Saturday, January 23, 2010

Thoughts on Citizens United, the Supreme Court Corporate Speech Case

1/23/2010--The advantage of a blog is that I can pontificate here without knowing anything. I have not read the opinion in Citizens United and yet I will still write about it here.

First, I’m not too worried about the decision since I’m a pretty big free speech guy. The Obama campaign showed that the left could raise money too. Rich people already could spend money on politics and big corporations are not likely to alienate customers by getting directly political.

Second, the biggest corruption in politics is not money but lying in special interest commercials, as in the swift boat tactics against Kerry in 2004. We should now remove all remaining contribution and spending limits so that candidates can be required by the voters to control all the expenditures made on their behalf. Bush could legitimately claim to have no say in how the funds expended to attack Kerry were used because they were independent expenditures. That needs to end. We need accountability in political speech.

Finally, Citizens United should expose once and for all the hypocrisy of conservative jurisprudence. I believe that the Constitution changes with the times. But Justice Scalia says he does not believe that. Therefore the question for him should not have been whether corporations ought to have constitutional rights, but whether they did have such rights when the Constitution was written. The answer to that question is obviously no. Throughout the 19th century and certainly before, corporations were regarded as creatures of the State. They could not have had rights against the state in the same sense as human beings had rights. The framers of the Constitution would not have thought that the relevant terms, such as “person” or “free speech, applied to corporations. If conservatives wanted to change the Constitution, they should have amended it, rather than engaging in judicial activism. If they like this decision, they have abandoned originalism and adopted liberal jurisprudence.

No comments:

Post a Comment