February 4, 2010

Justice Thomas presents the notion of First Amendment freedom for corporations in a sympathetic light.

"If 10 of you got together and decided to speak, just as a group, you’d say you have First Amendment rights to speak and the First Amendment right of association. If you all then formed a partnership to speak, you’d say we still have that First Amendment right to speak and of association. But what if you put yourself in a corporate form?"

Why wasn't here there at the State of the Union address, mouthing "not true" along with Justice Alito?
I don’t go because it has become so partisan and it’s very uncomfortable for a judge to sit there. There’s a lot that you don’t hear on TV — the catcalls, the whooping and hollering and under-the-breath comments.
One of the consequences [presumably of Alito's display] is now the court becomes part of the conversation, if you want to call it that, in the speeches. It’s just an example of why I don’t go.

171 comments:

ricpic said...

Thomas values decorum. How dated.

former law student said...

If the companies whose stock I owned gave a rat's ass about what I thought, I would support Thomas's argument.

Lem said...

Justice Thomas said the First Amendment’s protections applied regardless of how people chose to assemble to participate in the political process.

Can you hear me now?

Yes we can ;)

AllenS said...

Sell your stock, fls. Nobody is making you own that stock. Invest in some anti-global warming companies.

From Inwood said...

Could one call having to sit through a speech while being unable to answer a pointed insult "torture"?

Could one say that those who don't understand the corporate structure as it relates to free speech have failed to keep up with even 19th Century legal developments?

Lem said...

If the companies whose stock I owned gave a rat's ass about what I thought,..

But that's a stock owners prerrogative.. not the govmemt's. I think thats what Thomas is saing .. just saying.

hdhouse said...

and gnashing of teeth and in the TV audience clinching of fists.

What in the world did the Court expect would happen with this decision? That offshore corporations, affilated corporations, subsidiaries, etc. wouldn't immediately find the loophole no matter how small?

Sometimes I think lawyers are smart and sometimes they are idiots and when they get to the SCOTUS level the check their brains at the door

From Inwood said...

AllenS

It's called voting with your feet.

Failed law student has failed to grasp Investing 101 also.

SMGalbraith said...

'If the companies whose stock I owned gave a rat's ass about what I thought'

So, it the company doesn't do what you want we can take away the free speech rights of the owners?

Y'know, I do think that is what you mean.

former law student said...

Could one say that those who don't understand the corporate structure as it relates to free speech have failed to keep up with even 19th Century legal developments?

Justices who pride themselves on originalism should not create new doctrines.

This isn't the first time Scalia did this. The first time was when he decided the right to free exercise of religion wasn't fundamental.

former law student said...

Corporations are not merely the collective voice of the owners, which is Thomas's argument.

Lem said...

Saying that corporations cant have free speech is like saying the Bush tax cuts "were not payed for".

Its OUR money.. Its OUR speech!

Can somebody say amen ;)

Montagne Montaigne said...

Aren't the corporations' rights already covered by the rights of all of the individuals that make up the corporation?

If corporations have a right to free speech, why can't they vote?

Can they be drafted into the military?

AllenS said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hoosier Daddy said...

Corporations are not merely the collective voice of the owners, which is Thomas's argument.

Well technically they are. I mean I purchase a company's stock on the basis of what I believe (and hope) will be a successful venture that will provide me a return on that investment.

If the government in their infinite wisdom decides to propose legislation that will have an adverse effect on that ROI, then I think the corporation has a duty to the shareholders to lobby, take out ads, SPEAK OUT to preserve their viability and by extension, my ROI.

This isn't a very difficult issue. I think people are hung up because they see the word 'corporation' and all they envision is a faceless glass and steel building sucking in money. In reality its a whole bunch of people whose livelihood depend on its continued existence as well as its shareholders.

AllenS said...

Nobody can be drafted into the military. Where have you been? Living under a rock?

Hoosier Daddy said...

Can they be drafted into the military?

Not sure if you've been keeping up on current events (at least since 1973) but there ain't no draft no more.

Please make a note of it.

