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United States Politics Your Rights Online

Supreme Court Rolls Back Corporate Campaign Spending Limits 1070

lorenlal writes "The Supreme Court of the United States must have figured that restrictions on corporate support of candidates was a violation of free speech, or something like that." From the AP story linked above: "By a 5-4 vote, the court on Thursday overturned a 20-year-old ruling that said corporations can be prohibited from using money from their general treasuries to pay for campaign ads. The decision, which almost certainly will also allow labor unions to participate more freely in campaigns, threatens similar limits imposed by 24 states."
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Supreme Court Rolls Back Corporate Campaign Spending Limits

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  • by wiredog ( 43288 ) on Thursday January 21, 2010 @04:36PM (#30850706) Journal

    Unions too.

  • by epiphani ( 254981 ) <epiphani&dal,net> on Thursday January 21, 2010 @04:52PM (#30851010)

    I read up quickly on the methods Canada takes on this, because we actually have - what I would consider - sane laws on this subject.

    We limit individuals to a maximum $5000 donation. We limit corporations to a maximum $1000 donation.

    Finally, and most importantly, we limit the amount any campaign can spend. For a major federal election, it has to do with the last cycle's vote pull. The major parties generally have gotten around $20 million as a cap for any election.

    Contrast this with quotes I remember of saying that the 2008 presidential election in the states ran in excess of a billion dollars.

    Just for reference, if you guys down there ever feel like fixing your shit.

  • citation (Score:3, Informative)

    by RelliK ( 4466 ) on Thursday January 21, 2010 @04:55PM (#30851066)

    Here you go, idiot.

    "Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power." - Benito Mussolini.

  • Re:I for one... (Score:2, Informative)

    by maxume ( 22995 ) on Thursday January 21, 2010 @04:56PM (#30851112)

    Except for the part where 99% is hilariously wrong.

    (Per capita productivity in the U.S., including babies and such, is about $50,000. If 99% of that were being taken away, the average household would be living on like $2,000 a year)

  • by BillCable ( 1464383 ) on Thursday January 21, 2010 @05:01PM (#30851214)
    The US has limits on individual donations as well. $2400. And corporations are prohibited from donating anything. http://www.fec.gov/pages/brochures/citizens.shtml [fec.gov] Perhaps Canada isn't all that much better than the USA after all...
  • by nebaz ( 453974 ) on Thursday January 21, 2010 @05:03PM (#30851262)

    From wikipedia

    Fascism, pronounced /fæzm/, is a political ideology that seeks to combine radical and authoritarian nationalism with a corporatist economic system, and which is usually considered to be on the far right of the traditional left-right political spectrum.

    To speak: This ruling allows corporations unlimited spending, which tends toward corparatism. The fact that the Executive Branch's power has grown after 9/11, and has not retracted under Obama, along with the "you are with us or against us" patriotic thuggery from the far right, has the US tending toward (though not there yet, thankfully) authoritarian nationalism. Finally, the conservative judges made this possible, along with the far right being the harbinger of the nationalism, and we are well on our way.

  • by Jeremy Erwin ( 2054 ) on Thursday January 21, 2010 @05:07PM (#30851334) Journal

    Ur Fascism (Umberto Eco) [www.pegc.us] I'm not sure that it's a terribly useful definition for the internet. It, is however, a definition.

    The closest Eco comes to denouncing corporatism is in this paragraph.

    13. Ur-Fascism is based upon a selective populism, a qualitative populism, one might say. In a democracy, the citizens have individual rights, but the citizens in their entirety have a political impact only from a quantitative point of view – one follows the decisions of the majority. For Ur-Fascism, however, individuals as individuals have no rights, and the People is conceived as a quality, a monolithic entity expressing the Common Will. Since no large quantity of human beings can have a common will, the Leader pretends to be their interpreter. Having lost their power of delegation, citizens do not act; they are only called on to play the role of the People. Thus the People is only a theatrical fiction. To have a good instance of qualitative populism we no longer need the Piazza Venezia in Rome or the Nuremberg Stadium. There is in our future a TV or Internet populism, in which the emotional response of a selected group of citizens can be presented and accepted as the Voice of the People.

  • Re:citation (Score:2, Informative)

    by Trepidity ( 597 ) <delirium-slashdot@@@hackish...org> on Thursday January 21, 2010 @05:09PM (#30851376)

    Wrong definition of "corporate". Corporatism in that context means essentially Scandinavian-style consensus democracy with government mediation amongst interest groups. The "corporate" means interest groups being represented in corporate bodies, not the specific form of the capitalist business corporation. See here [wikipedia.org].

  • Re:citation (Score:3, Informative)

    by rolfwind ( 528248 ) on Thursday January 21, 2010 @05:12PM (#30851434)

    I already read many times that no one can track down the quote:
    http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Talk:Benito_Mussolini [wikiquote.org]

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 21, 2010 @05:14PM (#30851466)
    Thomas Jefferson said some relevant things a couple of centuries or so back:
    • "I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. Already they have raised up a moneyed aristocracy that has set the government at defiance. The issuing power should be taken from the banks and restored to the people, to whom it properly belongs."
    • "If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around them will deprive the people of all property until their children wake up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered."

