Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Time to Get Corporations and Unions Out of Politics

Yeah, yeah, I know about that first amendment thing:
...and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
regarding lobbying.

 I also know what an abominable decision the Supreme Court made in Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad which enshrined the legal fiction of Corporate Personhood which led, directly to the decision in Citizens United.

So let's quit messing around. Let's bring a case to the Supreme Court that lets them correct the 1886 travesty,
[you little bomb thrower, you -ed]

Here's Knowledge@Wharton quoting a gaggle of experts dancing around the issue, getting into the minutiae, with no one (except J.P. Stevens in the dissent and Peter Kinder in the pull-quote) slicing the Gordian Knot by saying "You know, maybe corporate structures shouldn't have the same rights as natural persons":

Citizens 'Dis-united': How a Recent Supreme Court Case Sounds the Alarm about the Political Role of Corporations
On November 2, voters will cast ballots in the first election since the Supreme Court ruled that corporations, unions and other interest groups have a First Amendment right to spend freely in political campaigns. Following the January ruling, campaign expenditures in the mid-term elections have hit record highs. But the contentious five-to-four decision in Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission has opened more than corporate coffers, said experts at a recent Wharton conference, many of whom believe the controversial ruling has opened a can of worms for corporations, shareholders and citizens alike.

The landmark case began with a dispute over the airing of a 90-minute film about Secretary of State Hillary Clinton by a nonprofit called Citizens United, and ended with the Supreme Court overturning laws that put limits on corporate political spending. The ruling also frees nonprofits, unions, trade associations and other groups to fund ads endorsing or opposing the candidate of their choice. (Companies are still banned from contributing directly to federal candidates.)

"If the First Amendment has any force, it prohibits Congress from fining or jailing citizens, or associations of citizens, for simply engaging in political speech," Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote for the majority. "[T]he government may not suppress political speech on the basis of the speaker's corporate identity. No sufficient governmental interest justifies limits on the political speech of non-profit or for-profit corporations."

In a 90-page dissent that deemed the majority opinion "misguided" and "faulty," Justice John Paul Stevens argued that the Court erred in equating corporations with individuals, and warned that the ruling could end up hurting free speech.

"The conceit that corporations must be treated identically to natural persons in the political sphere is not only inaccurate but also inadequate to justify the Court's disposition of this case," Stevens wrote. "The Court's blinkered and aphoristic approach to the First Amendment may well promote corporate power at the cost of the individual and collective self-expression the Amendment was meant to serve. It will undoubtedly cripple the ability of ordinary citizens, Congress and the states to adopt even limited measures to protect against corporate domination of the electoral process."

By and large, the experts gathered at Wharton on October 1 for the conference, "Citizens United and the Changing Political Role of the Corporation," agreed with the minority opinion of the court. They believe the Citizens United decision creates liberties for corporations that need to be somehow curtailed, checked or undone. Brought together by Wharton's Zicklin Center for Business Ethics Research, the Center for Political Accountability, and the University of California, Los Angeles School of Law, the assortment of lawyers, activists, investors and academics discussed ways to respond to the Citizens United decision. They suggested pushing for more disclosure of corporate political expenditures, explored the effectiveness of increased shareholder activism and debated the plausibility of a Constitutional amendment. All agree that the ruling has significantly changed America's political landscape....MORE
..."It is critically important for people to realize that there is no way out of this situation except, ultimately, a Constitutional amendment," noted Peter Kinder, president of KDL Research & Analytics of Boston, a provider of social investment research. "It's going to have to reflect that for the purposes of a Constitution, when the word 'person' is used, it refers to a person, [not a corporation].... There's no other way to do this.... These are not economic questions.... These are moral questions."...
I checked with the Lady attorneys, they said the constitutional basis for overturning Santa Clara County is sound and that other than the little matter of taking on GE and the SEIU, Boeing and AFSCME and Google and the AFT all at the same time they saw no problems.

Then they went back to discussing the merits of Tuscany v. Monaco and whether the Saint-Tropez regatta is really worth the effort.