for it.

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      Money is speech.

      So is violence. If you’re going to endorse a broad interpretation of the intent of the Founding Fathers, why stop at bribery?

  28. Anonymous says:

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

  29. AirPillo says:

    Shareholders are the owners of corporations, and shareholders each have a single vote as citizens (those that are citizens.)

    The sum representation of a corporation in America is equal to the portion of its capital that is owned by americans. That is honestly a very fair system already.

    What corporations wanted in this ruling is not fair representation, but rather an advantage, which is what businesses crave. Advantage over competition.

    In this case, the competition is popular opinion. Corporations want to compete against governance in a 1-person, 1-vote system and are essentially attempting to make their shareholders have more clout than people who do not hold shares.

    To not recognize that this philosophy is at odds with egalitarian democracy is a serious crime against your own best interests. You may attempt to see how you yourself could benefit from this if you are a businessperson, but remember that there will always be another, larger company who does not have your best interests in mind and who will gain even more from this than you do. They will not take mercy upon you the way a functional democratic government can be made to.

  30. not_kevitivity says:

    The Supreme Court is correct – this is a free speech issue.
    Corporations are associations of share holders, and as such have a right to have a say in politics, defend their ability to make a profit, etc. Zinn, Moyer, and the rest of them will have to come to term with this. McCain was wrong.

    I believe unions will be able to spend more now too, not just “evil” corporations.

    • Enormo says:

      @ not_kevitivity #20
      The Supreme Court is correct – this is a free speech issue.
      Corporations are associations of share holders, and as such have a right to have a say in politics, defend their ability to make a profit, etc. Zinn, Moyer, and the rest of them will have to come to term with this. McCain was wrong.

      So the primary mode of freedom in our democracy is profit? And those who secure the most profit have the right to disproportionatly affect the other freedoms enjoyed by citizens? So, essentially, the currency of democracy is, well, $currency$, and citizens are shareholders who’s individual freedoms are relative to their bank accounts. Excelent.

      I hope you get crushed by a palette of gold ingots. You’ll be the riches and most powerful quadriplegic I know! FREEDOM WILL BE YOURS!!!!

  31. JoshP says:

    It has literally taken me two porkchop sandwiches, one cigar and dog walkies to digest the convoluted legal document that is a supreme court ‘syllabus.’ Warning, there will be an obscure reference to Watership Down ahead.
    The petition is urine aimed upwind. This mess started as a bipartisan wank measuring contest about media airtime concerning a ‘pejorative’ Hillary Clinton documentary back during the election.
    Their ruling does *not* give a corporation some kind of mythic human quality. In fact, from what I have read, it simply removes the fantasy of the political action committee. In *second* fact, it may, if used by proper legislators allow for more transparency in donation (read:bribery) methods for our cash loving statesmutants.
    Now ‘tharn’ is a problem. It is the physical state of frozen panic that happens when a fear response is stimulated. When people start yelling about corporate citizenship, our robot overlords etc *seriously* all you are doing is creating tharn in the susceptible. You seem to be really hurting your own cases.
    Now if I’m wrong about this and our Supreme Court our owned by the oil companies or something, well, sorry. But that’s my interpretation of the data.
    Now if we wan’t to solve the problems of modern plutocracy…

  32. Wardish says:

    Corporations being a non-person would not disenfranchise the speech of their stockholders. Each and every one (minus a few criminals or non citizens) has the right to contact their representatives. They even have the right to contact anyone’s representative.

    So I suggest, if the corporate consensus is a particular Bill, or set of legislation then they can so inform their shareholders to Use those Rights to contact the legislators about such interests.

    Once up on a time you needed vast funds to contact large numbers of people. That is no longer true the internet allows almost anyone to say their piece, or even put up a web site that supports whomever or whatever floats their boat.

    But having an entity (corps) that has the rights of a citizen but don’t have the responsibilities nor the repercussions for it’s actions that real people do. Ask a few folks in jail if they would prefer to pay a fine to deter thier bad behaviour.

  33. Anonymous says:

    This petition is not the answer. Something has to be done with corporate rights, which must exist to allow corporations, which serve almost all of us( Red Cross, Stanford, MIT, NASA, CISCO), to exist.