    The American dream is rotting away before our very eyes. It's slow, taking generations, which makes it pretty difficult for Americans to see how to stop it, let alone actually try to stop it.

  • Re:Constitution? (Score:3, Informative)

    by tbannist ( 230135 ) on Thursday January 21, 2010 @05:15PM (#30851490)

    I'm not sure where you're getting your information, according to theWikipedia article [wikipedia.org] on it, it looks like corporate personhood was decided in the courts.

  • Re:Constitution? (Score:3, Informative)

    by natehoy ( 1608657 ) on Thursday January 21, 2010 @05:18PM (#30851552) Journal

    What you are referring to is an existing construct. A PAC (Political Action Committee), SIG (Special Interest Group) or other political collective. The names and rules surrounding such organizations vary by state, but by and large they are formed around a goal and their members have bought into the goal. Those groups DO have the right to free speech, specifically their political speech is not regulated, simply because their governance structures are required to be transparent, and they have to have a clear paper trail as to where their money came from (lists of donors, etc). In other words, these organizations are treated as you describe - a group of individuals who have the right to decide as a group what to do with their collective funds.

    However, a PAC/SIG/etc has to be a transparent. They have to be demonstrably a collective that is freely contributed to by individual citizens who have input as to the goals of that collective (even if their only input is "I like your ideals and I wish to give you money.") All members of a political organization have to have voluntarily joined the organization and it cannot be a condition of employment and/or other coercion cannot be applied.

    This is vastly different from the organization of a company or a union. Those organizations do not have to be held accountable to the voters as to whether the will of their shareholders or sources of income are comfortable with the money being spent in political campaigns, and do not have to share their sources of income.

    Separating "political" from "free" speech is a cast iron bitch, though.

  • Re:Bad, bad news (Score:2, Informative)

    by ak3ldama ( 554026 ) <james_akeldama@yaTOKYOhoo.com minus city> on Thursday January 21, 2010 @05:23PM (#30851656) Homepage Journal

    How is a campaign donation a trampling of someone's rights? What is a person being blocked from doing because someone else has made a publicly viewable campaign donation? Be specific.

    Having their voice heard by their "representatives."

  • by doconnor ( 134648 ) on Thursday January 21, 2010 @05:25PM (#30851696) Homepage

    I think you numbers are out of date.

    The individual limit [elections.ca] for Canadian federal parties is $1100 and $0 for corporations/unions.

    One difference between the US and Canada is that while Canada has the right to freedom of expression in the constitution [solon.org], it also says "The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the rights and freedoms set out in it subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society." This weakens our rights somewhat compared to the US, but avoids problems like this.

  • by Attila Dimedici ( 1036002 ) on Thursday January 21, 2010 @05:39PM (#30851990)

    No Corporations and Unions are different from Political Parties and Individuals in a specific way. The first two are not organized with a single set of political ideals in mind. Thus you will end up with people who's money or work go towards causes they do not believe in. .

    Except that the Corporation in this case was organized with a single set of political ideals in mind. The Corporation in this case was Citizen's United. The Corporation was formed to create a film critical of Hillary Clinton.

  • by Skuld-Chan ( 302449 ) on Thursday January 21, 2010 @05:56PM (#30852318)

    Sure why not?

  • Re:Bad, bad news (Score:5, Informative)

    by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Thursday January 21, 2010 @06:10PM (#30852588) Journal

    Or on the other hand, we might reason that regardless of the sophistication of their reasoning, it must have some (perhaps hidden) flaw, because of the conclusions they've reached. (I.e., that corporations have free-speech rights that are so sacrosanct that they can legally de facto buy legislation). I'm not exactly sure what options this leaves us, shy of revolution. Which despite the bravado we often exhibit on this site, would have tragic consequences in terms of lost or ruined lives of innocent persons.

    The solution in that case is the same: if the constitution is so unclear on a certain point that through sophisticated reasoning it can come to a point that none of us like, then the solution is to amend the constitution so that the constitution IS clear, and there is no disagreement. My understanding is this exact thing happened with the 14th Amendment. There was a complicated court case that concluded slaves have no protection under the constitution, and then the 14th amendment was enacted to make sure they do.

  • Re:Constitution? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Scooby Snacks ( 516469 ) on Thursday January 21, 2010 @06:27PM (#30852910)
    Actually, no: The courts did it [wikipedia.org]. Or, if you want to be more specific, the court reporter, a former railroad president, did it.
  • Re:Bad, bad news (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 21, 2010 @06:39PM (#30853100)

    They aren't saying those things. They are just asking questions that imply those things. I hope people get as fed up soon.

  • by SETIGuy ( 33768 ) on Thursday January 21, 2010 @06:40PM (#30853108) Homepage

    IBM does not yet appoint the president, Microsoft does not have a veto on laws.

    And you said he sounded silly. Individual corporations typically don't have the power to veto legislation, but industry groups (formed colluding corporations) do. Rather than veto laws, the industry groups typically write the laws and get Congress to ratify them.

