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News Special interests have NO limits in elections.

  1. Jan 21, 2010 #1


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    The activist right-wing Supreme Court has determined that corporations and other organizations have the right to spend as much as they would like to support or defeat any candidate. Corporations are not citizens, they are not given enumerated rights in our constitution, nor do they have the right to vote or claim Congressional representation. That's OK. The neo-con wing of the Supreme Court has decided that corporations can spend as much money as they want to influence elections.

    As a matter of national security, did the justices take note of the many US corporations that are dominated or completely controlled by foreign powers? Those foreign powers probably won't have the interests of US citizens in mind when profit is on the line.

    I foresee the mid-term elections of 2010 as the nastiest, crudest assault on the US populace ever, unless Congress acts to revise election laws. McCain and Feingold aside (and I hope they will redouble their efforts) even our sometimes dim-witted senior senator has come out publicly against the decision. Maine is a very rural state, and liberal interests can come here head-hunting to pick off senators at a tiny fraction of the cost of doing so in populous states. The Supreme Court's decision disenfranchises the voters of small states and increases the powers of states like CA, NY, OH, TX, FL... Sad day.
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2010
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  3. Jan 21, 2010 #2
    What is wrong? Corporations are legal persons by definition, and they have the right to spend their money the same way an individual does(see:http://www.oyez.org/cases/1851-1900/1885/0 ).

    Also, corporations, as an individual entity, are given constitutional rights, since many SCOTUS cases do rule in favor of corporations because of the 14th amendment. Corporations fully represent shareholders, and shareholders have the right to donate as much money to any candidate they see fit(assuming that the same restrictions to individuals are carried over to corporations) or to run as many political ads as they please.
    Also, despite if there is a foreign stake in the company, if it is American based, then it has the right to spend its capitol on electoral donations or political advertisement.

    Edit: For anybody viewing this thread who is uninformed: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0110/31786.html
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2010
  4. Jan 21, 2010 #3


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    Corporations are not legal persons. They are conglomerates of investors, debtors, and interested parties. The recent Supreme Court decision is an invitation to a free-for-all in the mid-terms - a situation in which large infusions of money can derail even the weak semblance of representational government that we cling to. Packing the court with neo-cons may have worked out for the GOP, unless rational adults act in time. I hope that McCain, Feingold, Snowe, and senators from small states can rally to stop this assault on our electoral system. Unfortunately, our other senator (Collins) seems content to confine her comments to party-line screeds against Obama (re the underpants bomber, most recently) and shows about as much intelligence as a flatworm, while delivering every one of her pronouncements in a very convincing "Edith-Ann" voice. If you can listen to this idiot for more than a minute, you have my sympathy.
  5. Jan 21, 2010 #4
    The court is not right-leaning, it is constructivist leaning, which is how it should be.

    And very good day, IMO. They shot down much of the ridiculous McCain-Feingold. McCain-Feingold does nothing to stop big money in politics, but what it did do was make it much tougher for non-rich upcoming politicians to be able to get elected, and much easier for already-wealthy and established politicians to remain in office (like Senators McCain and Feingold).

    There are numerous ways to get big money around McCain-Feingold's restrictions if you have the connections.

    Calling the Court "activist" on this is incorrect. They are adhering to the Constitution. If we think this is a bad ruling, there is the process of formal amendment to change the Constitution.

    It would be activist for the justices to rule according to how they "think" the law should be as opposed to how it actually is.

    From what I have always seen, it tends to be the Left that want to stack the Court with justices who will interpret the law according to how they feel it should be as opposed to what it actually says.
  6. Jan 21, 2010 #5
    Huh? Check your facts, legal persons are not restricted to be a Natural person, although they are included. Being person, legally, does not imply you are human or even living. Corporations are legal persons as they can individually make legal contracts, create lawsuits, etc. unlike sole proprietorships where all business actions are done in the name of the owner. In our legal system, every legal person is entitled to legal rights and duties that must be upheld. The freedom of speech should be included in these legal rights, as well as any other rights guaranteed by constitutional amendments. I applaud the SCOTUS's decision.

    Doesn't matter. A corporation does not force, either by physical means or by intimidation, anyone to vote either way. They just influence it like they influence us in believing "____ Toothpaste makes your mouth fresh and kissable."