Maguro said...

Does Keith Olbermann have free speech rights?

He works for a corporation.

Lem said...

If corporations have a right to free speech, why can't they vote?
Can they be drafted into the military
?

As far as I know there are all kinds of constitutional restrictions on voting and military service that underwhelm free speech.


The way it was explained to me is that if you are going to deny free speech there has to be a reason stronger than the reason to have free speech in the first place.

Montagne Montaigne said...

Keith Olberman has first amendment rights as the individual Keith Olberman, citizen of the U.S.A. Why does MSNBC need rights if Keith already has them?

Joaquin said...

Hatred and mistrust, is the Liberal response anytime the word Corporation is injected into the conversation.
Inject the word Union and out come the candles, bath oil beads, and Barry White.

Mark O said...

Those who have a serious interest in this subject (crickets)can and should read Bill Van Alstyne's work on the First Amendment.

Those whose insights and knowledge are settled and unrelated to facts or law may skip it.

Lem said...

Its safer to err on the side of free speech... to paraphrase a friend

Mark said...

If corporations have a right to free speech, why can't they vote?

If corporations are not covered by the First Amendment, why can't the Government dictate what the NY Times Corporations prints? (And I don't mean just this government, which to all intents and purposes does, but also a hypothetical Rethuglican administration.)

And of course there are coporations like Greenpeace USA that might benefit from a (hypothetical) administration headed by a former Governor of the state with all that oil under the tundra.

Who gets to choose which are the good corporations and which are the bad ones, dude?

Hoosier Daddy said...

Why does MSNBC need rights if Keith already has them?

Good question! Lets try this!

Would anyone know who Keith was, or be able to listen to him if a corporation(MSNBC)didn't give him a platform to make a complete ass out of himself?

Now if we say that corporations don't have free speech then I can easily argue that Keith can't spout his innanities over the airwaves. That then means Keith
would have to construct a TV studio in his basement to run his show. And based upon the way his ratings are going, that may not be far from the truth.

Lem said...

If free speech was not that important the founders would have left it up to judges and to the congress and to the president or wahtever.. but they didn't

They put it right up top (as if to say most people dont read more than one or two lines) where you cant miss it.

Congress shall make no law!!!

SMGalbraith said...

'Why does MSNBC need rights if Keith already has them?'

So, the government can shut down MSNBC?

After all, Olbermann will still have his rights. He'll just have to exercise them individually - on the street or handing out flyers; but not using MSNBC.

Olbermann can talk but just not on MSNBC?

AllenS said...

More bad news for fls's stock.

Dow 10,072.92 -197.63 -1.92%
Nasdaq 2,144.15 -46.76 -2.13%
S&P 500 1,073.17 -24.11 -2.20%

David said...

Denying corporations the right to speech is a very dangerous precedent. For example, many non-profits are corporations, but corporations nonetheless.

Does this mean that the Sierra Club, the United Way, the local homeless shelter in your area, do not have the right to speak out? It very, very easily could be construed that any corporate form is forbidden to speak out... and who defines what that is and what the boundaries are?

Quayle said...

Sometimes I think lawyers are smart and sometimes they are idiots and when they get to the SCOTUS level the check their brains at the door

hdhouse, your politics is polluting your brain.

News Corporation is a foreign organization, and they are involved in the political fray every day.

Why can't BMW be, in your opinion?

Montagne Montaigne said...

Freedom of the press is right there in the first amendment... so there you go Hoosier. No problem there.

David said...

From Montagne Montaigne:

Aren't the corporations' rights already covered by the rights of all of the individuals that make up the corporation?

If corporations have a right to free speech, why can't they vote?

Can they be drafted into the military?


I was thinking that if this logic is pursued, would it not be reasonable to argue that since a corporation cannot be drafted, cannot vote, etc., as they are not really people, then why should they be made to pay taxes?

prairie wind said...

So, if the company doesn't do what you want we can take away the free speech rights of the owners?

