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The Supreme Court’s Citizens United Decision Should Be Read

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President Obama has said that the people who are all bent out of shape about Obamacare just don't know what it is and that once they know, they will be happy with it. I agree with the first part of that statement. I don't know what Obamacare is, and doubt that at this point anybody else does, even President Obama. How he can say that once we know what it is we will be happy is puzzling.

Similarly, judging by the comments on various threads here, lots of people are unhappy with the Supreme Court's recent decision in Citizens United v. FEC. Unlike Obamacare, the full text of the decision is available and has been since January 21.

It strikes me that at least some of the displeasure is based on misunderstandings of what the decision says. The principal misunderstanding is that the decision permits unlimited direct corporate campaign contributions. It does not.

Comment 3 here notes that "the Supreme Court ruled against McCain-Feingold, unleashing unlimited corporate campaign contributions into the political scene. " Comment 3  here notes,

corporations can speak on behalf of their interests, and so can unions, any other association or group. They can even place ads on TV to their heart's content. No problem there.

But where you've got to draw the line must have to do with direct contributions to a political campaign. And that goes for unions and other such aggregates as well. It not only violates "one-man one-vote" principle. It also goes beyond the freedom of speech act and perverts the political process.

On the same thread, comment 7 observes, "What IS a problem is that they didn't lift the limit on contributions by individuals at the same time."

And on it goes. However, the Court's decision in Citizens United dealt, not with campaign contributions, but with "using . . . general treasury funds to make independent expenditures for speech defined as an "electioneering communication" or for speech expressly advocating the election or defeat of a candidate. 2 U.S.C. §441b." (emphasis added). The Court did not expand the ability of corporations or other entities to make contributions to candidates. As the Court observed,

The law before us is an outright ban, backed by criminal sanctions. Section 441b makes it a felony for all corporations–including nonprofit advocacy corporations–either to expressly advocate the election or defeat of candidates or to broadcast electioneering communications within 30 days of a primary election and 60 days of a general election. Thus, the following acts would all be felonies under §441b: The Sierra Club runs an ad, within the crucial phase of 60 days before the general election, that exhorts the public to disapprove of a Congressman who favors logging in national forests; the National Rifle Association publishes a book urging the public to vote for the challenger because the incumbent U. S. Senator supports a handgun ban; and the American Civil Liberties Union creates a Web site telling the public to vote for a Presidential candidate in light of that candidate's defense of free speech. These prohibitions are classic examples of censorship.

When Government seeks to use its full power, including the criminal law, to command where a person may get his or her information or what distrusted source he or she may not hear, it uses censorship to control thought. This is unlawful. The First Amendment confirms the freedom to think for ourselves.

It little matters whether I agree with what the Court did in Citizens United or with some of the things some corporations and labor unions say. Corporations may be worse than any other conceivable association of people, and so may labor unions. It may be rational to disagree, even rabidly, with some of the things they say or do. Those issues were not before the court.

My point is simply that before agreeing or disagreeing with the Citizens United decision, or any other decision, it would be useful to read it. That seems not to have been done in many cases.

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About Dan Miller

  • Clavos

    Dan(Miller),

    Great to see your byline on BC once again! I always enjoy editing and publishing your work, and this piece is no exception; you make an excellent point.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    You’re right of course in principle, DM: it should be read before commenting on it with any kind of authority, but all 183 pages of it? Give me a break. That’s why we have smart lawyers like you to break it down for us and distill the content.

    I’m still rather unclear about the main point you’re making. You say on p. 1:

    “. . . the Court’s decision in Citizens United dealt, not with campaign contributions, but with ‘using . . . general treasury funds to make independent expenditures for speech defined as an “electioneering communication’ or for speech expressly advocating the election or defeat of a candidate. 2 U.S.C. §441b.”

    It’s still too much of a lawyer’s language and needs to be broken down.

    What exactly does it mean “‘using . . . general treasury funds to make independent expenditures for speech defined as an ‘electioneering communication’ or for speech expressly advocating the election or defeat of a candidate”? I suppose I have a vague idea as to what’s meant by “electioneering communication” – a rather clumsy term at that. But how do “the general treasury funds” and “independent expenditures for speech” come into the picture? Can you provide an example? It’s not as clear as you suppose, especially to those who don’t know all the ins and outs of the laws relating to and governing the election campaign-financing and process.

    I wish you could answer some of those questions in order to be able to discuss this issue intelligently and take it further.

    And BTW, the following link to the SCOTUS decision, including the minority report, is a better one, I think. At least it’s paginated which provides for easier reference.

  • http://delibernation.com Silas Kain

    Dan is right that the decision must be read in its entirety. I have been slowly wading through it and, as noted on another thread, I have indicated that the SCOTUS 5 have made a very compelling argument. Equally compelling, however, is the opinion of Justice Stevens in his dissent. The decision does open up the floor for a robust political debate on how we proceed forward. The ultimate problem is that the American public at large is too damned ignorant to understand the ramifications until it’s too late.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Roger says,

    DM: it should be read before commenting on it with any kind of authority, but all 183 pages of it? Give me a break.

    True, it’s unfortunate that many court decisions are rather long. The same is true of much legislation, such as what ever may turn out to be Obamacare; at last glance, there were multiple bills and proposals, some more then ten times the length of the United Citizens decision. Even our beloved congresscritters can’t read and understand the stuff they are asked to vote for or against.

    As to using . . . general treasury funds to make independent expenditures for speech defined as an ‘electioneering communication’ or for speech expressly advocating the election or defeat of a candidate,” it means using internal corporate funds to create and disseminate opinions about candidates, during the thirty day period before primary elections and sixty day period before general elections, which until January 21 had been a criminal offense.

    Corporations, unions and the like can still contribute to PACs; the United Citizens decision made them no longer criminally liable for creating and disseminating political opinions themselves.

    If you are interested in a reasonably adequate analysis of United Citizens, this may help. Even so, I still think it best at least to skim the majority opinion in United Citizens.

    Dan(Miller)

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    It’s a decent digest, DM, the article that is, linked to in #4. It does call for a measured reply. Later.

  • http://www.maskedmoviesnobs.com El Bicho

    I am confused by the plaintiff’s name switching from Citizens United to United Citizens.

  • zingzing

    oh bah. if people actually knew what they were talking about in that level of detail, we wouldn’t be able to argue about anything.

    “Even so, I still think it best at least to skim the majority opinion in United Citizens.”

    shit. you’d better at least skim the minority opinion as well, so you can see what people think the problems are. that’s a little fucked up there, dan. the objections are just as important as the reason for this stinker of a decision.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Alright, let’s take a stub at it.

    I suppose I have no problem, in principle, in granting corporations “free speech” rights, to include “electioneering communication.” For I do agree with the major premise (see link in #4) that “he marketplace of ideas is not so different [in essence] from the marketplace of goods.” To wit, if corporations have a right to advertise their products [and we readily grant them those rights except in cases of “false advertising”], then a similar kind of right should be also unobjectionable as regards “electioneering communication” – though also subject to some kind of truth-falsity test. Admittedly, that test may be more difficult to establish, but in principle, it’s not impossible.

