Could the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision soon be overturned?

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One year after the ruling - could the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision soon be overturned? The progressive organization Common Cause is asking the Department of Justice to look into possible “conflict of interest” behind the scenes of the Citizens United ruling. In the petition to the DOJ – Common Cause argues that Justices Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia should have recused themselves from the Citizens United case since they were actively involved in political strategy sessions hosted by the billionaire Koch Brothers – two men who benefited considerably from the Supreme Court’s ruling.

The allegation is based on documents obtained by ThinkProgress and the New York Times that suggest the two Justices attended a Palm Springs event hosted by the Koch brothers around the same time the high court was hearing arguments in the case. If the petition is successful – the DOJ could disqualify Justices Scalia and Thomas from the ruling – and thus overturn the decision altogether. Of course this wouldn’t be the first time Scalia and Thomas demonstrated a “conflict of interest”. Thomas didn’t recuse himself from the Bush v. Gore decision in 2000 that handed the presidency over to George W. Bush even though Thomas’s wife was working on the Bush transition team. And Scalia went on a hunting trip with former Vice President Dick Cheney right before he ruled in favor of Cheney in a case before the high court. Overturning Citizen’s United based on these guys’ impropriety should be just a start – they should also be impeached for corruption.

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Thom
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Comments

Have any bills been introduced to establish that only natural persons can have rights under our constitution?

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eseltzy
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Aug. 8, 2010 10:49 am

I don't think I have ever heard anybody ever suggest anywhere that the DOJ had the authority to vacate a Supreme Court Ruling.

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Al'Thor
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Jan. 31, 2011 11:56 am

I read Unequal Protection so I know the deal behind the Santa Clara railroad decision. I don't recall if Thom remarked on anything that might have been debated at the time the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments were proposed, if those amendments were to apply to anything beyond natural persons. Courts will often look to "legislative intent" when they interpret laws, and will often look to what was said at the time legislation was debated.

chilidog
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm
Quote Al'Thor:

I don't think I have ever heard anybody ever suggest anywhere that the DOJ had the authority to vacate a Supreme Court Ruling.

They may or may not. Under federal law, a justice must recuse him/herself where applicable. Whether this applies to SC justices is open to interpretation, thus requesting the DOJ to look into it, since they're not governed by the Judicial Code Of Conduct. Oddly since Scalia spoke on recusion based on personal biases sometime ago, he's been somewhat hypocritical.

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Toonces
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Quote Toonces:
Quote Al'Thor:

I don't think I have ever heard anybody ever suggest anywhere that the DOJ had the authority to vacate a Supreme Court Ruling.

They may or may not. Under federal law, a justice must recuse him/herself where applicable. Whether this applies to SC justices is open to interpretation, thus requesting the DOJ to look into it, since they're not governed by the Judicial Code Of Conduct. Oddly since Scalia spoke on recusion based on personal biases sometime ago, he's been somewhat hypocritical.

This could become a very very ugly situation. The justices who failed to recuse themselves may themselves undermine the validity of their own arguments.

This is Checks and Balances, remember? The SCOTUS is allowed to be checked, and the DoJ has the juristiction to do so.

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downix
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Oct. 12, 2010 11:04 am

The DoJ has absolutely no jurisdiction over the SCOTUS. The DOJ is a department of the Executive Branch. The SCOTUS is one of the three separate branches of Government. Chief Justice Roberts is head of the Judicial branch of our Government, and President Obama is head of the Executive branch; neither has jurisdiction over the other. There is no "may, or may not" involved.

But more to the intent of the original post, no, the right of people's political speech should not be stripped just because of their associations. The alternative would be devastating to even those associations favored by progressives.

Paleo-con
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Paleo-con, I was just wondering, is 'government' just another 'association' to you--and, if so, what 'interests' should that 'association' have? The 'interests' of the 'most influential associations', otherwise? Just wondering how you see 'politics'.....

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Kerry
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DOJ does have jurisdiction over the individual members, they are citizens

Each of the AO 10 Financial Disclosure forms signed by Justice Thomas states in Section IX that it is certified under oath as follows:

"I certify that all information given above (including information pertaining to my spouse and minor or dependent children, if any) is accurate, true, and complete to the best of my knowledge and belief, and that any information not reported was withheld because it met applicable statutory provisions permitting non-disclosure." (Emphasis added.)

[ For complete coverage of politics and policy, go to Yahoo! Politics ]

Under the signature box in bold capital letters is the following:

NOTE: ANY INDIVIDUAL WHO KNOWINGLY AND WILLFULLY FALSIFIES OR FAILS TO FILE THIS REPORT MAY BE SUBJECT TO CIVIL AND CRIMINAL SANCTIONS (5 U.S.C. app section 104)

According to the Department of Justice Handbook on Prosecutions, persons with expertise in law are presumed to act "knowingly and willfully," and a defendant's signature on a document can help establish willfulness and knowledge. See United States v. Tucker, 133 F.3d 1208, 1218 n. 11 (9th Cir. 1998) (noting that signature proved knowledge of contents of return); United States v. Mohney, 949 F.2d 1397, 1407 (6th Cir. 1991) (holding that signature is prima facie evidence that the signer knows the contents of the return); United States v. Drape, 668 F.2d 22, 26 (1st Cir. 1982) (finding that defendant's signature is sufficient to establish knowledge once it has been shown that the return was false).

If charged, Justice Thomas could face up to one year in prison and a criminal fine for each false statement charge, and a civil fine of up to $50,000 under 5 U.S.C. appendix section 104.

Justice Thomas's conduct is similar to that of an FBI employee who oversaw background investigations for the agency in San Francisco. Rachelle Thomas-Zuill stated on a financial disclosure form that she owned three properties with an outstanding mortgage debt of $866,000, when in fact she owned six properties and had a debt of more than $2.2 million. Thomas-Zuill, who joined the FBI 13 years ago, pleaded guilty last week to making false statements to a government agency, a felony. She will be sentenced April 7th by U.S. District Judge Jeremy Fogel in San Jose.

Fraud is ok as long as you are republican.