Well, I am the owner if I hold stock in the company. If my company is spending money to lobby for something I don't agree with or to support candidates that I don't agree with, then that could be a problem. Not a problem to be solved by cutting off corporate speech, but by increasing the volume of my own speech. You can bet that the board of directors would hear from me about it, and I always have the option of selling my shares.

SMGalbraith said...

'Denying corporations the right to speech is a very dangerous precedent'

The better way to express that is 'denying individuals in corporations the right to speech is a very dangerous precedent.'

But your point is a good one. Individuals get together for all kinds of causes or efforts. Apparently they all lose their rights when they are exercising them through some sort of corporate or group entity.

It's a silly argument. Dangerous too.

It's like saying you can protest the policies of the government but if you get together with others and march in protest, your rights can be denied. The group can be denied the right to protest.

After all, you're not protesting; your group is protesting.

SMGalbraith said...

'Freedom of the press is right there in the first amendment... so there you go Hoosier. No problem there.'

The word 'press' in the First Amendment refers to the device - the printing press - and not the news industry.

Montagne Montaigne said...

My point isn't to argue that corporations should be stripped of their legal personhood. That's how they can own property, pay taxes and enter into contracts. My point is that the law already mediates what corporate personhood consists of, and it's clear that corporations aren't completely like real people. So it's entirely fitting to restrict their personal "rights" on a case-by-case basis depending on the public good-- we already do. I agree with the minority in the Citizens United case. Maybe you don't, but you can't argue that corporations are automatically guaranteed all the rights that citizens are, because that's never been the case. Or they could vote.

former law student said...

Corporate structure does make a difference. The New York Times is controlled by the owners of its B shares, essentially the Ochs-Sulzberger families. So the New York Times is an outlet for the views of the Ochs-Sulzberger families.

holdfast said...

Women cannot be drafted into the military, yet strangely they maintain the right to free speech, as do the elderly, the infirm etc.

Felons do not have the right to vote, yet they have the right to free speech (ok, constrained to some degree by security needs while actually incarcerated). Children also have 1st Amendment rights, though they too are constrained while actually incarcerated, I mean at school.

Lem said...

Denying corporations the right to speech is a very dangerous precedent.

I cant think of anything more dangerous.

Elliott A said...

It is particularly sad when the president knowingly makes an untrue statement which the majority of people will believe. Here it was regarding the "hundred years of established law" which referred to the Tillman Act, whose author spearheaded to regulate corporations which were sympathetic to blacks. Justice Thomas covered this in his speech at Stetson. The act was the cover for punishing corporations who sought to hire black workers. Great precedent!
An interesting irony of the argument that a corporate entity is not the same as an individual or any collection of individuals, rather a legal construct with specific rights and privileges fully subservient to state, local and federal law, is that the same argument is used with respect to gay marriage. A married couple is a legal construct of a particular structure with rights and privileges assigned by law. The individuals involved are protected by constitutional rights, yet they cannot form a "marriage" unless they conform to the proper legal structure. Those who would deny the corporation of its own voice deny the gay couple by extension. I would think that recognition of fundamental rights to legal entities is a positive precedent for their extension to non traditional marriage, since the entity has rights!

Chris said...

Thomas seems correct about decorum. It seems pretty silly to put on the robes and go to a whorehouse.

former law student said...

they all lose their rights when they are exercising them through some sort of corporate or group entity.

The older forms of companies did not insulate the investors from the corporate identity. The organizations were purely the sum of the owners. The modern corporation -- only about a century old -- insulates the owners from liability, and possesses a separate legal personality from the owners.

The creation of mutual funds further insulates the owners from the corporations. Fidelity has never asked me for my point of view to pass on to the corporations whose shares it buys. Further, I have no control over the corporations that Fidelity chooses to buy.

Lem said...

So the New York Times is an outlet for the views of the Ochs-Sulzberger families.

And this is a class B sin?

I dont mean to poke fun FLS but if you were a law student you must know how important the First is.

Marcia said...

To those who don't think corporations should have free speech rights:

Do you think corporations are entitled to due process?

How about just compensation for takings of property?