    Of course, we are extending here the notion of “free speech” beyond the realm of mere advertising. One might argue that advertising is intrinsic to the main business of a corporation, which is to sell its products. And that naturally involves marketing and advertising. Ergo, without the last mentioned aspects, a corporation wouldn’t be able to function or even exist. It’s matter of internal logic.

    The extension of “free speech” when it comes to “electioneering communication” could be criticized on the grounds that it’s external with respect to the main business of the corporation. However, one can still argue to the contrary – for example, that one of the candidates, if elected, would be more likely (than the other) to create unfavorable business climate/conditions. And when so understood, as concern with general business conditions or climate, it appears legitimate to extend the right of corporate free speech from preoccupation with marketing/advertising functions to one which concerns itself with favorable business conditions – i.e., from strictly intrinsic (to its direct survival) concerns to concerns which are less-immediately direct and extrinsic.

    End of segment one.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Silas, I agree that there are compelling arguments in both the majority and dissenting opinions. I favor the majority opinion over the dissent, which devotes a lot of time to arguing that the Court went too far and should have strictly limited its analysis to the specific situation of the petitioner before it. The majority seemed to think that clarity in the law was of overriding importance, lest corporate, union, etc., political speech be restrained by the need to jump through the multiple hoops to which it referred. I agree that it should not be necessary to seek legal opinions and then declaratory rulings from the FEC as to whether they would be criminally liable for using their funds to express political views during the magic 30 – 60 day pre election periods.

    The incidence of incompetence on the Supreme Court is quite low, and it is to be expected that majority and dissenting opinions will be well thought out.

    Years ago, back when when I was practicing communications law and the fairness doctrine was in effect, deciding whether a specific contemplated broadcast involved a “controversial issue of public importance” one side of which had not been ventilated adequately, by the station in question or by other local stations, and hence generated an obligation on a station to present “reasonable” but not necessarily equal time for the presentation of opposing views, the law had to be interpreted on a case-by-case basis. Interpretations differed, and I did my best to advise clients whether particular contemplated broadcasts would invoke the doctrine. In many cases, I thought that there was, say, a 70-30 percent chance that the FCC would ultimately decide, after the fact, that the doctrine did not apply. Getting to that point would cost thousands of dollars in legal fees. Far more often than not, the client would decide not to present the program. The fairness doctrine, in my view, killed off substantially more public issue discussion than it promoted. Rather consistently, if I said that the program would clearly or even probably invoke the doctrine, it was not broadcast. It was far cheaper and far less risky for a station to invite the local police chief to discuss the need for careful driving, and that’s often the sort of thing which happened.

    Without great clarity as to the meaning of 2 U.S.C. §441b, that’s just what the Citizens United Court seemed to fear would happen.

    Dan(Miller)

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    zing, you’re perfectly right, since it was a narrow, 5-to-4 decision.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    #8 – let’s take a stab at it . . . sorry.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    El Bicho, #6 — I have absolute confidence that you will overcome the difficulty, but I shall pray for you nonetheless. Zeus and Athena will doubtless hear my prayers.

    Zingzing, I agree that the dissenting opinions should be read as well. However, the focus had been on the gross injustice worked by majority opinion, and it seemed reasonable to suggest that it, as a minimum, it be skimmed. As to this, oh bah. if people actually knew what they were talking about in that level of detail, we wouldn’t be able to argue about anything, all I can say is “oh well.”

    Dan(Miller)

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Alright, I have a question, DM. Apparently, the PACs were deemed insufficient to protect a corporation free speech rights as regards “electioneering communication.”

    Are there any references in the SCOTUS majority decision as why if and why it thought so and decided to redress the matter by allowing direct “free speech” rights? And if so, where exactly?

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Roger, I can’t provide a page reference at the link, since there is no pagination. However, Part III of the majority opinion, which begins about one sixth of the way down the entire document, elaborates on the burdensome nature of PACs. The discussion starts off,

    A PAC is a separate association from the corporation. So the PAC exemption from §441b’s expenditure ban, §441b(b)(2), does not allow corporations to speak. Even if a PAC could somehow allow a corporation to speak–and it does not–the option to form PACs does not alleviate the First Amendment problems with §441b. PACs are burdensome alternatives; they are expensive to administer and subject to extensive regulations. For example, every PAC must appoint a treasurer, forward donations to the treasurer promptly, keep detailed records of the identities of the persons making donations, preserve receipts for three years, and file an organization statement and report changes to this information within 10 days. See id., at 330-332 (quoting MCFL, 479 U. S., at 253-254).

    And that is just the beginning. . . . The majority opinion continues at length from there.

    Dan(Miller)

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Great, DM.

  • zingzing

    dan: “oh well.”

    see, i don’t even want to know what you mean by that. but i would like to say that it’s wrong. mmmm…

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Fat chance, zing. Even with all the facts at our disposal and agreed upon, there’ll still be arguments – about values.

  • pac yo mama

    as the duly appointed representative of local 001 of the union of concerned pac treasurers I am compelled to object to the dastardly 5’s misrepresentation of our reality

    in these hard times of high unemployment it can only be described as cruel

  • http://www.maskedmoviesnobs.com El Bicho

    yes, Dan, but is the difficulty caused by some obscure legal practice or an error on the part of both the writer and editor?

    If you can’t get the easy stuff right, it does undermine the reader’s confidence in the writer’s ability to handle more difficult critical thinking.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    El Bicho,

    Thank you so very much for pointing out my transposition of words. I always look forward to such insightful and profound comments, and will pray to Dog to cure my apparently transient dyslexia.

    Dan(Miller)

  • http://www.maskedmoviesnobs.com El Bicho

    Considering the article’s been promoted on and off the site, it matters

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    El Bicho, Please see my comment #3 here

    Dan(Miller)

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ jeannie danna

    I would like to hear the argument made by the, SCOTUS Four. Or, have their rights to speech been denied?

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I’ll get to it, Jeannie. But it want to do it methodically.

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ jeannie danna

    You know, all this talk about our rights to think for ourselves is wonderful isn’t it?

    Really, nothing could be further from the truth.

    When you are bombarded by the adds and adds and adds and adds, I challenge all you to then say that you made an informed and unbiased decision for yourselves…

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I don’t listen to adds, Jeannie. I try to read instead. But then again, yes, it’s the easiest way out, just getting spoon-fed.

  • http://www.maskedmoviesnobs.com El Bicho

    Aw, Dan, how cute and by “cute” I mean small and petty. Articles and comments are not held to the same editorial standards. Were you not aware of that?

    I am sure BC appreciates the traffic it required for you to go back two days to find an error I made in a comment, but it’s not like I frequently referred to the main item in the article as Herman Pee-wee, so it’s a bit of apples and oranges.

    Try mixing in a little humility once in a while to offset all your condescension.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    ads . . .

