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Mon Feb 25, 2013, 11:05 AM

Supreme Court Won't Hear Appeal Over Corporate Campaign Contributions

Source: Associated Press

The Supreme Court won't hear an appeal of a decision upholding a century-old ban on corporate campaign contributions in federal elections.

The high court on Monday refused to hear an appeal from William P. Danielczyk Jr. and Eugene R. Biagi, who wanted the courts to say the ban violates corporations' free-speech rights.

A federal judge agreed with them, but the 4th U.S. Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., overturned that decision. The Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United decision struck down a prohibition against corporate spending on campaign activities by independent groups but left untouched the ban on direct contributions to candidates.

The judge said independent expenditures and direct contributions were both political speech, but the appeals court said they must be regulated differently.

Read more: http://www.newser.com/article/da4lns100/supreme-court-wont-hear-appeal-over-corporate-campaign-contributions.html

59 replies, 7298 views

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Reply Supreme Court Won't Hear Appeal Over Corporate Campaign Contributions (Original post)
Purveyor Feb 2013 OP
Angry Dragon Feb 2013 #1
onehandle Feb 2013 #2
onenote Feb 2013 #10
Veilex Feb 2013 #13
onenote Feb 2013 #19
Veilex Feb 2013 #51
onenote Feb 2013 #52
Veilex Feb 2013 #53
onenote Feb 2013 #54
Veilex Feb 2013 #55
onenote Feb 2013 #58
Veilex Mar 2013 #59
Orrex Feb 2013 #14
onenote Feb 2013 #17
Orrex Feb 2013 #18
onenote Feb 2013 #21
Orrex Feb 2013 #23
valerief Feb 2013 #24
Javaman Feb 2013 #50
AllyCat Feb 2013 #20
onenote Feb 2013 #22
Orrex Feb 2013 #27
Angry Dragon Feb 2013 #28
NYC Liberal Feb 2013 #57
rhett o rick Feb 2013 #44
AndyA Feb 2013 #3
groundloop Feb 2013 #7
L0oniX Feb 2013 #9
rhett o rick Feb 2013 #45
L0oniX Feb 2013 #48
rhett o rick Feb 2013 #49
DallasNE Feb 2013 #15
jsr Feb 2013 #4
L0oniX Feb 2013 #8
markpkessinger Feb 2013 #32
jsr Feb 2013 #42
alp227 Feb 2013 #41
rhett o rick Feb 2013 #46
reformist2 Feb 2013 #5
ProfessionalLeftist Feb 2013 #25
onenote Feb 2013 #33
aggiesal Feb 2013 #31
Scalded Nun Feb 2013 #6
anokaflash Feb 2013 #11
onenote Feb 2013 #16
Angry Dragon Feb 2013 #30
onenote Feb 2013 #34
onenote Feb 2013 #36
Angry Dragon Feb 2013 #39
onenote Feb 2013 #40
Angry Dragon Feb 2013 #43
onenote Feb 2013 #47
DallasNE Feb 2013 #12
brush Feb 2013 #26
Kolesar Feb 2013 #29
markpkessinger Feb 2013 #35
groundloop Feb 2013 #37
markpkessinger Feb 2013 #38
Blue_Tires Feb 2013 #56

Response to Purveyor (Original post)

Mon Feb 25, 2013, 11:07 AM

1. Corporations do not have free-speech rights

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Response to Angry Dragon (Reply #1)

Mon Feb 25, 2013, 11:09 AM

2. 'Corporations are people my friend.' nt

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Response to Angry Dragon (Reply #1)

Mon Feb 25, 2013, 11:57 AM

10. You are wrong, of course. And its a good thing that you are wrong.

Unless you think that the NAACP should have lost the Claiborne Hardware case or that the NY Times should have lost the Pentagon Papers case or that Hustler should have lost the Jerry Falwell case or that Democratic Underground, MoveOn.org, labor unions and all manner of corporate entities have no free-speech rights.

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Response to onenote (Reply #10)

Mon Feb 25, 2013, 12:26 PM

13. Except that....

even with free speech, you do not, as a US citizen, have exemption of consequences of those free speech rights... corporations and all the groups you mentioned do. Do I think all those groups should have free speech rights? No, I don’t.