  • by ahodgson ( 74077 ) on Thursday January 21, 2010 @07:09PM (#30853584)

    The debt overhang is a lot worse than it was during the depression. Unemployment is getting pretty close - it was 25% during the depression and U6 is probably over 20% now. On the other hand, during the depression the US still had a lot of it's own oil, manufactured its own stuff, and exported real things. So, honestly, it's a lot worse this time than the depression. It's just being propped up by trillions of dollars of government borrowing. It falls apart when people stop lending you that money. I don't know if it'll happen this time, but it won't be that far in the future.

    House prices still have a ways to fall. The Federal Reserve basically bought every mortgage issued in 2009. When they stop, interest rates go up.

    Keep in mind in your depression comparison that it's only about 1930 now .. give it a few more years.

    # "The spring of 1930 marks the end of a period of grave concern...American business is steadily coming back to a normal level of prosperity."
    - Julius Barnes, head of Hoover's National Business Survey Conference, Mar 16, 1930

    "... the outlook continues favorable..."
    - HES Mar 29, 1930

    # "... the outlook is favorable..."
    - HES Apr 19, 1930

    # "While the crash only took place six months ago, I am convinced we have now passed through the worst -- and with continued unity of effort we shall rapidly recover. There has been no significant bank or industrial failure. That danger, too, is safely behind us."
    - Herbert Hoover, President of the United States, May 1, 1930

    "...by May or June the spring recovery forecast in our letters of last December and November should clearly be apparent..."
    - HES May 17, 1930

    "Gentleman, you have come sixty days too late. The depression is over."
    - Herbert Hoover, responding to a delegation requesting a public works program to help speed the recovery, June 1930

    # "... irregular and conflicting movements of business should soon give way to a sustained recovery..."
    - HES June 28, 1930

    # "... the present depression has about spent its force..."
    - HES, Aug 30, 1930

    # "We are now near the end of the declining phase of the depression."
    - HES Nov 15, 1930

    # "Stabilization at [present] levels is clearly possible."
    - HES Oct 31, 1931

  • by Chris Burke ( 6130 ) on Thursday January 21, 2010 @08:05PM (#30854328) Homepage

    Ah, Anarcho-Capitalists.

    I wish there was some kind of Holodeck or Total Recal memory implantation device where you could experience your desire come to fruition without it affecting the real world. I wish I could watch, so I could see your face as your state-less free market utopia turns into an oppressive dictatorship faster than you can say "What do you mean when there are no rules, the powerful make the rules?"

    The schadenfreude would be delicious as the jack-booted thugs knock on your door and inform you of your tax obligation of 90% of your income and anything they fancy lying around the house. "But there are no taxes in my utopia, only voluntary exchanges of goods and services!" you'd cry, and they'd say "Well then think of it as a 'not breaking your legs and burning down your house as an example to others' service fee." What are you going to do? Call the police? Ah, but the police force is a private firm, and that private firm, according to the free market ideal, was selected by the bank and developer who own your land and your house because they met the market demand for a police force that does exactly what the corporations paying them say. It's that private police force who is at your door. You think you have the right to appeal to a 3rd party, that you have the right to leave this community for one that is not yet completely corrupted? Why? Because the ideal of anarcho-capitalism says so? But who enforces that ideal -- there's no law that says so, nor any authority tasked with upholding it. It was that very same ideal that allowed the corporations to buy the courts and police force who are abusing you! So it's just you and your fellow "decent people" against the jackbooted thugs. Your resources versus the corporations. Have fun!

    I love you Anarchists. I love you because of every crazy political organization ever devised, Anarchy is the only one that is guaranteed to become its exact opposite. Every other organization is capable of being corrupted, but there is some mechanism that slows the process. Anarchy has no such stability, because it explicitly eschews any mechanism for having it. You can't even call it corruption, because people with wealth being able to buy whatever they want, with no legal recourse to stop them, is the whole point!


  • by jrifkin ( 100192 ) on Thursday January 21, 2010 @10:17PM (#30855462)
    As our friend Benito Mussolini so aptly put,

    Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power.

  • by Sri Ramkrishna ( 1856 ) <sriram.ramkrishna@noSpaM.gmail.com> on Friday January 22, 2010 @12:46AM (#30856408)
    You might also consider that a corporation, a multi-national corporation has no loyalties. They are not required to support this country or fight for it, or any number of things. Their only motivation is to create wealth for its owner. Giving the same rights to such an entity who has no loyalty to this country makes no sense. Corporations have made no oath. We pay taxes because if we want the country to run properly with the services we want. Not all agree on the services, but there you have it. It's breath-taking the breadth of the judicial over-reach that this court has done. sri
  • by pugugly ( 152978 ) on Friday January 22, 2010 @07:07AM (#30857964)

    Neat theory. Except attempts to legally enforce the rights of the stockholder to exert control over the corporation he or she putatively owns have been fought tooth and nail by the very corporations they own, with the battles payed for by the profits of those very stockholders.

    If the corporations interest were solely aligned with it's stockholders, this would not and indeed *could* not be the case.


I owe the public nothing. -- J.P. Morgan