Free speech is for humans, and business should mind its own business

In response to the big Supreme Court decision the other day, which gave corporations (U.S. and international) unprecedented power with which to influence elections via capital contributions, Florida Congressman Alan Grayson just introduced legislation to change U.S. tax law, so that all corporate contributions would be taxed at a rate of 500%. The legislation is called the “Business Should Mind Its Own Business Act,” and details can be found here.

And, speaking of this Supreme Court decision, I thought that I’d share this message that I just received from my friend Phil:

Jim Hightower said “This is not judicial activism, it’s judicial radicalism – a black-robed political coup over America’s historic democratic ideals. Five men have just overthrown the power of the people’s vote, enthroning corporate money as supreme in all of our country’s elections.”

Justice Stephens in his dissent said, “While American democracy is imperfect, few outside the majority of this Court would have thought its flaws included a dearth of corporate money in politics.”

President Obama says this decision “has given a green light to a new stampede of special interest money in our politics. It’s a major victory for big oil, Wall Street banks, health insurance companies,” and “I can’t think of anything more devastating to the public interest.”

And Rep. Alan Grayson (D, Florida) calls this “the most irresponsible decision by the Supreme Court since the Dred Scott decision.”

We MUST make sure that Congress acts immediately. They must quickly pass laws to work around this reckless decision that literally could destroy democracy. Members of Congress are working on bills that will require that a corporation’s political expenditures are approved by the majority of its shareholders, that corporations publicly and immediately disclose these political expenditures (CEOs stating who they are on camera saying “I approve this message” as political candidates do), and that public financing is made available to candidates that do not accept corporate dollars. But ultimately this ruling needs to be overturned by a Constitutional Amendment.

We must show Congress that we are behind them in saving democracy in the US. The following sites have petitions to sign that will go to Congress: Save Democracy, Free Speech for People, and Don’t Get Rolled.

And here is a link that has a template letter that you can send to your representatives.

And, after you sign the petitions and write to your Senators and members of Congress, be sure to share the video far and wide.

Please act now, and please spread the word!

And one last thing, as if all that isn’t frightening enough… it’s quite possible that this is the first of several such bombshells to be delivered by the Roberts court. Here’s a clip from the Washington Post:

The Roberts court ended its term last summer avoiding a constitutional showdown with Congress over the Voting Rights Act. But its first major decision of the current term might signal a new willingness to act boldly.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and his conservative colleagues delivered a seismic jolt Thursday. They overturned two of the court’s past decisions — including one made as recently as six years ago — to upend federal legislation that says corporations may not use their profits to support or oppose candidates and to declare unconstitutional a large portion of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform act passed in 2002.

“This is obviously such an exceptionally dramatic, high-profile break with precedent,” said Pamela Harris, executive director of the Supreme Court Institute at Georgetown Law Center. “The question is, what will come next? Perhaps they have exhausted themselves on this one case, or it could have the opposite effect and be energizing. I really don’t know which it will be”…

And it makes me wonder, just what might be next…

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92 Comments

  1. Robert
    Posted January 24, 2010 at 10:02 pm | Permalink

    We should ask MM.com’s correspondent in England, Mel Ayton, to look into the matter.

  2. Robert
    Posted January 24, 2010 at 10:04 pm | Permalink

    That last comment was intended for the David Kelly conspiracy thread. I’m tired and even more disoriented than usual.

  3. Efrom
    Posted January 25, 2010 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    Roberts, Scalia, Alito and Thomas must be putting a lot of pressure on Kennedy. We should pray for him. He’s the only thing between us and The Handmaid’s Tale.

  4. tommy
    Posted January 25, 2010 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    You know what’s next . The outlawing of gay marriage is coming, via what is going on in California. Timing will be after the November elections – no need to energize a lethargic group of sheep before then.

  5. Brackinald Achery
    Posted January 25, 2010 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

    I don’t like that corporations are considered a person, either. But remember, the 1st Amendment saith:

    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

    Shall. Make. No. Law. Abridging freedom of speech.

    No law.

    Not against corporations, or your fat mom, or Santa Clause, or Gremlins, or Hitler, or anybody or anything.

    Shall. Make. No. Law.

    No. Law.

    Period.

  6. Curt Waugh
    Posted January 25, 2010 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

    Brack, your beloved “Founders” (old white men who owned people, I shall remind you) did not have the same concept of the modern, stock-owned corporation that we have today. Of course it never would have occurred to them (nor you) to say “No. Law. For PEOPLE.” The Bill of Rights is a bill of human rights, not corporate rights.

    As corporations are strictly a contractual and tax invention, they have zero inalienable rights. They are only granted what they are specifically granted and nothing else. They are the exact opposite of people, who have collectively granted themselves all rights aside from those specifically enumerated to the government.

    Say it with me: They are not people. They are not people.

    Oh, sorry, lemme dumb it down for you: They. Are. Not. People.

  7. Brackinald Achery
    Posted January 25, 2010 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

    No law.

    Our beloved founders knew about the East India Tea Company.

  8. Brackinald Achery
    Posted January 25, 2010 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof

    Churches are also incorporated.

