Judicial precedent does not limit the ability to legislate. Although checks and balance are being gutted left and right, that principle should still be intact.
The decision is terrible policy but isn't crazy. In 1886, the Supreme Court decided that a corporation is a person for constitutional purposes. It's disputed how this was decided, since it's in a clerk's note rather than the opinion itself, Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific RR, 118 U.S. 394 (1886), but it's been accepted as legal precedent ever since. That's what needs to be overruled.
From @Ali_Davis: "Frito-Lay and Hostess now have unprecedented power to influence elections. I have a feeling our nation's pot laws are changing."

I personally think tea companies should get on the possibilities for 2012 now... "The Republic of Tea Presents: The Scott Brown 2012 Presidential Campaign."
As a Canadian, my understanding of the whole "coprporation = person under the law" thing is a little hazy, but Stevens' observation brings one question to mind. If it comes to pass that corporations have a right to vote, what is to stop one human person or a small group of human persons from setting up hundreds or thousands of legal corporations and reaping hundreds or thousands of additional votes?
Jesus. Donations between corporations and politicians (and campaigns, referendums, etc.) should be regulated as strictly as the SEC regulates "gifts" between firms and their clients. In many ways, they are courting the same thing.
Heh heh heh ! The corporations will deduct their billions in donations as business expenses, also! Heh heh heh.

Whereas people can't deduct their donations, heh heh heh.

Thank God I finally ensured corporations have more rights than people!

Next term: giving corporations the right to vote, heh heh heh!
There is dancing on the streets of Dubai, China, and Saudi Arabia today.

Their sovereign wealth funds can now directly own US firms and contribute to attack ads against US politicians who don't do their bidding.

Way to go, activist America-hating Justices!
@5 I see you see where I am going with this......
@8: Can't tell if your entire comment is serious or not, but I'm just going to throw this out there:

"activist judge" and "legislating from the bench" are two of the most overused, entirely meaningless phrases ever.
You needed TWO "Senior Legal Analysts" to write this?
Enjoy your final Democratic administration America!
What would be the consequences of a constitutional amendment that explicitly states that amendments apply only to individual persons and not corporate entities or other muti-person legal entities?
The worst part about this is that it will snowball. To overturn the corporate control of the process you need elected officials to be on your side. To have officials on your side you need them to outspend their opponent.

So if a corporation is a person can we draft them? What about jail them?
Almost makes you want to criticize the Democrats who supported Alito and Roberts. But then again, Stranger readers don't do anything so radical as criticize the Democrats.
Repeat after me, citizens:

We are Consumers. Corporations give our lives meaning by selling Things to us. Corporations will use our money to give us the government that will best support our Consumption. Regulation will only keep us from having the things that we want. We offer Industry our beautiful Cash, with which it will give us more beautiful Things to buy, allowing us to fulfill our magnificent destinies. We thank you, oh Lord Capitalism, for such a perfect system. God bless the United Franchises of the Bank of America. Amen.
@12 - This sort of corruption has always been bipartisan.
??? "...corporations will be able to give unlimited money to candidates who favor their positions." Other analysts I read yesterday and this morning say the decision applies to independent expenditures on behalf of candidates, but does not revoke contribution limits that are imposed on candidates by law. Could you ask your legal beagles to dig a little further, please?
Perhaps it would help if you listed your sources.
Seems to me that paying lobbyists will still be a more cost-effective way for corporations to influence legislation. It's a lot easier to pay a group of ex-legislators to convince a small, fairly uniform population of elected officials to take your side than convincing all those unruly voters with advertising. Overall this will probably help non-profits (like the plantiff) make their specific preferences known.
@3, SCOTUS all but discounts the harm of money in elections. They've redefined speech to be money. Now they've redefined person. A corporation has the same fundamental 1st Amendment rights as an individual citizen. It is legal fiction run amok.

The 1976 case Buckley v. Valeo holding that money equals speech is the real problem. I understand that government prohibiting "Rich Guy" from spending on his own behalf is concerning despite the likely outcome that Rich Guy will have more political power than Poor Guy. But at least that case allowed reasonable regulation of corps and recognized the corrupting influence of money in elections.

Expanding that holding to corps is insane. No individual is as wealthy as a corporation. Plus, the corporation's purpose is to make money, not set policy or be engaged in democracy. Its motive is very narrow and distinguishable from that of even a John D. Rockefeller. Not to mention a corporation can be controlled by foreign entities.

We the people are now replaced by wealthy institutions. Representative Democracy is dead. Welcome to the County of Boeing, State of Microsoft, country of Goldman-Sachs.

@18, that is correct. Money is being handed to politician, but the effect is still dire. It is legalized bribery. Quid pro Quo: I pay for hit piece against your opponent, when you win you do help me. Of course there is no direct exchange of dollars, but the effect is the same. Even worse, if politician doesn't play the game, then corp can spend money against that candidate.

To say that advertising spent right before an election does not sway public opinion ignores reality. It's like the Stranger placing McGinn's face on its paper. Now it will be direct and unabashed corporate advertising. No debate. No fact checking.
Crap, revise to read "is NOT being handed"
@11. Yes, they do. Emphasis on "senior."
"I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. ... corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed."

— U.S. President Abraham Lincoln, Nov. 21, 1864
@21 "Welcome to the County of Boeing, State of Microsoft, country of Goldman-Sachs."