    I do not think that someone following the constitution adherently has the intelligence of a "flatworm." In fact, I am very offended.
  7. Jan 21, 2010 #6
    Corporate personhood is a legal fiction. Corporations are not afforded all of the same rights as any other person. They are granted many of the same rights for certain legal purposes to allow them to function in their capacity. Where exactly the distinction is made between rights afforded corporate personalities and those not I am unsure but I understand it is debatable. I see no rational justification for allowing those rights to extend to private campaigning as it does not seem to have anything to do with the general function of a corporation.
  8. Jan 22, 2010 #7
    You can't have it both ways. You can't claim that a corporation isn't a "person" then claim that a corporation "paid for" a political ad.

    If you use the word corporation to describe "who paid for" a political ad, then you are using the word corporation to refer to people, since the corporation's stockowners (people) paid for the ad.

    The Supreme Court ruled that the government could not suppress political speech, even if the people who paid for it did so via an agent (corporation, etc.). Whether or not you consider "personhood" an appropriate term to use is irrelevant.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 22, 2010
  9. Jan 22, 2010 #8
    Question from a foreigner:

    Are individual citizens allowed to spend as much as they want in this way? Or is there a cap on how much an individual can contribute?
  10. Jan 22, 2010 #9
    The concept of corporate personhood is not a new idea. Corporations are entities that can completely make rationale decisions for themselves through the wishes of the stockholder's. As such, the legal rights of the individual stockholder is naturallly extended to the corporation.

    Provided, there are "limitations" such as corporations don't have the right to vote. However, this follows from the fact that voting is an "undeniable freedom of choice"(except for criminals, the insane, etc.) which means that it is reserved for the stockholder and no medium can make that choice.

    The freedom of speech, unlike voting, is naturally carried over to the corporation since the corporation represents the wishes of the majority of the stockholders.

    @ to Neodevin: There are restrictions an individual could donate to political campaigns. However, there is no restriction how much money an individual can spend to individually campaign for a candidate. If such restriction did exist, it would be a clear violation of the 1st Amendment.
  11. Jan 22, 2010 #10


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    I think both of these issues, the potential for foreign interference in US elections and the ability to "buy" Senators in small states, are very valid points.

    I'm not sure this benefits Republicans, though. The McCain-Feingold Act has been fairly easy to circumvent, so corporations already contribute to campaigns - just via political action commitees instead of direct contributions. http://www.businessweek.com/news/2010-01-22/high-court-decision-may-bring-cascade-of-election-spending.html [Broken] About 51% of that money wound up going to Republicans, while Democrats received about 49%. On national issues, Republicans are usually more pro-business than Democrats. No politician, whether Republican or Democrat, will want to damage companies in their own state or district when that company is contributing jobs and tax money to the area.

    The problem for Republicans is that this ruling extends to labor unions, as well. In 2008, spending by labor unions on political action commitees was only $73 million (as opposed to the $327 million spent by businesses). Labor unions might seem to have less clout, but spending from their political action commitees broke 92% for Democrats and only 8% for Republicans. Republicans saw a net $6 million benefit from business PACs. Democrats saw a net $60 million benefit from labor PACs.

    With the McCain-Feingold Act being at least somewhat ineffective, I'm not sure how much this will affect spending by businesses and labor organizations. I'm sure it will have some effect, maybe just not quite as much as people would expect, and maybe not the affect many people might expect (i.e. - the wrong group might have been rooting for this decision to happen).

    If you focus less on political party and more on the benefits to the groups contributing money, this decision is good for businesses. They outspend labor organizations and benefit regardless of which party is influenced by their contributions. Once again, the benefit isn't as huge as one might think since some groups might not benefit from the same policies (legal profession resisting tort reform while medical profession pushing tort reform, for example).

    It does lessen the impact individuals have (especially the small contributor type fund-raising that worked so well for Obama in 2008). That's sad. The political debate still exists, but the voters choose between options provided by someone else, rather than choosing their own options from the start.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  12. Jan 22, 2010 #11


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    The most dangerous part of the decision (IMO) is the ability for monied interests from either camp to swoop into a small state and "buy" a senate seat. There is already too much influence wielded by special interest groups in today's politics, and the Supreme Court's decision will multiply that influence, to the detriment of the voters. I have stopped writing letters to my two Republican US Senators because all I ever get back in response is a form letter that is so vague and off-topic that it is an insult. Maybe now, the only response I'd get from them is a referral to their corporate handlers.
  13. Jan 22, 2010 #12

    Ivan Seeking

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    Turbo, I agree that this is terrible [at least it sure seems to be]. Corporations are not citizens. What's more, it is clear that many corporations have no national loyalties.