    I’m catching your cursor disease. I had better watch it or both of us are going to banned for illiteracy. And then guess what?

    We’ll have to attend a public school. What an abomination?

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ jeannie danna

    Roger,

    That’s you,

    Many people are going to go buy that politician like the most popular roll of toilet paper on the shelf, mindlessly throwing it in the cart without even looking!

    and when they get it home they will say to themselves, ” Did I buy that?”

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Bur you know what? What we hear usually only reinforces our point of view. People don’t take very well to being presented with a different opinion.

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ jeannie danna

    ADS, ADDS, mox nix!

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Jeannie Danna,

    The opinion of Justice Stevens, with whom Justice Ginsburg, Justice Breyer, and Justice Sotomayor join, concurring in part and dissenting in part, starts about half way down in the link I provided in the article.

    I agree with the observation that “all this talk about our rights to think for ourselves is wonderful . . . .” This is a great opportunity.

    Dan(Miller)

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ jeannie danna

    You understood my point though , didn’t you?

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ jeannie danna

    No, you know when I entered that link, I decided it would be better just to read your article about the decision.

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ jeannie danna

    I scan my computer all the time. In fact, today I had 40 threats removed.

    :) so, I’ll watch out even more now.

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ jeannie danna

    Dan,

    So, what did the other four justices have to say about this ruling. Did they fight? Did it matter what they said?

    I wrote an article about Sotomayor, and I’d like to think that I backed a strong woman.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    El Bicho,

    Articles and comments are not held to the same editorial standards. Were you not aware of that?

    Gosh Darn! I’m pleased to learn that. The transposition was in my Comment #4, not in the article. Perhaps comments in theater reviews are held to a lower standard than in the politics section? I just ask.

    Try mixing in a little humility once in a while to offset all your condescension.

    Right oon!

    Dan(Miller)

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ jeannie danna

    Dan,

    I am not buying this argument that unless you have read the decision word for word then you can’t discuss it.

    We have many professions in this world, and You ,being a lawyer, should be able to help the laymen understand all that this decision, handed down to us from the highest court in the land, implies.

    Wouldn’t you agree?

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Jeannie,

    I’ll digest it for you. Give me till tomorrow.

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ jeannie danna

    K. :)

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Jeannie Danna,

    I tried three times to respond to your ##36 and 38, but the spam filter would not permit me to do so. I am trying to find out why.

    In any event, I linked four articles I wrote about Justice Sotomayor, which I thought were favorable to her, and another in which I also mentioned her, I think favorably. If it’s worth the effort, you can find them at my writer’s page. She would not have been my choice, but I think she is about as good as could have been expected and will turn out OK.

    I’ve dispatch a query about the spam filter, and perhaps by tomorrow I will be able to post the entire comment.

    Dan(Miller)

  • http://www.maskedmoviesnobs.com El Bicho

    “The transposition was in my Comment #4, not in the article.”

    Wrong again. I know this because after my comment earlier this afternoon inquiring about it, I corrected the errors in the article title, text, and the tags as you can see from the log:

    2010-01-24 16:59:03: Saved by El Bicho, Modified: Title, Text, Tags.

    I also requested the promo be corrected. You can still find the transposition in the title on Digg.

    If you put the same effort into your articles as you do trying to one-up somebody, you might not make these mistakes in the future.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    El Bicho,

    In that event, thanks and my apologies.

    Dan(Miller)

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ jeannie danna

    Dan, #41,

    Is that comment a veiled attempt to silence this critic?

    or,

    Are you serious?

    I know I am not the most popular flavor here , but I do have something to add to the conversation.

    I firmly believe that we all need each-others point of view here. Even, when I can’t stomach some of them!

    p.s. If you see grammatical errors and what-ever, please disregard them,OK? I am still learning how to write and will be until the day I die.:)

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ jeannie danna

    Dan,

    I really would like to know from a professional’s point of view,just how hard the other Justices fought against this decision!

    :)

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Jeannie Danna

    No, I don’t want to silence anyone, and see nothing in my Comment #41 which might have suggested that I do. I don’t know what happened to the comment I tried to post yesterday; perhaps it had to do with all the links.

    I saved the comment before it was rejected, and sent it via e-mail to try to find out what happened. Here is the rest of the comment, which should not cause any problems:

    Re Comment #38, It might not be necessary to read the entire thing “word for word.” Merely skimming it is what I suggested. The dissents and concurrences are mainly devoted to the proposition that it was unnecessary to find the statutory prohibition unconstitutional, even though it might well have been found unconstitutional as applied. The Court decided to find the prohibition unconstitutional, period, because to do otherwise would leave any big questions which, in themselves, would constitute impediments to free speech.

    Dissents and concurrences are important. Sometimes, they form the basis for subsequent divergent opinions and sometimes they help to understand what the Court majority did.

    Should you have any specific questions, I shall be happy to attempt a response.

    Dan(Miller)

  • Mark

    So, parenthetical Dan. We’ve read it. Now what do you recommend?

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ jeannie danna

    Dan,

    :) Thanks for responding this quickly!

    When you say it might leave question, who are they answering to?

    The Court decided to find the prohibition unconstitutional, period, because to do otherwise would leave any big questions which, in themselves, would constitute impediments to free speech.

    I distinctly sense this is in favor of the huge conglomerates and not the individual rights. I also understand that this new SCOTUS decision is an answer to the Feingold-McCain campaign finance reform bill. Am I correct?

    In fact, this morning I learned of another decision by the courts that protects the pharmaceutical companies right to reward the doctors that push their particular brand over any others, by claiming to stop this would “interfere in a doctor’s relationship with their pharmaceutical consultant.”

    What about the relationship between a doctor and their patient? Maybe, because of these legalized bribes, they are not going to prescribed a certain medication because the patient actually needs it.

    I will try to find a link to this decision for you. It was reported by our local news station.

    :)thanks again, Dan God, I hope you can read this mess!

    and, if one little pixel chimes in that Teacher Unions are huge conglomerates, then I say to them, ” Give it a rest already, you are staring to bore me.”

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ jeannie danna

    sorry.

  • zingzing

    ok, dan, here’s a a few questions–is the right wing so willing to give up their freedom that they’ll prostitute it out for votes?

    who do you think big business is going to throw money at first?

    isn’t this an incredibly transparent power grab?

    why would anyone want to hand this much power to corporations, especially since corporations aren’t always run by americans… what next, bmw’s million dollar teutonic opinion on our next president?

  • zingzing

    i must say that this little issue (the right wing jacking off on the constitution again…) has restored a bit of my faith in american politics. or at least in arguing about them. or it. whatever.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Jeannie Danna,

    The question on “just how hard the other Justices fought against this decision!” can only be answered subjectively, and is largely in the realm of flavor. I guess I could say that the fight was fierce, or that it was quite civilized, but either would be meaningless and fighting fiercely and in a civilized manner are not necessarily inconsistent.

