Corporations are not people and money is not speech

By | February 2, 2010

Corporations are not people and money is not speechRegarding the recent really bad decision by the Supreme Court to allow corporations to bribe politicians as never before in our country’s history, I liked these comments on the WRH web site:

In Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned century-old restrictions on corporate spending in elections under the guise of protecting First Amendment free speech rights. …

Corporations, however, are inherently not the same as individuals and thus cannot have the same protections as individuals. There are a slew of laws that protect corporations and their interests in the arena for which they are by definition formed—namely the marketplace. The laws that govern corporations and the rights enjoyed by them are distinct from the laws and rights of individuals. A corporation, for example, can enter into contracts like an individual, but unlike an individual, a corporation’s members can be protected by limited liability so their personal assets are not at stake.

Webmaster’s Commentary:

If a corporation is a legal person, then under the 13th Amendment they may not be owned by, nor may they own, other persons (corporations).

If the 13th Amendment does not apply to a corporate person, then neither does the 1st.

A corporation is not engaging in free speech. Corporations are not sentient. At best they are immortal imbeciles unable to speak much less vote under the total control of their owners/guardians. The owner/guardians are normal human beings, and while they may spend as much of their own personal fortunes as they wish to exercise their right of free speech, spending the assets of the non-sentient creature in their charge may be misappropriation.

via WHAT REALLY HAPPENED | The History The US Government HOPES You Never Learn!.

9 thoughts on “Corporations are not people and money is not speech

  1. gavin

    First, I would like to ask everyone who is criticizing this opinion what, exactly, the court struck down.

    (Please jot it down on a piece of paper before continuing to read this post)

    Before spouting off regarding the opinion and the Constitution, one ought to be at least familiar with both. One should also be cognizant that the Freedom of Assembly is protected by the First Amendment.

    Here are two passages from the majority opinion:

    “The law before us is an outright ban, backed by criminal sanctions. Section 441b makes it a felony for all corporations—including nonprofit advocacy corporations—either to expressly advocate the election or defeat of candidates or to broadcast electioneering communications within 30 days of a primary election and 60 days of a general election. Thus, the following acts would all be felonies under §441b: The Sierra Club runs an ad, within the crucial phase of 60 days before the general election, that exhorts the public to disapprove of a Congressman who favors logging in national forests; the National Rifle Association publishes a book urging the public to vote for the challenger because the incumbent U. S. Senator supports a handgun ban; and the American Civil Liberties Union creates a Web site telling the public to vote for a Presidential candidate in light of that candidate’s defense of free speech. These prohibitions are classic examples of censorship.

    ****

    “If the First Amendment has any force, it prohibits Congress from fining or jailing citizens, or associations of citizens, for simply engaging in political speech. If the antidistortion rationale were to be accepted, however, it would permit Government to ban political speech simply because the speaker is an association that has taken on the corporate form. The Government contends that Austin permits it to ban corporate expenditures for almost all forms of communication stemming from a corporation. See Part II–E, supra; Tr. of Oral Arg. 66 (Sept. 9, 2009); see also id. , at 26–31 (Mar. 24, 2009). If Austin were correct, the Government could prohibit a corporation from expressing political views in media beyond those presented here, such as by printing books. The Government responds “that the FEC has never applied this statute to a book,” and if it did, “there would be quite [a] good as-applied challenge.” Tr. of Oral Arg. 65 (Sept. 9, 2009). This troubling assertion of brooding governmental power cannot be reconciled with the confidence and stability in civic discourse that the First Amendment must secure.”

    When one actually reads the opinion, one should actually be applauding the court for striking down a law that drastically limits speech during the most important time period of an election.

    Let me pose this hypothetical to you: Suppose we learned on October 15, 2008, that Sarah Palin was a Klansman (woman), should the NAACP be barred from running an ad against her? The obvious (and now correct) answer is no. However, it seems that the people who want to criticize this opinion just want certain types of speech to be restricted.

  2. Ann

    The legalities of corporation = humans have all been worked out beginning from the early 1900s, while the rest of us … oh, hum -ed it along the way. Originally, back in the … more than 100 years ago “corporations” or associations of people (who got together pitched their money in on a project) had a limited lifespan, by law. Well, that is long time ago.

    It’s not that “corporate” entities are bad, it’s just that they have not only equal to individual human rights, they have incredible power. And, this is because they have the money to develop that power. Our government thrives on money, our politicians are daily indirectly bought and sold. (Any other way is illegal.) And, corporations support their side of the story by claiming if they don’t get support, the economy will bottom out – which may be true seeing how everything in our economy is dominated by corporate investment.

    Really, the only way out of this mess (which is the major and fundamental reason for the destruction of our environment), as far I see, is a complete revolution, not in the bloody sense necessarily, but a revolution nonetheless.

  3. gavin

    If corporations are evil b/c they have too much influence, instead of restricting speech, why not restrict the behavior of our esteemed leaders?