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douglaslee
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Quote douglaslee:

DOJ does have jurisdiction over the individual members, they are citizens

Never denied that, we are in agreement. DOJ does not have jusisdiction over the SCOTUS; which was, and still is, my point.

Paleo-con
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Quote Kerry:

Paleo-con, I was just wondering, is 'government' just another 'association' to you--and, if so, what 'interests' should that 'association' have? The 'interests' of the 'most influential associations', otherwise? Just wondering how you see 'politics'.....

Kerry,

You may feel free to have normal discussions with me. I will not dissect every other word with a 500 word essay. As such, I am not sure why so many words are in parentheses in your question and if I am supposed to interpret them somehow.

But, I'll take a stab at the question... Yes, government is an association, but they are special in that they have badges and guns to enforce their views; others don't. Because of that special characteristic, the Government should not be allowed to strip someone’s political speech because of association. Speech is the only weapon the other associations have. Government's interest should be the interest of the people who put them in office with respect to those who didn't. Does this explain my political view? Like I said, I didn't quite figure out what all the parentheses were for, so I tried to answer as if they were not there.

Paleo-con
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

But when money is equated with "speech," certain of those associations bring their guns and "badges" to coerce/bribe their way to power. When the laws are rigged to make Wonderland into political reality, Commerce suddenly has the revenue stream voice and everybody else is on their own bank account. In other words, only Commerce can use "our" money to their purposes. When we "give," we don't get it back in our businesses. We might do better as citizens, but not as "associations."

Paleo, you need to add reflection on the power of money, etc., to your concern about a hostile state. The point of a democratic state is that it is accountable to the citizens and not just to some elite or monied interests. That has been legalized away by the jerks in robes from the Federalist Society whose interpretation of our Constitution and political processes are hostile to democracy, period.

The power and authority of the Supreme Court depends, at some point, on it not being so partisan that we go Egypt. The same is true of the Senate. And it would apply to the House we have under the Boner Comedy Hour.

Americans might just decide that this ain't democracy even when the engine is up and running. With the mechanic's bills adding up and the jalopy still in the garage instead of governing, we might decide to go out and buy a new model from the world market. There are some mighty fine looking vehicles out there on the road. I like the Parliament 21st Century Cruiseliner.

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DRC
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One side shoots bullets. One side throws money. I am not inclined to predict the side throwing money will win the battle. Take a moment to view things from a real world prospective. If we put real bullets on one side of a scale, the scale would drop to that side. If we then put the power of money on the other side, even lots of it, the scale would not budge. Who is more likely to force compliance, the guy throwing dollar bills at you, ot the guy holding a gun to your temple? The power of money and the power of guns and badges are not equivalent under any reflection.

Paleo-con
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Quote downix:

This is Checks and Balances, remember? The SCOTUS is allowed to be checked, and the DoJ has the juristiction to do so.

NO, they really don't. The only checks the Executive has over the Judicial is "power to appoint" & "Pardon Power". DoJ has no Jurisdiction

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Al'Thor
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Quote douglaslee:

DOJ does have jurisdiction over the individual members, they are citizens

[

Sure they do, they however can not vacate a Supreme Court Ruling as suggested

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Al'Thor
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Jeez Paleo, you know the history of labor better than this. Money buys bullets and is the badge of authority. It does not need the law or the government to screw you over. You need the law and the government to stop them from screwing you or just killing you and leaving you for carrion.

The power of money to buy guns and the goons to use them makes the choice you offer ridiculous. The State can be controlled by these forces. But these forces are the problem and if you have no State you still have their guns at your temple because they have the gold to rule.

Even when we get to revolution, the power of the many confronts both money and guns. We can thwart both with solidarity. The tyrant state runs on fear and intimidation, not just the ability to kill in massive violence. The boss and the wealthy elites depend upon our respect for the economy and the society as "law and order." If we all go to the streets in nonviolence, they are toast. It is our civic duty to reject tyranny and not to practice it on others. But we have to govern and not just wait passively for good government to come to us.

The point I am making is that the power of money includes owning the guns. Your choice between Commerce and the State miscasts the choice and the fight. The power of "the many" is all we have to bring against Corporate or the MIC. Unless we turn the military away from the defense of Corporate and the Empire, we will have neither guns nor money to use in resistance to tyranny.

Citizens United disempowers "the many" and allows Commerce to use its revenue stream in politics. The Supremes pimp for power in public, and all you can offer is a preference for being screwed by the power of money instead of run by bullets. It is a loser's choice, Mr. Hobson.

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DRC
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I don't want to interupt, but this is somewhat relevent

US Supreme Court justices may be impeached for "high crimes and misdemeanors," just like the President.

The constitutional language is vague enough to allow the House of Representatives to bring Articles of Impeachment for any form of impropriety, from commission of crime to obstructing justice to ethics violations. The House may also impeach for abuse of public office (e.g., profiting from, or helping someone else to profit from, confidential information; failing to disclose a conflict of interest, accepting payment for speaking engagements, etc.) or any action considered detrimental to the government's interest.

Government's interest, Franco and Benito, and the German guy defined that interest. The house now will not convene any hearings, Scalia and Thomas are their interests.

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douglaslee
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Yup, so the street is the check and balance. When they lose all respect and are just threats, government interest becomes the target. When we need a good government, we have to get rid of the bad one. When will we feel that need? When that happens, Benito will have a new necktie and that German guy will be heading for the bunker. Generalisimo Francisco Franco is Still Dead.

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DRC
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Quote douglaslee:

I don't want to interupt, but this is somewhat relevent

US Supreme Court justices may be impeached for "high crimes and misdemeanors," just like the President.

Sorry douglaslee, i know you are being sincere, but that still is not relevant. The question is if the Executive branch has jurisdiction over the Judicial branch. The answer is absolutely not. The power to impeach is part of the checks and balances that the Legislative branch brings to the table and does not involve the Executive branch.

Paleo-con
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Of course I know labor history, but I am trying to have a discussion that is apropos to the here and now. Can you honestly suggest that any company would pull out guns and shoot laborers trying to unionize now? Right now, today, tomorrow, what company is enforcing its will on the people and government with guns? I would say "Jeez" but that would make me look like a copy cat.