    The only way to get the flavor would be at least to skim the text. Obviously, Justice Stevens (with whom Justice Ginsburg, Justice Breyer, and Justice Sotomayor joined, concurring in part and dissenting in part)* didn’t much like parts of the majority opinion. Justice Stevens wrote,

    The notion that the First Amendment dictates an affirmative answer to that question is, in my judgment, profoundly misguided. Even more misguided is the notion that the Court must rewrite the law relating to campaign expenditures by for-profit corporations and unions to decide this case.

    He goes on to suggest, among other things, that since Citizens United is a not-for-profit corporation, the case could have been resolved favorably to it without the broad ruling made by the majority, and that various restrictions on the First Amendment are proper — children and military personnel, for example. He goes on to note, If taken seriously, our colleagues’ assumption that the identity of a speaker has no relevance to the Government’s ability to regulate political speech would lead to some remarkable conclusions. Such an assumption would have accorded the propaganda broadcasts to our troops by “Tokyo Rose” during World War II the same protection as speech by Allied commanders. That seems silly. He also seems to confuse corporate donations of money with corporate speech.

    The various objections are, I think, adequately and directly dealt with in the Majority Opinion and in the concurring opinions of the other justices who voted with him.

    *”Kennedy, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Roberts, C. J., and Scalia and Alito, JJ., joined, in which Thomas, J., joined as to all but Part IV, and in which Stevens, Ginsburg, Breyer, and Sotomayor, JJ., joined as to Part IV. Roberts, C. J., filed a concurring opinion, in which Alito, J., joined. Scalia, J., filed a concurring opinion, in which Alito, J., joined, and in which Thomas, J., joined in part. Stevens, J., filed an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part, in which Ginsburg, Breyer, and Sotomayor, JJ., joined. Thomas, J., filed an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part.”

    Dan(Miller)

  • Mark

    I’m particularly heartened by the section in which the Court concludes that water is not wet.

    I’ve been worried about that and am so relieved that it has been cleared up.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Mark, re Comment # 47 : I recommend a nap.

    Zingzing, re Comments # 50 and 51: I don’t see it as a “right wing power grab,” so I don’t know how to respond. Some corporations are “right wing” and some are “left wing.” Although apparently an article of faith for some that corruptions are by definition right wing and therefore bad, that strikes me as fallacious.

    Dan(Miller)

  • Mark

    …but first, a nice cupper

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ jeannie danna

    Dan, #52,

    So there it is.

    We need to, clearly, distinguish the difference between the meaning of the word money and the word speech.

    Maybe Justice Stevens heard this pithy little saying one to many times as a boy, “Money talks.”

    :( well, it better be quiet and let the rest of us have a say…

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Further to my Comment #41, here are the Sottomayor links I tried to post previously. Three of them are here, and the other two will be in a subsequent comment. I think the spam monster may have rejected my earlier comment because there were too many links.

    Re Comment #36, I wrote this and this and this.

    Dan(Miller)

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Further again to my Comment #41, I wrote:

    and this article about Justice Sotomayor, and they were generally favorable to her. I also mentioned her, favorably, I thought, here. I was offended by the Republican Party efforts to disparage her. She would not have been my pick, but I thought (and still think) that she is about the best one could reasonably have expected and should turn out pretty well.

    Dan(Miller)

  • zingzing

    dan: “Some corporations are “right wing” and some are “left wing.””

    dan, you know as well as i do that big business sides with the right wing. and for good reason. this isn’t about the first amendment, and saying so is silly… it’s about money. the gop is going to see a large infusion of corporate cash into political advertising, and it’s going to go their way 90% of the time. it’s so transparent, it’s sickening.

    and i’ll ask again: “why would anyone want to hand this much power to corporations?”

    corporations aren’t people. they don’t give a shit about anything but the bottom line. that’s fine, usually. business is business. but i don’t give a shit about a given corporation’s bottom line. so i don’t want them muddying our political waters anymore than they already do. corporations don’t vote. the people who form corporations do, and if they want to vote, they can vote as people. and if they want to make contributions to this or that political campaign, they can do so as people.

    how are you going to feel when chavez has more power in american elections than you (or i) do? because that’s what you’ve been sold.

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ jeannie danna

    Dan,

    What about my last comment?

    Do you think if we could clearly distinguish that the words money and speech are not interchangeable, that we could reverse this ruling?

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ jeannie danna

    I have to go now. I’ll be back with something for you to read..:) bye

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    What is all the hoopla? If you don’t have access to the kinds of funding corps have to get your message out then you have no one to blame but yourself. Perhaps if you weren’t so lazy you would have taken advantage of your equal shot at the American Dream and by now you’d be like Donald Trump or Bill Gates, instead of being a lazy whiner who expects those who have worked hard to get huge corps to cut you slack all the time.

    I say corps should be given more rights! Yes! They should be able to vote and, more importantly, marry!

  • Baronius

    Dan, I skimmed the decision. I could get more out of it if I tried, but I couldn’t, say, double my understanding of it without reading the Bellotti and Austin decisions and spending time with a law dictionary.

    Let me get to the heart of my problem. This could be a long post, so please bear with me. I usually assume good faith on the part of the other person in a political discussion. If Bush says that Iraq isn’t about oil, I believe him. If Obama says that health care reform isn’t about socialism, I believe him. That’s not gullibility, but it’s a necessary assumption for a sincere debate.

    But I have trouble making that assumption about legal decisions. I’ve read enough of the output of the Warren and Burger courts that I don’t believe they were seeking the answers in the law. They were looking for the law to justify their answers. Certain theories of Constitutional law support the idea of finding the answer you want to find, as well, so I don’t think this accusation is out-of-bounds.

    A cynic will say that it’s awfully convenient that I believe the liberal justices are dishonest, but the conservatives are on the side of the angels. I must be seeing the facts that support my positions, just like the justices do, right?

    Wrong, for two reasons. Firstly, such an accusation gives too little credit to the individual and his ability to be objective. Secondly, in my case, that’s putting the cart before the horse. I don’t approach law as a political conservative. My conservatism came about through my reading in three different areas, religion/philosophy, economics, and law. Political interest followed much later.

    So when I read about Laurence Tribe’s “invisible Constitution”, I see a cop-out. When the Supreme Court calls on foreign law, I notice it’s never South African or Mexican. When Roe v. Wade relies on a penumbra, I know someone’s lying to me. Why should I read the works of legal scholars who rely on something other than the Constitution, common law, legislation, and precedent (all as understood by the authors), and the facts of the particular case?

    As an example, a wise Latina recently was appointed to the Supreme Court. Throughout her career she clearly promoted expansive (non-originalist) legal thinking. In order to secure Senatorial approval, she disavowed her past. Some of her supporter tried to “spin” her as pro-business. But truthfully, did anyone expect that she’d support the originalist position in this case, or take the side of business? We knew what she’d do. There’s no point in reading the opinions of someone you know is lying. So, why should the decisions of the Court be read?