    Ann you’re right, a revolution is needed, bloody or not. But the revolution needn’t be against corporations (which can be sued and merely enter into voluntary transactions with people) but rather the federal government, which can only be sued in certain situations and compels the behavior of citizens through threat of force.

    Xeno, what happened to your previous comment?

    1. Xeno Post author

      Had a typo and can’t fix them from my iPhone so I pulled my comment temporarily. Will repost it when I can get to a computer. Great discussion.

      Sent from my iPhone

  4. Ann

    Gavin, what I worry about concerning the needed revolution against the federal government is that when left to themselves would “people” be that much better? Of course, it would in lot of ways, but still without the “federal government” interfering slavery in the South may have persisted a lot longer than it had. (Wasn’t the US one of the last countries in the industrial West to make it illegal?) We might still not have Civil Rights for a lot of Americans, including Native Americans etc. It took the US not until the 1950s to get that going.

    I really don’t see too much difference between corporate interests and those of the federal government. They both tend toward same goals it seems. Lawsuits whatever kind don’t seem to help much. The wealth and power of some corporate entities is really incredible(while having all the rights of individual citizens).

    1. gavin

      Fair enough. The federal government does have its role. The Civil War certainly provides a unique perspective on federal power, which was all about trade between the states (slavery, while immoral, also posed an economic threat to the abolitionist states because they had trouble competing).

      It took a major power grab by the Supreme Court to integrate the public schools in Brown v. the Board of Education. It was a very controversial decision (not because of racism, per se) but because it usurped the traditional rights the Constitution delegated to the states. While the outcome of Brown was laudable, in my opinion it was wrongly decided. (note: just because there is a good outcome doesn’t necessarily mean it was a good decision, and vice versa.)

      Regardless of whether one believes Brown or other cases were correctly/wrongly decided, the trend over the 20th century was that of increasing the scope and responsibilities of the federal government. In my opinion, the large federal government is the main reason for most of our society’s political malaise–as the federal government is naturally much less accountable and transparent than local politicians. Hence the reason the founders wanted most of the rights to belong to the states and/or the people.

  5. Ann

    “Founders” as in Jefferson vs. Madison, as in the people vs. elite, respectively? The “founders” gave birth to our country, which is changing – that is what’s natural. I don’t think any country or much of anything else, any where is as it was.

    The federal government doesn’t have to be less accountable or less transparent. Is this written in stone somewhere? I feel it is this way, because it is not a democratic government. It doesn’t want Gavin or me (whatever my “race,” religion or income), as people, to know what’s up. And, if we do, it sure won’t take responsibility for its actions. It doesn’t represent us. Like I said it is controlled by money, by powerful interest groups. It is bought and paid, each and every day.

    This is why we need a revolution, perhaps even in thinking – like thinking real change is even possible.

  6. gavin

    Well, one of the reasons our country was divided into states and the constitution only delegated specific enumerated powers was because the leaders of a centralized government, naturally, are less accountable to citizenry. It’s not written in stone, but it’s a byproduct of a large central government. For instance, do you feel better represented by Congress or your local city commission? Does your local city commission “get away with” more or less than Congress?

    One problem is that citizens nowadays seem to distrust corporations more than they distrust the government. Again, corporations are governed by laws, can be sued and boycotted. However, the government does not. Rather, it compels compliance through force.

    The Constitution is a “revolutionary” document in that it prescribed that the federal government only have VERY FEW powers; the rest were reserved to the states or the people.

    Do you feel “empowered”? In order to have your voice heard, you pretty much have to TRAVEL to D.C. and protest in order for him/her to make some addition or deletion to a bill that is 1,000 pages long, which you can’t review because it was just released the night before, is unsearchable, and merely refers to (rather than place in context) the statutes that it seeks to amend.

    That entirely excludes the fourth estate, which is supposed to “watch out” for us, when in reality they report on the news in a pack mentality and ask tough questions only when it suits their agenda (I was once a journalist).

    If you think the feds can handle your health insurance (or pretty much anything else) better than your state, which then can do that better than your city, which then can do that better than your home, then I’m not sure a revolution is what you’re looking for, unless it’s the Bolshevik Revolution.

  7. Ann

    I have lived in several cities and not one didn’t have some corruption, New Orleans, Chicago, Kansas City, St. Louis for examples … even old little towns like Lubbock, Texas and elsewhere. (If you want some tragic stories check out the small towns in Texas.) Each has a history where some influential political group or other have been “on the take,” if you will. Our federal does have rules to follow, just as the smallest of towns.

    A major problem is that many people don’t have the time, really, to get involved. They must work all the time for the same entities that are corrupting, extending and pulling laws and rules in their favor.

    No, the federal government should be accountable to a lot more people, even than those in a small town and thus it should be far more visible than the government in charge of a small town.

    Moreover,I must step back ask, why the corruption, why are the gov’t in small towns “on the take,” and what really drives the US gov’t – it sure isn’t the voices of the people.

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