My comment to the Supreme Court: Corporations Are Not "People"
by btchakir, Sat Jan 23, 2010 at 11:26:28 AM EST
I have personally created several corporations in my time, and never once have I thought any of them to be separate "people" - if I had I would have been granting myself more than the "one man, one vote" concept of our Constitution and all related laws.
Now we have the Supreme Court allowing Corporations (and, yes, Labor Unions - also not separate "people") the ability to spend unregulated amounts of money on elections... because they are "people" within the law.
This is scary. In his weekly radio address, President Obama said:
<blockquote><em>"This ruling opens the floodgates for an unlimited amount of special interest money into our democracy. It gives the special interest lobbyists new leverage to spend millions on advertising to persuade elected officials to vote their way -- or to punish those who don't.</em>
<em>"I can't think of anything more devastating to the public interest. The last thing we need to do is hand more influence to the lobbyists in Washington or more power to the special interests to tip the outcome of elections."</em></blockquote>
(You can get all of Obama's comments in his weekly address <a href="http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2010/01/22/weekly-address-standing-special-interests-fighting-american-people">HERE</a>.)
I believe one of the main issues that the Conservatives have claimed to have brought to the Supreme Court is the idea that they do not make law, but only interpret the Constitution.
Well, they have not only made law here, they have overturned laws that have served us well since the Teddy Roosevelt Administration in 1907 - 102 years. During that century-plus, the law was updated, improved, added to by both Democrats and Republicans and made consistently better, all in an effort to guarantee our citizens (ie: human beings not organizations) the absolute power of "one man, one vote" without overpaid arm bending and potential blackmail by corporate interests.
So what do we do with a law-making Supreme Court that clearly has a majority of its members firmly planted in corporate pockets? Dahlia Lithwick, in <a href="http://www.slate.com/id/2242208/">Slate</a>, has called the Supreme Court's action The Pinocchio Project - they have turned the concept of the corporation into a "real, live boy." Justice Stevens, in his partial dissent, commented that the Framers of the Constitution kept a "cautious view of corporate power" - something the current Supreme Court seems to be not only uncautious of but supportive of.
Can Congress create law to overturn this decision? I don't know. What we need is the unlikely event that will throw the Court's majority back to a more centrist (or, dare I say it, more progressive) majority. Remember, Justice Earl Warren, who brought a truly Constitutional view of Civil Rights to the Court in the 50s and 60s, was a Conservative Republican when appointed. There is the odd chance that a right-leaning Justice will actually see the error that was made here and turn the Court around.
It's possible. It's unlikely.
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