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Jeannie Danna, re Comment #64 — giving money to political candidates is not the same as speaking for or against them and/or their positions. The First Amendment protects freedom of speech, and to characterize money as the equivalent of speech is problematical. I understand that some corporations and other entities give money to opposing candidates, presumably on the theory that whoever wins will like them and do nice things for them. It would be difficult for a corporation, labor union or other entity to use speech in that fashion.

    True, giving money to a candidate enables him to speak more often/effectively. It seems likely that a candidate would rather have money to do with as he pleases than to have a corporation, labor union or other entity spend the money as it wishes. For a corporation, labor union or other entity to spend its own money to produce and/or to present its own materials advocating or opposing a candidate or some of his positions enables the entity to speak on its own behalf. It seems unlikely that a corporation, etc. would totally agree with any candidate. I certainly don’t.

    In any event, the identity of the entity doing so must be disclosed. Hence, if you like Ford Motor Company, you can decide based on that to pay attention; if you dislike it, you can decide based on that not to pay attention. That is not always true in the case of PACs; it would take a bit of effort to learn that the Committee for Fairness and Justice, to use a fictitious example, is funded by KKK, Inc.

    Zingzing, re Comment #63 — I disagree and have no basis for thinking that corporations are likely to favor the GOP 90% of the time. True, corporations tend to be pro-business. However, it does not strike me that the Democratic Party is anti-business 90% of the time or that the Republican Party is pro-business 90% of the time. Most likely, both parties realize that without prosperous businesses the country could not function; that’s the source of the necessary money.

    As to Chávez, I think he is so far down the toilet domestically and internationally that I have little concern about any corporation in which he and his friends have enough power to influence U.S. elections. In any event, there are always PACs.

    Dan(Miller)

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    If Obama says that health care reform isn’t about socialism, I believe him.

    I don’t really understand. You believe in a govt, so why do you have a problem with socialism? Are fire departments and police and military and schools and libraries about socialism? You like that stuff so that sort of socialism is fine? Or what?

  • zingzing

    dan: “I disagree and have no basis for thinking that corporations are likely to favor the GOP 90% of the time.”

    just checking, but you do reside on planet earth, correct?

    “As to Chávez, I think he is so far down the toilet domestically and internationally that I have little concern about any corporation in which he and his friends have enough power to influence U.S. elections.”

    well, he now has more influence than you or i.

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ jeannie danna

    Dan,

    Here is an article about the pharmas giving gifts to the doctors.

    it’s worth a quick read, when you have time…

    :)

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Baronius, re Comment #67. Point taken. The thrust of the article was that before misinterpreting the Court’s decision based on frequently erroneous media accounts, it would be a good idea to read it. In high school, I had a history teacher who advised that we should learn the facts of history before distorting them. There were several comments on BC threads suggesting that the decision dealt with corporate donations of money to political candidates; it did not, and that’s the reason I wrote the article.

    I happen to agree with the Citizens United decision; others don’t. I would like to think that I favor the decision because I think that the First Amendment is the best and most powerful weapon we have against governmental oppression.

    As to crediting what politicians say but not legal decisions, I think you go too far. You say,

    If Bush says that Iraq isn’t about oil, I believe him. If Obama says that health care reform isn’t about socialism, I believe him. That’s not gullibility, but it’s a necessary assumption for a sincere debate.

    The assumption of a sincere political debate is, I think, misplaced. When politicians speak, they tend to do so in an amorphous fashion, seeking to be all things to all people; there tends to be little in the way of good red meat. The idea is to get elected, and what they say during a campaign often has little to do with what they do or can do once elected. I understand that there is some disenchantment with President Obama for that very reason. At least with a well written legal decision, it is easier to discover its predicates and justifications. It is possible to argue whether it is right or wrong, without resorting to bumper sticker type slogans.

    Dan(Miller)

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ jeannie danna

    Dan,

    You, said that Justice Stevens seems to have confused the word money with the word speech.

    That seems silly. He also seems to confuse corporate donations of money with corporate speech.

    see?

    and if this is true, then I believe there is a little itsy bitsy opportunity for the people of the U.S. to argue with this SCOTUS decision!

    :)

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ jeannie danna

    What?

    Now I’m all screwed up here.

    There were several comments on BC threads suggesting that the decision dealt with corporate donations of money to political candidates; it did not, and that’s the reason I wrote the article.

    The desicsion says precisly that, doesn’t it?

  • Baronius

    Dan – I don’t assume honest debate among candidates or operatives during an election. I generally assume sincerity among officials when debating policy, and when I’m in a disagreement on the BC boards, I assume that one of us is sincerely wrong. I don’t see how a Justice can be *sincerely* wrong 90+% of the time, especially given the emphasis on subjectivity among non-originalist legal thinkers.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Jeannie Danna,

    I read the article, and I agree that drug companies are out to sell as much of their most expensive medicines as they can. When I worked at the Antitrust Division of the Justice Department between law school and going on active duty in the Army JAG corps in 1966, I did much of the spade work which eventually resulted in a group of attorneys there going after some antitrust violations by the drug companies.

    Sure, physicians are influenced by free meals and nice treatment. It’s hardly unique to physicians. Later, when I was practicing communications law, there was an FCC commissioner of long tenure who frequently and proudly commented that he had never had to buy his own lunch. Friendships are formed that way, and friendships obviously impact on how we act.

    I understand that a large labor union wines and dines politicians at a very pleasant golf course, which mere union members rarely get to enjoy.

    People tend to behave like people and probably will as long as there are people.

    This does not suggest to me that curtailing the right of free speech on the theory that corporations are bad is a good idea. Given the choice, I would prefer that corporations, labor unions and other entities be permitted to say their piece publicly than privately. Conceivably, they may have a more difficult time privately getting cozy with our masters after they have said their piece publicly.

    Dan(Miller)

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ jeannie danna

    Cindy, #66,

    #66? humor? what? who? why? huh?

    :[

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Jeannie Danna, re Comment # 74: No, the decision does not deal with corporate financial donations to political candidates. It deals with the First Amendment rights of corporations and other entities to speak during the previously prohibited periods, thirty days prior to primaries and sixty days prior to general elections.

    Dan(Miller)

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    What I mean, Jeannie, Dan Miller is sharp cookie. I’ve got to present a cogent argument (and that means I’ve got to read the damn thing) or he will get me on technicality. Besides, he won’t let me get away with sloppy thinking. So yes, I’ll present him with a challenge, but it’s gonna take some time.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Baronius, re Comment #75,

    I don’t assume honest debate among candidates or operatives during an election. I generally assume sincerity among officials when debating policy . . . .

    The problem with that is that we are not generally privy to the latter debates. They are more often than not behind closed doors. We are not invited, and perhaps that permits them to speak candidly. What is said there doubtless affects what happens; however, the outcomes just may directed toward political expediency rather than toward what’s good for us.

    Dan(Miller)

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    Jeannie,

    Dave Nalle has assured me that property holders should have more say about how the country is run because they have more to lose. Well, who has more to lose than a giant multinational corporation and the folks who own/run/benefit from it?