Citizen’s United disempowered nobody, it simply returned first amendment rights to people who had them stripped away by McCain. Returning people's rights can't be tagged as disempowering. If you think the first amendment is unfair because some people have more money than others, then you may be right, but have the process all wrong. The Bill of Rights cannot be altered by simple legislative majorities; it must be amended.

Paleo-con
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Doj through investigation can make known the crimes punishable by impeachment. The House becomes the sheriff/marshal, they can choose to enforce or ignore. We know how the house will go. I don't know whether seniority trumps ideology. Sen. Byrd knew the law, and he was very outspoken against patriot act [I know, it's another thread]. Some elder statesmen [dwindling number] in the house might make a motion. Even an ideological freshman might, though he/she would be briefed on the vicious attacks that would be forthcoming.

Still, if the AG makes the crimes public, it is a checks/balance thing, started from executive. The justice committee in the house has the ultimate power, and they can be pressured somewhat, at least Nixon thought so. Hearings would be a good thing, and I would like to see two justices squeezed.

If a justice is impeached, whether the decision the impeached justice had rendered in a deciding vote can be revisited would be an interesting case. He was unfit at the time, makes a 4-4 vote null and void, maybe.

http://www.trolp.org/ I'll browse some sources, and see what opinions arise. That source awarded distinguished jurist designation to Ed Meese [said Iran contra ok], Ken Star [bj impeachment], and Scalia, [Bush v Gore], so I don't expect much there.

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douglaslee
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Quote Paleo-con:

Citizen’s United disempowered nobody, it simply returned first amendment rights to people who had them stripped away by McCain. Returning people's rights can't be tagged as disempowering.

You stand by this statement? Seriously?

chilidog
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm
Quote chilidog:

You stand by this statement? Seriously?

Absolutely, I actually read the ruling instead of relying on the "corporations are persons" sound bites. What part of the ruling makes my synopsis incorrect? Why wouldn't I stand by what I said?

Paleo-con
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Are you saying that the result of the Citizens United decision was merely to nullify McCain-Feingold?

chilidog
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Quote chilidog:

Are you saying that the result of the Citizens United decision was merely to nullify McCain-Feingold?

I said no such thing. I said the first amendment rights to free speech that McCain stripped away from American citizens was restored. The ruling left in place disclaimer and disclosure of sponsors, limits on direct contributions to candidates, and bans on foreign contributions. So not all of McCain was undone, just the unconstitutional parts.

Here are some contents of the ruling that may help disclose the reality of what the ruling says and why I stand by what I said:

If the First Amendment has any force, it prohibits Congress from fining or jailing citizens, or associations of citizens, for simply engaging in political speech. If the antidistortion rationale were to be accepted, however, it would permit Government to ban political speech simply because the speaker is an association that has taken on the corporate form.

By suppressing the speech of manifold corporations, both for-profit and non-profit, the Government prevents their voices and viewpoints from reaching the public and advising voters on which persons or entities are hostile to their interests. Factions will necessarily form in our Republic, but the remedy of “destroying the liberty” of some factions is “worse than the disease.” The Federalist No. 10, p. 130 (B.Wright ed. 1961) (J. Madison). Factions should be checked by permitting them all to speak, see ibid., and by entrusting the people to judge what is true and what is false.

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.

As you can see from the above, opposition to the Citizens United ruling can only be construed as opposition to the First Amendment. I think I have supported my position. Perhaps you would do us the favor of supporting your assertion that I misread the ruling?

Paleo-con
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm
Quote Paleo-con:

Yes, government is an association, but they are special in that they have badges and guns to enforce their views; others don't. Because of that special characteristic, the Government should not be allowed to strip someone’s political speech because of association. Speech is the only weapon the other associations have. Government's interest should be the interest of the people who put them in office with respect to those who didn't. Does this explain my political view? Like I said, I didn't quite figure out what all the parentheses were for, so I tried to answer as if they were not there.

They are not parentheses, they are quotations--or, 'one-apostrophe quotations'.

So, the only difference that you see with government and any other association is that 'government' has guns. Does that about sum up your point here, Paleo-con? That seems to conclude that 'you' don't see a 'government' based on 'consent'--only on 'force'--is that correct? So, that would also appear to conclude that for 'government' to govern, it has to be based on 'fear' (of being 'forced') than on consent as 'you' see it--is that correct?

Of course, with 'government' limited to only that prospect, then it really wouldn't matter what type of government 'we' have. A 'government based on force' could be any form of government--but it certainly won't be the 'government by consent' form that I thought democracy was based on. It wouldn't be the 'government of, by and for the people' that 'we' have been led to believe in our studies in schools. According to Paleo-con, it would only be the only 'association' that would 'allow force' as part of its 'reason for being'.

But, then, with respect to that, Paleo-con says "Government's interest should be the interest of the people who put them in office with respect to those who didn't." (those are the 'real quotations') And, if those 'people' (the reason I put that in quotations is to recognize that 'we' may be 'using the same words'--but, 'I' may not mean the same as 'you' when 'we' do that so I want to recognize that point at the start)--if those 'people' are in 'the most powerful associations' then, according to you, Paleo-con, that would mean that 'the force of government' should only be used in 'providing the interests' of the 'most powerful associations' that put those in 'the association of government' there. Is that correct, Paleo-con?

If that is correct, then, I think most people intent on confirming a 'democratic government' that is 'of, by, and for the people', a 'democratic government' that not only goes by 'majority rules' but also by 'minority rights', a 'democratic government' more intent on 'guaranteeing individual rights' than 'the most powerful associations' interests', cannot, and does not, exist. And, it appears that Paleo-con has no problem with that....

But, for maybe some more 'thoughtful' individuals (as 'the thinking individual' I believe 'democracy' must be based on) will realize why 'associations' shouldn't influence the 'association' of 'government' if it is to be a 'democracy'....but, maybe I'm wrong......'un-realistic'.....