    However allowing corporations to give donations to candidates allows the people that control the corporations to hide behind the corporation for acts which may be bad and form the government in such a way that it would be hard to know who supported any particular candidate financially.

    I am a union member and feel that unions real power is in getting its members to vote and volunteer in campaigns not in contributions so the union corporations loosing the power to contribute would be ok as long as all other corporations were excluded.

    Perhaps a special corporation for political activities where only citizens registered to vote could make direct contributions with some limits (20x the average annual income(ebay ceo just gave herself $20,000,000 (<400xGNI) for California governor race)). If you can’t get your idea out with 20 annual incomes you aren’t trying or it isn’t being recognized as important.

    Also you have to stop the practice of allowing politicians to keep their excess campaign contributions. That will be really important if this ruling is allowed to stand. Donating $1,000,000 to each congressperson and senator $535,000,000. Not much when you might be able to get what ever you want if you could come up with that kind of money.

  34. Anonymous says:

    The Supreme Court could easily have separated this from “Free Speech” if they wanted to – “you can’t yell ‘Fire’ in a crowded theater.” Speech that is part of an assault, of fraud, of suborning perjury, or of bribery is not protected speech. All they had to do was note that the results of these behaviors are indistinguishable from bribery.

  35. GeorgeStanton says:

    Why should people who choose to organize themselves as a corporation have less freedom to speak than other types of organizations. Unions have had this power for ages, what makes them different. Because they’re composed of “workers” rather than “stockholders”. That’s absurd.

    Corporations in the form of media outlets already spend a great deal of money speaking politically, this just levels the playing field. I would think that BB would approve given the wide range of speech issues normally advocated on this site.

    I think the disagreement with this decision is misplaced. Rather than blame corporations and other groups who, like all people, are self interested, we should blame the government who has created such enormous opportunities for rent seeking. Right now the government has the power to destroy any industry it wishes to target. By removing this power for government we would take much money out of politics and corporations could afford to be disinterested.

    • M says:

      @21 and others — The shareholders already have the right to vote. No one will be stripping them of any representation, nor taxing corporations without representation. Why should they be permitted to leverage their position simply because they have more money?

      • GeorgeStanton says:

        @29 Union workers already have the right to vote. No one will be stripping them of any representation, nor taxing them without representation. Why should they be permitted to leverage their position simply because they have more money?

        The SEIU union has been a vocal advocate for Obama’s healthcare plan. If this organization of people can support a political position by leveraging money from union dues why can’t an organization of stockholder’s use their money to also support a political position. In fact there is even more justice in this than for unions since stockholders hold stock voluntarily, whereas union dues are often collected coercively through “union shop” contracts.

        I don’t think the unions, or any organization of people – including corporations, should be denied the ability to speak politically.

        If you’re concerned about conflicts of interest, then advocate laws to promote transparency, not to suppress speech.

    • crashgrab says:

      “Why should people who choose to organize themselves as a corporation have less freedom to speak than other types of organizations. Unions have had this power for ages, what makes them different. Because they’re composed of “workers” rather than “stockholders”. That’s absurd.”

      The answer may be then don’t allow unions to do this either and let each individual have the same equal power to vote with his or her dollar. Let people still create PACs.

      “Right now the government has the power to destroy any industry it wishes to target. By removing this power for government we would take much money out of politics and corporations could afford to be disinterested.”

      How so? I don’t understand how allowing giant corporations even more power to buy government officials than they already have will take money out of campaigns. If anything, this will increase the amount it will take to campaign and any average citizen without ties to giant corporations and no personal uber-wealth will have no chance of winning an election.

      • calvert4096 says:

        ‘ “Right now the government has the power to destroy any industry it wishes to target. By removing this power for government we would take much money out of politics and corporations could afford to be disinterested.”
        How so? I don’t understand how allowing giant corporations even more power to buy government officials than they already have will take money out of campaigns. If anything, this will increase the amount it will take to campaign and any average citizen without ties to giant corporations and no personal uber-wealth will have no chance of winning an election.’