I think they should be on even footing with the rest of the citizenry. If they are going to enjoy the same rights, they should be subject to the same punishments. The reality is, and has always been, that corporations play by a different set of rules.

If corporations can create such things as EULAs and compel arbitration and create all manner of user agreements (no longer referred to as contracts, as that would confer additional rights) that often have the power of law behind them, and in effect strip away many of the rights of the natural born citizenry, then I feel its reasonable and just to eliminate their ability to claim free speech in much the same way they are trying to cripple my rights.

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Response to Veilex (Reply #13)

Mon Feb 25, 2013, 01:00 PM

19. No, not "except that"

It was the first amendment that exempted both individual NAACP members and the NAACP as an organization, from liabilty for having conducted and/or participated in a boycott of a racist hardware store.

As noted in a separate post, the courts have always drawn distinctions between types of speech and types of speakers based on whethter there was a sufficiently strong government interest justifying the distinction.

As for the ability of a corporation to jam a EULA or arbitration clause down someone's throat? individuals have the same right to put a EULA or an arbitration clause in at in a contract as a corporation. Whether someone is willing to accept that arrangement is a matter of leverage, not constitutional rights. End user agreements and other forms of enforceable license agreements are indeed contracts.

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Response to onenote (Reply #19)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 10:36 PM

51. Except that...

the 1st Amendment doesn’t exempt a person from repercussions of utilizing free speech. If it did, people making verbal threats against a sitting President could not be arrested. Nor individuals sued for defamation of character. Did the 1st Amendment work out in the high profile, politically charged case of the NAACP protesting against the hardware store? Sure. But for every instance of lowly little peons trying to stand up for themselves, big corporations use, as you put it “leverage” to squash any media attention on anything that might create a blemish on their perfect corporate aesthetic. It boils down to this; we have freedom of speech... corporations have more freedom of speech... more powerful, more versatile, more ruthless... and simply just more. After all, money is speech.

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Response to Veilex (Reply #51)

Thu Feb 28, 2013, 08:10 AM

52. Corporations can and are sued for defamation too

Corporations can be sued for obscenity. Corporations can have limitations imposed on their direct contributions to campaigns. Commercial speech (e.g., advertising) is subject to a lesser level of First Amendment protection than political or artistic speech, whether engaged in by an individual or a corporation

The point I have been trying to make is that it is exceedingly short sighted to adopt an approach to fixing CU by declaring that corporations have no first amendment rights at all. That would be an absolute disaster. The courts can and do draw distinctions between speakers and types of speech. The problem with CU was not that it treated corporations as having first amendment rights, its that it overturned the long held view that there is a substantial government interest justifying tighter controls on political speech by corporations than by individuals.

Corporations don't have more "freedom of speech" than individuals -- they have more opportunities to "speak" because they have more money available to purchase an advertisement or donate to a political campaign than most individuals. But there are many individuals who have more money to spend on speech than most individuals as well. Going back to the beginning of this discussion: would it be a positive thing if the government could ban DU from accepting or DU members from contributing money in support of DU's operations? Because if money isn't speech, then presumably such a ban would be constitutional.

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Response to onenote (Reply #52)

Thu Feb 28, 2013, 02:05 PM

53. Having more opportunity...

Having more opportunity and resources to perform an action, such as speaking...or in this case, exercising free speech, is indeed equivalent to having more freedom of speech, and here’s why.

A corporation may choose at any time to exercise free speech... they can choose how far and wide to spread that message. They can choose its format, choose its presentation, its narrator etc.
You too can exercise free speech... however, you are limited by your resources in what you can accomplish.

If, for example, you chose to use your free speech to challenge something incorrectly portrayed on Fox News, you may do so. Fox News may in turn drown out your attempts with its massive resources, contacts and established audience versus your meager resources. You can certainly make your attempt, and many here would applaud you for it... but the reality is that Fox News is very very likely to obfuscate anything you have to say into practical non-existence. Add into the mix, that you very likely have a job you must maintain and bills to pay, and chances are you wont be a thorn in the side of Fox News for very long.

Anything said loudly enough, long enough becomes accepted truth... most corporations and speak louder and longer than you, all because they have that opportunity to speak, you mentioned earlier. Tell a child he may play with a toy for five minutes... then tell another child he may play with that toy whenever he wants... who will have more freedom of playtime? Opportunity equals freedom... and in this case, opportunity equals freedom of speech.

