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January 22, 2010

The Left’s Freaked Out Reaction To Citizens United v. FEC

I have to admit I wasn’t expecting this level of nuttiness in reaction to yesterday’s decision. I’m not sure if they really care this much about the case or it was just too much on top of Scott Brown’s election and the death of health care reform, so they have collectively lost it.

Either way, the heart of the left’s critique of the decision seems to be that corporations aren’t people and therefore they don’t t have the same rights as individuals.

Not surprisingly that’s not exactly what the court said. The 5 justices simply said Congress can’t regulate political speech. It doesn’t say anything about whether or not corporations are people, real or imaginary, the thing is the speech, not the speaker. Now I’m not sure where they got this crazy idea (maybe the actual words of the Constitution had something to do with it) but this decision simply recognizes the limits on the power of Congress and says nothing about the rights of corporations.

Here’s Keith Olbermann, to take but one example of lefty reaction.

Today, the Supreme Court, of Chief Justice John Roberts, in a decision that might actually have more dire implications than "Dred Scott v Sandford," declared that because of the alchemy of its 19th Century predecessors in deciding that corporations had all the rights of people, any restrictions on how these corporate-beings spend their money on political advertising, are unconstitutional.

In short, the first amendment — free speech for persons — which went into affect in 1791, applies to corporations, which were not recognized as the equivalents of persons until 1886.

He thinks this is bad. But let’s take Keith and other lefties “logic” to its natural conclusion…First amendment rights should only apply to people not corporations. What else is in the First Amendment? Oh yeah…freedom of the press. I guess according to the logic of Olberman (employee of NBC/GE ), the editorial board of the NY Times (aka The New York Times Company) and E..J Dione (writing in the Washington Post, aka The Washington Post Company) that freedom doesn’t apply to their employers. Following their "reasoning", the government can simply outlaw or regulated any publication, broadcast or activity by those companies.

Is that really the position the left wants to take? Of course not. They’ll argue, ‘well it’s different because…it’s different. Now shut up fascist!”

But how is it different?

Sure the Constitution protects ‘the press’ but as bloggers of today and pamphleteers of the founding era know, you don’t need to be a corporation to be ‘the press’. Clearly corporate media isn’t a necessary condition of ‘the press’ so why should media corporations be afforded special protections for 1st Amendment activities others aren’t?

There's also the inconvenient fact that corporations are nothing more than an aggregation of individuals (investors, workers, managers, etc). Each of these people have first amendment speech rights. Why exactly should those rights be destroyed simply because they are exercising them collectively instead of individually? (hint: they shouldn't)

There’s simply no merit to the left’s critique and they won’t like where it leads. The beauty of being a lefty is that every case is different and the argument you use one day, isn’t applicable to similar circumstances the next day if it doesn’t help you.

Olbermann and the rest are wrong on the law and wrong on the logic. In other words, just another day in America.

BTW- Have you noticed how much of the anger is directed at Chief Justice Roberts in this case? It’s kind of funny since he didn’t write the opinion, Anthony Kennedy did. Strikes me that a lot of these folks know that Kennedy is a mercurial fellow and that they may need him someday (say when the Prop 8 challenge reaches SCOTUS in a year or two) and they don’t want to alienate him.

Added: I almost forgot. Our super genius "Professor of Constitutional Law" President had this reaction to the decision.

In a written statement, he said the high court had “given a green light to a new stampede of special interest money in our politics,” and pledged to “work immediately” with Congress to develop a “forceful response.”

“The public interest requires nothing less,” Obama said.

Unless by work with Congress he means amend the 1st Amendment, there's not much they can do about a decision that rests on constitutional basis, not simply statutory interpretation.

You'd think a supposedly smart guy like Obama would know that but....


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posted by DrewM. at 11:54 AM

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