January 22, 2010

Supreme Court Makes Correct Decision

The New York Times' view of the decision:
"With a single, disastrous 5-to-4 ruling, the Supreme Court has thrust politics back to the robber-baron era of the 19th century. Disingenuously waving the flag of the First Amendment, the court’s conservative majority has paved the way for corporations to use their vast treasuries to overwhelm elections and intimidate elected officials into doing their bidding."

The Wall Street Journal's view of the decision:

"Freedom has had its best week in many years. On Tuesday, Massachusetts put a Senate check on a reckless Congress, and yesterday the Supreme Court issued a landmark decision supporting free political speech by overturning some of Congress's more intrusive limits on election spending.

In a season of marauding government, the Constitution rides to the rescue one more time."

Without doubt, the gnashing of teeth has begun in earnest about the Supreme Court's politically earth-shaking decision yesterday. The 5-4 ruling upended a large number of unconstitutional restrictions on free speech by corporations, unions and other legal "persons" to speak freely and spend money espousing or castigating candidates for public office.

In 2006, here and here, on this blog I expressed the same fundamental opinion: our democracy requires free speech including the right to spend money promoting political opinions without government interference.

When all's said and done the Supreme Court is heavily influenced by politics. Liberals appoint/approve left-leaning jurists and conservatives appoint/approve more conservative leaning people when they are in power. Supreme Court decisions reflect that reality with shifts in judicial philosophy over time based on the composition of the Court.

I firmly believe that if a labor union or a corporation has the standing of 'a person' before the law, they should have the same Constitutional free speech rights as an individual, including spending money on political speech in elections. As a voter, I have a direct power at the ballot box that 'legal persons' do not have, but they should have the ability to freely express their opinions, including spending money, to promote those views. I will then make up my own mind.

If the Burlington Free Press (Gannett Corp.) has the right to endorse a political candidate under the First Amendment, then Seventh Generation, or Google or GE should have that same right as a legal "person." Whether a company is in the "news" business should not be only the determinant. News organizations have Constitutional 'free press' rights." So should all legal "persons," without government restraint. This decision affirms that fundamental Constitutional right.

Cheers for the Constitution and bravo for this Supreme Court decision!
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