    I am just extending the ‘he who has more to lose, should have more to say’ and the related ‘lazy people are the problem’ theories of FREEDOM and LIBERTY to their natural conclusion. We should all stand aside and let the new corporate citizen run the show. Those who own corporations should rule, it’s pretty obvious they have earned it. Anyone who disagrees no doubt is probably jealous of Donald Trump or wants Bill Gates to support his lazy @ss.

  • Baronius

    Dan, I don’t want to get off-point here, because I’m asking a question that’s really important to me. I don’t want to start listing the occasions when people make self-serving comments. I know it happens.

    Whenever possible, I take people at their word. I think that Zing is a righteous cat (as Dennis Miller would say), and I believe he believes what he’s saying. But on this thread, he’s been treating the SCOTUS decision as deliberately wrong, and in bad faith. I hate to take that kind of view.

    My question remains, how can I *not* make that assumption about the liberal justices? Is there any way to view their writings as legally grounded, not grounded in politics? Or is that the wrong question? Am I so gullible that I’m trying to see the wisdom and honor in Stevens et al when there’s none to be seen?

  • zingzing

    “I think that Zing is a righteous cat (as Dennis Miller would say), and I believe he believes what he’s saying. But on this thread, he’s been treating the SCOTUS decision as deliberately wrong, and in bad faith. I hate to take that kind of view.”

    it’s not that i think they’re deliberately being evil… well, maybe i do believe that… but i, for the life of me, can’t see how they could think this is a wise or necessary decision. it’s opening up a very obvious can of worms. maybe it will lead to more “sunshine,” but if a company sees a way to make a profit out of messing with politics, it’s going to do just that.

    say walmart sees the dems trying to push through mandatory health insurance, and it’s going to impact walmart’s profits in a serious way. what’s to stop them from throwing around billions of dollars worth of campaign ads against the dems, and what’s to stop them from saying whatever the hell they please?

    i just don’t understand how the right wingers on the court could do this.

  • Mark

    …drawing a distinction between law and politics?

    In what sense can a discussion of the law by a bunch of political appointees not be political?

  • http://delibernation.com Silas Kain

    After going through my first read of the decision I have to say the SCOTUS 5 have it right. The decision they have made with regard to this case would seem, on the surface, to be constitutional. The concerns that Justice Stevens addresses are also issues of merit which deserve discussion but in delivering the dissent he really hasn’t driven the point home to say the SCOTUS 5 was wrong. All of that being said, the SCOTUS 5 delivered what they felt was an opinion based upon their role in the constitutional process. As much as I dislike the politics of the SCOTUS 5, I’ve never doubted the sincerity of Justices Kennedy and Scalia. The other three, however, are another matter. The bottom line is SCOTUS was asked for an opinion, they gave it. Was it judicial activism? In a word, yes. That being said, it’s kind of the defacto role of SCOTUS, is it not?

    Now getting to the larger question of corporate and union money being spent on the political process. The SCOTUS 5 decision paves the way for a real political debate concerning how campaigns are financed. McCain-Feingold was a start but it’s kind of like half a vasectomy. The left testicle remained fully connected while the right just bobbed around in the sac like a lost puppy. The issues which require robust, informed debate are lost on the American people for several reasons which we can discuss until Hell freezes over. Campaign finance reform and lobbyist access is necessary. The problem is — how do we achieve it?

    Still digesting and, Lord willing, I’ll have specifics later this week on where I would hope this process goes.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Baronius, re Comment #82

    Let me attempt a somewhat indirect answer first. In my comments ##61 and 62, I provided links to several of my articles about Justice Sotomayor. There, I suggested that although she was a “liberal” nominee, and would not have been my choice, she seemed as an appellate judge to have done a reasonably decent job of following “the law.” I hope I was correct. My first BC article dealt with the word “liberal,” which I suggested be retired from the lexicon.

    I don’t think that any of the present members of the Supreme Court are being disingenuous or deliberately flouting the law; that’s far more common elsewhere. What they write is out in the open, and capable of being analyzed. When a judge or justice writes an important opinion, he can’t hide. There will doubtless be many learned articles in law reviews and elsewhere analyzing the Citizens United decision. Some of them will be cited in future legal arguments, and some will even be cited in future court opinions. That’s important. I think Justice Stevens wrote a legally competent dissent, even though I disagree with it. I think the majority opinion was better reasoned, and I agree with it. This is not the place to attempt a learned analysis; I did my share of those years ago and have no intention of attempting that here; that’s what law reviews are for.

    Dan(Miller)

  • Baronius

    It’s a matter of Constitutionality, Zing. On a visceral level, I don’t care what Walmart does with its money, and I suspect that if they tried to push against the will of the people and the politicians they’d be unsuccessful. It’s not about that for me. It’s about fidelity to the Constitution. It’s not a perfect document, but it is a reasonable compromise.

    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

    There are quite a few gems in that sentence. I’m reluctant to see any of them broken. It’s also worth noting that the last clause, the petitioning of government, means lobbying.

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ jeannie danna

    Dan,

    This is the way I see it,

    There are huge corporations( not all of them mind you) sitting off of our shores, refusing to pay living wages to Americans or any other country that allows them to operate within their borders, refusing to pay the full amount of taxes that they owe, and then! they have the audacity to hold their hands out to the American tax payers for corporate welfare checks!

    Now, the court sides with them to screw us even further!!!

    They are not! I repeat not! American Labor Unions!!!

    incidentally,
    My husband and I play golf and we are mere union members.

    Although, I agree with the late George Carlin when he said, “They should take all the golf courses in this country and turn them into cities for the homeless!”

    I said I didn’t want to get into the union fight today but, what the heck, why not!!!

    “When you trust in the union label…”

    oh, I don’t see many inspector 13 on my clothes any more…where they go? Off to be made cheaper by the cheapest bidder! So much for quality!

    The dilemma for many of these people that are against the education unions, is that they can’t figure out how to make a buck off of our schools!

    You can’t out-source all of your teaching and support staff.

    :[ I’m not personally mad at you Dan, I guess I’m just bitching.

  • Baronius

    Silas is another righteous cat. You don’t see too many people online reconsidering their opinions.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Marl #84,

    You’re asking this question in terms of what obtains in practice. Not good enough, IMO, for the purpose of persuasion. I think the winning strategy is first to discuss the issue from the standpoint of legal consistency or inconsistency, and THEN make the PHILOSOPHICAL point.

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ jeannie danna

    So first, we lose the power to elect people that would serve all of our needs, then we lose the power to get the drug pushers out of our doctors office and then, what in Gods name is next?

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ jeannie danna

    You know, I will be back..this bleeding liberal heart of mine is going to give me an attack!
    Don’t get all your hopes up, I’m strong.:)

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    So first, we lose the power to elect people that would serve all of our needs…

    When did we have this?

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Jeannie Danna,

    You may be pleased with this report suggesting that the Obama Administration is going to try to right the “wrong” done by the Citizens United decision, by finding a way to limit corporate activity; the article does not suggest that anything parallel is being considered to curb union activity.