    So much for the idea that the 1st amendment only covers individuals.

    Corporations are a peaceable assembly of people.

  9. Posted January 25, 2010 at 8:45 pm | Permalink

    They are not people. They ARE NOT people!

    Preach it, Curt.

  10. Brackinald Achery
    Posted January 25, 2010 at 10:37 pm | Permalink

    They ARE people.

    Corporations are not made up of non-human animals, vegetables, or minerals. They are made up of people, acting collectively as a unit.

    Giving them legal personhood is a way to hold them legally accountable as a unit, and limited liability is a way to only hold each member accountable for what he/she invests in the unit — i.e. shares. In other words, if the unit in which you invested does badly, you lose the money you invested in it, rather than your kid’s college fund which you did not invest in it.

    I never really looked into this until now, but the more I read about it, the more I agree that giving Corporations legal personhood is a good idea. The point was to make them able to be sued if they violated a contract. Legal personhood is not as strange or new as it’s being made out to be by all this. It’s been around a long time.

    The question at hand, at first seems to be, whether legal personhood gives a corporation the right to free speech.

    Well, the individual members of a corporation certainly do. If they all individually donate a bunch of their money to a campaign ad, that’s not wrong. Why would it be wrong for them to pool it together collectively via the corporation they are already a part of?

    But, far more importantly, and probably the reason the Supreme Court decided as it did, the US Constitution does not give Congress the authority to forbid corporations from buying campaign ads. It’s as simple as that. All the impassioned name calling and heart-wrenching ads up to nothing compared to the fact that it’s just not one of Congress’s powers, and that they are in fact FORBIDDEN to make a law abridging freedom of speech… no matter who is speaking as what kind of unit.

    So the problem becomes whether corporations will be able to buy undue influence in government. The answer is, of course, they already have!!! You know why? Because we as a society have accepted that it’s okay to ignore the bounds of the Constitution if it suits us, as many of you are doing in this case. You want to ignore the Constitution because you’re afraid of corporations, they want to ignore the Constitution because they’re afraid of terrorists, and we all want to ignore the Constitution because we want free redistributed money.

    Since that seal of limited powers was broken, our government has become lawless, bribing the public with the public’s money, and for sale to the highest bidder — usually corporations because they are very successful business models . And it is our fault for wanting it that way.

    So I suggest you all adhere to a strict interpretation of the Constitution, and form yourselves into a corporation to put some money where your mouths are.

  11. kjc
    Posted January 26, 2010 at 6:57 am | Permalink

    more on corporate personhood.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wkygXc9IM5U&feature=related

  12. Curt Waugh
    Posted January 26, 2010 at 9:24 am | Permalink

    Brack, you are a feudalist at heart. You were born about 600 years too late to do anything about it, though. Your understanding about how societies are put together is a fairly pedantic veneer of factoids at best. A fitting world view for 1385 maybe.

    If you (and everyone) don’t wise up and realize that our system has only ever worked because people have fought like hell to have preeminence over corporate entities, we will lose our beloved rights of expression.

    But you go defend your little piece of paper now. Because it’s just about perfect (except for the 27 times it’s been amended, the incredibly bloody war we fought over it and the endless court cases that continue to resolve nothing about abortion or gun ownership or religious expression, etc.).

  13. kingpin
    Posted January 26, 2010 at 10:04 am | Permalink

    So basically…this is a new world…and we need to form around a New World Order?

    The problem doesn’t lie in the rules, it lies in the realm of personal responsibility.

    I started my war with unfriendly corporations a long time ago. I try to cost them as much profit as possible. Ask for extra ketchup…bend and damage packaging…spill soda on the carpets in the lobby…take the pen at the bank. These things always make me feel a little better. Take all the pre paid postage cards from your magazines and envelopes from your junk mail, fill them out, and drop them in the mail, and then see if you don’t crack just a little smile.

  14. Brackinald Achery
    Posted January 26, 2010 at 10:10 am | Permalink

    Is everyone who sticks up for the Constitution to be considered a feudalist at heart, Curt? Or are you just trying to assassinate my character because you don’t have a better argument?

  15. EOS
    Posted January 26, 2010 at 11:02 am | Permalink

    Progressives are just mad because Move On Dot Org needs a monopoly to have any real influence. Anyway, corporations split their donations between the two parties, unlike Labor Unions, Hollywood, Mass Media or Academia. You all should have watched Glenn Beck last night. The Constitution is not a living document. Free Speech means the same today as it did when it was incorporated as the first and most important freedom in the Bill of Rights. The Supreme Court got it right.

  16. Brackinald Achery
    Posted January 26, 2010 at 11:36 am | Permalink

    You shouldn’t watch Glenn Beck. Just look stuff up.

  17. Curt Waugh
    Posted January 26, 2010 at 11:52 am | Permalink

    “Free Speech means the same today as it did when it was incorporated as the first and most important freedom in the Bill of Rights.”

    Bwaaaahahahahaaa…..!!!!

    What a load of horseshit. Free speech was only for land-owning white males when it started. It has changed more than it has stayed the same from where I sit. What is with this worship of a bunch of dead guys? We’re here now. This is our country and we will do whatever the hell we want with it – as is our right.