I don’t disagree that Citizens United shouldn't have allowed significant corporate involvement into politics. My point is that Citizens United shouldn't have been allowed at all. Corporations, organizations non-profits etc did just fine before the enumerated additional rights conferred by Citizens United.
With the passing of Citizens United, corporations have the best of both worlds... and practically none of the associated consequences... and that is unacceptable. Frankly, Citizens United should simply just be repealed.

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Response to Veilex (Reply #53)

Thu Feb 28, 2013, 03:57 PM

54. As an individual I also am more limited in how far and wide I can spread my message compared

to other individuals. There are individuals out there that, as indviduals, have more resources than many "corporate" entities. Donald Trump, as an individual, has resources that dwarf the resources of Democratic Underground.

I agree that the amount of resources one has impacts how "much" speech one can engage in. Thus it has always been. Someone who can afford a computer has more ability to disseminate their messge than someone without a computer. Someone who can afford a sound truck has more abilty to disseminate their message than someone who only has a soapbox in the public square.

It appears that we are in agreement that CU was wrongly decided. As for why it was wrongly decided, I'm not sure if we are in agreement or not. If you are saying it was wrongly decided because (a) corporate entities shouldn't have first amendment rights or (b) expenditures of money should never be considered the exercise of free speech, then we agree that decision was wrongly decided but disagree on why. We are much better off with a first amendment that applies to corporate entities as well as "natural" persons (otherwise we'd have lost the Claiborne Hardware case, the Hustler/Falwell case, the Pentagon Papers case and on and on). And we are much better off with expenditures to disseminate a message being treated as a form of protected speech (otherwise the government could bar donations by DU or the expenditure of funds by DU to create this website).

What the court got wrong -- very wrong -- in CU was its rejection of long standing precedent holding not only that expenditures by individuals can be limited, but that expenditures by corporations can be limited to a greater degree than those made by individuals. Not because neither has first amendment rights or that expenditures are not protected speech, but because there are substantial governmental interests served by limiting such expenditures and the interests differ based on whether the entity involved is a person or a corporation.

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Response to onenote (Reply #54)

Thu Feb 28, 2013, 05:30 PM

55. I have no issues

with a corporation having rights, so long as they do not impinge on mine or that of any other citizen. A corporation or any other institution should indeed have some level of rights to be able to protect itself. However, corporations and other institutions were able to do as much before Citizens united. Contributions to sites such as DU were still indeed possible and done. My argument is that establishment of that legislation was an over-reach... one that paved the way for additional rights that should never have been granted.

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Response to Veilex (Reply #55)

Thu Feb 28, 2013, 11:32 PM

58. Citizens United was not legislation. It struck down legislation.

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Response to onenote (Reply #58)

Fri Mar 1, 2013, 02:13 PM

59. Either way,

my previous statement stands.

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Response to onenote (Reply #10)

Mon Feb 25, 2013, 12:27 PM

14. Why is money speech?

This, ultimately, is the question.

More money entitles the person or corporation to more speech.

Why?

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Response to Orrex (Reply #14)

Mon Feb 25, 2013, 12:49 PM

17. So would you be okay with a law that said

that DU does not have right to accept, and indivduals do not have the right to make, cash contributions in support of this site? If money isn't speech, then it would seem such a law wouldn't violate the first amendment.

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Response to onenote (Reply #17)

Mon Feb 25, 2013, 12:52 PM

18. Explain to me why money is speech.

If money is speech, then taxation at any level is a direct violation of free speech by the government.

Explain to me why money is speech, and then I'll answer your question.



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Response to Orrex (Reply #18)

Mon Feb 25, 2013, 01:15 PM

21. I just explained that regulation of speech is and always has been permissible if justified by a

substantial enough governmental interest.