Should the government be permitted to quarter soldiers in corporation-owned buildings?

When a corporation is charged with a crime, does the right to counsel apply? The right to a jury trial?

If corporations have these rights, why not free speech too?

former law student said...

To those who think corporations should have free speech rights:

Should corporations have the right to practice religion?

Should corporations have the right to carry guns?

Should corporations have the right to practice contraception?

Should corporations have the right to abortion?

Should the death penalty apply to corporations?

former law student said...

I forgot: Do I have the right to marry a corporation?

SMGalbraith said...

No one is saying corporations have rights.

We're saying the people in the corporations have rights. A corporation is just a collection of individuals exercising their freedom of association rights.

If I go to Office Depot and try to walk out with a printer, I'll be arrested. This is because I'm taking the property of the owners of Office Depot not the property of Office Depot.

Office Depot doesn't have property rights; but the owners of the company do.

Joaquin said...

No FLS, but YOU certainly have the right to make a fool of yourself, and you do it quite often.
Please continue.............

Pogo said...

"Thomas seems correct about decorum. It seems pretty silly to put on the robes and go to a whorehouse."


Speak for yourself.

Larry J said...

Well, I am the owner if I hold stock in the company. If my company is spending money to lobby for something I don't agree with or to support candidates that I don't agree with, then that could be a problem.

Correction, you're an owner unless you own all of the stock. As one owner among many, your opinion on what's best for the corporation may not be accurate or reflect the opinions of the other stock holders. Do you believe your opinion has precedence over everyone else's?

traditionalguy said...

The threat in this new decision is to the current system of Media Corporations existing incestuous relationship with the Two parties, who also happen to control the laws that cause all businesses to either be ruined or prosper. That is a concentration of real power.Now independent business people have been given easier access to the voters that can in effect cause an impeachment of the sitting Dems or Repubs at each election cycle. They do not have to go thru the MSM or Fox News to get a story told. So the forces of an Aroused Democracy is the hot breath being felt on the necks of today's DC/Media operators. These are the same guys who can see nothing wrong with giving grant money in the billions from our pockets directly to ACORN to fix close elections at the margins.

Hoosier Daddy said...

'Freedom of the press is right there in the first amendment... so there you go Hoosier. No problem there.'

Touche! Well played.

Now what if the 'press' happens to be a corporation?

Your serve.

Montagne Montaigne said...

Actually SMG, corporations DO have certain rights... accorded to them by jurisprudence. That's the point... their rights are adjudicated in a way citizens' aren't (for the most part). I'm sure there are exceptions. But it seems much less problematic and sinister to restrict the rights of a corporation than an individual, because though they have certain rights, CORPORATIONS AREN'T PEOPLE.

Lem said...

Again fls, all those questions you mentioned are the prerogative of the individuals forming that corporation.
Just because we have denied ourselves all kinds of things, should we also deny ourselves free speech?

Congress shall make no law!

SMGalbraith said...

'Actually SMG, corporations DO have certain rights... accorded to them by jurisprudence. '

Yes, but I believe those are statutory and not constitutional. And they're limited to economic transactions, I believe.

Yeah, I'm faking a response.

But the discussion is about the BOR and free speech rights.

We're getting bogged down in the 'corporations don't have rights' vs. 'the individuals that form a corporation have rights' quicksand.

Each side is talking over the other side's heads.

bagoh20 said...

As I see it, a corporation does not deserve free speech so much as the government does not have the right to prevent it. It would be impossible to restrict corporate speech without restricting citizen speech.

It's not that the corporation is equal to a person, but that they are impossible to fairly separate. So, "Congress shall make no law..."

Henry said...

FLS wrote: Justices who pride themselves on originalism should not create new doctrines.

Actually, the justices just reconciled the conflict between a 1978 case (Belloti), which recognized the free speech rights of organizations, with a 1990 case (Austin), which allowed Congress to limit the expenditures of organizations. Citizens United effectively overturns Austin and aligns with Belloti. The justices went with the older precedent. And, contra to Obama's SOTU assertion, they did NOT overturn the century-old precedent that allows Congress to limit corporate contributions to candidates.

