The Supreme Court, in a five to four decision, on this Thursday overturned a six decade old law designed to limit the influence of large corporations and unions on elections.
The new ruling will allow for unlimited spending by both large business and unions in support of, or opposition to candidates for Congress and the presidency.
The six decade old law essentially prohibited labor unions and companies from using monies from their general treasuries for the purpose of producing and running campaign ads. The reversal however leaves intact the prohibition on direct contributions from businesses and unions.
The decision of the court also overturned the McCain/Feingold campaign finance bill which prohibited corporate and union funded issue ads in the final days of a campaign.
The case brought before the High Court by Citizens United, was framed essentially as a first amendment issue. That is the right of organizations to exercise their right to free speech expressing their position on political issues and candidates.
Since it is difficult the grasp the concept of corporations, or unions, as individuals it is equally as difficult to immediately understand how freedom of speech would apply to organizations. Whether they be corporations or unions. This is why initially I felt the decision was a mistake. However, after rethinking the issue, at a non emotional level, I now believe the Court's decision was proper.
As corporations and unions are organizations being made up of individuals that form a consensus opinion or judgment, it is proper that these opinions are allowed to be heard. As a matter of principle the Government should not limit the right of organizations to express their opinions and judgement on political issues. Nor should the Government allow these organization to directly contribute money to political campaigns.
The real concerns should be directed at 1) limiting government interference and excessive or unneeded regulation on the business sector , 2) eliminating government subsidies and favorable treatment to corporations who come begging for favors, and 3) revise the tax code on corporations so as to allow for investment in growth opportunities and training.
The following is an excerpt from the CATO Institute.
"Under the new ruling, will businesses (and labor unions) dominate talk about candidates and elections? Well, for two decades before McCain-Feingold, both could spend freely on advertising about candidates for federal office. Such spending made up a relatively small part of election-related speech and no one group dominated said the political arena.
Still, yesterday's ruling might lead to more election spending by both corporations and unions. It is important to remember, however, that none of this money will go directly to candidates for office. It will go instead to broadcasting or otherwise communicating speech about candidates and issues. Such increases in spending should be welcome because studies have shown that more spending—more political communication—leads to better-informed voters.
Finally, we need to keep the central question in mind here: Who should decide how much Americans can speak during elections? As Justice Kennedy said in announcing the opinion:
"If the First Amendment has any force, it prohibits jailing citizens for engaging in political speech." The Supreme Court has decided the First Amendment does have force. Now the American people have the right to decide how much to spend on their own political speech. We all will benefit from this affirmation of our Constitution."
Read the complete article at CATO.
The concern that continues to trouble me is the number of foreign owned corporations doing business in the United States. This change in law may benefit their self interest at the expense of America's interests. From a purely philosophical , and perhaps legal view, applying these newly reinstated freedom to foreign owned corporations may be defensible. The greater question is, should a foreign corporation doing business in the U.S. have the stage to influence our politics. and possibly government policy in their favor?
In the end the decision was the right one for liberty and the right to free speech. Free speech for Americans, and American (100% owned) corporations.
Via: New York Times
Via: CATO INSTITUTE
Via: The Humble Libertarian