The court has upheld the government's right to tax newspapers. But not all taxes levied against a newspaper are necessarily constitutional. I direct your attention to the 1936 Grosjean case, where the SCOTUS (after reaffirming that corporations were "persons' for purposes of the first amendment, struck down a particular form of taxation levied by the state against certain newspapers, stating
"It is not intended in this case to suggest that the owners of newspapers are immune from any of the ordinary forms of taxation for support of Government. The tax in question is not an ordinary form of tax, but one single in kind, with a long history of hostile misuse against the freedom of the press. The manner of its use in this case is, in itself, suspicious; it is not measured or limited by the volume of advertisements, but by the extent of the circulation of the publication in which the advertisements are carried, with the plain purpose of penalizing the publishers and curtailing the circulation of a selected group of newspapers."

More than forty years later, the court again highlighted how the first amendment protected newspapers not from all forms of taxation,but rather from certain forms of taxation. In the Minnesota Star Tribune case the court ruled, in essence, that the state's interest in raising revenue, standing alone, did not justify the particular tax at issue (which applied only to certain newspapers) since a generally applicable tax on businesses (including newspapers) was an alternative that would not have the same first amendment implications.

Now, I'm curious to hear your answer to the question I posed as to whether you think the constitution protects the right of a corporate entity, such as DU, to solicit and receive (and for individuals to make) "money" contributions in support of its website.

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Response to onenote (Reply #21)

Mon Feb 25, 2013, 01:21 PM

23. In a word, sure. Why not?

That doesn't equate to a corporation having the "right" to spend limitless money toward the purchase of a political candidate, however.

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Response to Orrex (Reply #18)

Mon Feb 25, 2013, 01:24 PM

24. Ha! Because money talks!!!!! nt

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Response to Orrex (Reply #14)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 11:37 AM

50. Never heard the expression, "Money Talks"?

LOL

Cheers!

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Response to onenote (Reply #10)

Mon Feb 25, 2013, 01:11 PM

20. Still, I have a hard time with money = speech.

People and groups should be able to speak their minds within reason without retribution. But contributing to campaigns is crazy. Those with the most money have more speech than others.

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Response to AllyCat (Reply #20)

Mon Feb 25, 2013, 01:17 PM

22. Which is why limits on contributions should be constitutional

Not because money doesn't equal speech or because corporations (which would include the Democratic National Committee, for example) have no rights under the Constitution, but rather because the risk of abuse of the political process gives the government a sufficient justification for regulating such contributions and (notwithstanding CU which got this point wrong) a justification for distinguishing political speech by corporate entities from that made by individuals.

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Response to onenote (Reply #22)

Mon Feb 25, 2013, 01:41 PM

27. That's an interesting way to put it, and I may have misunderstood you previously

Like others in the thread, I find money=speech to be problematic, but your solution (regulating speech based on compelling justification to do so) seems quite reasonable to me.

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Response to onenote (Reply #10)

Mon Feb 25, 2013, 02:02 PM

28. You tell me how a corporation talks without a PERSON interrupting

what a corporation is saying

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Response to onenote (Reply #10)

Thu Feb 28, 2013, 06:02 PM

57. Corporations have privileges that are and should be defined by federal and state laws.

They do not have, nor should they have, rights. Governments, corporations, and other legal non-human entities have powers and privileges that may be limited by law.

I fully support certain protections in federal law for some types of legal entities. If we want to grant corporations the privilege of participating in the political process as corporate entities (as opposed to the company's individual officers, who have rights) then we can pass legislation to that effect.

Even many of the protections we people have are defined not as rights in the constitution: medical privacy laws, labor laws, etc.

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Response to Angry Dragon (Reply #1)

Mon Feb 25, 2013, 07:09 PM

44. They do if the SCOTUS says they do. nm

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Response to Purveyor (Original post)

Mon Feb 25, 2013, 11:19 AM

3. When a corporation gives live birth at the hospital to a baby corporation,

we'll talk. I'd also like to know how the corporate sperm fertilizes the corporate egg, and how you identify male/female corporations.

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Response to AndyA (Reply #3)

Mon Feb 25, 2013, 11:37 AM

7. The female corporation is the one with boobs.

Female corporations have boobs running them, and male corporations have dicks running them.


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Response to groundloop (Reply #7)

Mon Feb 25, 2013, 11:50 AM

9. Alerting ...for using the words "boobs" and "dicks".

I'm just going along with the rampant censorship that DU has descended into. George Carlin got the tombstone.