    And Brack, I don’t need to assassinate your character (even though you sound like a whiny, persecuted Glenn Beck when you say shit like that). Your words do it for you.

  18. EOS
    Posted January 26, 2010 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    Curt –
    If you want to change it, then amend it. Otherwise, abide by it.

  19. Curt Waugh
    Posted January 26, 2010 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    Then turn in your guns since you’re not in a militia, which the 2nd Amendment clearly spells out. Give up the abortion battle since the thing says nothing about fetuses. And take “In God We Trust” off our coins just for good measure. (And for that matter, what the fuck is an “enemy combatant”. Not in there.)

    Life’s a bitch when you decide to get all strict with the written word, eh? We can tit-for-tat this thing all day, man, but we have a long-standing tradition of common law that lives beside the written law. Real life is much more subtle than a 30-page document can cover. But subtlety isn’t really your milieu, is it?

  20. Curt Waugh
    Posted January 26, 2010 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    I should say “court law” not “common law”. Although common law is good, too.

  21. Crooked Zebra
    Posted January 26, 2010 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

    man…this place needs a scoreboard!

    Curt:1…EOS: 0

  22. Kingpin
    Posted January 26, 2010 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

    so, if a Corporation is around for 65 years, can it collect social security? If it doesn’t showa profit, can it collect food stamps? If it is abused by it’s CEOs, can DPS come into the offices and take it to foster care? What about when it turns 16…can it get a driver’s permit? When is a good time to sit down with my corporation and have a talk about the birds & the bees? I don’t want it getting knocked up, and running off to Delaware, or some other state with soft tax laws, so it can get an abortion behind my back!

  23. Peter Larson
    Posted January 26, 2010 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

    Since when is Glenn Beck an expert on Constitutional law? Or anything for that matter?

  24. EOS
    Posted January 26, 2010 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

    I’ll keep my weapons. You misinterpret the 2nd amendment as well. The militia is the aggregate of the armed citizenry.

    It doesn’t say anything about fetuses – abortion kills humans. The 14th amendment protects them.

    We are a Christian nation – not only written in the Declaration of Independence but also a Supreme Court decision. If you think we need to take In God we Trust off our coins, then we’ll need to destroy most of the governmental buildings in Washington D.C as well, because they are covered with Biblical references. Those who wrote and debated the Constitution attended Christian church services in the Capitol building. They opened each day with Christian prayer as does our Congress, Senate, and Supreme Court.

    A real education isn’t your milieu, is it?

  25. Peter Larson
    Posted January 26, 2010 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

    That’s up for debate:

    “The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”

    And in the 1796 Treaty with Tripoli signed by John Adams himself:

    “Art. 11. As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquillity, of Mussulmen; and, as the said States never entered into any war, or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties, that no pretext arising from religious opinions, shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.”

    From Jefferson:

    “They [preachers] dread the advance of science as witches do the approach of daylight and scowl on the fatal harbinger announcing the subversions of the duperies on which they live.”

    “In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot…. they have perverted the purest religion ever preached to man into mystery and jargon, unintelligible to all mankind, and therefore the safer engine for their purpose.”

    “Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legislative powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between church and State.”

    Of course, he also recommended that adulterers have there noses severed.

    James Madison:

    “What influence, in fact, have ecclesiastical establishments had on society? In some instances they have been seen to erect a spiritual tyranny on the ruins of the civil authority; on many instances they have been seen upholding the thrones of political tyranny; in no instance have they been the guardians of the liberties of the people. Rulers who wish to subvert the public liberty may have found an established clergy convenient auxiliaries. A just government, instituted to secure and perpetuate it, needs them not.”

    “Experience witnesseth that ecclesiastical establishments, instead of maintaining the purity and efficacy of religion, have had a contrary operation. During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What has been its fruits? More or less, in all places, pride and indolence in the clergy; ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution.”

    “Ecclesiastical establishments tend to great ignorance and corruption, all of which facilitate the execution of mischievous projects.”

    Thomas Paine:

    “What is it the New Testament teaches us? To believe that the Almighty committed debauchery with a woman engaged to be married; and the belief of this debauchery is called faith.”

  26. crooked zebra
    Posted January 26, 2010 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

    Good Guys : 2
    EOS : 0

  27. EOS
    Posted January 26, 2010 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

    Church of the Holy Trinity v. United States, 143 U.S. 226 (1892)

    Who said a crooked zebra could keep score?

  28. Peter Larson
    Posted January 26, 2010 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

    Weren’t the founding fathers were all dead in 1892?

  29. Peter Larson
    Posted January 26, 2010 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

    Yes, it appears that James Madison was the last to die in 1836 who also was known to say:

    “Experience witnesseth that ecclesiastical establishments, instead of maintaining the purity and efficacy of religion, have had a contrary operation. During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What has been its fruits? More or less, in all places, pride and indolence in the clergy; ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution. [James Madison, A Memorial and Remonstrance, addressed to the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Virginia, 1785]”

  30. Brackinald Achery
    Posted January 26, 2010 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

    Then turn in your guns since you’re not in a militia, which the 2nd Amendment clearly spells out.