    How does this work? Does the corporation have to be US owned, and how do we even define that in a world of multinationals? What prevents the Chinese [for example] from spending a Billion dollars to throw an election?
  14. Jan 22, 2010 #13
    All this has to do with is advertising, really. A law that was unconstitional in the first place was struck down.

    I think it would be fair that any corp that is going to endorse a campaign would have to be at least 51% (or more) American owned.
  15. Jan 22, 2010 #14
    The constitutionality of a law isn't determined by its goals or outcome, its determined by whether or not government exceeded the power delegated to it by the constitution. The power to suppress political speech isn't delegated to the federal government by the constitution.

    It's that simple.
  16. Jan 22, 2010 #15

    Ivan Seeking

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    It seems to me that the ability to limit free speech isn't the issue, rather, who or what is protected by free-speech laws is the issue. Since when was the Constitution intended to protect foreign nations that wish to influence elections?

    Where does the Constitution list the rights of corporations?

    Why was I limited to $2500 of donations to the Obama campaign?
  17. Jan 22, 2010 #16
    Political speech constitutes "buying a Senate seat"? If that's the case, then "buying Senate seats" is just a phrase used to describe political freedom and democratic government.
  18. Jan 22, 2010 #17


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    It would cost far less than a billion dollars to throw a Senatorial seat in Maine. Even with our traditional high % turnouts, we have fewer than a million voters and only about 1/2 dozen TV stations with network affiliations. During the run-up to the last referendum, churches and right-wing donors teamed up to scare people into believing that if Maine's same-sex marriage law was allowed to stand, children would be taught about gay sex in schools and the "sanctity" of marriage would be ruined. The constant barrage of lies worked, and the same-sex marriage law was overturned by a people's veto. Chief among the opposition was the bishop of the archdiocese of Portland - leader of the very same church that has been shielding pedophiles for the last hundred years. I guess gay sex is only OK if it's between an altar boy and his priest.

    What will happen if a large corporate group wants to weed out Senators like Olympia Snowe? She was the only GOP Senator that was willing to negotiate with the Democrats on health-care reform, and the GOP in the state has been making noises about her being a RINO because she wouldn't stand on the side-lines and "just say no" like the rest of McConnell's monkeys. Could a conservative PAC dump a few million bucks into a smear campaign and unseat her? It could happen. I'm not always happy with her positions, but I usually have to vote for her because of the quality of the opposition. I may no longer have even that tiny bit of choice if monied interests get to run our election campaigns.
  19. Jan 22, 2010 #18

    Ivan Seeking

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    So 49% foreign influence in our elections is acceptable? You think that would be "fair", but how does it really work?
  20. Jan 22, 2010 #19
    I think I can see the point of view from both sides. On the one hand there is nothing in the constitution that says that a corporation can not contribute funds to their chosen political representative.
    On the other, we should support an amendment that would put something in the constitution that would block corporations from contributing money politically. I think the fundamental flaw is that a foreign power would be able to swing an election simply by channeling their money through a corporation whose HQ are based in the United States.
    As much as it irks me to say this, statistically speaking a campaign is more likely to be successful if it has better funding. That is just the way it is. If candidate A has twice the budget of candidate B We will most likely hear more about A than B regardless of whether his principles are more to our own personal liking. We definitely don't need foreign powers contributing to the rift.
    If a company feels that its stock holders would benefit more from one representative than another send out a letter to your investors and let them make their contributions personally.
  21. Jan 22, 2010 #20
    A corporation doesn't have its own rights, and the Supreme Court didn't say otherwise. The corporation is acting as an agent of its stockowners, exercising their rights.

    The law in question applied to corporations only to the extent that they represented people. The law didn't apply to corporations at all in any other way.

    You just can't have it both ways. Either the word corporation is used to refer to the people it represents or not. If not, then you can't claim that the law restricted corporations, not people.
    Because your rights were violated by an unconstitutional law. A law that has made politics more corrupt, not less corrupt.
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