Saturday, February 27, 2010

Corporations = People?

The Supreme Court, in Citizens United vs. the Federal Election Commission, recently ruled that corporations have the same rights as humans when it comes to financing election campaigns. This one ruling overturned dozens of laws, federal and state, going back to 1907. In an astounding act of judicial activism, the Supremes new conservative majority showed us that they will interpret the Constitution as they see fit to placate their corporate masters. Since the Constitution was written to secure HUMAN rights against tyranny, it is unlikely the founders conceived of a situation where corporations would have equal (in many ways, superior) rights to humans. In fact, the word corporation never appears in the constitution, or certainly the Declaration of Independence.
Justice Scalia:
“Most of the Founders’ resentment towards corporations was directed at the state-granted monopoly privileges that individually chartered corporations enjoyed. Modern corporations do not have such privileges, and would probably have been favored by most of our enterprising Founders—excluding, perhaps, Thomas Jefferson and others favoring perpetuation of an agrarian society.”
Wow. Talk about a stretch! The founders were wary of any concentrations of power – hence the system of checks and balances. I don’t think they would approve of today’s multinational mega-corporations with no allegiance to country, any country.
I downloaded the entire ruling, so perhaps I’ll write more about this. I think this is a ruling we will live to regret as huge corporations (including foreign corporations, which Congress will now have to re-address), with more resources than many countries, begin to get more involved in our election process.

1 comment:

Perplexio said...

Honestly, as being a strong advocate of the first amendment I legally agree with and understand this decision. Viewing the first amendment very strictly this decision is completely Constitutional.

That being said I'm also very very wary of the reprecussions from this. I'm hoping that legislation is passed to enforce greater transparency of corporate giving to political campaigns. Although I do forseee possible legal challenges there as corporations might then claim that they should be afforded the same rights to privacy as individual citizens.

I mean it would make my voting decisions considerably easier if political ads included messages like: "I'm George W. Bush and I approve this message... this message was paid for by Exxon/Mobil." Or "I'm John Edwards and I approve this message... this message was paid for by the law offices of Dewey, Cheatham, and Howe"

I'm much much more wary of the Imminent Domain decision from a few years ago. The implications of that I believe are considerably worse for the American people.