Corporate personhood

During the Citizens United proceedings, when Justice Sotomayor breached the idea that perhaps this personhood application to corporations is what needs to be reviewed by the Court, I about started clapping while I was driving up the NJ Turnpike and listening to the proceedings. That's the real issue here, which is going to take at least another couple of Sotomayor's on the bench to reverse.

But that's a ways away, and in the meantime, Lawrence Lessig email that:

The Democratic leadership in Congress just announced its response to the Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United, the case that struck down limits on independent corporate campaign expenditures.

Here's how Lessig breaks down the offerings and his reactions:

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How will SCOTUS decision affect corporate media?

In 2004, the United Church of Christ produced a television commercial promoting its inclusive approach to organized faith. The ad showed two nightclub-style bouncers guarding the rope line of a church as they denied entry to a gay male couple, several people of color, and a man in a wheelchair. By contrast, a white family of four had no problems getting through.

"Jesus didn't turn people away" was the ad's tagline, but CBS did, turning down the commercial which was intended for broadcast during that year's Super Bowl. The 30-second spot apparently violated the network's policy of "prohibiting advocacy ads, even ones that carry an 'implicit' endorsement for a side in a public debate."

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Next step; a political World War III

When the Supreme Court empowered corporations to spend as much as they wish in the months leading up to elections, they did the equivalent of dropping duel hydrogen bombs on the Democratic Party and the American democracy.  The American People will NOT be able to meet and raise that corporate ante in ANY future election.  And so President Obama and the Democrats must do whatever it takes to neutralize the treasonous ruling. 

President Obama gave a prelude regarding the extent of what’s at stake when he recently told Diane Sawyer;

I'd rather be a really good one-term president than a mediocre two-term president,

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Transparency for corporate and labor money

My perspective on the SCOTUS ruling is mixed. I think there's strong arguments against the ruling, but I also doubt it's worth all the effort going to reverse the ruling. In fact, there are parts of the ruling that are quite favorable. Sunlight Foundation spells out the part where I think the energy should go into:

Yesterday the Supreme Court announced a decision that will allow more money into our political system than ever before. If you think big money and lobbyists already run roughshod over Washington, you haven't seen anything yet.

The Court did admit one silver lining -- that online transparency might help citizens and voters figure out who is buying or selling influence, and that the first line of defense is the disclosure of all this new political spending in a way that is worthy of the 21st century.

We need to make all the disclosures available to anyone online and in real-time.

And the disclosure needs to happen across the board. All political contributions and expenditures by everyone - candidates, contributors, labor unions, and interest groups - need to be transparent to us.

Stronger disclosure is the way to go on this matter. Only Clarence Thomas was against the disclosure provisions of the law. Rather than go down the path of attempting to reverse this through legislation, which is probably a dead-end, a push for more transparency is ultimately going to give us the means to accountability.

IA-03: Boswell introduces constitutional amendment to overturn SCOTUS ruling

Representative Leonard Boswell (D, IA-03) has introduced a constitutional amendment in response to the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in the Citizens United case, Iowa Independent reported today.

Boswell is looking for co-sponsors and explained the case for amending the constitution:

“I have introduced this important legislation because the Supreme Court’s ruling strikes at the very core of democracy in the United States by inflating the speech rights of large, faceless corporations to the same level of hard-working, every day Americans,” Boswell said in a statement. “The court’s elevation of corporate speech inevitably overpowers the speech and interests of human citizens who do not have the coffers to speak as loudly.”

Boswell said House Joint Resolution 68 would disallow a corporation or labor organization from using any operating funds or any other funds from its general treasury to pay for an advertisement in connection with a federal election campaign, regardless of whether or not the advertisement expressly advocates the election or defeat of a specified candidate.

“Corporations already have an active role in American political discourse through million-dollar political action committees and personal donations to campaigns,” Boswell said. “The legislation I introduced will prevent the Wall Street corporations that received billions in taxpayer bailout dollars from turning around and pouring that same money into candidates that will prevent financial regulation on their industry. No American should have to turn on the TV and see AIG telling them how to vote.”

I totally agree with Boswell, although I'm pessimistic that Congress would pass this kind of amendment. I'm curious to see how many Democrats will back this effort.


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