        The core problem here, as some have stated in one way or another, is that prior-organized groups of people– be they special interest organizaitons, media outlets, other publicly traded corporations, unions, etc.– will always be able to displace the interests of the subset of the electorate that have not organized around a given issue. Modern networking helped by enabling the sort of “microdonations” that got Obama elected and allowing the disorganized to spontaneously organize in a limited way. Essentially giving said special interests the ability to rent representatives COULD theoretically be equitable, but only if every single member of the public had both enough information and analytical ability to “vote with their wallets” effectively, putting entities whose interests conflict with the common good out of business. Even in that *highly* ideal case, the electorate is still one degree removed of actually choosing who gets elected. I’ve become something of a fatalist regarding the prediction that international corporations will supplant national governments as the macro-scale power brokers in our civilization. Earth’s implied politics in “Avatar” had a simplistic presentation, but I believe it is basically accurate.

  36. Neon Tooth says:

    Do you think that those sorts of individuals don’t ALREADY throw an awful lot of money at our elected officials right now?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Appeal_to_tradition

  37. IronEdithKidd says:

    Perhaps the solution is to further define personhood to include liability and responsibility for criminal actions. The definition will have to provide a means to identify what humans within the corporate organization would be held responsible.

    Wouldn’t corporations behave in a more ethical fashion if the CEO or board chairman could be charged for murder if someone dies from a known product flaw?

    Snig, you’re right, the FDA doesn’t care if there’s fecal mater in your steak. The USDA, however, cares quite a bit.

    • Wardish says:

      When a citizen is sent to jail or prison it effectively removes them from the general economy, having a prison record makes it very difficult to economically recover.

      Perhaps when a corporation is judged to have committed a crime then it should suffer a similar fate, the previously mentioned CEO or chairman of the board could be held responsible as accessories, or perhaps the corp would be the accessory.

      • Ugly Canuck says:

        Meh. Upon a determination of guilt, either fine the corp or give it the death penalty.
        In other words, revoke its Charter. I should think that there are less arguments to be made here, than in the case of an actual human death penalty case!

        As to whether or no the shareholders ought to get punished beyond what they’ve paid for (lost on) the shares, that’s a question for the facts to answer (eg were they in on, or did they profit from, the crime?).

        Even if “innocent”, shareholders ought to lose something: for failing to exercise their rights & duties as shareholders to keep an eye on what their cap is doing in the world.

      • IronEdithKidd says:

        Unless you can devise a way to put an fictional entity in jail, humans will have to be held to account in criminal matters.

        I could definately get behind legislation that would make it very difficult for a criminally liable corporation to remain economically viable.

        • hymie says:

          When corporations (as opposed to individuals working for the corporation) are found criminally liable, they are generally punished through fines. This directly impacts all shareholders in proportion to the number of shares they own. So the humans whose association forms the corporation are in fact being held to account.

  38. boomer0127 says:

    Here is a problem – do corporations pay taxes? Yes they do. Wasn’t there a revolution about taxation without representation? I think the answer to blocking corporate donations to elected officials is to stop corporate taxation. Now before you freak out, ask yourself “Who pays corporate taxes?” – the answer is “You do”, in higher prices for goods and services. So YOU are paying corporations to enable them to give money to people you may not approve of.

    End corporate taxes – end the corporate stranglehold on Washington.

  39. zio_donnie says:

    “End corporate taxes – end the corporate stranglehold on Washington.”

    and the reason for a State to allow corporations to exist would be?

    corporate taxes are what a company has to pay in order to operate in a system that is there to provide for the people as a whole and not just to promote indiscriminate money making.

    unless you want an anarchic state where there is no goverment at all or something like China where corporations are the goverment.

    • blueelm says:

      “unless you want an anarchic state where there is no goverment at all or something like China where corporations are the goverment”

      Ding ding ding! We have a winner.

  40. Ugly Canuck says:

    I note that the Court was “bitterly divided”: and that GW Bush’s picked men were the key (5-4).

    Some informed comment from Senator Feingold of Wisconsin:

    http://www.counterpunch.org/

  41. Ugly Canuck says:

    Wow, some even more informed comment:

    http://www.counterpunch.org/garcia01222010.html

    Sorry for the multi-links: but these fellows say it better than I do.