So in other words yesterday's ruling doesn't change anything? I'll agree with that.
@CG, I disagree. It changes everything. Despite the Wall Street economic crisis, election of Obama, and Democrats in power, we are more controlled by corporations than in the Bush administration. Not only did the tide not turn, but it came rushing back at us like a tsunami. This means elections and democracy are officially dead.

Now that is change you can believe in.
@10 - I'm totally serious. If you actually think they won't do that, than I've got a Billionaires Tunnel I could sell you ...
The problem for me is just the idea the corporations should be able to speak for themselves, but it doesn't say whether or not these corporations have to be public or not. Essentially this means the CEO of a company can speak for thousands of people without their consent.
@29 - but they do - for thousands of people in China, and in Saudi Arabia, and in ... oh, did you mean for Americans?

LOL, you are so naive.
On top of that is the assumption that restriction of a corporations speech is restriction of a persons speech. That's not the case, since an INDIVIDUAL can say whatever they want.
@27: The dramatic force of your statements overwhelms me. I must concede.
@31 - they can? Are you sure?

What if they're an American citizen held in an INS detention center or in GITMO?

Are you really sure?

Corporations have free speech. American citizens rarely do.
Duke Cunningham should appeal his conviction for taking bribes. Aren't bribes a form of speech?
I love the conceit here. I assume everyone who claims that money dictates elections manages to vote in accordance with their own conscience and beliefs as opposed to just following the bulk of the advertising? Why not give other people the same credit?
This ruling was part of a case of a non-profit trying to air a documentary (albeit one of I'm sure terrible quality). Just take a step back and ask yourself if you really think that it is in the interest of fair elections that a non-profit corporation not be allowed to show a documentary about a candidate because it is too close to election time. Is that what you really favor?
I was curious if anyone who read the opinion thought of the comment on pg 51 of the majority decision and its' potential for it to affect the Washington State name disclosure case. The court talked about disclosure and how facially disclosure of people who paid for ads should be allowed, however they then went further and said:

the Court acknowledged that as-applied challenges would be available if a group could show a “‘reasonable probability’” that disclosure of its contributors’ names “‘will subject them to threats, harassment, or reprisals from either Government officials or private parties.’” Id., at 198 (quoting Buckley, supra, at 74)

That seems to me that if these same justices decide on the Ref 71 case about name disclosure they may rule that the names should not be revealed.
We're SO fucked. Corporate monsters are going to permanently block any progressive/un-corporate friendly politicians, legislation out of our government. You're going to HAVE to be a sellout now to run for office. I know many believed this before today but Alan Grayson, Kucinich, Sanders are popular sitting politicians who probably wouldn't be where they are if they had to go against multi-billion dollar corporate interests

The most powerful corporate "persons" are not even loyal to the U.S. They are transnational. Many are foreign and can mask themselves with made-up corporations in the U.S. if they have to. So how does this fly with this supreme court?

Regarding how Obama got into office, Greg Palast writes: "Well, kiss that small-donor revolution goodbye. Under the Court's new rules, progressive list serves won't stand a chance against the resources of new "citizens" such as CNOOC, the China National Offshore Oil Corporation. Maybe UBS (United Bank of Switzerland), which faces U.S. criminal prosecution and a billion-dollar fine for fraud, might be tempted to invest in a few Senate seats."…
@35 Exactly. I can't imagine corporations are going to want to mess with something as expensive and messy as electoral politics when there are perfectly effective discreet avenues available to them. This ruling is more likely encourage the creation of small donor funded non-profit electoral advertising organizations for wingnuts from both the left and right. After all, it wasn't Exxon that was suing for the right to run political ads.
@36, more intriguing than the rule statement is the analysis that follows: "The examples [of blacklisting, threats, and retaliation] cited by amici are cause for concern. Citizens United, however, has offered no evidence that its members may face similar threats or reprisals."

So, what happens when there is evidence of threats or reprisals? Thomas' dissent gives a two-paragraph preview of Prop 8-flavored examples that I suspect will appear in the Court's Ref 71 decision.

While we're on the topic of Thomas, I love that he cites himself citing himself.
Everything is right on course. No worries. No Panic. The Power Addicts hiding behind the corporations are just reacting out of FEAR to "we the people" who have spoken. "We the People" have a lot more power then they ever could because there is a lot more us than the Power Addicts (corp). So please calm down and see the big picture for what is ...ask yourselves...Why are they really afraid.....Maybe that the many will stop being "afraid" and realize how much Power they really have...and Act on it. Just a possiblity.......a dream... of all those who have sacrified theirs lives for our freedom. Lets thank them...and behave bravely with wisdom responding intelligently. Some people call out "Oh My God" and others "Oh My Gold". Remember no one said change would be easy...please don't bail out..when the going gets tough the tough get going....there are answers....Stand up and role model what confidents looks like...Thank you so much!
@39 Your right it is kinda scary considering the possibilities for the upcoming case... as they said even later on that a law requiring disclosure "would be un-constitutional as applied to an organization if there were a reasonable probability that the group’s members would face threats, harassment, or reprisals if their names were disclosed."

I can see where they are going on this already.
Thanks again, Ralph!
I wish @42 wasn't right.

But they are.

Ralph Nader, by his actions, helped destroy America in 2000.
I heard someone on NPR yesterday float the idea of a law that would require that corporations get approval from the shareholders for any political spending. Seems like a really good idea right now. Probably would be better than the McCain-Feingold limits.

Please wait...

Comments are closed.

Commenting on this item is available only to members of the site. You can sign in here or create an account here.

Add a comment

By posting this comment, you are agreeing to our Terms of Use.