I found out recently a statement from Reinhold Niebuhr (the same guy that made the Serenity Prayer) that I think is appropriate here: "Man's capacity for justice makes democracy possible; but man's inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary."

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Kerry
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Quote Paleo-con:

Can you honestly suggest that any company would pull out guns and shoot laborers trying to unionize now?

They wouldn't have to if they get 'government' to do it for them....8^).....you know, the 'government' that 'their association' put in there....for 'their association's interest'....

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Kerry
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Quote Kerry:
Quote Paleo-con:

Can you honestly suggest that any company would pull out guns and shoot laborers trying to unionize now?

They wouldn't have to if they get 'government' to do it for them....8^).....you know, the 'government' that 'their association' put in there....for 'their association's interest'....

Do you mean as in Ruby Ridge or Waco?

Paleo-con
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Quote Paleo-con:
Quote chilidog:

Are you saying that the result of the Citizens United decision was merely to nullify McCain-Feingold?

I said no such thing. I said the first amendment rights to free speech that McCain stripped away from American citizens was restored. The ruling left in place disclaimer and disclosure of sponsors, limits on direct contributions to candidates, and bans on foreign contributions. So not all of McCain was undone, just the unconstitutional parts.

This is three times now that you suggest that the law now is exactly the same as the law was before McCain-Feingold (except for certain parts left in place, as you pointed out.)

chilidog
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm
Quote DRC:

Jeez Paleo, you know the history of labor better than this. Money buys bullets and is the badge of authority. It does not need the law or the government to screw you over. You need the law and the government to stop them from screwing you or just killing you and leaving you for carrion.

The power of money to buy guns and the goons to use them makes the choice you offer ridiculous. The State can be controlled by these forces. But these forces are the problem and if you have no State you still have their guns at your temple because they have the gold to rule.

Even when we get to revolution, the power of the many confronts both money and guns. We can thwart both with solidarity. The tyrant state runs on fear and intimidation, not just the ability to kill in massive violence. The boss and the wealthy elites depend upon our respect for the economy and the society as "law and order." If we all go to the streets in nonviolence, they are toast. It is our civic duty to reject tyranny and not to practice it on others. But we have to govern and not just wait passively for good government to come to us.

The point I am making is that the power of money includes owning the guns. Your choice between Commerce and the State miscasts the choice and the fight. The power of "the many" is all we have to bring against Corporate or the MIC. Unless we turn the military away from the defense of Corporate and the Empire, we will have neither guns nor money to use in resistance to tyranny.

Citizens United disempowers "the many" and allows Commerce to use its revenue stream in politics. The Supremes pimp for power in public, and all you can offer is a preference for being screwed by the power of money instead of run by bullets. It is a loser's choice, Mr. Hobson.

I think when Paleo was talking about bulltets and money, he was-perhaps subconsciously- referring to the two fists of conservative power. When their money fails to steer the country in their desired direction, they use their bullets to achieve their goals through intimidation.

As you stated, though, our side has but one fist-populism. When the people don't turn out in numbers, however, we get walked upon by the violent and the rich. There are countless examples from around the world of exactly this scenario being played out.

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D_NATURED
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Quote Kerry:

So, the only difference that you see with government and any other association is that 'government' has guns. Does that about sum up your point here, Paleo-con? That seems to conclude that 'you' don't see a 'government' based on 'consent'--only on 'force'--is that correct? So, that would also appear to conclude that for 'government' to govern, it has to be based on 'fear' (of being 'forced') than on consent as 'you' see it--is that correct?

To sum up all the "is that correct?" questions; no. You make an awful lot of unwarranted juxtapositions based on prejudice or misconceptions. Or perhaps the plethora of "is that correct?" is just an attempt to figure out where I am coming from. If you are one of those "all in, or all out" people, please don't project that onto me.

Guns are not the only difference, but it is a substantial difference. Of course our Government is based on consent rather than force; your conclusions are in serious error. Government does not have to be based on fear, another faulty conclusion. But there does need to be some level of enforcement. If all a taxpayer can expect for not paying taxes is a thorough finger shaking, a lot of people would learn to stop paying their taxes. It is not unreasonable for a Government to introduce some level of fear of enforcement.

Quote Kerry:

Of course, with 'government' limited to only that prospect, then it really wouldn't matter what type of government 'we' have. A 'government based on force' could be any form of government--but it certainly won't be the 'government by consent' form that I thought democracy was based on. It wouldn't be the 'government of, by and for the people' that 'we' have been led to believe in our studies in schools. According to Paleo-con, it would only be the only 'association' that would 'allow force' as part of its 'reason for being'.

More conjecture base on false conclusions. I'll skip

Quote Kerry:

But, then, with respect to that, Paleo-con says "Government's interest should be the interest of the people who put them in office with respect to those who didn't." (those are the 'real quotations') And, if those 'people' (the reason I put that in quotations is to recognize that 'we' may be 'using the same words'--but, 'I' may not mean the same as 'you' when 'we' do that so I want to recognize that point at the start)--if those 'people' are in 'the most powerful associations' then, according to you, Paleo-con, that would mean that 'the force of government' should only be used in 'providing the interests' of the 'most powerful associations' that put those in 'the association of government' there. Is that correct, Paleo-con?

You skipped over the "with respect to those who didn't." part. The liberties of minorities cannot be sacrificed as mere stepping stones for those who wish to climb their way to the top.

Quote Kerry:

If that is correct, then, I think most people intent on confirming a 'democratic government' that is 'of, by, and for the people', a 'democratic government' that not only goes by 'majority rules' but also by 'minority rights', a 'democratic government' more intent on 'guaranteeing individual rights' than 'the most powerful associations' interests', cannot, and does not, exist. And, it appears that Paleo-con has no problem with that....

Even more conjecture base on false conclusions. I'll skip

Quote Kerry:

But, for maybe some more 'thoughtful' individuals (as 'the thinking individual' I believe 'democracy' must be based on) will realize why 'associations' shouldn't influence the 'association' of 'government' if it is to be a 'democracy'....but, maybe I'm wrong......'un-realistic'.....