  42. T0AD says:

    Does anyone thing that campaign finance law ever prevented a corporation from giving loads of money to politicians. Before money was given in more secret ways. At least now the money won’t be hidden away from the public’s eyes. You will know that certain politicians are tools.

    • Ugly Canuck says:

      Why do they have to report this spending to anybody?
      How so “not hidden from the public eye”?
      What does this decision do to require any such publication of private business?

      • T0AD says:

        it’s not the company that has to disclose the spending, its the campaign that benefits. Campaigns that buy ads are forced to disclose all donations.

  43. Ugly Canuck says:

    People form corporations to avoid legal liability.

    That is : to avoid personal responsibility for what the corporation does.

    This USSC decision is irresponsible as well.
    This is why ‘conservatives” needed to stack the Courts over the past thirty years.

    You guys are soooo screwed up.

  44. Ugly Canuck says:

    This would not be so bad either: if only corporations themselves were prosecuted for crimes like natural persons are, and their directorsmanagers and employees charged with being accessories….

    But US Gov policy is NEVER to charge the Corp. itself
    Only natural persons.

    Kinda “half-way through a step”: considering they apparently have Court-granted full personhood in every other aspect of their existence: the right to freedom of expression? Fifth amendment cover corporations too? or just the people working for the Corp?

    Why not charge them with crimes too?

  45. Toast says:

    It’s utterly unworkable. What’s to stop companies from setting up 3rd-party organizations that advocate on their behalf? Or if they donate to existing organizations. Say for example, Apple, Inc. donated 10 million dollars to Moveon.org, would it be wrong to use that money?

    I don’t like anything that restricts the 1st amendment.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yell fire in a crowded theater. There are abundant restrictions on free speech where such speech imperils the rights or safety of individual citizens. The ruling is deeply flawed and five justices should be retiring or quickly impeached for placing the good of their political affiliations above their responsibilities for which they took solemn oaths to uphold the Constitution.

  46. Frank W says:

    American democracy is now officially b0rked. Oh, well, it was fun while it lasted.
    You have the rest of your life to learn how royally fucked you are. You’ll remember this day when you’ve all forgotten about Haiti.

  47. hymie says:

    This “amendment” is moronic. Corporations are associations of human beings. Restricting the speech of corporations is restricting the speech of the human beings who are its shareholders and directors. Everyone already has the right to participate, vote, and have their vote count, except for felons (and that’s a matter of state statutes) and the very young. Preventing preemption of local law by broader entities means this amendment vitiates itself.

    And you can just imagine the exciting court cases which would emerge from trying to interpret this poorly worded piece of drivel.

    In 1990′s Austin case the Appeals Court had decided that the law limiting independent corporate contribution was unconstitutional, but was overruled by the Supreme Court, with Scalia and Kennedy (and O’Connor) dissenting. So it’s not as if this Supreme Court is unique in deciding that such laws are unconstitutional, nor is it overturning a hundred-year precedent, as some are claiming.

    • Anonymous says:

      Corporations are associations of human beings. Restricting the speech of corporations is restricting the speech of the human beings who are its shareholders and directors.

      This is a logical fallacy. The group is not the same thing as its members. The group members have constitutionally guaranteed rights. The group most emphatically does not. Restricting the rights of the group does not restrict the rights of its members.

  48. just-a-man says:

    Damn. I lost my original comment because this site is so screwy. I just want to say that we are the people. never forget that. “We the People…” What’s so hard about that? Corporations are artificial constructs that were created to shield people from responsibility. I welcome anyone to debate me on that point. The people will eventually rise again. We may be in for a century of bullshit because of five men who have been appointed to create reality… but the real reality will catch up at some point. The Supreme Court has said, “Let them eat cake.” I say, you, five justices of the Supreme Court, don’t understand the revolution or the constitution. People – I mean you – have to do something. You can no longer remain silent. You can no longer tolerate the this tyranny. The Court has risen above all other branches of government to tell us how it is and how it will be. Let’s tell them how it is. Let’s continue to be the change that we want to see in the world. Turn off your television and wake up, America.

  49. Ugly Canuck says:

    Why personally contribute dime one to a politician when I could set up a off-the-shelf corp and spend lavishly via that to support my candidate?
    This gives an advantage to using the corp form: everyone should form and own a personal corp to spend politically through.
    So as too evade any limits at all upon what I may wish to spend….ooops I mean say.