    I think that’s bad, and offhand I think it will be difficult.

    I suppose the good thing is that it will keep some starving attorneys off the bread lines.

    Dan(Miller)

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    the article does not suggest that anything parallel is being considered to curb union activity.

    Back in the 80s Margaret Thatcher introduced a series of highly restrictive anti-union laws in the UK. I’m not sure if Reagan, who pretty much copied everything Thatcher did, was able to usher in similar legislation in the US. But labor unions here, if the one I’m a member of is anything to go by, are already pretty feeble.

    I suppose the good thing is that it will keep some starving attorneys off the bread lines.

    Thinking of coming out of retirement, Dan?

    :-)

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Doc, re Comment #95

    Thinking of coming out of retirement, Dan?

    Not only no but HELL NO!! I’m having too much fun as it is. Not only that, but I can take a nap whenever I want to; that’s what I’m going to do right now.

    Dan(Miller)

  • http://delibernation.com Silas Kain

    Baronius, I’m just trying to keep an open mind. Neither side has all the answers. What the SCOTUS 5 has accomplished is throwing the entire matter back at the legislative branch of government. That is as it should be.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Silas, Comment #97: I agree with the thought. Now, of course, we will have to see what it attempts.

    Although not a panacea, I think and have for a long time thought that rigorous enforcement of the antitrust laws would be a big advance.

    Dan(Miller)

  • Clavos

    Props to most of the participants on this thread for engaging in one of the most civil BC Politics discussions in recent memory.

    Seriously, no sarcasm…

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Re #99

    AMEN!

    Dan(Miller)

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ jeannie danna

    Dan,

    Thank you for the link!

    I didn’t have a heart attack after all… :)

  • zingzing

    baronius: “It’s about fidelity to the Constitution. It’s not a perfect document, but it is a reasonable compromise.”

    unfortunately, a corporation doesn’t talk and doesn’t write and doesn’t represent a person. it’s not “saying” anything. it just wants money. it will try to get money in whatever way it can, and the quicker and more legal it is, the better.

    in some circumstances, i can understand the idea of a corporation having the same rights as an individual. but this isn’t one of those cases. “for the people, by the people” is people, not corporations.

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ jeannie danna
  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ jeannie danna

    Dan,

    Please know that I was not trying to personally attack your core beliefs yesterday…I have read some of you’re articles and I will be the first to admit that because of my education(or lack of) I find it hard to understand.

    There is not a soul alive right now that can convince me that this country is headed in the right direction.

    Just read some of the recent political articles published here. Hooray for free speech!

    So, instead of blaming the present or past presidents, maybe we should blame ourselves for becoming so complacent.

    :]rock on

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Jeanie Danna,

    My favorite political philosopher, Pogo, said “We have met the enemy and it is us.”

    Dan(Miller)

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ jeannie danna

    Ditto Dan!

    I come off like a “know it all!” I know…
    :{

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ jeannie danna

    Dan,

    I was just reading a new article here and I got soo excited when I read this that I had to share it with you!

    Those two little words…

    Among the current efforts MoveToAmend.org has already received nearly 50,000 signatories to support is plan, particularly: Firmly establish that money is not speech, and that human beings, not corporations, are persons entitled to constitutional rights.

    :] jeannie

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Jeannie Danna,

    I wouldn’t get my hopes up. As noted here, in a quote from the California Supreme Court, the United States Constitution, ratified in 1787, has been amended only twenty-seven times; the California Constitution, ratified in 1879, in contrast, has been amended more than five hundred times. Amending the U.S. Constitution is a very difficult task and takes a very long time.

    Be that as it may, this language seems overly broad: “money is not speech. . . . [H]uman beings, not corporations, are persons entitled to constitutional rights.” This suggests that even the rights of human beings to contribute money to support their favored causes could be eliminated. It also suggests that corporations could have no constitutional rights at all. How about labor unions? They are not “human beings.” How about broadcast stations and newspapers owned by corporations, as most are? Could NBC, CBS, ABC and most others be deprived of First Amendment and other constitutional rights? How about the New York Times? How about incorporated book publishers? I understand that even some authors incorporate for tax, limited liability and other purposes.

    This is also unclear and therefore troubling: “Protect local communities, their economies, and democracies against illegitimate ‘preemption’ actions by global, national, and state governments.” They are already protected against “illegitimate” preemption, whatever that means, and how are legitimate and illegitimate preemptions to be distinguished?

    I agree that federal preemption has gone too far, and would be very unhappy with preemption by global governments. The Tenth Amendment provides that “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” In my view, that’s about all we need; unfortunately, it is largely ignored.

    Dan(Miller)

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ jeannie danna

    damn! I wish I was a lawyer…

    :] Thanks for sorting that one out.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    I haven’t seen any proposed legislation yet, but Democrats are said to be

    scrambling to respond to the Supreme Court’s landmark Jan. 21 decision that corporations have a right to spend their money to fund political advertisements and influence federal elections. Curbs on foreign corporate contributions could turn out to be one of the few options legally or politically available to Democrats capable of attracting GOP support.

    It might work. I wonder whether the Constitutional rights of foreign terrorists might be similarly abridged.

    Probably not.

    Dan(Miller)

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ jeannie danna

    Dan,

    Did you watch the SOTU last night? I was just hovering around here and thought I would look for an intelligent, mature person to converse with. and I don’t mean age.

    :)jeannie

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Jeannie Danna,

    No, I didn’t watch it. We have very little television here and it wasn’t carried on the Panamanian channels. I did read the full text this morning, and pretty much agree with those who characterize it as a waste of time. The “plan” to create jobs and to contain the budget deficit seemed like bad jokes, particularly the latter in view of this and the Senate approval, 60-40, of this.

    I had foolishly hoped for something more on national security and the trial of KSM, the underpants bomber et al in civilian proceedings, but it wasn’t there; perhaps because there wasn’t anything he could say.

    If most of the reactions I have seen on BC and elsewhere are an indication, I think the Obama administration is in for some very difficult sledding.

    Dan(Miller)

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ jeannie danna

    Yes, very difficult sledding but Dan, he did talk about trade agreements with Panama. I just wondered if that would have an effect on you.

    :0 I’ll have to read the links you provided before putting my foot any farther…!

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ jeannie danna

    The first link appears to be broken, and the second? “What is this counrty supposed to do?” ” We need jobs and the infrastructure is crumbling?”

    I don’t have any where else to look for answers.

    :( see you later, Dan Miller

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Jeannie Danna,

    The first link works for me. The second is broken. Here is another. As it notes,

    If lawmakers had approved a smaller increase, Democrats would have had to revisit the deeply unpopular topic of the soaring national debt before facing voters in November.