Perhaps unrealistic is correct. Self interest will always drive human behavior, and people will always seek power in numbers with others who share that self interest. People whose self interest is served by feeding the poor will associate with others who share the same interest because more can be done as a group than individually. It is when the group that wants to feed the poor votes that everyone must feed the poor, that democracy turns to tyranny.

Quote Kerry:

I found out recently a statement from Reinhold Niebuhr (the same guy that made the Serenity Prayer) that I think is appropriate here: "Man's capacity for justice makes democracy possible; but man's inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary."

Speaking of tyranny, you might also enjoy another of Reinhold Niebuhr's statements: "There are historic situations in which refusal to defend the inheritance of a civilization, however imperfect, against tyranny and aggression may result in consequences even worse than war."

Paleo-con
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Quote Paleo-con:

Do you mean as in Ruby Ridge or Waco?

Well, I'm no fan of how the government handled Ruby Ridge or Waco, Paleo-con, that is for sure. They pondered little at the 'door to private property' before they invaded in, didn't they? Did 'I' say that 'I' was for whatever the government did? I did say that, taking your position that government is there only to 'serve the interests of those that put them in there' and, if 'associations' are the only way to 'get your interests served by government', what is that to say about any of the 'democratic ideals' that I listed above with 'government'?

Quote D_NATURED:

I think when Paleo was talking about bulltets and money, he was-perhaps subconsciously- referring to the two fists of conservative power. When their money fails to steer the country in their desired direction, they use their bullets to achieve their goals through intimidation.

I agree with that point. 'Fear' is a much more efficient way to 'control people' over 'consent'. And, it does appear that conservatives love to center on the 'fear' aspect of politics...in fact, if things really get bad, I wouldn't be too surprised if another 'fear tactic' comes forth like 9/11 to 'coalesce the will of the masses'.....when backed into a corner, terrorism, 9/11, and 'our country's at risk and at war' is always the 'trump card' brought out by the con-jobs when nothing else works....it's certainly good that 9/11 'happened' for them to do that with.....

Kerry's picture
Kerry
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm
Quote Paleo-con:

If you are one of those "all in, or all out" people, please don't project that onto me.

I don't think that you can only be just 'part-way in' when it really comes to supporting a government that honors 'minority rights' as it goes by 'majority rules', only 'part-way in' when it comes to endorsing 'individual rights' to all individuals--and not just the 'associatively-powerful' or, worse yet, the 'organization of corporations as if a person'....

Quote Paleo-con:

Guns are not the only difference, but it is a substantial difference. Of course our Government is based on consent rather than force; your conclusions are in serious error.

'Of course' it's 'consent' and not 'force'? Are you sure? Considering what you said before, I'm not. Plus, when, as you say, it comes to how government 'serves the interests of the ones who put them there', I'm, also, not real sure how much 'substantial difference' there is between the 'association' of 'government' and the 'association' that put that 'government' in power IF it's not based on the full-fledged support of 'individual rights' to all individuals against any 'association's interest', otherwise. Are you? Come on now, Paleo-con, tell the truth....

However, as douglaslee aptly pointed out in the posts 8-11 on the Adam Curtis' Century of the Self' thread starting here:

http://www.thomhartmann.com/forum/2010/09/see-also-adam-curtis-century-self#comment-66262

...it doesn't appear 'the truth' isn't what is 'supposed to be told' when 'an association's interests through government' is at stake....

In that line, a recent NCIS show on TV depicted a group that passed itself off as a 'terrorist organization' that stole a nuclear weapon. However, it really wasn't a 'terrorist group', it was a bunch of high-level hedge fund operators that wanted to 'crash' the stock market by the 'fear' of being a terrorist group detonating a confiscated nuclear weapon (and, even as the show said, just like how some 'investors' made it rich by 'short-selling airline stock' the day before 9/11--which did happen--these 'terrorists cum hedge fund operators' would make billions by 'short selling the stock market' just before this 'threat of the nuclear bomb blast' crashed it). But, the real punch to the 'story' was that the NCIS computer whiz was able to 'shut down the entire internet' to prevent that 'story' from reaching the public 'for the best interest of the stock market'--even though, as the 'good guys' always win, they had foiled the plot just in time and got the nuclear weapon back....I thought of douglaslee's posts starting above when I saw that show....remember, if the 'interest shuts down', it will be for your own good--or, maybe, for some corporation's benefit in the stock market....

Quote Paleo-con:
Quote Kerry:

Of course, with 'government' limited to only that prospect, then it really wouldn't matter what type of government 'we' have. A 'government based on force' could be any form of government--but it certainly won't be the 'government by consent' form that I thought democracy was based on. It wouldn't be the 'government of, by and for the people' that 'we' have been led to believe in our studies in schools. According to Paleo-con, it would only be the only 'association' that would 'allow force' as part of its 'reason for being'

More conjecture base on false conclusions. I'll skip

It's not conjecture. You're the one emphasizing the role of 'government and guns' and you are, also, the one that stipulates that 'government serves the interests of the ones who put them there'--even, apparently since you haven't qualified it, otherwise, any 'association' that can do so....regardless of any 'democratic principles of government', otherwise. Are you saying anything differently now, Paleo-con? Let's see:

Quote Paleo-con:
Quote Kerry:

But, then, with respect to that, Paleo-con says "Government's interest should be the interest of the people who put them in office with respect to those who didn't." (those are the 'real quotations') And, if those 'people' (the reason I put that in quotations is to recognize that 'we' may be 'using the same words'--but, 'I' may not mean the same as 'you' when 'we' do that so I want to recognize that point at the start)--if those 'people' are in 'the most powerful associations' then, according to you, Paleo-con, that would mean that 'the force of government' should only be used in 'providing the interests' of the 'most powerful associations' that put those in 'the association of government' there. Is that correct, Paleo-con?

You skipped over the "with respect to those who didn't." part. The liberties of minorities cannot be sacrificed as mere stepping stones for those who wish to climb their way to the top.