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Response to L0oniX (Reply #9)

Mon Feb 25, 2013, 07:14 PM

45. Alerting on you for the same reason. You know, using those words.

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Response to rhett o rick (Reply #45)

Mon Feb 25, 2013, 10:27 PM

48. Ok ...I will alert on myself. BREAKING NEWS: results are below...

Juror #1 voted to LEAVE IT ALONE and said: This is not the proper use of the jury system.
Juror #2 voted to HIDE IT and said: No explanation given
Juror #3 voted to LEAVE IT ALONE and said: No explanation given
Juror #4 voted to LEAVE IT ALONE and said: You alerted on your own post LOL-
Juror #5 voted to HIDE IT and said: No explanation given
Juror #6 voted to LEAVE IT ALONE and said: LMAO

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Response to L0oniX (Reply #48)

Mon Feb 25, 2013, 11:25 PM

49. If you dont behave I am going to meta and calling you out.

Alerting on one's self has to be disruptive. You're just thumbing your nose at the whole jury system.

Would you like a martini? Well that's one big f'in martini but as close as I could get.

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Response to groundloop (Reply #7)

Mon Feb 25, 2013, 12:30 PM

15. But A "Lorena Bobbitt" Corporation Has Neither n/t

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Response to Purveyor (Original post)

Mon Feb 25, 2013, 11:21 AM

4. Corporate Supreme Court Won't Hear Appeal Over Corporate Campaign Contributions

Shocking.

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Response to jsr (Reply #4)

Mon Feb 25, 2013, 11:45 AM

8. ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

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Response to jsr (Reply #4)

Mon Feb 25, 2013, 03:14 PM

32. Um . . .

You are aware, aren't you, that by refusing to hear this particular appeal, they are leaving in place an existing ban on direct contributions by corporations to candidates? If they had agreed to hear this appeal, it would likely have been because they thought perhaps the existing ban should be lifted, thus compounding the problem created by Citizens' United. At least, by allowing the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling to stand, they are not creating further damage.

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Response to markpkessinger (Reply #32)

Mon Feb 25, 2013, 06:32 PM

42. You're absolutely right.

Thanks.

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Response to jsr (Reply #4)

Mon Feb 25, 2013, 06:28 PM

41. In reality a such ban was UPHELD.

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Response to jsr (Reply #4)

Mon Feb 25, 2013, 07:15 PM

46. I am surprised. Why arent you? Or did I misunderstand something? nm

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Response to Purveyor (Original post)

Mon Feb 25, 2013, 11:22 AM

5. Corporations aren't people - they're giant profit-obsessed monsters pretending to be people.

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Response to reformist2 (Reply #5)

Mon Feb 25, 2013, 01:33 PM

25. They are legal entities, existing only paper and they exist for the sole purpose

of profitmaking for their founders and stockholders -- at any cost to human life or lives, public safety, or the economy or world in which they operate.

In other words, they are legally-sanctioned psychopaths.

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Response to ProfessionalLeftist (Reply #25)

Mon Feb 25, 2013, 03:20 PM

33. You have described one category of corporation.

But there are many many artificial corporate entities (as distinguished from "natural persons") that do not exist for the purpose of making a profit. I'm sure you've heard of non-profit entities. Even some "for profit" entities don't meet your description. I don't know whether DU, which is corporate entity, is registered as a non-profit or not, but either way, I don't think its founders are psychopaths, although you are free to disagree.

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Response to reformist2 (Reply #5)

Mon Feb 25, 2013, 02:19 PM

31. There was talk in the past . . .

and I mean a long time ago (late 1700's, early 1800's) to only allow
corporations to exist for a set amount of time (20 - 30 years) and
then to desolve. Because our founding fathers (who I think were brilliant,
compared to the idiots in congress today), knew that if corporations
don't have this restriction, they could conceivable "LIVE" forever.

But, I don't believe that law ever got implemented.
We should try to bring this back.

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Response to Purveyor (Original post)

Mon Feb 25, 2013, 11:27 AM

6. When one is

Executed or imprisoned for its crimes will I even start to think about corporate peoplehood. Even then I won't buy it, but I'd sure like to see some of them with a stake through the heart.

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Response to Purveyor (Original post)

Mon Feb 25, 2013, 12:07 PM

11. Clear as Mud!

SCOTUS: "Corporations are People . . . except when they're not!"