As for hdhouse all I can say is loopholes? Just now it occurs to you that corporations exploit campaign finance loopholes? Where have you been the last 10 years?

Montagne Montaigne said...

individual rights: sacred and inalienable.

corporate rights: up for debate.

Joe said...

Congress shall pass no law...

This limits what the government can do. It doesn't grant a right to anyone since that right already exists. The argument that if corporations have free speech rights then... is totally specious. The first amendment says NOTHING about individuals either. It is about a limit on government.

We don't have freedom of speech because of the first amendment. The US Constitution is predicated on the principal that the government must be prevented from taking away our rights as they have a tendency to do.

Lem said...

What I'm trying to say is that w/o the preeminence of the First amendment, we don't have much of anything else.

Voting and all those other things that fls mentioned would not matter a hill of beans w/o the first amendment.

Hoosier Daddy said...

As for hdhouse all I can say is loopholes? Just now it occurs to you that corporations exploit campaign finance loopholes? Where have you been the last 10 years?

Well based upon the content and grammar structure of his posts I would guess either a 2nd grade classroom or an insane asylum.

Maguro said...

So theoretically it would be OK for Congress to make a law prohibiting political talk by corporate-owned broadcasters like MS-NBC, CNN and Fox. That's up for debate.

But Bill O'Reilly and Keith Olbermann can go out on a street corner and rant away to their heart's content. That's an inaliable right.

Fascinating.

Mark said...

Actually SMG, corporations DO have certain rights... accorded to them by jurisprudence.

So what's the problem? The Supreme Court just decided the jurisprudence in question.

No one is arguing that corporations are equivalent to citizens. The argument, and Thomas made it quite eloquently, is that corporations may in fact have opinions that reflect those of their owners, and that as such those opinions should not be squelched.

How perfectly or imperfectly those opinions reflect the opinions of the shareholders (I doubt G.E. shareholders in the main agree with Olberman much, for instance) is less important under current jurisprudence than providing maximum protection of free speech.

Deal with it.

This whole thing about "well, corporations aren't people" is such a red herring. Of course they aren't. But as agents of citizens' will, I'm happy that they are accorded the freedom to express that will through speech without undue government burden, even if I don't agree with what an individual corporation is "saying".

Hoosier Daddy said...

The first amendment says NOTHING about individuals either. It is about a limit on government.

Joe wins the thread.

Joe said...

"If the companies whose stock I owned gave a rat's ass about what I thought,"

They do, you just happen to be in the minority. Get enough other stockholders involved and you can do things like toss the entire board of directors or even shut the company down. The notion that you don't have a voice because your lone voice isn't obeyed absolutely is silly beyond belief. Your Senator, Representative, Governor, even school board don't bend to just your whim. So that means we don't live in a [representational] democracy?

(This ties in with the misconception that free speech grants you the right to force others to listen to you and/or distribute your free speech.)

SMGalbraith said...

'It would be impossible to restrict corporate speech without restricting citizen speech'

Good point. The plantiffs in the Citizens United case were, I believe, 10 Americans who got together and pooled their money to make a political film. Nasty one but a political one.

It could have been two people.

There's no doubt about the potential harm out of this ruling. I think particularly on state and local elections - as opposed to national ones - a group of people, corporation if you insist, can flood an election in favor of one candidate. And get him or her elected. The other candidates are just overwhelmed and the state parties simply cannot match the funding of the favored candidate.

That's going to happen. Although I believe this decision did not overturn those 30 or so states that ban corporate funded ads.

Lem said...

Mark @ 12:19 .. Nicely done.

former law student said...

We're saying the people in the corporations have rights. A corporation is just a collection of individuals exercising their freedom of association rights.

That was true in 1791, but it's not true now.

To make it true, corporations would have to poll the owners before they took public positions. They could do that on an annual basis, as they do for issues of corporate governance.

In fact, that might be a useful statute.

former law student said...