As I see it, that's not what your statement says, Paleo-con. Read it again. The statement that you wrote down says "Government's interest should be the interest of the people who put them in office with respect to those who didn't." That means that 'those who didn't put them in office' with respect to those who did (your words, Paleo-con) haven't got a sayso in what 'government's interests' should be--that being 'the interest of the people who put them in office'. I'm really not trying to put words in your mouth, Paleo-con, I'm just trying to understand what you mean--starting with 'emphasizing guns and fear instead of consent'....Are you saying something different now? If the 'liberties of minorities cannot be sacrificed as mere stepping stones for those who wish to climb their way to the top', then, what will that do with any 'association's interests' that 'put them in the offices of government'? I think that your argument against being 'all in or all out' this way negates any and all meaning to whatever it is 'you' mean by 'government'--especially a 'democratic government' ('of, by, for the people', 'individual rights priorities', etc., and all)--making your 'half in/half out' position to be for 'something else'--and for what--or who's--'interests' would that be, Paleo-con?

Quote Paleo-con:
Quote Kerry:

If that is correct, then, I think most people intent on confirming a 'democratic government' that is 'of, by, and for the people', a 'democratic government' that not only goes by 'majority rules' but also by 'minority rights', a 'democratic government' more intent on 'guaranteeing individual rights' than 'the most powerful associations' interests', cannot, and does not, exist. And, it appears that Paleo-con has no problem with that....

Even more conjecture base on false conclusions. I'll skip

Really? You posted a lot of it to 'skip it'.....I believe 'my conjectures' may be more on the mark than you want to admit here, right, Paleo-con?....8^)...now, which 'association' is the 'government association' for, Paleo-con? The 'association that put them in office', right?

Quote Paleo-con:
Quote Kerry:

I found out recently a statement from Reinhold Niebuhr (the same guy that made the Serenity Prayer) that I think is appropriate here: "Man's capacity for justice makes democracy possible; but man's inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary."

Speaking of tyranny, you might also enjoy another of Reinhold Niebuhr's statements: "There are historic situations in which refusal to defend the inheritance of a civilization, however imperfect, against tyranny and aggression may result in consequences even worse than war."

No, I like my statement of Riehold Niebuhr better. Especially since you seemed to have 'confirmed its point' with your statement right before it:

Quote Paleo-con:

Self interest will always drive human behavior, and people will always seek power in numbers with others who share that self interest.

Wouldn't 'that' be 'the association' that 'put government in office', Paleo-con? And, tell me, again, what has that got to do with 'democratic principles of government'?

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Kerry
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Kerry, I would love to have a deep in the weeds conversation, and look forward to your discussing your thought provoking scenarios. If we can agree that I really know what I mean, and that I say what I mean. then we can proceed. If my actual words are going to be dismissed and replaced with what you are pretty sure is really going on in my head, then I will not engage. When we are ready to eliminate the projection and talk directly to one another, I will be more than happy to learn from your thoughts; that’s why I'm here.

Paleo-con
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

The link between money and free speech is specious in the first instance; but even if one accepts it as the rights of individual citizens to have a voice politically, the issue of one buck, one decibel would apply. Free speech would require the ability to be heard or some forum where one's monetary access did not include drowning out the speech of others.

This is the real issue with Citizens United, a case that was handled with extreme judicial activism, partisanship and bias rooted in a political program that cannot make it in democracy. We no longer have any shred of one if this mega sound machine keeps individual voices from being heard over the din. And there is no equivalence between union dues pooled together and the use of the commercial revenue stream in politics, particularly in elections. This is pure corporate tyranny endorsed by their pimps for power.

The sophistry of the legal arguments is amazing. The dissents are where the legal thinking is to be found. Democracy cannot afford this cant.

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DRC
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

OK, Paleo-con, fair enough--what attracks me to places like this is the discussion/counterdiscussion that has me understand things better, also. It makes me think. In that respect, I would like to ask my original question, again--even without the 'quotations'--and see what you can say about every aspect of it especially in what I see as the light of democratic principles in a democratic government. We may conclude that 'we' don't have a democratic government. If that's the case, then, I would wonder if you would want a democratic government, what characteristics would that involve, and how do we go from here to there. If that's not the case, I'm wondering what it is that you see that's 'democratic' with a government based on fear and guns and serving the interests of the most politically powerful associations. Here it is:

Paleo-con, I was just wondering, is government just another association to you--and, if so, what interests should that association have? The interests of the most influential associations (other than government, itself), otherwise? Just wondering how you see politics.....

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Kerry
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Kerry, Government is indeed an association of people. I can think of no other way to define it at its base. Is it just another association; no. It is an association that has the power to compel behavior. That power to compel, which I have previously referred to as guns and badges, is given by the consent of the governed. In terms of democracy; the majority of the people want to be protected from the reprobates, so they agree to deputize some of their own to carry those guns and badges. Therefore, in no way, does having a government with the power to compel behavior indicate a lack of democratic principles.

For an example of how this power in a government association is different from other associations, I will use the Sierra Club. Both the Government and the Sierra Club are associations; maybe even share many of the same members. The Sierra Club can approach a non-member and demand money to support their cause. That non-member can shrug their shoulders and walk away with no repercussions, even if they benefit from the Sierra Club’s actions. On the other hand, when the Government demands money to support their cause, the non-member is compelled to reach into their pocket.

How all that is reflected in my politics is this... Power corrupts; therefore, any power given to government must come with strings attached to circumvent that power if abused. One of those strings must be to protect the liberty of the minority. Here is a scenario that demonstrates the connection between associations, democracy, and the power to compel that is granted to the association known as government.

You answer a knock at your door, and find the Sheriff standing there. On the street behind him are 51% of your homeowner’s association that have just voted to give your house to a family down the street who are down on their luck. What do you want the Sheriff to do? Do you want the Sheriff to honor the democratic mob? Or do you want the Sheriff to have strings attached that protect you, even though you have minority status in the situation?

My politics make me believe the Sheriff should turn, face the mob, and say something like "Even though you in the majority have voted on this and have vested in me the power to carry out your wishes, I have strings attached that compel me to protect Kerry's liberties; like the right to private property." What do your politics make you believe?

