Future, Present, & Past:
Speculative~~ Giving itself latitude and leisure to take any premise or inquiry to its furthest associative conclusion.
Critical~~ Ready to apply, to itself and its object, the canons of reason, evidence, style, and ethics, up to their limits.
Traditional~~ At home and at large in the ecosystem of practice and memory that radically nourishes the whole person.
Monday, January 25, 2010
Corporations are people too, apparently
To anyone exercised over the Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United v Federal Election Commission, which (briefly) deems it unconstitutional not to allow corporations to spend as much money as they like in support of (or against) particular political candidates (although not to directly fund a candidate's campaign), I commend the discussion on the Volokh Conspiracy, and, for balance, the analysis at Project Censored. Most of the comments on Volokh seem to agree with the Court's decision, though not always with the rationale; in particular, some argue that Justice Scalia's "Originalism" sits ill with the ruling, his protests notwithstanding. Project C., on the other hand, is not addressing the legal arguments, but the political and social ramifications. Scrivener's Error, on the third hand, does (much more briefly) address the legal rationale from the other side--arguing most trenchantly that the contention of the Court's majority missed the point.
The argument seems to turn upon whether "free speech for corporations" had to be granted, lest free speech for individuals be susceptible to suppression; Justice Kennedy, writing for the majority, tried to raise the spectre of blog censorship. Obviously, this summary of mine is not rife with legal finesse. Anyone wanting to set me straight is welcome to school me.
One thing I do not see discussed very much is the question, Why did the Court decide to consider the issue in such broad terms, rather than issue a narrow decision regarding the original case? In fact, in his dissenting opinion (starting on p 91 of the decision), Justice Stevens clearly suggests that in asking for the case to be re-argued from this point of view, the Court "changed the case to give themselves an opportunity to change the law."
In any case, the impression is hard to avoid that the Supreme Court has given the U.S. a big push towards Managed Democracy.
(More on Citizens United in this excellent (albeit tendentious) Slate article by Richard Hasen).
[Addendum: the best legal commentary I have found on the matter is Paul Gowder's, which manages to argue why the decision was wrong without having recourse to grounds that would probably exclude free speech for other groups of people as well; the most alarmist commentary, while managing to remain barely believable, is Keith Olbermann's.]