    As to the free trade agreement with Panama, I don’t think it would do much for Panama if approved. Not all that much subject to customs duties is exported to the U.S. and Panama could remove duties on stuff imported from the United States if she wished to do so. There has been substantial opposition to the FTA in Panama. Many feel that changes in Panama’s banking regulations, which seem to be demanded by the U.S. Congress, are bad; in talking with some meat producers, the feeling is that removing tariffs on meat imported from the U.S. would be damaging to them. Locally produced fillet mignon sells for about $4.00 per pound and that imported from the U.S. sells for about $14.00. Most locals don’t buy U.S. beef, and what little is imported is bought by Gringos. I understand that many of those here supporting the FTA view it as doing little more than evidencing happy relations with the U.S.

    The FTA with Colombia is more important, particularly since Colombia’s substantial exports to Venezuela have been sharply curtailed of late.

    Dan(Miller)

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Here is a link to what I consider a well reasoned article on President Obama’s misinformed comments on the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.

    Dan(Miller)

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Good article, DM.

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ jeannie danna

    Dan(Miller)

    I read a comment earlier that stated the SOTU was targeting primarily independent voters; that’s me and it must have worked.

    Here is why.

    We are so desperate to move forward in this country. Clean renewable energy, which by the way, when he said nuclear, my heart sank. We should be not only talking about wind, sun,and hydro, but we should be there already.

    Education, Health Care , and jobs at home. That’s what we want to see already up and running, instead of this never-ending game of tug of war between the two opposing parties.

    I really thought that there would have been at least some people here behind this address.

    So, I was hoping to hear a few good points about the address he made last night. So far the only people happy are me and my Independent husband.

    Clavos was right…

    Well, good night Dan(Miller) and thanks for your time.

    :)bipartisan jeannie

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I’m for the same things you are, Jeannie. But don’t be mad at me because I no longer see him as the person he represents himself to be.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Obviously, I haven’t read the SCOTUS decision yet, DM, but let me offer an observation or two.

    I would make a distinction between advertising dollars and dollars directly contributed to political campaigna. In addition, there has got to be set limits on how much can be spend in each of those areas – if only to maintain the level playing field. Now, I don’t know whether the SCOTUS decision touches upon these points, but if it doesn’t, then I foresee gross inequity.

    To wit, the situation would be comparable to the one which obtains on money/stock markets, whereby institutional funds, for all intents and purposes, determine the movement of the market rather than the individual investors.

    But whereas we can live with some such situation when it comes to money market operations and trading, it would be intolerable if this were to obtain in the political arena – political campaigns, elections, etcetera.

    So perhaps you may address these concerns, or straighten me out in case they’re misdirected.

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ jeannie danna

    I’m for the same things you are, Jeannie. But don’t be mad at me because I no longer see him as the person he represents himself to be.

    ( ? )don’t even try to go here.

    Seen any good mirrors lately?

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ jeannie danna

    Dan(Miller) This is also how I see it, now.

    Even if you strongly dislike this clip, you see the truth in it, don’t you?

    We are in dire need of a new mission statement and I don’t see anyone else writing one.

  • pablo

    It is interesting to me that after gleaning all 118 comments thus far (unless I have missed one) I have not seen any talk about foreign capital invested in US corporations, and how this opens up the door wide to foreign interests for all intents and purposes casting votes in America.

    Any comments folks?

    Dan 104 Regarding the California constitution and how many times it has been amended.

    Article 4 Section 4 of the US Constitution says:

    Section 4
    The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican
    Form of Government.

    How do you reconcile this with the initiative process, which is just another word for direct democracy. I would very much like to hear your thought on this.

  • pablo

    Baronius:

    “I don’t assume honest debate among candidates or operatives during an election. I generally assume sincerity among officials when debating policy”

    Why?

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ jeannie danna

    Pablo,

    Good morning..:) I showed my husband what you wrote about me and he FAINTED! ha, ha

  • pablo

    Well Jeannie,

    My girlfriend over here did not see what I wrote to you and did not tell her. Obviously my liking you and why is meant in a most platonic way! Unfortunately should my sweet filipina girlfriend have seen it, I would never have heard the end of it!

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ jeannie danna

    Oh no, Pablo,

    That is not where I’m coming from at all. Besides I’m old… :)

    I was referring to you saying that I had an open mind! and that was a shock, escpecialy to me!

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ jeannie danna

    No offense Pablo’s lady!

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan(Miller)

    Re comments ##116 – 119

    I will try to get back on these points; some I may treat in an article. I’ve been quite busy writing stuff lately, and have a couple of other buns in the oven. One I had been working on was published here this morning.

    Briefly, as to Pablo’s comment about foreign intervention in the U.S. political process, I will simply for the moment note that the Citizens United decision expressly noted the problem and left it open. The Court neither writes nor suggests the wording of new legislation.

    It strikes me that the U.S. Constitution was intentionally made difficult to amend, and for the most part, I think that’s a good thing. I disagree with Joel S. Hirschhorn’s views of the amendment process, and were they to be adopted in a country with a population as large as that of the United States, I think that little better than chaos would result.

    Also briefly, as to Roger’s comment, there is a distinction between financial contributions to political candidates and direct expenditures by corporations and unions to express their own views, including support of and opposition to political candidates. The issue of political contributions was neither before the Court nor treated by it.

    I know that lots is done to influence elections, by corporations and others. Roger mentions the need to maintain a level playing field. I don’t think one exists. There are lobbyists, friendships are cultivated for political purposes, and a whole lot more. These things are done behind closed doors; given a choice, I would prefer that attempts to influence legislation, executive orders, agency regulations, etc. be made in the open so that those of us who disagree might have an opportunity to respond. Independent expenditures by corporations, unions and the like — disclosed in the advertisements as required — strike me as better, for that reason if for no other. The recent behind the scenes efforts on health care reform collectively amount to a poster boy for transparency. It’s a complicated subject, and probably worth an article or two.

    As to Jeannie Danna’s link, I understand the point; The U.S. still interferes in what I consider inappropriate ways (Honduras, for example) and remains substantially indifferent when something should be done (post election Iran, for example).

    Dan(Miller)

  • Jordan Richardson

    given a choice, I would prefer that attempts to influence legislation, executive orders, agency regulations, etc. be made in the open so that those of us who disagree might have an opportunity to respond. Independent expenditures by corporations, unions and the like — disclosed in the advertisements as required — strike me as better, for that reason if for no other.

    I agree 100%. I think it was Robin Williams who suggested that politicians wear NASCAR-style jackets with the names and logos of all the lobbyists and stooges adorned on them.

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ jeannie danna

    You know, this is how I see it…

    When people say that all lobbying is wrong, they are not considering the reason for the lobby.

    A nurses union going to Albany to ask for better wages or working conditions for their members is not the same as, a huge corporation going to Washington to influence laws in their favor.

    Also, A teachers union going to Washington to lobby for more resources in classrooms for the students or a better living wage for members,who have earned it through years of service, is not the same as, a powerful energy industry lobbyist going to Washington to secretly back our elected officials.

    I see this punctuation is awful.

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ jeannie danna

    and, If Nascar style logos apply, then I want to see which pharmaceutical and insurance companies are rewarding the Food and Drug Admin and all of our medical care providers.

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