September 9, 2009

"If supporters of federal curbs on political campaign spending by corporations were counting on Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., and Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr., to hesitate to strike down such restrictions..."

"... they could take no comfort from the Supreme Court’s 93-minute hearing Wednesday on that historic question.... From all appearances, not one of the nine Justices — including the newest Justice, Sonia Sotomayor — appeared to move away from what their positions had been expected in advance to be.... [S]upporters of [campaign finance laws] had fashioned an array of arguments they hoped would lead Roberts and Alito to shy away from casting their votes to create a majority to free corporations to spend their own treasury money to influence federal elections.  None of those arguments seemed to appeal to either Roberts or Alito."

37 comments:

David said...

They are acting in a never never land of theory. The fact is that no individual or small business today should publish opinions or preferences on a federal election, especially in the last stages of a campaign, without consulting counsel, unless they want to be at considerable risk of prosecution. This leaves effective political speech to the well lawyered only. How this is not a violation of the first amendment is beyond me.

Florida said...

I hope John McCain is watching with interest.

Because this law is why he's not the President of the United States.

And when the Supreme Court strikes it down - and they will - his entire political life will have been meaningless.

There's a lesson in there for other politicians who would seek to limit the rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights for their own personal or political benefit.

Synova said...

We tried campaign finance reform in order to reduce the influence of disproportionate total spending to sway elections.

We tried and we failed.

Obama outspent McCain close to 2 to 1 and had money left over.

If that didn't count as buying an election, it's not possible for corporate spending to buy an election either. If people don't like someone or their ideas they don't like someone or their ideas.

paul a'barge said...

their own treasury money

what the heck does that mean?

Chase said...

If people don't like someone or their ideas they don't like someone or their ideas.

Oh how I wish it stopped there and people made up their minds and voted accordingly.

But peer pressure and other real motivators all factor into the final result in the voting booth. We all know that. Otherwise there would be no attempts to influence anyone because everyone would have their minds quickly made up and set.

I hope the Court strikes down the restrictions because of the Constitutional right to free speech. But if any of us believe that the resulting new flow of major dollars won't throw the system into an immediate bit of disarray at first, we are fooling ourselves. That kind of money will have an impact.

Seven Machos said...

the resulting new flow of major dollars

Right. The amount of money spent on politics in this country has been so small. Things are really going to change.

Eli Blake said...

Well, just wait until you see the Congress in 2050.

Senator Bill Gates IV (D-Microsoft):

"I propose that we table the bill."

Senator James Walton (R-Walmart):

"I second the motion."

Eli Blake said...

We already HAVE massive corporate underwriting of political advertising. We've seen it over the past few months, but the President will more or less gloss over the issue of who's been financing opposition to health reform in his speech tonight. He shouldn't. The closest thing I've seen on it is that he will say the following:

But what we have also seen in these last months is the same partisan spectacle that only hardens the disdain many Americans have toward their own government. Instead of honest debate, we have seen scare tactics. Some have dug into unyielding ideological camps that offer no hope of compromise. Too many have used this as an opportunity to score short-term political points, even if it robs the country of our opportunity to solve a long-term challenge. And out of this blizzard of charges and counter-charges, confusion has reigned.

Seven Machos said...

I rue the day when the Senate is filled with millionaires. It will be terrible.

Furthermore, Eli, you dolt: the law now makes it much easier for really rich people to win congressional seats because there is no limit on the amount of your own money you can spend. Changing this abomination of a law will make it far easier for people will less money to compete.

Is it really too much to ask that you think through your statements just a little bit?

mccullough said...

Congress will not even consider a constitutional amendment limiting their terms of office.

I find it hilarious that media corporations like the NYT are in favor of speech limits on other corporations. Now that media corporations are asking for bailouts, shouldn't they be subject to the same limitations as other corporations? They're all rent seekers and most members of Congress are life tenured hacks.

Maxine Weiss said...

We will all synchronize our watches and then when the clock strikes 9:09...we shall all press the number "9" on our keyboards.

If you are on Twitter: Please type a series of unending 9's on your status updates.

Facebook, MySpace, Friendster and Skype will also be observing.

A true Universal moment.

OldGrouchy Doug Wright said...

Feingold / McCain restricts speech and should be overturned. Just publish the names of all supporters and those who fund the political expressions; in huge highlighted print so we all can see who those miscreants are.

wv: intingra has long been absent in our political callses.

