A good argument for Citizens United, by George Will

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http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/montana-attempts-to-buck-the-supr...

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bentley72
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I didn't think that Wills' argument was a very good one at all. But that aside, What is YOUR opinion. I can read the Washington Post without your help.

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Art
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MY personal opinion is that the influx of political ads as a result of Citizens United will do very little to influence the average voter. As far as the "money equals speach" argument, I'm fine with it. If billionaires want to throw millions into PAC's to run ads and smear or praise politicians that's their right. Besides, unions are doing the same thing. The SC agrees with me (at least 5 of them). If a voter is swayed only by a commercial or pamplet or website, then they are probably a dumb, low information voter.

Which brings me to another issue: There is NO constitutional RIGHT to vote in federal elections! So, I purpose a law that everyone who votes in a federal election must first pass a (simple) basic civics test. Examples of questions are: How many branches of the federal government are there? Who is the current president? Vice President? Etc. No trick questions. Just simple stuff that I would hope ANY voter would know. But, that will never happen because it would ensure the election of republicans forever. Boom.

I just like George Will and most of his stuff he writes. He knows his stuff, especially when it comes to the SC and the Constitution.

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bentley72
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As far as the "money equals speach" argument, I'm fine with it
I'm not. And that is why I didn't think very much of Will's argument. Money is something you use to buy things with. Speech is the expression of an idea. The two don't even resemble eachother.
If billionaires want to throw millions into PAC's to run ads and smear or praise politicians that's their right.
It is only their right if the Constitution is twisted to give them that right.
If a voter is swayed only by a commercial or pamplet or website, then they are probably a dumb, low information voter.
And that is the reason that Citizens United is a travesty. To quote Garrison Keillor, "half the people you meet are below average".
There is NO constitutional RIGHT to vote in federal elections!
The 15th amendments 19th say otherwise.

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Art
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[quote=Art]

I'm not. And that is why I didn't think very much of Will's argument. Money is something you use to buy things with. Speech is the expression of an idea. The two don't even resemble eachother. [quote]

Is the Sierra Club sending out mailers for a candidate they believe will be more helpful in passing environmental regulations considered speech?

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WorkerBee
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We have a primary election in California next Tuesday. I always throw away my mail campaign advertisements, and I do my research on the internet. I tried to do this last night and I'm having real trouble finding good information. We have a new primary system where the top two vote-getters regardless of party get to square off in the general election in November. I typically go to newspapers endorsements, smaller party endorsements like the Greens or Peace and Freedom, even the right wing ones (there's a crazy birther GOP candidate who has a strong chance to get to lose to Dianne Feinstein.) There's like 10 Democrats and 10 Republicans in that Senate primary, plus about 5 other parties. It's nuts. It's not that big of a field for my House race or state Assembly and Senate races, but still there are 5-6 candidates, each, that I have to check out. I know I do more homework than most voters - this new system might not be a good idea. A lot of people just vote on the "occupation" of the candidate, i.e. "business owner," "attorney you like," "attorney the other guy likes" etc.

chilidog
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Is the Sierra Club sending out mailers for a candidate they believe will be more helpful in passing environmental regulations considered speech?
How much money is the Sierra Club spending to disseminate these mailers? Obviously, the ideas in the pamphlets are speech. The postage and paper and printing ink that they are using are not.

Art's picture
Art
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Quote bentley72:

MY personal opinion is that the influx of political ads as a result of Citizens United will do very little to influence the average voter. As far as the "money equals speach" argument, I'm fine with it. If billionaires want to throw millions into PAC's to run ads and smear or praise politicians that's their right. Besides, unions are doing the same thing. The SC agrees with me (at least 5 of them). If a voter is swayed only by a commercial or pamplet or website, then they are probably a dumb, low information voter.

Which brings me to another issue: There is NO constitutional RIGHT to vote in federal elections! So, I purpose a law that everyone who votes in a federal election must first pass a (simple) basic civics test. Examples of questions are: How many branches of the federal government are there? Who is the current president? Vice President? Etc. No trick questions. Just simple stuff that I would hope ANY voter would know. But, that will never happen because it would ensure the election of republicans forever. Boom.

I just like George Will and most of his stuff he writes. He knows his stuff, especially when it comes to the SC and the Constitution.

A civics test? We would have a couple of dozen qualified voters! Why don't we go another direction. How about a moral test. This would never happen because it would ensure the election of Democrats forever. Boom.

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Bush_Wacker
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From the link:

"At issue is the court’s 2010 Citizens United decision, which held, unremarkably, that Americans do not forfeit their First Amendment rights when they come together in corporate entities or labor unions to speak collectively."

Well, I'm certainly relieved. It was my understanding that a corporation did not have to be 100% owned by Americans to spend money on political speech. I'm glad George cleared this up.

chilidog
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Quote Art:
Is the Sierra Club sending out mailers for a candidate they believe will be more helpful in passing environmental regulations considered speech?
How much money is the Sierra Club spending to disseminate these mailers? Obviously, the ideas in the pamphlets are speech. The postage and paper and printing ink that they are using are not.