The plantiffs in the Citizens United case were, I believe, 10 Americans who got together and pooled their money to make a political film.

Do people not see the difference between ten people who got together to express their views, and Exxon or IBM?

The ruling covers both.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Do people not see the difference between ten people who got together to express their views, and Exxon or IBM?

Do people not understand the meaning of the words:

Congress shall make no law...

Larry J said...

Do people not see the difference between ten people who got together to express their views, and Exxon or IBM?

Laws like cap and trade would have a huge impact on energy companies like Exxon. Should they not have the right to say what the impacts would be? Should they not be able to say to the effect, "Congressman X supports cap and trade. That legislation will cost XXX jobs in his district. Thought you'd like to know."

Quasimodo said...

The free speech provision is there to prevent the government from smothering us with a big pillow of rules, regulations, restrictions and brute force. The further that smothering pillow is from our collective faces the safer we are. If this means that undesirable organizations like employers and unions also get free speech, so be it.

The Constitution means only what nine black robed judges say it means. They can drop the smothering pillow on our heads at any time. The further away the pillow is the more time we have to remind them from whom the power to govern comes.

Lem said...

There was also something about the prohibition of adds 60 days b4 an election.

Why not 120 days? Why not a year?

That was such a poppycock.

garage mahal said...

No one ever mentions if the free speech has to be factually true. If I can get enough funds together with a "group" of people to make a film on Sarah Palin that says she likes to have sex with moose, and run it during the stretch of an election, there is literally nothing that can be done about it?

Congress shall make no law....

former law student said...

Do people not understand the meaning of the words:

Congress shall make no law


When I see Exxon or IBM in the pew next to me some Sunday, I will concede that the freedom of speech belongs to legal personalities independent of their owners or members.

holdfast said...

Right now SOME corporations get to do an awful lot of speech/advertising, and it is protected as part of "freedom of the press". Is it a mere coincidence that NBC, a sub of GE, seems to celebrate "Green Week" about once a month, and that their "news" division, MSNBC, worked tirelessly to elect Obama, who favors "green jobs", while good 'ol GE is hawking its smart grid technology and eyesore windmills to the recipients of government largess. Oh, and also got their financing division bailed out with TARP funds? Clearly Exxon and the like should just buy newspapers and TV stations, then they can simply use editorials and PSAs to push their desired agenda, because that is so much classier than simply paying cash for an add to make their case to the public.

Hoosier Daddy said...

When I see Exxon or IBM in the pew next to me some Sunday, I will concede that the freedom of speech belongs to legal personalities independent of their owners or members.

I see you're still struggling with the concept that the Congress shall make no law phrase was to restrict the power of the Government.

You're also falsely assuming that Exxon or IBM go to church. They may be atheists. Or Wiccans.

Lem said...

If I can get enough funds together with a "group" of people to make a film on Sarah Palin that says she likes to have sex with moose, and run it during the stretch of an election, there is literally nothing that can be done about it?

Palin could then sue you for defamation, libel.. or something.

Hoosier Daddy said...

If I can get enough funds together with a "group" of people to make a film on Sarah Palin that says she likes to have sex with moose, and run it during the stretch of an election, there is literally nothing that can be done about it?

Why not give Sullivan a call? He might help fund it since the Trig angle is getting a bit tiresome.

Joaquin said...

Do people not see the difference between ten people who got together to express their views, and Exxon or IBM?

Or the Sierra Club............

Ignorance is Bliss said...

fls said...

When I see Exxon or IBM in the pew next to me some Sunday, I will concede that the freedom of speech belongs to legal personalities independent of their owners or members.

So, if you don't mind my asking, does GE generally put a lot in the collection plate? I assume you would know, since they must be sitting next to you in the pew.

garage mahal said...

Palin could then sue you for defamation, libel.. or something.

Then we're back to having someone determine what is free speech for us, in this case a judge I presume, the same body that determined the Hillary film didn't conform to FEC law.

Roger J. said...

Wow--I used to that the words "Sarah Palin" would bring the idiots out in force--looks like now it is the word "corporation."

