January 30, 2010

More on the Supreme Court's Decision in CITIZENS UNITED v. FEDERAL ELECTION COMMISSION

As part of our body language when reacting to words being spoken by public speakers that we agree or disagree with, we often silently mouth words of support or dissent, shake our heads, applaud, boo, shout, etc.

Justice Samuel Alito was caught on camera appearing to mouth the words "that's not true" or "not true" when TeamObama castigated the Supreme Court's decision in CITIZENS UNITED v. FEDERAL ELECTION COMMISSION during the State of the Union address.

Here's what TeamObama said in the speech: ''With all due deference to the separation of powers, the court last week reversed a century of law that I believe will open the floodgates for special interests -- including foreign corporations -- to spend without limit in our elections.''

As I have stated before, a corporation, whether 'the press' or other legal entity should have substantially the same free speech rights under our Constitution as an individual because a corporation or an association is a 'person' under our law. Moreover, I believe these political contributions should be public information so that voters can know the source of funding for various political messages. Armed with that information voters can decide the value of those paid messages at the ballot box.

Some may not like the fact that corporations, groups or labor unions can spend money delivering their political messages, but our Constitution guarantees free speech, however it may be amplified or delivered.

The blog linked to above at The Economist has an interesting take on this:

"Obama claimed that last week's campaign-finance ruling by the Supreme Court "reversed a century of law".

That's a claim that is often bandied around. But it is not true, says Linda Greenhouse of the NYT:

"The law that Congress enacted in the populist days of the early 20th century prohibited direct corporate contributions to political campaigns. That law was not at issue in the Citizens United case, and is still on the books. Rather, the court struck down a more complicated statute that barred corporations and unions from spending money directly from their treasuries — as opposed to their political action committees — on television advertising to urge a vote for or against a federal candidate in the period immediately before the election. It is true, though, that the majority wrote so broadly about corporate free speech rights as to call into question other limitations as well — although not necessarily the existing ban on direct contributions."

Meanwhile, here's Bradley Smith on why he agrees with the court's decision:

"To truly appreciate the stakes in Citizens United, one must remember the government's legal position in the case. Implicit in its briefs but laid bare at oral argument, the government maintained that the Constitution allows the government to ban distribution of books over Amazon's Kindle; to prohibit a union from hiring a writer to author a book titled, "Why Working Americans Should Support the Obama Agenda"; and to prohibit Simon & Schuster from publishing, or Barnes & Noble from selling, a book containing even one line of advocacy for or against a candidate for public office. As David Barry would say, "I am not making this up.""

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