Paleo-con
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

From what I can see as cognitive consistencies--especially considering the 'ideals of democracy' and your 'government that serves the interest of the most powerful people'--I have a lot of problems just with your first paragraph. Let me see if I can explain--and 'we' can hammer it out. I'm going to break it up in parts to emphasize my points--and our distinctions j(and some of the words I'm going to have to put in 'quotations' since I know that they are where our 'definitions' may differ):

Quote Paleo-con:

Kerry, Government is indeed an association of people. I can think of no other way to define it at its base.

OK, so it's an association. But, that description doesn't quite get to my point--what type of 'association' is it? Don't let me put words in your mouth, but, as your previous descriptions seem to indicate to me, you seem to be saying that 'government', as an 'association', is just an 'association that serves the interests of other associatons' that have the poltlicial power and wherewithall to put the 'association of government' in power. Is that correct? If so, then I have some fundamental problems with how you describe government, itself, as an 'association of people' (much less, by and for the people) since I don't see 'associations' as people--and I don't see how an 'association that serves the interests of other associations' is, itself, 'democratic'--especially in light of any of the 'democratic principles' I outlined above.

Quote Paleo-con:

It is an association that has the power to compel behavior. That power to compel, which I have previously referred to as guns and badges, is given by the consent of the governed.

You see, I have a problem with 'the power to compel' being in the same sentence with 'given by consent'--and I, also, have a problem with the only consent being given is the power to compel., While I might have to concede that, yes, indeed, government has the 'power to compel', I'm going to want some restrictions on how government is to do that--or we will have more Ruby Ridge and Waco events. I want government to have to (compel it, if you will) disclose, open and up front, its findings, its reasons, and its purposes, to compel in each and every situation. I'm NOT giving 'government' the 'right to compel' without it--and certainly not in any 'government' that claims it's 'democratic'. Are you?

Quote Paleo-con:

In terms of democracy; the majority of the people want to be protected from the reprobates, so they agree to deputize some of their own to carry those guns and badges.

I want government to declare, open and up front, just how it has determined any particular person and/or event to be 'reprobates'. What 'government' declares as 'reprobate', 'I' may not agree with--and I want some way to have that determined and be able to respond to. As I've said before, that was, at one time, what juries--grand juries and trial juries--are for--judging the validity of the law and the legal procedings as much as the 'offender' to determine the extent, or lack thereof, of 'guilt'. The voting public should be the same--but the voting public will NOT be able to judge that unless (and until) they know the specifics of the circumstances and conditions that have this government 'declare reprobates'--and how government is going to deal with that. Point is is that if it's not 'open and up front' with each and every action of 'government', then, 'I'm' not sure how we are talking about 'terms of democracy'--or a government supposedly based on 'democratic (people-NOT association--oriented) principles'.....

Quote Paleo-con:

Therefore, in no way, does having a government with the power to compel behavior indicate a lack of democratic principles.

Without the qualifications I list above, Paleo-con, I flat out disagree with you in almost every respect. But, let's continue on:

Quote Paleo-con:

For an example of how this power in a government association is different from other associations, I will use the Sierra Club. Both the Government and the Sierra Club are associations; maybe even share many of the same members. The Sierra Club can approach a non-member and demand money to support their cause. That non-member can shrug their shoulders and walk away with no repercussions, even if they benefit from the Sierra Club’s actions. On the other hand, when the Government demands money to support their cause, the non-member is compelled to reach into their pocket.

Yes, I see that 'power to compel' for government as an 'association'--but, that still doesn't get to my problem with the 'interests of government as an association' being for 'people in other associations that put them in office' as, in any way, confirming a democracy based on 'people' generally and specifically. Not without 'individual rights', 'minority rights', and 'of, by and for the people' considerations trumping any and all association's 'rights' (even government, per se, as any 'instituitonal rights'--but, also, corporations or just about any 'association'--including 'unions'--but, after having said that, I will recognize that 'unions' are just another association trying to counter what I see as the inordinate 'political power' in the 'association of corporations'--I would have no problem undermining the 'political power' of both 'associations'--but, I would ONLY do it simultaneously to reduce any inadvertent advantages to any imbalance that politically persists--government, as an 'association', should have NO other interests than those directly for, and directed by, 'the people'--and 'the person', or 'individual'--and be seen as a 'democracy' as far as I see it).

The 'power to tax' was challenged by some of our more 'visionary to the democratic cause' American historical figures such as Henry David Thoreau who, in his essay, Civil Disobedience, he stipulated that he had no problem with paying taxes to help out his neighbors and friends with maintenance of roads and such--but he refused to pay a tax that he thought went to finance what he saw was an illegal, 'empire-endorsing' Mexican-American War because he disagreed with its extent and intent on 'democracy'. He exacted out this issue of 'consent' against the 'power to compel'--with not 'giving his consent' to those issues that he thought didn't represent democracy (of, by, for the people) as much as it did empire (as the cancerous 'association' that destroys real 'democracy'--as those democracies more based on 'consent' than 'force'--that many early American visionaries saw the problems with 'empire' as--including John Adams and Thomas Jefferson)--and Thoreau was willing to go to jail for his 'lack of consent' against 'being compelled, or forced' (but he stayed in jail only one day--Emerson bailed him out--there is a story where when Emerson went to get Thoreau out of jail, Emerson remarked, 'Henry, why are you in jail?'--and Thoreau replied, 'Ralph, why aren't you in jail with me?' I guess 'we' don't 'make them' like we used to....).

Henry David Thoreau was, as you may know, in the same essay (Civil Disobedience), the person who said 'the government that governs best governs not at all'--however, those that claim they know what that statement means fail to acknowledge what Thoreau said after saying that. Thoreau acknowledged that 'the mind of man' wasn't ready for 'no government at all'--and, therefore, Thoreau offered his 'second best government'--which was one that was enacted by those who envisioned what 'the best government' was through the mechanisms of a democratic government.....'we' don't seem to do even that one--much less are 'we' ready for 'no government at all'--especially since you continually qualify it with the 'power to compel' as its preemptive quality over any form of 'consent' (except, perhaps, the 'consent' to have the 'power to compel')....