So you believe that it is constitutional for the government to prohibit sending out mailers that are critical of government actions?

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WorkerBee
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Art, guess what:

The Constitution contains many phrases, clauses, and amendments detailing ways people cannot be denied the right to vote. You cannot deny the right to vote because of race or gender. Citizens of Washington DC can vote for President; 18-year-olds can vote; you can vote even if you fail to pay a poll tax. The Constitution also requires that anyone who can vote for the "most numerous branch" of their state legislature can vote for House membersand Senate members.

Note that in all of this, though, the Constitution never explicitly ensures the right to vote, as it does the right to speech, for example. It does require that Representatives be chosen and Senators be elected by "the People," and who comprises "the People" has been expanded by the aforementioned amendments several times. Aside from these requirements, though, the qualifications for voters are left to the states. And as long as the qualifications do not conflict with anything in the Constitution, that right can be withheld. For example, in Texas, persons declared mentally incompetent and felons currently in prison or on probation are denied the right to vote. It is interesting to note that though the 26th Amendment requires that 18-year-olds must be able to vote, states can allow persons younger than 18 to vote, if they chose to.

Source: www.unconstitution.net

Art, bottom line, voting is a privilege. If "half the people we meet are below normal" then you're making my point. There should be standards. And morality shouldn't be one because it's subjective. Basic civic knowledge is however objective. The low information voter, along with teacher unions, are the biggest threat to the future of this nation. We just reached the point in this nation where more than 50% receive a check from the federal government instead of paying any federal incometax. This is the threshold people. All great civilizations have usually fallen after 250 years or so. Coincidence? I think not.

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bentley72
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Note that in all of this, though, the Constitution never explicitly ensures the right to vote,
Guess what. Here's what you aren't getting about the Constitution. It does not give rights to anybody. It defines which rights Government may not infringe on. Voting is a right except where the Constitution allows Government to impinge on that right.

Art's picture
Art
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Quote Art:

I'm not. And that is why I didn't think very much of Will's argument. Money is something you use to buy things with. Speech is the expression of an idea. The two don't even resemble eachother.

How much money is the Sierra Club spending to disseminate these mailers? Obviously, the ideas in the pamphlets are speech. The postage and paper and printing ink that they are using are not.

That's something that's been on my mind for a long time. I even started a topic about it, which apparently no on is interested in. I think there's a difference between speech and broadcast/published speech. Where do we draw the line? George Will can certainly write an opinion article every day, I may not want to read it, somebody else does. Maybe the difference is that a consumer actually wants to fork over $1 to buy the Washington Post, but if George wanted to mail his opinions to my mailbox with no "cost" to me, that would be a violation.

http://www.thomhartmann.com/forum/2012/01/what-freedom-press

chilidog
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There should be standards.
Like it or not, America is designed to affirm that stupid and lazy people have interests, too. They get to have their say . . . just like everybody else.

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Art
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So you believe that it is constitutional for the government to prohibit sending out mailers that are critical of government actions?
That would be a mattter of Postal regulations. There are thousands of them in the Domestic Mail Manual. I'm not familiar with all of them, but some kinds of content are definitely prohibited in the mail, and that is Constitutional. People who want to convey that kind of content can find other means of disseminating it. Carrier pigeons, perhaps.

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Quote bentley72:

We just reached the point in this nation where more than 50% receive a check from the federal government instead of paying any federal income tax.

This has been refuted so many times. This is one that gets someone in the "liar" camp if it's repeated.

chilidog
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Quote bentley72:If billionaires want to throw millions into PAC's to run ads and smear or praise politicians that's their right.
Problem with your "logic" such as it is, is democracy is NOT a marketplace. In the market, those with money rule. Those without, have NO voice.

Democracy is a system outside of the market where each citizen has an EQUAL voice even if they have NO money. This is why the Right instinctively distrusts democracy. The Right wants to turn the democratic process into just another market, where their rich patrons hold sway because they have... MONEY and can buy results that reflect their "investments".

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Quote chilidog:

Quote bentley72:

We just reached the point in this nation where more than 50% receive a check from the federal government instead of paying any federal income tax.

This has been refuted so many times. This is one that gets someone in the "liar" camp if it's repeated.

Note the catch phrase… "income tax", not all federal taxes like FICA etc.

The problem with the Right's new-found umbrage on this matter is it's THEIR irresponsible tax cut policies that kicked so many off the income tax rolls back in 2001/03. Bush2 BRAGGED his tax cuts meant 5 million taxpayers would NOT have to pay income taxes. Now the Orwellian Right complains about how this is unfair to the rich! They pay a bigger share of the now smaller "tax burden"... as if they pay more in actual dollars. So now we see the Right's true agenda... get the poor to pay more, and give the mistreated rich even ANOTHER tax break. Insane you think? Sure. But then these are the nitwits that actually believe irresponsible GOP tax cuts are a Free Lunch that create massive revenue booms that pay for those tax cuts. Yup, there's a sucker born every minute.

