Saturday, January 23, 2010

Ed Brayton Misses The Point

I agree with (and often quote) Ed Brayton from Dispatches From The Culture Wars much of the time, but in this post I think he misses the point of the gravity of the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision. Says Ed:
I know a lot of liberals are very upset by yesterday's Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v FEC, but frankly I think it's much ado about little. The standard reaction seems to be: "Oh my god, corporations can now spend tons of money to influence the outcome of elections." But I've got news for you: They already do that. They always have. And the campaign finance laws did not prevent it.

And then he goes on to say this:
The fact is that the campaign finance law that the court struck down was never really intended to reduce corporate influence over elections in the first place. It was designed to give the illusion of reducing corporate influence over elections.

This, of course, is true. It's not that corporations did not already spend millions and millions of dollars to influence the result of elections.

The problem with Thursday's ruling is that it further reinforces the opinion that money is a natural means of securing free speech, and that corporations are entitled to the same free speech protections in the political arena as individuals do without being exposed to the same liabilities that are attached to physical persons. Corporations cannot be put to death, they cannot be imprisoned, they do not have post bail, and so forth. This creates a class of supercitizens that the Founding Fathers would not conceivably have endorsed. In fact, all evidence points to the contrary: Founding Fathers feared the rise of corporation against the interest of the nascent Union. How supposed originalists like Scalia and Thomas failed to see this is a testament not to their dedication to preserving the original intent of the Constitution but to the degree of their subservience to the particular interests they represent.

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