    Better: mandate lots (I mean to excess!) of FREE political time to ALL candidates on ALL FCC regulated media.

    Then…what politician would need all the $$$$? Why?
    After all, all the political spending now goes primarily to your media korps anyway, right?

  50. AirPillo says:

    Where can I put pen to paper to sign this? I’d love to have my support for it in writing.

  51. Ugly Canuck says:

    Some people are so moronic as to see no distinction between the corporation and its shareholders, or directors, or managers, or customers.

  52. Shlepzig says:

    We all know how this plays out.
    When you play Monopoly, somebody always ends up with all the money and all the property, and nobody else has anything. That’s how you know the game is over.

    Unless the government prevents this from happening through regulation and control, one corporation will eventually “win”.

    -Shlep’

  53. Ugly Canuck says:

    And corporations are purely creatures of statute law: their enabling legislation may be amended to remove these court-created “rights”.
    So if they cannot get their collective ass in gear, the politicians and their toadies won’t be whining about this….or even talking about it much.
    Because they do have the power to change it if they really wanted to: they do in fact and law have the tools. They just don’t wanna use them.
    I wonder why….

  54. TheMadLibrarian says:

    The first amendment should NOT be equivalent to “the best free speech/vote my money can buy.”

  55. Anonymous says:

    Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power. – Benito Mussolini

  56. davidasposted says:

    If you’re seriously going to propose a constitutional amendment (knowing how difficult the process is), why not go to the heart of the problem? The funding of campaigns has devolved into legalized bribery. So craft a constitutional amendment that makes future elections entirely publicly funded. No donations from ‘persons’ whether they be real or imaginary. When a candidate gets enough signatures on a petition for candidacy to be legally included on the ballot, then give them the requisite funds and restrict spending to only those funds. No self-financed billionaires, no worrying about how you need to please that corporate donor so they’ll finance your next campaign.

    You might throw in there that candidates can’t campaign until 6 months before the election. Maybe toss in term limits in the House of Lor… I mean, the Senate. Or did I mean the Supreme Court?

    Anyway, no need to pussyfoot around the system. Just ban private contributions entirely. Money should not equal speech, no matter what the Dread Scalia says.

    • hymie says:

      Preventing self-financed billionaires from using their money to campaign is an unconstitutional restriction of their right to free speech. Everyone has the right to use the resources at their disposal to further their political aims.

      It is manifestly untrue that spending large sums of money, your own or otherwise, guarantees being elected. Perot, Corzine, Forbes, Lamont, and others all demonstrate this. Corzine is particularly telling, since he both won and lost such races.

      • chenille says:

        Everyone has the right to use the resources at their disposal to further their political aims.

        I can sympathize with the billionaires here. Voting is also a type of speech, so should be protected. And yet those miscreants at the voting booth wouldn’t let me in more than once, thereby restricting how much say I was allowed. Maybe the judges can tackle that next.

      • davidasposted says:

        … and I’m suggesting a constitutional amendment that would prevent billionaires from doing so; not a law, but a constitutional amendment, which by definition would nullify your objection. You don’t have to like it. You don’t even have to worry about it… I can’t imagine Congress passing any kind of serious campaign reform measures. I am saying we should remove money as a consideration in running for office because it’s become prohibitively expensive for folks who are not independently wealthy or sponsored by a corporation to do so. That, I think, is a problem. Clearly you don’t.

  57. demidan says:

    Amend!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Having spent most of yesterday alternately weeping and raging over this most stupendous of SCOTUS Fails I say amend the Constitution, or Fight!

    WHY?

    Because my younger brother came back from Iraq a little stranger than he used to be. He listens to and believes Alex Jones’s conspiracy foofaw lock stock and barrel. Now this? I don’t want to have to talk to him and admit he was right all along, Jebus no! Amend or they (lobbyists,Faux News, etc,,,), better be ready to defend themselves.