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Pierpont
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Typically, the conservative bases their argument on one lie, and this is the one from Mr. Will.

Before Citizens United removed restrictions on independent expenditures by for-profit corporations, a majority of states already had no such restrictions. Neither did they have records of distinctively bad behavior.

Arizona, and many other states, have legislatures that are governed by proxy for the Koch Bros, ALEC and Grover Norquist. We are ruled by are a group of oligarchs who want to pollute more, hire illegal immigrants yet keep their status illegal so as to keep wages low, and prevent brown skinned citizens from voting. Their record of behavior is the most odious, foul and evil imaginable.

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Quote bentley72:MY personal opinion is that the influx of political ads as a result of Citizens United will do very little to influence the average voter.

So corporations are wasting billions of dollars on worthless advirtizing?

That's ridiculous.

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Dr. Econ
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Quote bentley72: If billionaires want to throw millions into PAC's to run ads and smear or praise politicians that's their right.

Wrong. Citizens United was about corporations and unions spending money because they had free speech rights.

This is absurd since Corporations and Unions are not people, and hence have no free speech rights.

Corporations are created by states.

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Dr. Econ
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Quote Art:
Quote ????:Note that in all of this, though, the Constitution never explicitly ensures the right to vote,

Guess what. Here's what you aren't getting about the Constitution. It does not give rights to anybody. It defines which rights Government may not infringe on. Voting is a right except where the Constitution allows Government to impinge on that right.

I believe the original constitution - like it did so often - simply relied on the states to set voting laws. I believe the original constiution only requires that the states have a 'Republic'. And many states at that time had laws then only ensured that wealthy white men could vote.

This reminds me of the whole issue of slavery. It appears to violate the princaples of the constitution, but somehow the whole issue is sort of reaffirmed in the actual document, and it just went on.

Now the later amendments said you can't discriminate based on race and sex, but I don't think that literally means that everyone has a right to vote - it just means you can't discriminate based on race and sex. But, you can discriminate - I suppose - based on wealth, or maybe anything else.

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Dr. Econ
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Quote Art:
So you believe that it is constitutional for the government to prohibit sending out mailers that are critical of government actions?
That would be a mattter of Postal regulations. There are thousands of them in the Domestic Mail Manual. I'm not familiar with all of them, but some kinds of content are definitely prohibited in the mail, and that is Constitutional. People who want to convey that kind of content can find other means of disseminating it. Carrier pigeons, perhaps.

You missed my point so let me restate it more explicitly. My example was not about postal regulations but about giving an example where money equates to speech. Where do you draw the line?

I assume you would allow me to make my own sign and stand in front of the the White house to protest the Keystone pipeline?What if the Sierra Club spent money and bought a sign for me to hold? Can the government now confiscate the sign as that is no longer free speech if money does not equate to speech? What if they spend money to provide transportation to get to the White House? Can that be outlawed?

What about any type of organization with a political bent? Emily's list, NARAL, NRA and all the other organizations that are designed to influence policy, in your world view does the government have the constitutional right to shut them all down?

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WorkerBee
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Quote WorkerBee:

Where do you draw the line?

I assume you would allow me to make my own sign and stand in front of the the White house to protest the Keystone pipeline?

If you really want to get deep into mental masturbation, that sign itself is a form of broadcasting. Maybe the sign could say, "Ask me my opinion of Obama!"

chilidog
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm
What about any type of organization with a political bent? Emily's list, NARAL, NRA and all the other organizations that are designed to influence policy, in your world view does the government have the constitutional right to shut them all down?
I think that this is all pretty well protected by the freedom of assembly part of the 1st Amendment.

What if the Sierra Club spent money and bought a sign for me to hold? Can the government now confiscate the sign as that is no longer free speech if money does not equate to speech? What if they spend money to provide transportation to get to the White House? Can that be outlawed?
Dunno. That's too tough a question for me. Speech is the expression of an idea. Electronics, posters, paper and ink, these are media forms. Methods for disseminating ideas. Sadly, I would have to say that Government probably can constitutionally regulate media. If not directly, then through extreme inconvenience. "Free speech" zones are an example. Movie ratings systems are another. If somebody wants to erect a giant billboard in a development controlled by a neighborhood association, the prerogatives of private ownership seem to trump freedom of expression of speech.

Are these devices unconstitutional in your world?

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Art
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

You make a good point Art, the age of old question of where does one draw the line? It seems to me that the freedom of political speech should be the most jealously guarded right we hold, even if it is political speech that we disagree with.

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WorkerBee
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Quote WorkerBee:

You make a good point Art, the age of old question of where does one draw the line? It seems to me that the freedom of political speech should be the most jealously guarded right we hold, even if it is political speech that we disagree with.

If your a corporate pimp, maybe. Why don't we just do what England does? You can sue for libel easier, and there are limits on political TV advirtizing. I mean do you actually think the founding fathers would say you can't limit the wealthy from owing all the media that influences and educates people's opinions? To me, it is an obvious and necessary step for democracy.

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