This idiotic decision in the Citizens united Case- an example of egregious, over-reaching judicial activism - can only be understood in the context of these two absurd and unjustifiable assumptions:
1) A corporation is a person. A living, breathing member of "We the People."
2) The donation of money is a form of speech.
At Slate, Dahlia Lithwick reports:
While [Justice John Paul] Stevens is reading the portion of his concurrence about the "cautious view of corporate power" held by the framers, I see Justice Thomas chuckle softly. (Scalia takes on this argument in his concurrence.) Stevens hammers, more than once this morning from the bench on the principle that corporations "are not human beings" and "corporations have no consciences, no beliefs, no feelings, no thoughts, no desires." He insists that "they are not themselves members of 'We the People' by whom and for whom our Constitution was established."
Thomas chuckles, while granting the equivalent of personal U.S. citizenship to corporations, many of which are foreign owned.
A very large percentage of U.S. corporations are owned by foreign persons or entities. In 2006, USA Today reported: "Nearly one in five U.S. oil refineries is owned by foreign companies. Foreign companies also have a sizable presence in running power plants, chemical factories and water treatment facilities in the United States." It was also reported that, "Roads and bridges built by U.S. taxpayers are starting to be sold off, and so far foreign-owned companies are doing the buying." In 2008, it was reported that foreign ownership of U.S. companies "more than doubled" between 1996 and 2005. To get a fix on the spending power, consider this: "The total receipts of foreign-owned companies were $1.7 trillion in 1996 and just $39 billion in 1971."
The court could have made a narrow decision, dealing specifically and exclusively with the matter before it, an attack-dog movie swift-boating Hillary Clinton, but instead chose to overturn more than 100 years of legal precedent, upheld repeatedly over that time, while giving the rights of American citizenship to EXXONMOBIL and THE DUBAI INVESTMENT GROUP, to cite just a couple distressing examples.
Read reactions, pro and con, here. I love it when Russ Feingold agrees with me.
Presented with a relatively narrow legal issue, the Supreme Court chose to roll back laws that have limited the role of corporate money in federal elections since Teddy Roosevelt was president. Ignoring important principles of judicial restraint and respect for precedent, the court has given corporate money a breathtaking new role in federal campaigns.
- Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis.
In recent days, I've been thinking that we are within a decade of having our once proud democratic republic devolve into fascism: a political ideology that seeks to combine radical and authoritarian nationalism with a corporatist economic system. Alas, for my naive optimism. All we're lacking now are the jack-booted thugs.
I expect them at my door, just as soon a Google tells them where I live.
We are SO God damned screwed.