    Been over that one. You can’t become right by obstinately staying wrong in the face of the facts. Wrongness is not one of those areas where persistance pays off.

    Give up the abortion battle since the thing says nothing about fetuses.

    Agreed. It’s a States rights issue. Most murder laws that I know of are State laws, not Federal.

    And take “In God We Trust” off our coins just for good measure.

    Fine. You can put “Tina got a big ol’ butt — oh yeah!” on the coins, as long as they’re silver and gold.

    (And for that matter, what the fuck is an “enemy combatant”. Not in there.)

    No problem there. An undeclared war is no war at all, unless you want to issue letters of marque and reprisal.

  31. kjc
    Posted January 26, 2010 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

    “Most murder laws…”

    since we’re sticking to the facts and all…

  32. Brackinald Achery
    Posted January 26, 2010 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

    Did I say something factually inaccurate, kjc?

    Or are you inferring wrongly that I implied that abortion is murder?

    I was merely stating that the case for federal anti-abortion law rests on the belief that abortion is murder. To that I say, most murder laws are state laws, not federal, so it is a state issue.

    So, you see, I was not asserting my opinion of whether abortion is murder or not, merely that murder is the states’ domain.

    You inferred otherwise, yes?

  33. Brackinald Achery
    Posted January 26, 2010 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

    Since nobody seems to be able to make a good case for why corporations should be denied by federal law their right to pay for political ads, shall we argue about something a little more hot-buttony now, to change the subject?

    May I suggest the losing team change the subject to one of these topics:

    1) Religion in Government

    2) Abortion

    3) Children working in coal mines

    4) Slavery

    That way, you can more easily paint the winning team as bad guys, without having to come up with a good argument on the present issue! Phew!

  34. Brackinald Achery
    Posted January 26, 2010 at 8:56 pm | Permalink

    so, if a Corporation is around for 65 years, can it collect social security? If it doesn’t showa profit, can it collect food stamps? If it is abused by it’s CEOs, can DPS come into the offices and take it to foster care? What about when it turns 16…can it get a driver’s permit? When is a good time to sit down with my corporation and have a talk about the birds & the bees? I don’t want it getting knocked up, and running off to Delaware, or some other state with soft tax laws, so it can get an abortion behind my back!

    Up until I actually started to look this stuff up yesterday, I thought corporate personhood was really screwed up too. But I am open-minded, so I went and educated myself, so I could have an educated opinion. Turns out the reason they made corporations legal persons was so they could be sued if they screwed people over. Apparently, according to common law, only persons could be sued, so corporations used to be able to get away with breaking contracts and screwing people over, since they weren’t “a person.”

    When they made corporations a legal person, they could act as a legal person in certain respects, such as owning property, signing contracts, suing, and getting sued.

    Obviously they could not exercise activities that only “natural” (as opposed to “legal”) persons could do, such as getting married, voting as an individual, driving a car, getting knocked up, having an abortion, etc. , because a collective business unit made up of a bunch of individuals can not physically do those things.

    But they sure as shit can pay for a political ad.

  35. Peter Larson
    Posted January 26, 2010 at 9:04 pm | Permalink

    My favorite Jefferson quote, besides the bit about hacking the noses off adulterers:

    “I have recently been examining all the known superstitions of the world, and do not find in our particular superstition [Christianity] one redeeming feature. They are all alike, founded upon fables and mythologies”

  36. Posted January 26, 2010 at 9:44 pm | Permalink

    I love that Thomas Jefferson… at least as much as I’m capable of loving a adulterous slave owning hypocrite.

    And I don’t know what to tell you, Brak. I just don’t think human being and corporations have the same interests… For what it’s worth though, I’d gladly widen the net so that it’s not just corporations that we’re talking about. I’d be happy to include unions and any other large groups that the right is always hollering about. I think personal contributions, capped at $100, should be sufficient.

  37. EOS
    Posted January 26, 2010 at 9:46 pm | Permalink

    My favorite Jefferson quote,

    “God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are a gift from God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, and that His justice cannot sleep forever.”

    Or maybe this one,
    “I am a real Christian, that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus.”

  38. kingpin
    Posted January 27, 2010 at 2:50 am | Permalink

    So what your saying, Brack, is that we gave corporations rights so they couldn’t screw over the people…and by doing that, we gave them the power to screw over the people? Damn it…

  39. kingpin
    Posted January 27, 2010 at 3:05 am | Permalink

    Experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms of government those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny.
    – Thomas Jefferson

  40. kingpin
    Posted January 27, 2010 at 3:07 am | Permalink

    “I’m a firm believer in the philosophy of a ruling class. Especially since I rule.” – Randall Graves

  41. kjc
    Posted January 27, 2010 at 5:48 am | Permalink

    i inferred otherwise, yes. and i think the hot buttony one mighta been you, there, as your “gotcha i didn’t imply it!” sorta makes obvious. there are lots of people who are “pro-life” who don’t think abortion is murder, as you know.

    and omg i have zero interest in switching to that subject. to discuss it with you and EOS? i’d have to be a masochist.

    i’ve done research on corporate personhood myself, so i’m not awed by your independent research, sorry. nor can i agree. it seems obvious to me that interpretation is a fundamental here. and you don’t believe in anyone’s subjectivity but you’re own so…

    i’ll just wait for the govt to redistribute my money to me. that’s all i care about.