OldGrouchy Doug Wright said...

Oops, replace "callses" with "classes!"

However, "callses" might be appropriate also!

Kev said...

(the other kev)

Money is a factor in politics, but if it were the only factor, Steve Forbes would have been elected President in a 50-state landslide.

Revenant said...

Senator Bill Gates IV (D-Microsoft):

Senator James Walton (R-Walmart):

I'll take the great-grandson of Bill Gates over another Bush, Clinton, or Kennedy any day of the week.

Chase said...

Right. The amount of money spent on politics in this country has been so small. Things are really going to change.

Seven, you're better than that.

Of course there is a tremendous amount of money in the system. No one says there isn't - certainly not me. But the correlation of funding to winning in initiatives and elections is far higher than 50%. And it is consistently so for the last 70+ years in American politics. Of course there are notable exceptions - but that is what they are - notable exceptions. That doesn't make the spending of it wrong. It's just that more money - at least at first (my point)generally buys more influence, and that includes public opinion. After the influx stabilizes, it is pretty much even fielded and we can get back to the "If people don't like someone or their ideas they don't like someone or their ideas." Do you disagree?

Revenant said...

the President will more or less gloss over the issue of who's been financing opposition to health reform in his speech tonight. He shouldn't.

I agree. He should come right out and admit that the insurance industry lobby, the doctors' lobby, and the drug lobby are all in bed with him. And that the "well-financied opposition" he likes to rant about doesn't exist.

The deep pockets are on his side. The opposition consists of the majority of normal Americans. :)

Chase said...

Rev,

I am sitting here waiting for the Presidnet speech. With me are my 2 brothers, doctors both.

They would like to know where the Doctor's lobby is.

Revenant said...

They would like to know where the Doctor's lobby is.

It is called the American Medical Association, and according to Barack Obama both it and the American Nurses Association are in his camp.

rhhardin said...

The amount of money in political campaigns depends on the amount of money the government regulates.

Less intrusion, less campaign money.

blake said...

but the President will more or less gloss over the issue of who's been financing opposition to health reform

You think that's bad? You should see the way he glosses over who supports his stuff!

miller said...

I will get free health care and all it takes is the nationalization of 1/6th of the economy! Whee!

John Althouse Cohen said...

I'm shocked that no one here is decrying the judicial activism that would result from the Supreme Court striking down these laws. I mean, you don't see anything in the text of the First Amendment that says there can't be campaign finance restrictions, right?

Revenant said...

I'm shocked that no one here is decrying the judicial activism that would result from the Supreme Court striking down these laws.

Largely because a person would have to be pretty damned stupid to think that enforcing the First Amendment counts as "activism". Unlike the rights to abortion or sodomy, the right to free speech is actually written into the Constitution.

Seven Machos said...

Althouse Cohen -- Free speech is free speech. It's not only what comes out of your mouth. It's any form of speech. Much speech costs money. Take a billboard, just for example, not to mention a prime time commercial.

I know that, for lily-livered leftists, free speech only means lap dances and the right to use government money to paint with human shit. Really, however, it's substantially broader than that.

Synova said...

Eli: "but the President will more or less gloss over the issue of who's been financing opposition to health reform in his speech tonight. He shouldn't."

Who is that? What opposition to health reform has been paid for and by whom?

Maybe I've been missing the television political advertisements since I don't watch television. I'd be very interested in the money trail and some evidence beyond some unbased claim that somebody is paying for something.

I'm pretty much convinced that those claims are made simply because those making them figure that someone MUST be paying someone somewhere but they don't have any evidence at all. It's always some shadowy unnamed person behind the curtain.

If that's the case, you know, at least be able to point out the *shoes*.

Brendan said...

Why do people blithely accept that corporations are persons in every legal sense. I grant there is virtue in according corporations this status for some reasons, but to accord corporations oersonhood and the constitutional rights of expression that belong to persons seems a foolish, unnecessary thing. Do corporations have the right to bear arms? Do corporations have privacy rights regarding sexuality? Would some jurist please explain why corporations have to be persons for the purpose of political speech?

Seven Machos said...

Brendan -- A fine argument. Take all limitations off individual people giving their individual money. And make everything be reported within 48 hours of receipt.

