Wednesday, February 10, 2010

It's the speech, stupid

We encourage you to go over to Liberty Pen’s place to read his comprehensive take on the Supreme Court’s decision on Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission which struck down portions of the McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform Act.

E.J. Dionne, writing for the Washington Post applauded the President’s questionable act of calling out the Supreme Court during his SOTU in order to voice his displeasure over their ruling. And here is what Dionne had to say about the current make-up of the Supreme Court:

The Supreme Court is now dominated by a highly politicized conservative majority intent on working its will, even if that means ignoring precedents and the wishes of the elected branches of government.

E.J., would you like some cheese with that…. oh, never mind.

I guess we should be mildly surprised that the concept of separation of powers is a foreign concept to Dionne (ignoring the wishes of the elected branches of government within the strictures of the law and the Constitution is precisely what they are there for!) but that is tempered by the fact that what Dionne is probably most cross with is the fact that the Supremes had the temerity to challenge The One… who would also happen to be the one who forsook public financing of his campaign in order to do the Australian crawl in the oceans of cash he was able to raise for his presidential run.

Another line of attack on the Supreme’s decision on this case revolves around the contention that the court is now granting corporations the same rights as individuals. The implication here being greedy and evil corporations that should be punished rather than rewarded with the practice of free speech.

This is a red herring but is perfectly in line with the statist mentality. It's not about corporations – it’s about speech. The first amendment speaks to protecting this speech and does not make any differentiation as to where or from whom that speech comes. Here’s Justice Thomas writing for the majority opinion:
If 10 of you got together and decided to speak, just as a group, you’d say you have First Amendment rights to speak and the First Amendment right of association,” he said. “If you all then formed a partnership to speak, you’d say we still have that First Amendment right to speak and of association. But what if you put yourself in a corporate form?”

Again, is not the New York Times a corporation? Well, of course, as a news organization, they would be exempt from any campaign finance laws. The internet has caused a fracturing and blurring of what exactly constitutes a news organization. Would for-profit internet ventures like HotAir, Pajamas Media and the Huffington Post, which possess clear partisan slants be exempt from campaign finance laws as well?

Bottom line: one should have every right to get nervous when the question of who does and doesn’t get to enjoy the guarantees of the 1st amendment becomes merely a privilege granted by Congress.


B-Daddy said...

That this ruling was only 5-4 makes me nervous. It should have been a slam dunk. How can the minority argue that freedom of speech applies to corporations who own "news outlets" (and who is going to define that?) but not to other corporations? Almost every big corporation own their own in house magazine or newsletter, so if the ruling had gone the other way, you might have just seen them all becoming "news" organizations.

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