  42. Peter Larson
    Posted January 27, 2010 at 6:29 am | Permalink

    Jefferson should have been the first to sever his nose.

  43. crooked zebra
    Posted January 27, 2010 at 8:48 am | Permalink

    Oh snap kjc! I’m glad it’s breakfast time, because Brack has a little egg on his face. His answers are so black and white, that his hair is even afraid to go grey.

    Good Guys: 3
    Bad Guys: 0

    5 yard penalty on Kingpin for being a smart ass.

  44. Edward
    Posted January 27, 2010 at 9:20 am | Permalink

    We should all cut off our noses on the count of three.

    Are you ready?

  45. EOS
    Posted January 27, 2010 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    kjc –

    “there are lots of people who are “pro-life” who don’t think abortion is murder”

    Believing in something doesn’t make it true. Abortion is not murder because some people “think” it is. It is murder by definition – willfully destroying another human life. Just like you can believe evolution is true all day long, but that doesn’t change the fact that , “In the beginning, God created…”

    1 Corinthians 1:25
    This foolish plan of God is wiser than the wisest of human plans, and God’s weakness is stronger than the greatest of human strength.

  46. Stephen R
    Posted January 27, 2010 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    The bible also says that we shouldn’t eat shrimp.

  47. kjc
    Posted January 27, 2010 at 9:52 am | Permalink

    “Believing in something doesn’t make it true.”

    EOS, so true. I applaud your lack of irony. And as you know, I”ll gladly go to whatever hell doesn’t include you.

  48. EOS
    Posted January 27, 2010 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    Read the whole book – the New Testament says you can now eat anything you want. It’s not what goes into your mouth that you need to be concerned with, but what comes out.

  49. Your Co-Pilot
    Posted January 27, 2010 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    EOS,
    Stop making the rest of my flock look bad. Remember, I am love…and everywhere.
    Sincerely,
    God

  50. Posted January 27, 2010 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    BA rightly makes the distinction between legal personhood and natural personhood. While some of the examples given for things that only natural people can do are based on physicalities (drive a car, getting knocked up, have an abortion), others are legalities (getting married, voting).

    If legal personhood carried with it the legal ability to do anything a natural person can do, restricted only by physicalities, a corporation could get married, could vote, could be charged with any crime (the number of businesses that might face manslaughter charges is staggering), etc.

    It seems that we do recognize a legal difference between legal personhood and natural personhood, beyond the physical issues. Corporations are a legal artifice and there is obviously a distinction in law between the two kinds of personhood.

  51. kingpin
    Posted January 27, 2010 at 11:05 am | Permalink

    Thanks for clearing that up.
    I was making a joke.
    I don’t really think that a business could get an abortion…but I guess I can give up my dream that Time Warner will swoop in one day, sweep me off my feet and marry me. I think that corporation is just dreamy, and I totally could’ve spent the rest of my life making it happy. Starcrossed lovers we shall remain….where is our right to get married?

  52. EOS
    Posted January 27, 2010 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    Not my co-pilot. He pilots the plane and needs no help from me.

  53. Posted January 27, 2010 at 11:39 am | Permalink

    Your god is gay.

  54. Your Co-Pilot
    Posted January 27, 2010 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

    EOS, you’re giving me guff now, you self righteous bastard? Well, I guess you can just go to hell. Literally, like in your constitution.

    – God

  55. tommy
    Posted January 27, 2010 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

    I can eat shrimp now? Wow, what other things does the New Testament tell me I can do? EOS – is high fructose corn syrup included? I missed that part. If not, go on a crusade against this vile creation of mankind!

  56. Fred
    Posted January 27, 2010 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

    Shrimps used to have noses. Thomas Jefferson chopped them off.

  57. Brackinald Achery
    Posted January 27, 2010 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

    Thank you, cmadler, for presenting an actual argument.

    I don’t know why that seems to be so hard for most everybody else.

  58. Your Co-Pilot
    Posted January 27, 2010 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

    Brack,
    Just because cmadler sucks your dick, it doesn’t make his arguement good. It does make you gay though….and now I have to smite you. Way to go big mouth! Would you prefer to be a regular salt pillar, or have a little fun with it and go for the sea salt option? It’s all the rage!l

    – God

  59. Curt Waugh
    Posted January 27, 2010 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

    BA, you’re so full of shit. They made corporations near-people so that the people who work for them wouldn’t have any personal liabilities for the crimes they committed in the name of the company (sorry, I meant no liabilities for the debts they incurred — silly me, where did I get that other part?).

    It’s amazing to me just how far you have to twist your brain into knots to convince yourself that corporate personhood is such a great thing when, on the face of it, there are so many arguments against it. It’s a completely unnatural creation and, as such, is subject to any and all regulation placed upon it. It has ZERO natural rights. Only PEOPLE have rights.