Joe said...

Why do people blithely accept that corporations are persons in every legal sense.

Why do you believe it matters?

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

I don't see anything in there about citizens or individuals. What I see is a prohibition on Congress to pass laws abridging the freedom of speech. Period.

cubanbob said...

" Brendan said...
Why do people blithely accept that corporations are persons in every legal sense. I grant there is virtue in according corporations this status for some reasons, but to accord corporations oersonhood and the constitutional rights of expression that belong to persons seems a foolish, unnecessary thing. Do corporations have the right to bear arms? Do corporations have privacy rights regarding sexuality? Would some jurist please explain why corporations have to be persons for the purpose of political speech?

9/9/09 9:50 PM"

As Joe said "congress shall make no law'. But to use your logic would you not also apply your comment to unions, NGO's, non profits and 'charities' like the ACLU and MoveOn.Org?

Seven Machos said...

The ACLU and MoveOn.org are only corporations in the sense that they are corporations. They aren't the corporations Brendan means. He means the evil ones.

Sofa King said...

It's just that more money - at least at first (my point)generally buys more influence, and that includes public opinion.

Didn't anyone ever tell you that correlation is not proof of causation? Isn't it possible, for example - not saying it is, or isn't, but wouldn't it fit your data just as well - that greater influence in the first place yields larger numbers of donations? I mean, suppose an entirely hypothetical candidate - call him "Shmarack Shmobama" - and further suppose that he raised much more money than his opponent. Can you automatically draw the conclusion that his subsequent election was purely the result of his purchasing popularity with that money? Could it possibly have been the other way around?

Sofa King said...

Why do people blithely accept that corporations are persons in every legal sense.

They don't. Does a corporation, for example, get a vote? No? Seems that's pretty well accepted around here.

Joan said...

If they overturn McCain/Feingold, does that mean Obama has dodged the bullet of the eventual investigation into where, exactly, all that campaign money came from? They turned off the most basic protocols for preventing illegal contributions online, you may remember -- but no one in a position to do anything substantive about it ever appeared to care.

Methadras said...

Well, the precedent setting law on this I believe is Buckley v. Vallejo in 1976 and was further solidified in 2008 by FEC v. Davis. This will go down in flames unfortunately and I suspect a 9-0 decision.

Methadras said...

Sofa King said...

Why do people blithely accept that corporations are persons in every legal sense.

They don't. Does a corporation, for example, get a vote? No? Seems that's pretty well accepted around here.


How do you determine that a corporate contribution isn't a collective will as a function of its employee backing? I totally understand what you are saying and I don't believe a corporation as an entity should be allowed to have a contributory privilege to support any candidate based on that premise alone, but considering precedent law in this regard, I don't see how you can get around it unless there is such a compelling argument made to the SCOTUS, that they essentially overturn it all or at least strike down portions of it rendering it moot.

Father Martin Fox said...

Chase:

'But the correlation of funding to winning in initiatives and elections is far higher than 50%. And it is consistently so for the last 70+ years in American politics. Of course there are notable exceptions - but that is what they are - notable exceptions. That doesn't make the spending of it wrong. It's just that more money - at least at first (my point)generally buys more influence, and that includes public opinion. After the influx stabilizes, it is pretty much even fielded and we can get back to the "If people don't like someone or their ideas they don't like someone or their ideas." Do you disagree?'

Ah, but correlation is not causation. Indeed, we don't really know the cause and effect at all. It can go either way.

Consider an example:

Two candidates in a very competitive district, with party registration very even. One candidate has heavy money advantage, other does not. Candidate with more money wins. What's the cause-and-effect?

Don't know. Don't know if the candidate with heavy money was the one who ran a smart campaign advocating normal things, while the other was a child-molesting KKK member. Maybe those factors had something to do with where the money gravitated?

A lot of money gravitates to ideas: Ron Paul electrified a lot of folks who had no use for McCain or the rest of the GOP field. A lot goes with alliances: unions give money to those they know will carry their water, and same with other ideological groups.

But a lot of other money is drawn to whoever looks more like the winner. And businesses tend to do this: they give a lot to both sides, with more to whoever is in control or seems to be in the lead.

If you really want to show cause and effect, don't you have to have a situation where all other things are balanced or equal, and the money is the sole variable? But how can you come up with such examples in different elections over many years?