The Sovereign Mind

Free thought on politics and real life

Posts Tagged ‘Citizens United

In Defense of the Court

with 6 comments

As if the United States Supreme Court needs a defense from me…

The Supreme Court ruled last week that the government cannot prevent organizations, including corporations and labor unions, from weighing in on political campaigns. The reaction I’ve seen has been almost all negative, with some claiming that it is the end of democracy as we know it. While I think that’s a bit of an exaggeration, I am concerned that this will make it even easier for corporations to gain political influence. However, what strikes me about that argument is that it is completely irrelevant: if something is unconstitutional, it doesn’t matter if we like the consequences of it or not.

Glenn Greenwald starts with that point and then goes on to make several other good points in defense of the court ruling, including linking to this response to those who say that money is property, not speech, and also posting a follow-up on the subject.

As someone with a lot of opinions but not much time to write, I’ll just ask the reader to consider Glenn’s writings on this subject to be mine (in the non-plagiarism sense, I mean), because I think I agree with him entirely.

But since I can’t bring myself to write an entirely “go read this guy” kind of post, let me add this thought experiment:

Is it unconstitutional to restrict a person from expressing his political views? Of course it is unconstitutional.

Is it unconstitutional to restrict that person from gathering with like-minded people to pool their voices together? Of course it is unconstitutional.

What if that pool of people decided that they needed to engage in fundraising efforts, such as selling stuff, in order to raise money to get their message out? Would it be unconstitutional to ban that? I think it would be, and I don’t see any real difference between that and a corporation or labor union buying air time to get their political views heard.

Now, as I said, I do worry about the influence of special interest groups in politics, but the way to fight them is not to take away the rights of the people in those organizations–it’s to exercise ours. Corporations may be considered “people” in some sense (although really I think that line of reasoning is a distortion of the decision–that’s not really what it said), but clearly they are not fully “people”. They cannot vote, and as long as they can’t, they can only be as powerful as we, the voting kind of people, allow them to be. That might sound overly idealistic–to believe that the people will rise up to think and act for themselves instead of allowing themselves to become the pawns of higher powers–but it also happens to be what the founders were counting on when they went all in on this new experiment called democracy.

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Written by Mike

January 24, 2010 at 11:02 pm