    WE THE PEOPLE
    WE THE PEOPLE
    WE THE PEOPLE
    WE THE PEOPLE
    WE THE PEOPLE…..

  60. Brackinald Achery
    Posted January 27, 2010 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

    Look it up.

  61. Brackinald Achery
    Posted January 27, 2010 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

    …and cmadler was not agreeing with my thesis at all. He was merely arguing against it in a way that wasn’t vitriolically mimbonic.

  62. Brackinald Achery
    Posted January 27, 2010 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

    …and if there are so many arguments against corporate personhood “on the face of it,” why the hell aren’t any of you making them?

  63. kingpin
    Posted January 27, 2010 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

    I think he must have looked it up, because he makes more sense than you are making…and people have been arguing about it. You just don’t listen. Oh…sorry…didn’t mean to disturb your reading. You must be looking up some more important factoids to prop up your position that it is right to crush the true will of the people with cash. Politicians vote whichever way the money is flowing. On a smaller scale, just look at Detroit….and that is only one medium sized midwestern city. Imagine if you could influence the presidential election, legally with donations and a bigger bullhorn like you could influence, say, a sludge disposal contract. Scary…

    And as far as the constitution goes…you can wipe your ass with that thing. It’s worthless. It’s not even that old. Governments have changed a ton of times through the years. What makes the United states so fucking special. When something is broken, you fix it….and I’m not talking about amendments, so save all of the stupid founding fathers quotes. Those dead assholes are one of the reasons shit is so fucked up now. Live by the law of nature, not some b.s. that an old fart with a ruffled collar thought would be a good idea 300 years ago. Doing what is right has nothing to do with a piece of paper. The government has fucked me over a few times…why would I listen to them anymore? Fool me once, shame on you…fool me twice, shame on me. I’m done with this thread…this is worse than those assholes on facebook talking shit about helping Haiti.

  64. Posted January 27, 2010 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

    I’ve never asked, but are any of you corporations?

  65. Posted January 27, 2010 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

    Brack?

    You’re a person, right?

  66. Brackinald Achery
    Posted January 27, 2010 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

    A “person” — yes.

    I desperately want cmadler to persuade me that corporations, as legal but not natural persons, should not have freedom of speech in the form of paying for political ads. My mind wants to be changed, but the rest of you can’t argue a cogent logical case for shit. I’m tempted to do it myself under a pseudonym.

  67. Posted January 27, 2010 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

    I’m sure there are all kinds of legal arguments, but the big thing to me is that corporations can’t be held accountable. They can’t go to prison when they break the law. And, when everything goes wrong, they are merely shells for people hide behind.

  68. Yrehca Dlanikcarb
    Posted January 28, 2010 at 12:16 am | Permalink

    Because the status of legal personhood is a “legal fiction” — that is, it is a status granted entirely by law and not by natural right — the rights that are conferred on corporations are not inalienable. They are granted by law; therefore, they can be added to, abridged, or revoked by law. Natural rights, such as freedom of speech, are inalienable — they do not come from government (according to our legal tradition, anyway), and can not be taken away by government, but they are reserved for “natural” persons, not legal “persons.”

    Those rights traditionally granted to corporations as legal persons are those rights which enable them to be held as accountable as a sole proprietor or partnership would be — the right to own property, the right to enter into contracts, the right to sue, and the right to be sued. Without these, corporations would be completely unaccountable, as traditionally only individual persons can be sued.

    To say that corporations, as singular legal persons, possess the right to free speech because the individual members possess the freedom of speech, is similar to saying that the corporation has the right to vote. It can have neither, because in order to exercise that speech in the form of a political ad, or vote collectively as a unit, each member would have to agree in supporting that candidate as a unit. With stock constantly changing hands, it is impossible to gather that kind of unanimous consent of a corporations’ members in regard to supporting anything beyond profit — which they tacitly do agree to the moment they buy shares of the corporation.

    But a particular political candidate represents more than potential profit. He/she stands for many issues beyond possibly passing legislation in the corporation’s favor. Issues like abortion, gay marriage, whether to keep “In God We Trust” on coins, child labor laws, or even whether to outlaw smoking in bars, divide the political stripe of shareholders of a corporation to the extant that the collective unit is incapable of representing these disparate collective views as an individual person, promoting an individual candidate (whether by vote, or by speech).

    Therefore, since: a) corporations’ rights are granted and alienable by law, (in that their personhood is granted by law), and b) it is impossible for a corporation to act collectively as a unit in promoting an individual candidate (in that an individual candidate stands for much more than a potential asset to the corporation’s profits), it is perfectly sound to abridge by legislation corporations’ right to vote, or exercise free speech in the form of paying for political ads.

    Since Congress has not been granted authority by the Constitution to enact laws abridging corporations’ rights as legal persons, I propose a Constitutional amendment granting Congress that authority.

    In the mean time, individual States in which the corporations “reside” should pass laws abridging corporations’ right to free speech in the political arena (State or Federal), if their State Constitutions grant them such authority. If not, they too should be amended if need be.

    Judging by the outrage most Americans feel at the thought of corporations buying politicians and passing unconstitutional laws aimed solely at securing profits for themselves, mobilizing a nationwide campaign to affect these changes does not seem to me to be outside the realm of possibility.

