View Full Version : General Politics Liberal handwringing over corporations and elections

05-31-2012, 04:56 PM
Amazingly again the facts do not support the claims of the left

Objections to super PACs lack basis in any facts

By George F. Will , Washington Post

Published: Thursday, May 31 2012 12:00 a.m. MDT

WASHINGTON Montana uses an interesting argument to justify defiance of a Supreme Court decision: Because the state is particularly prone to political corruption, it should be trusted to constrict First Amendment protections of political speech.

At issue is the court's 2010 Citizens United decision, which held, unremarkably, that Americans do not forfeit their First Amendment rights when they come together in corporate entities or labor unions to speak collectively. What do liberals consider the constitutional basis for saying otherwise?

Three Montana corporations sued to bring the state into conformity with Citizens United by overturning a 100-year-old state law, passed when copper and other corporations supposedly held sway, banning all corporate political spending. The state's Supreme Court refused to do this, citing Montana's supposedly unique susceptibility to corporate domination an idea amusingly discordant with the three corporations' failure even to persuade the state court to acknowledge the supremacy of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Reasons for the Supreme Court to reconsider Citizens United are nonexistent. The ruling's primary effect has been to give unions and incorporated nonprofit advocacy groups freedom to spend what they choose on political advocacy as long as they do not coordinate with candidates or campaigns. Campaign "reformers," who advocate speech rationing, apparently regard evidence irrelevant to argument, probably because there is no evidence for their assertion that 2012 has been dominated by corporate money unleashed by Citizens United. An amicus brief submitted to the Supreme Court by Sen. Mitch McConnell, Congress' staunchest defender of the First Amendment, notes:

Through March 31, the eight leading super PACs supporting Republican presidential candidates received contributions totaling $96,410,614. Of this, $83,220,167 (86.32 percent) came from individuals, only $13,190,447 (13.68 percent) from corporations, and only 0.81 percent from public companies. McConnell says "not a single one of the Fortune 100 companies has contributed a cent" to any of the eight super PACS. These facts refute such prophesied nightmares as The Washington Post's fear that corporate money "may now overwhelm" individuals' contributions.

Even an article in the ABA Journal falsely says: "These multimillion-dollar PACs were made possible by" Citizens United. And Justices Stephen Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who dissented in that decision, say the Montana case gives the court an occasion to reconsider it "in light of the huge sums currently deployed to buy candidates' allegiance." Disregard the unsupported smear that candidates are bought, but note this: If these justices believe candidates are corrupted by independent expenditures, presumably they believe that regulating or outlawing them can be justified as combating corruption or the "appearance" thereof. Hence their objection is not to Citizens United but to constitutional protection of advocacy-funding practices that are as old as the Republic.

Before Citizens United removed restrictions on independent expenditures by for-profit corporations, a majority of states already had no such restrictions. Neither did they have records of distinctively bad behavior.

Indisputably, this year's super PACs have, as McConnell's brief says, "led to more political debate over a lengthier period of time during which more voters had the opportunity to participate in the choice of a presidential candidate." As McConnell notes, the Montana court's ruling is "disdainful" and disobedient regarding the Citizens United decision, but this lawlessness is not what bothers many people who think of themselves as defenders of good government. Instead, much of the media and most liberals urge Americans to be scandalized about "too much money" in politics. That three-word trope means (because most political money is spent on the dissemination of political advocacy) that there is more political speech by others than is considered proper by much of the media, which are unrestricted advocates.

This media and liberal anxiety was not conspicuous in 2004, when George Soros spent $24 million supporting Democratic candidates. Back then, the liberal/media complex embraced this Supreme Court principle enunciated in 1976: "The concept that government may restrict the speech of some elements of our society in order to enhance the relative voice of others is wholly foreign to the First Amendment."

Last year, Procter & Gamble, America's largest advertiser, spent $2,949,100,000 more than will be spent by the Obama and Romney campaigns and super PACs supporting them. The fact that more is spent to influence Americans' choice of their detergent than of their president is as interesting as this:

The collapse of liberals' confidence in their ability to persuade is apparent in their concentration on rigging the rules of political persuasion. Their problem is that the First Amendment is the rule.

George Will's email address is georgewill@washpost.com.

05-31-2012, 05:09 PM
I admit I'm baffled by the idea of corporations having rights.

Individuals have rights. Corporations are creatures of statute whose very existence is dependent on it being permitted by state law. Until the mid 1800s, EACH corporation owed its existence to a specific grant of authority by the state legislature in which it resided. Gradually, states adopted laws that permitted anyone to form a corporation subject to the various rules contained in the law. Those rules and related statutes and case law, dictate all kinds of things about what the company can and cannot do, and under what circumstances the liability shield (which is one of the main reasons to incorporate) applies to protect the individual owners from personal liability for the bad acts of the corporation.

The right likes to pretend like none of this even exists. That OBVIOUSLY when people (who have rights) come together to form an organization, that organization has the same rights.


1. this isn't true for many rights. Corporations have no Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, for example.* Nor do corporations have full blown Fourth Amendment rights.

2. Corporations aren't real people. They're creatures of statute that are SEPARATE from people. They are treated as distinct "Persons" under the law. But, not being real people, they certainly aren't as a simple matter of logic automatically entitled to protection by the Bill of Rights.

-- contrast this, for example, with a voluntary unincorporated assocation of people. If you form a partnership which is NOT a separate entity by law, and whose existence is NOT entirely governed by statute, then I could definitely see it having rights because it really is just "a group of people". A corporation is NOT a group of people. In fact, a corporation by law can be just one person holding all roles, so it may not be a group at all. It's a entity with entirely separate legal existence.

3. By virtue of the state laws that created them, corporations give special protection to their shareholders. The contours of state law have ALWAYS governed what corporations can and cannot do. To this day, if you form a company and put in your charter documents that the corporation shall only have the power to buy property at 100 Main Street, Nowhereville, then it CAN'T do anything else, by law.

*See In re Two Grand Jury Subpoenae Duces Tecum, 769 F.2d 52, 57 (2d Cir. 1985) (noting “[t]here simply is no situation in which the fifth amendment would prevent a corporation from producing corporate records, for the corporation itself has no fifth amendment privilege”).

06-01-2012, 01:54 PM
I guess I win.



06-01-2012, 02:36 PM
But unions have rights, of course...

06-01-2012, 02:54 PM
I guess I win.



Don't you always.

Thig Lyfe
06-01-2012, 06:15 PM
I was raised by two corporations who were in a loving heterosexual marriage. If they didn't have the right to influence democratic elections with their incredible wealth, I probably wouldn't have grown up to be the great American I am today.

06-03-2012, 05:56 PM
When you have an original thought HCF, please let us know.

La literatura
06-05-2012, 07:05 PM
Corporations don't give because of the negative blowback that can occur. That doesn't mean, however, that Citizens United wasn't a poor decision.