Quote Paleo-con:

How all that is reflected in my politics is this... Power corrupts; therefore, any power given to government must come with strings attached to circumvent that power if abused.

Read above. I don't think you have enough 'strings attached'--especially not enough based on anything 'of, by, and for the people' as much as you do 'interests of the people in the associations that put them in office'....

Quote Paleo-con:

One of those strings must be to protect the liberty of the minority.

How does government based on 'the interests of the people in the associaitons that put them there' do that? Let's see what you say:

Quote Paleo-con:

Here is a scenario that demonstrates the connection between associations, democracy, and the power to compel that is granted to the association known as government.

You answer a knock at your door, and find the Sheriff standing there. On the street behind him are 51% of your homeowner’s association that have just voted to give your house to a family down the street who are down on their luck. What do you want the Sheriff to do? Do you want the Sheriff to honor the democratic mob? Or do you want the Sheriff to have strings attached that protect you, even though you have minority status in the situation?

My politics make me believe the Sheriff should turn, face the mob, and say something like "Even though you in the majority have voted on this and have vested in me the power to carry out your wishes, I have strings attached that compel me to protect Kerry's liberties; like the right to private property." What do your politics make you believe?

I have no problem with 'private property'--but, let me be clear about that, I have no problem with an individual's right to 'private property'. I have a big problem when any association claims the same right (and, yes, I have read Thom Hartmann's Unequal Protection--in fact, it was that book that attracted me to Hartmann's forum to begin with)....and, so should any 'democratic government' I see based on 'rights of the people' as 'individual rights'.

Kerry's picture
Kerry
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

The bought and paid for duo [Thomas now under DOJ investigation] made a ruling that was not even what the appellant's request. Justice Stevens dissent says exactly why it was wrong

Justice Stevens, with whom Justice Ginsburg , Justice Breyer, and Justice Sotomayor join, concurring in part and dissenting in part.

The real issue in this case concerns how, not if, the appellant may finance its electioneering. Citizens United is a wealthy nonprofit corporation that runs a political action committee (PAC) with millions of dollars in assets. Under the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (BCRA), it could have used those assets to televise and promote Hillary: The Movie wherever and whenever it wanted to. It also could have spent unrestricted sums to broadcast Hillary at any time other than the 30 days before the last primary election. Neither Citizens United’s nor any other corporation’s speech has been “banned,” ante , at 1. All that the parties dispute is whether Citizens United had a right to use the funds in its general treasury to pay for broadcasts during the 30-day period. 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.

The basic premise underlying the Court’s ruling is its iteration, and constant reiteration, of the proposition that the First Amendment bars regulatory distinctions based on a speaker’s identity, including its “identity” as a corporation. While that glittering generality has rhetorical appeal, it is not a correct statement of the law. Nor does it tell us when a corporation may engage in electioneering that some of its shareholders oppose. It does not even resolve the specific question whether Citizens United may be required to finance some of its messages with the money in its PAC. The conceit that corporations must be treated identically to natural persons in the political sphere is not only inaccurate but also inadequate to justify the Court’s disposition of this case.

In the context of election to public office, the distinction between corporate and human speakers is significant. Although they make enormous contributions to our society, corporations are not actually members of it. They cannot vote or run for office. Because they may be managed and controlled by nonresidents, their interests may conflict in fundamental respects with the interests of eligible voters. The financial resources, legal structure, and instrumental orientation of corporations raise legitimate concerns about their role in the electoral process. Our lawmakers have a compelling constitutional basis, if not also a democratic duty, to take measures designed to guard against the potentially deleterious effects of corporate spending in local and national races.

The majority’s approach to corporate electioneering marks a dramatic break from our past. Congress has placed special limitations on campaign spending by corporations ever since the passage of the Tillman Act in 1907, ch. 420, 34 Stat. 864. We have unanimously concluded that this “reflects a permissible assessment of the dangers posed by those entities to the electoral process,” FEC v. National Right to Work Comm. , 459 U. S. 197, 209 (1982) (NRWC) , and have accepted the “legislative judgment that the special characteristics of the corporate structure require particularly careful regulation,” id. , at 209–210. The Court today rejects a century of history when it treats the distinction between corporate and individual campaign spending as an invidious novelty born of Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce , 494 U. S. 652 (1990) . Relying largely on individual dissenting opinions, the majority blazes through our precedents, overruling or disavowing a body of case law including FEC v. Wisconsin Right to Life , Inc., 551 U. S. 449 (2007) (WRTL) , McConnell v. FEC , 540 U. S. 93 (2003) , FEC v. Beaumont , 539 U. S. 146 (2003) , FEC v. Massachusetts Citizens for Life , Inc., 479 U. S. 238 (1986) (MCFL) , NRWC , 459 U. S. 197 , and California Medical Assn. v. FEC , 453 U. S. 182 (1981) .

In his landmark concurrence in Ashwander v. TVA , 297 U. S. 288, 346 (1936) , Justice Brandeis stressed the importance of adhering to rules the Court has “developed … for its own governance” when deciding constitutional questions. Because departures from those rules always enhance the risk of error, I shall review the background of this case in some detail before explaining why the Court’s analysis rests on a faulty understanding of Austin and McConnell and of our campaign finance jurisprudence more generally . 1 I regret the length of what follows, but the importance and novelty of the Court’s opinion require a full response. Although I concur in the Court’s decision to sustain BCRA’s disclosure provisions and join Part IV of its opinion, I emphatically dissent from its principal holding.

I

Jusicial activism is good thing now. Everything the majority did was circumventing law, precedence, and historical standards. America sets a poor example for any country that believes in representative government, whether you call it a republic or democracy, this decision shows it to be corrupt. Republics are good as long as they are the banana type. Great example to the world, we will show you how to buy your leaders, or your judges, or your wardens.

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douglaslee
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Time to Rethink the War on Terror

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When Eric Holder eventually steps down as Attorney General, he will leave behind a complicated legacy, some of it tragic, like his decision not to prosecute Wall Street after the financial crisis, and his all-out war on whistleblowers like Edward Snowden.

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