  69. Yrehca Dlanikcarb
    Posted January 28, 2010 at 12:37 am | Permalink

    To sum up: a corporation can only rationally represent its members as a unit in regard to profit, contract, and property as relates to the corporation — not in regard to political opinion. To attempt to give the legal person a voice or vote in the latter most case would be to add a voice or a vote to a nonentity, rather than to represent its members’ collective voices or votes.

  70. Kim
    Posted January 28, 2010 at 8:55 am | Permalink

    Wait here… I’m going to create an alias to agree with me, since no one else will.

    I’ll be right back.

  71. Your Co-Pilot
    Posted January 28, 2010 at 9:06 am | Permalink

    I love you more than any of my other children right now, Yrehca. You got a miracle coming your way someday, kid! Bless you.

    – God

  72. kjc
    Posted January 28, 2010 at 9:31 am | Permalink

    The Corporation is available online for free fyi. It’s a slog but at least you can watch it at your leisure. I saw it in the theater and was exhausted and depressed by the end.

  73. Posted January 28, 2010 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    “In the mean time, individual States in which the corporations “reside” should pass laws abridging corporations’ right to free speech in the political arena (State or Federal), if their State Constitutions grant them such authority. If not, they too should be amended if need be.”

    While I like the idea, this probably won’t work, because the long standing SCOTUS interpretation holds that the 14th Amendment’s due process clause requires the application of much of the Bill of Rights to the states, in a process called “incorporation”. In other words, because the First Amendment guarantees freedom of speech, individual states are prohibited from limiting that freedom. All state laws, whether statutory or constitutional, are subordinate to the US Constitution and the SCOTUS interpretation.

    On the other hand, long-standing SCOTUS interpretations don’t seem to count for much any more, so who knows…

  74. applejack
    Posted January 28, 2010 at 11:44 am | Permalink

    So I agree with bizarro brackache… but not regular brackache. Can bizarro brakache convince his evil twin of the righteousness of his own argument?

  75. Brackinald Achery
    Posted January 28, 2010 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

    I’m 100% convinced in theory, but I won’t be fully satisfied until we get over this 14th Amendment hump.

  76. Yrehca Dlanikcarb
    Posted January 28, 2010 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

    I think if we accept these points:

    a) corporations’ rights are granted and alienable by law, (in that their personhood is granted by law), and b) it is impossible for a corporation to act collectively as a unit in promoting an individual candidate (in that an individual candidate stands for much more than a potential asset to the corporation’s profits),

    …then we take the federal bill of rights out of the picture entirely. It becomes less a matter of the 1st (and therefore 14th) amendments specifically forbidding laws, than a matter of enumerated powers not granting the authority to make laws.

    In other words, since corporations do not have natural rights, only legally granted rights (granted by the States in which they “reside”, if I’m not mistaken — correct me if I’m mistaken), but the federal government has no Constitutional authority to grant (or deny) corporations legal rights, then the authority to grant (or deny) corporations legal rights falls to the States by default.

    The federal 1st and 14th amendments don’t even have to come into play in regard to non-natural legal persons created not by nature/nature’s God, but by State law. Am I wrong?

  77. dragon
    Posted January 29, 2010 at 1:07 am | Permalink

    The progressive PR firm Murray Hill Inc. has announced that it plans to satirically run for Congress in the Republican primary in Maryland’s 8th congressional district to protest the Supreme Court’s disastrous decision. A press release on its website says that the company wants to “eliminate the middle man” and run for Congress directly, rather than influencing it with corporate dollars:

    “Until now,” Murray Hill Inc. said in a statement, “corporate interests had to rely on campaign contributions and influence peddling to achieve their goals in Washington. But thanks to an enlightened Supreme Court, now we can eliminate the middle-man and run for office ourselves.”

    “The strength of America,” Murray Hill Inc. says, “is in the boardrooms, country clubs and Lear jets of America’s great corporations. We’re saying to Wal-Mart, AIG and Pfizer, if not you, who? If not now, when?” […]

    Campaign Manager William Klein promises an aggressive, historic campaign that “puts people second” or even third. “The business of America is business, as we all know,” Klein says. “But now, it’s the business of democracy too.” Klein plans to use automated robo-calls, “Astroturf” lobbying and computer-generated avatars to get out the vote.

    Murray Hill Inc. plans on spending “top dollar” to protect its investment. “It’s our democracy,” Murray Hill Inc. says, “We bought it, we paid for it, and we’re going to keep it.”

  78. Posted January 29, 2010 at 10:57 am | Permalink

    “The federal 1st and 14th amendments don’t even have to come into play in regard to non-natural legal persons created not by nature/nature’s God, but by State law. Am I wrong?”

    You are wrong, because in the recent SCOTUS ruling, they said you were wrong. In other words, the 1st and 14th amendments don’t have to come into play, except that SCOTUS has now decreed that they do have to come into play. I don’t think there is any possibility of going Andrew Jackson on this issue, so it will have to be addressed, either by constitutional amendment or, more likely several decades from now when the SCOTUS make up has changed.