  58. Lysy404 says:

    So on NPR first I heard this Supreme Court rulling, than story about bondsmen in FL that paid $$$ to get their own Lobbyist. Lobbyist in turn paid small (couple of $K) towards election fund for county officials to have them reverse law that saved county (and taxpayers) millions of dollars! The same officials earlier came up with this law only to make 180deg turnaround!!
    We are screwed…
    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=122725849&ft=1&f=1003

  59. Geak says:

    So if corporations are just one step closer to ‘person hood’, how far are we away from a Corporation running for presidential office?

    I suppose there might be something wrong with me because the first thing I thought of was the first true AI skipping the whole Turing Test thing and just incorporating itself, declaring it’s hardware (body) property of the corporation and running for office.

  60. zyodei says:

    Certainly, one of the fundamental flaws is the absurd notion of “corporate personhood.” If you told that to the average person on the streets, they would laugh at you. And yet that’s how it’s been for I think 130 years.

    Corporations certainly make major contributions to society, but the organizational unit of “corporation” is one designed to give all sorts of artificial rights to an entity that exists only on paper. It is a concept designed to protect the individuals in a corporation, who are real, physical people, from the consequences of their actions.

    When was the last time you heard of a person in a corporation facing any sort of punishment for a non-financial crime done by the corporation? I mean, has it EVER happened? A corporation is a blank check to commit crimes.

    That being said, the premise of this amendment is fallacious, if well intention. Get money out of politics? How? It simply isn’t possible. Money is like water, over time it will always find a way in.

    I used to be a fan of “campaign finance reform” (and still support limiting this money over not), but it’s based on the idea that government is a group of idealistic people who would do good, if they were not tempted by this wraith called money. But too often, they aren’t, particularly after a couple of years in the cauldron. The power of the modern idea of “government” derives from violence and coercion, and people most strongly drawn to influence it or serve in it are people who are drawn to using violence and coercion to achieve their goals.

    As long as the possible gains to be had from corrupting the politician outweigh the potential risks from violating any type of “bribery” laws, money will always find a way in.

    Keeping money out of politics is really very similar to keeping drugs out of a country. You can try and try, and increase and increase the penalties, and it will still come in.

    The only solution is to remove the profit potential, either by legalizing drugs, or by removing the monopoly on violence and taxation from our modern idea of the nation-state.

  61. odds says:

    For a blog that prides itself on free speech, your post is backwards thinking. McCain Feingold was nothing more than an attempt to muzzle free speech. About this case, the ACLU said, “section 203 is facially unconstitutional under the First Amendment because it permits the suppression of core political speech”

    You just like free speech when it’s convenient to your interests.

    http://www.aclu.org/free-speech/citizens-united-v-federal-election-commission

  62. Frank W says:

    If corporations were persons, they’d all be in prison.

  63. glaborous immolate says:

    If

    1) corporations are stripped of their personhood, and their right to not be subject to laws that interfere with the “free exercise of religion”,

    and if

    2) churches are incorporated.

    Does that mean churches would loose their right to not be subject to laws that interfere with the “free exercize of religion”?

    How would a Church be defined in such a way to distinguish it from a corporation. How about a non-profit?

    If a church takes out a libelous ad, does every member of the church get sued individually from their own pockets, or the church as a corporate entity, with its own financial resources?

  64. Capissen says:

    I like this. I’ve heard a lot of vitriol spewed at the SCOTUS over this issue, but really they’re just holding up their end of the bargain- interpreting and enforcing the Constitution. Just so happens that the Constitution is a little leaky when it comes to these issues. An amendment is definitely in order.

  65. Osprey101 says:

    Hey, great- but is there a piece of paper I can sign anywhere? I don’t think anyone really cares about Internet petitions, do they?

  66. ill lich says:

    Obvious Prediction: if this amendment gets good publicity or makes any headway then there will be a coordinated effort on the part of big monied interests (disguised as conservative talking points) to kill it.

  67. Anonymous says:

    If I come up with a good idea for something, start a corporation with others who voluntarily want to help, and see that there is pending legislation to hurt my business, then why in the hell shouldn’t we spend money to defend our interests?

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      If I come up with a good idea for something, start a corporation with others who voluntarily want to help, and see that there is pending legislation to hurt my business, then why in the hell shouldn’t we spend money to defend our interests?