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Response to anokaflash (Reply #11)

Mon Feb 25, 2013, 12:46 PM

16. I take it you haven't read the decision

The issue in the case wasn't whether or not corporations are "persons" for purposes of the First Amendment. They are and have been for a very long time. The issue was whether a constitutional distinction can be drawn between indepdendent expenditures and direct contributions to a campaign. The answer reached by the Fourth Circuit and left standing by the SCOTUS was that such a distinction can be drawn.

Distinctions between types of speech and types of speakers are drawn all the time. Broadcast radio and television are subject to governmental licensing, while newspapers are not. A different first amendment standard applies to subscription services, whether print or electronic, than to broadcast services. Minors and students have been held to have different free speech rights than adults. Commercial speech is analyzed for first amendment purposes differently than political, non-commercial speech. And corporations, while protected by the first amendment, do not necessarily have the same protections as individuals.

It is well established that first amendment rights aren't absolute. The thorny questions are where and when and how to draw the lines. The problem with the CU case wasn't that it concluded that corporations had first amendment rights -- that was a given. The problem was that the court rejected the argument that there are governmental interests that justify distinguishing between corporations and individuals in certain circumstances, including political speech.

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Response to onenote (Reply #16)

Mon Feb 25, 2013, 02:15 PM

30. It was a stupid ass decision

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Response to Angry Dragon (Reply #30)


Response to Angry Dragon (Reply #30)

Mon Feb 25, 2013, 03:23 PM

36. Same question: have you read the decision?

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Response to onenote (Reply #36)

Mon Feb 25, 2013, 05:38 PM

39. Not all of it

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Response to Angry Dragon (Reply #39)

Mon Feb 25, 2013, 05:48 PM

40. Why do you think it was a "stupid ass" decision?

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Response to onenote (Reply #40)

Mon Feb 25, 2013, 06:37 PM

43. I was talking about the CU decision

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Response to Angry Dragon (Reply #43)

Mon Feb 25, 2013, 10:19 PM

47. Ok.No disagreement there. Thanks for clarifying

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Response to Purveyor (Original post)

Mon Feb 25, 2013, 12:20 PM

12. So Corruption Still Needs To Occur At Arms Length

That is where Jack Abramoff went wrong. He didn't funnel the money through a 3rd party, like Karl Rove.

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Response to Purveyor (Original post)

Mon Feb 25, 2013, 01:34 PM

26. Is this ruling good or bad for us? nt

The article is not that clear.

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Response to brush (Reply #26)

Mon Feb 25, 2013, 02:03 PM

29. Good...eom

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Response to Purveyor (Original post)

Mon Feb 25, 2013, 03:21 PM

35. Some commenters don't seem to understand the import of this . . .

. . . A federal judge initially ruled that the law banning direct contributions to candidates was a violation of the free speech rights of corporations. The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the ban on such contributions does NOT violate corporations' free speech rights, and thus is constitutional. By refusing to hear the appeal, the Supreme Court has allowed the 4th Circuit's ruling to stand. If they had agreed to hear the appeal, that would have been cause for major worry, because it would likely have meant that some on the Court had an eye toward declaring the ban on direct corporate contributions to candidates unconstitutional (and that would have compounded the damage they did with their Citizens' United ruling. By allowing the 4th Circuit's ruling to stand, and thus leaving the existing ban in place, the SC has at least not done any further damage in this regard.

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Response to markpkessinger (Reply #35)

Mon Feb 25, 2013, 03:31 PM

37. I agree that your interpretation is correct. However....


someone who is naturally cynical (like me) would argue that this decision doesn't really do much because Citizens United has already cleared the way for unlimited corporate buying of elections with the small added inconvenience of the need to funnel money through a third party.

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Response to groundloop (Reply #37)

Mon Feb 25, 2013, 03:42 PM

38. Agreed . . .

The Citizens' United ruling did enormous damage, and leaving intact, as it did, the ban on direct corporate contributions to political candidates certainly doesn't amount to adequate protection from undue corporate influence on elections. But at least, by declining to hear the appeal, the Court hasn't taken us still further down that path.

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Response to Purveyor (Original post)

Thu Feb 28, 2013, 05:54 PM

56. What's the point of this century-old ban

if there's no teeth behind it, and a billion ways to sidestep it??

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