  79. Brackinald Achery
    Posted January 29, 2010 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

    Well then… I guess you’re really up shit creek.

  80. Brackinald Achery
    Posted February 2, 2010 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    I’ve been thinking about Yrehca’s argument about why the 1st Amendment doesn’t apply to non-natural persons, and I’m not buying it. The idea is to limit redundant speech by not allowing non-natural entities to have a voice. Well, that means Congress has the ability to censor any sort of political speech by a newspaper (media corporation), or by fictional characters in books, movies, or TV. None of those are natural persons.

  81. Brackinald Achery
    Posted February 2, 2010 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    …or, if not Congress, the States.

  82. Edward
    Posted February 2, 2010 at 10:28 am | Permalink

    My shoe wants to issue a press release about this.

  83. Brackinald Achery
    Posted February 2, 2010 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    What’s stopping it?

  84. Brackinald Achery
    Posted February 2, 2010 at 10:31 pm | Permalink

    You know what else? Dead people can’t vote, or marry, or run for office, or anything. In fact, most dead people aren’t even people anymore — they’re dirt, worms, daisies, etc. Therefore, dead people’s speech is not protected speech, and it’s okay for legislators to censor anything written by someone who’s dead.

  85. Brackinald Achery
    Posted February 2, 2010 at 10:40 pm | Permalink

    I for one don’t want dead people filling the impressionable minds of today’s voting populace, while they themselves frolic merrily in their afterlives, untouched by the present ramifications of their past beliefs.

    Dead people have no rights!

    It’s time we end this macabre corpse-worshiping, and petition Congress to burn all forms of speech (books, film, etc) that have survived their authors.

    Piles of wormy dirt aren’t people!!! THEY AREN’T PEOPLE!!!

  86. Gerald
    Posted February 2, 2010 at 11:59 pm | Permalink

    Since corporations are people now, what gender are they? Shouldn’t they each declare a gender on their corporate tax forms? I’m mostly worried about potential mergers of two male corporations. No offense, but I (meaning the we that is I) don’t want to buy products from homosexual corporations.

    By the way, does the idea of “people acting as a unit” equaling a person apply to other things as well? Is Ypsilanti a person? If we are a person, I (aka the we which is I) totally have to rethink my (meaning our that is my) opinions on partnering with multiple neighboring persons. We’re not a slut, are we?

    Hopefully this can all be resolved before this Sunday when those two great people from New Orleans and Indianapolis clash to see who’s the greatest football person of all.

    I guess that makes all of us watching the game one person! We are not all individual people.We are one! We are legion! No, sorry… I are legion!

    The Supreme Court just game me goosebumps! The Supreme Court is one awesome MILF!

  87. Yrehca Dlanikcarb
    Posted February 3, 2010 at 12:03 am | Permalink

    Uh… the difference is that corporations are created by government regulation, and are granted limited rights by government along with that charter.

    Neither fictional characters (such as in literature or entertainment), nor dead people were created by regulation, nor are they granted limited rights by regulation.

    It’s not just that they aren’t natural persons that makes their rights subject to legal abridgment, it’s that their rights are justly subject to the control of whomever created them. Fictional characters’ rights are subject to the control of their authors, natural persons’ (alive or dead) rights are subject to the control of nature/God (as far as natural rights are concerned — not trying to get into a religious argument)… in the case of the dead, their speech which has survived them in the form of property is subject to the new property owners (copyright owners, publishers, private individuals who bought the book, etc). Those new property owners, unlike the government, are free to burn them if they wish!

    Corporations’ rights are therefore rightfully subject not only to their members, but also to the State that chartered them — the government that granted them personhood and limited rights in the first place.

    It is strange fate that corporations as persons, which would not exist without government regulation, have grown so unduly influential in controlling their creator.

    I wonder if your precious free market anarchy utopia that exists only in your mind would allow corporations to form as legal persons in the first place, since there would be no government to grant them personhood, nor limited liability. Something you’ll no doubt relish believing.

  88. Gerald
    Posted February 3, 2010 at 12:03 am | Permalink

    By the way. If a person/corporation is starting to form and is prevented from becoming incorporated by another person (say a person/bank), is that abortion? If a person/corporation intentionally causes another person/corporation to cease to exist, is it murder?

  89. Brackinald Achery
    Posted February 3, 2010 at 12:10 am | Permalink

    Well, that’s a conundrum. I like a lot of the benefits that corporations have brought as far as technological developments, wealth expansion, and Big Macs, but they are, as you rightly point out, ultimately creatures of government regulation, not free markets. What a conundrum for me!

  90. Yrehca Dlanikcarb
    Posted February 3, 2010 at 12:13 am | Permalink

    I’m not sure that’s technically a conundrum.

  91. Brackinald Achery
    Posted February 3, 2010 at 12:57 am | Permalink

    http://www.fee.org/pdf/the-freeman/feat7.pdf

  92. SFCC
    Posted February 3, 2010 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    Please let us know what it is that you want to say, Edward’s Shoe. The ottoman and I are dying to hear what you’ve got on your mind.

    -The Smith Family Curio Cabinet

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