Maguro said...

The whole issue of corporations "buying" elections is absurd. As long as Exxon or the UAW or whoever discloses that they're the ones financing the ads, voters can decide for themselves whether their arguments have merit.

Corporations and other interest groups buying politicians, on the other hand, is a serious matter but one that McCain-Feingold never had any answers for.

Roger J. said...

Then there is the whole question of precedent--I long for the days before marbury v madison; dred scott; plessy v ferguson; roe v wade. In reality (IMO version of reality) the only precedents we like are the ones that advance our personal interests. What would be most helpful is a listing of SCOTUS decisions and the precedents they create made available to everyone so we can evaluate which precedents we like and which we dont like.

bagoh20 said...

"...Sarah Palin that says she likes to have sex with moose, and run it during the stretch of an election, there is literally nothing that can be done about it?"

Then you would be an idiot, because whoever you do support would take an enormous hit for that stupidity. If a candidate ran such an ad himself, he would guarantee himself a loss.

It is up to the voter to decide if the message is true, and instructive to their vote, or should the government just tell us what to believe too. I'm sure that would go just fine for all.

SMGalbraith said...

Meanwhile, ABC reports that the White House is preparing to replace both Justice Stevens and Ginsburg over the next two years.

bagoh20 said...

The McCain campaign despite having millions to spend on it, refused to attack Obama on many issues during the campaign. He did so because he believed it would backfire. That is what keeps this under control. People are not required to take your message as you want them to, no matter how much you spend. Spending a lot in itself can backfire.

It's called liberty and it works. Hallelujah!

Lem said...

Then we're back to having someone determine what is free speech for us, in this case a judge I presume, the same body that determined the Hillary film didn't conform to FEC law.

Lawsuits are going on all the time. That's why they are there for.

Brian said...

garage said:
No one ever mentions if the free speech has to be factually true. If I can get enough funds together with a "group" of people to make a film on Sarah Palin that says she likes to have sex with moose, and run it during the stretch of an election, there is literally nothing that can be done about it?

Well, during the election, and after, Andrew Sullivan and others intimated that Trig was not her baby, that her husband thru incest may have impregnated their daughter, that Sarah wanted rape victims to be denied medical care, etc.

And this is all protected by 1st amendment rights of "freedom of the press."

Garage, Montagne, did it occur to you that if the Citizens United ruling hadn't occurred, and evil corporations like Exxon Mobil couldn't spend corporate money directly on issue ads, that they could simply create a front organization to print a newspaper, or magazine, or produce a syndicated T.V. show, and hire some former newscasters to make it "look" like a news magazine, and do stories specifically on their industry, esp. politics of said industry?

What then? I guess you'd want Congress (well, more like the FTC, FEC, etc.) to decide what newspapers, magazines, and T.V. shows were legitimate "news" and which weren't. All based on who funded them. And of course, said congresscritters would be above the fray, I'm sure. They certainly wouldn't bring their own constituent politics into it.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Then we're back to having someone determine what is free speech for us, in this case a judge

You're bringing up a completely side issue (slander) verusus who can actually speak freely to begin with.

If Haliburton put out an ad saying Obama was having an affair with Hillary who aborted their love spawn and she got the SoS job to keep her quiet then I doubt anyone would say they would not be liable for slander.

exhelodrvr1 said...

garage,
"If I can get enough funds together with a "group" of people to make a film on Sarah Palin that says she likes to have sex with moose, and run it during the stretch of an election, there is literally nothing that can be done about it? "

Well, Keith Olbermann would report it as news, so you're already halfway there.

Paddy O. said...

"Do I have the right to marry a corporation?"

Not yet. But, give it a few years of slippery slope definitions of marriage and who knows.

Only the corporatiophobes would argue against it.

former law student said...

I see you're still struggling with the concept that the Congress shall make no law phrase was to restrict the power of the Government.

To restrict the power of the Government compared to the citizens.

But today's multinational corporations have more power than many governments.

The existence of such superpowerful corporations, with personalities severed from their owners, could not have been imagined by the Framers.

former law student said...