      And if I’m a wealthy Middle Eastern head of state or a billionaire Russian mafioso, why shouldn’t I spend my money to get US politicians to defend my business interests?

      • Anonymous says:

        If I am a wealthy Mexican who owns the New York Times why shouldn’t I be allowed to spend my money trying to push elections one way or another?

        If I am the Disney corporation who owns ABC, why shouldn’t I be allowed to spend my money trying to push elections one way or another?

        If I am GE …

        If I am Time-Warner …

        If I am Viacom …

        and on and on. All this ruling does is level the playing field of which large corporations are allowed to spend huge sums of money to tilt elections.

    • TEKNA2007 says:

      >If I come up with a good idea for something, start a corporation with others who voluntarily want to help, and see that there is pending legislation to hurt my business, then why in the hell shouldn’t we spend money to defend our interests?

      Because corporations don’t represent we the people; they represent owners and shareholders, a very small subset of the overall population. The net result of the Supreme Court ruling is that this small subset could get much more representation, while the rest of us — that is, every citizen of the nation, whether shareholder or not — get much less representation. One person, one vote goes even farther out the window than it already is.

    • ill lich says:

      If I come up with a good idea for something, start a corporation with others who voluntarily want to help, and see that there is pending legislation to hurt my business, then why in the hell shouldn’t we spend money to defend our interests?

      When there is pending legislation that could hurt your business, it’s usually not without cause; legislation to outlaw slavery hurt a LOT of businesses, but business interests are not the only interests we have as citizens or human beings. You have to ask yourself: are my business interests more important than the community as a whole? I’m sure a lot of corporations would love to freely pollute rivers, ignore workplace safety, adulterate their products, and do anything possible to cut costs and maximize profits, but all those things are at the expense of the general population.

      The real question here is: are some citizens “more equal” than others? IF a corporation is considered an individual, do they have more rights than the rest of us simply because they have more money? Apparently so– we all know enough money and lawyers can get the guiltiest of men aquitted, whereas poor innocent men go to death row. And so you or I (unless we are multimillionaires) can’t afford to plaster the airwaves backing legislation that would benefit us personally (think about that– if you had free reign to promote a law that gave you special rights. . . great for you, not for anybody else).

      What kind of America do you want to live in? “Corporate freedom” is all well and good, until that corporation steps on your individual rights. Even the most right-wing among us won’t defend business interests when they conflict with his own personal interests. As they say: “your rights end where mine begin.”

      • glaborous immolate says:

        “When there is pending legislation that could hurt your business, it’s usually not without cause; legislation to outlaw slavery hurt a LOT of businesses”

        I’d buy that in general, but the recent mess with Consumer Product safety leading to harm for small toy manufacturers and used children’s books points out that government is too willing to not consider what consequences might come from all of their actions.

    • Anonymous says:

      To the writer that says that as a company and corporations he/she should be able to spend (presumably unlimited money) to defend the interests of his/her business:

      That’s the current system and is a perversion of democracy, as businesses have huge sums of money compared to the financial resources of private citizens. You as a person and your fellow owners/stock brokers/executives should be able spend YOUR money to affect changes or laws for your business but again within the limits of those imposed on individuals.

      Democracy is based on the fact that each of us has an equal vote but, in a system where money is often more powerful than a vote, it’s anti-democratic to allow certain entities to wield more of this power than another.

    • Anonymous says:

      Why?
      Because we have chosen one and only one way to bestow political power on a group of people – by democratically electing our government.

      We as individuals are sovereign. The only groups that we recognize as sovereign are the governments we elect through a democratic process. We can form all the groups we want, but if we allow these groups to also be sovereign, we will be disassembling the foundations of democracy.

      Which means, if there is any political advantage your group gains as a group which is above and beyond the advantages granted to its members individually, then your group is acting outside of a democratically established form of allocating political power.

      You have every right to amass as large a group as you can muster to affect policy in any way you chose, as long as that group has no more rights (or powers) than those granted to the individuals it is comprised of.

    • Anonymous says:

      Companies can be owned by non-US interests. They don’t always have human interests either. Do you even know what democracy is? You can still support candidates as individuals, you know.

  68. Marchhare says:

    It is hard to overstate the deleterious effects that decision will have on American democracy.

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