I think God is planning to replace Justice Stevens within the next few years.

prairie wind said...

Larry J,

You're right--I am AN owner. My opinion does not take precedence over those of others and I did not say that. My point was just that if the corporation is pushing, say, the healthcare bill, I have the ability to make myself heard, to let the corporation know that at least one owner wants them to stop that. Ability? Heck, the responsibility.

Your 12:35 post makes my point better than I did. A corporation has a responsibility to the owners to run a profitable business. If cap and trade or healthcare is going to hinder that, the corporation must speak up.

Joe's point is excellent: we don't have rights because the Constitution says we do. The Constitution recognizes that we have those rights.

Matt said...

If corporations are entitled to the same free speech protections as flesh and blood citizens then they should have to pay the same taxes as flesh and blood citizens and not be able to game their way around the statutory corporate tax rates.

Monkeyboy said...

Let me explain to you how this works: you see, the corporations finance Team America, and then Team America goes out... and the corporations sit there in their... in their corporation buildings, and... and, and see, they're all corporation-y... and they make money.


---Puppet Tim Robbins

Paddy O. said...

"If I can get enough funds together with a "group" of people to make a film on Sarah Palin that says she likes to have sex with moose, and run it during the stretch of an election, there is literally nothing that can be done about it?"

Well, Todd Palin could challenge you to a duel.

Sort of like Andrew Jackson did with everyone who brought up questionable issues about his wife and marriage. Well, I don't think he dueled John Quincy Adams, but he sure thought the election politicking from JQA was vicious enough to lead to Jackson's wife's wife.

Joe said...

To restrict the power of the Government compared to the citizens.

Where does it say that? It doesn't. By design. Damn that fucking Madison.

Once again; why are you so afraid of free speech?

Scott said...

@former law student:

"To those who think corporations should have free speech rights:

Should corporations have the right to practice religion?"


Bing the phrase, "a Christ centered company". There are lots of companies whose management is presumably guided by Christian principles.

I had a friend who worked for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association in Minneapolis, mailing out hundreds of thousands of free tracts every day. He told me that there was a daily prayer assembly, and that grace was said before lunch, but you could opt out of participating if you wanted to.

bagoh20 said...

"Do I have the right to marry a corporation?"

Hello Playboy Enterprises, Inc.,
We have been together a long time now and I'd like to make a respectable woman of you. Will you marry me? What, You want a prenup?

Doug Smith said...

The word 'press' in the First Amendment refers to the device - the printing press - and not the news industry.

I notice that FLS & Monty have no response to that. Fools.

former law student said...

I don't understand the logic of giving the rights of human beings to non-human beings. To me this is as unnatural as gay marriage.

Joe said...

By the way, some churches have organized their financial arms as corporations. Does this mean they no longer have the freedom of religion?

Along the same lines, how do we know that the freedom of the press applied to corporations and not just to individuals?

BTW, an interesting twist in this is that government says that for a group of people to act in such-and-such a manner THEY MUST INCORPORATE (be it for profit or non-profit.) This is a neat end-run around that pesky first amendment and that damned free speech (which all you liberals and a few right wingers are so afraid of.)

Doug Smith said...

FLS - if corporations have no 1st amendment rights, then they have no rights. Thanks for letting us know you want to do away with corporations.

Doug Smith said...

Joe - which right wingers are afraid of free speech? Last I checked it's only the left-wingers who are trying to suppress speech int his country(speech codes on college campuses).

Paul Zrimsek said...

It's kind of heartening to see that so many people not otherwise favorably inclined towards corporations nevertheless believe that until two weeks ago they were in no danger of ever seeing their equity spent on purposes of which they personally disapprove.

On the other hand, when Obama went to Copenhagen to negotiate (supposedly) on my behalf, I don't recall being asked for my opinion first. We're living in a dictatorship! A self-perpetuating autocracy in which the working classes...

bagoh20 said...

"don't understand the logic of giving the rights of human beings to non-human beings."

Government does not give rights, they only take them, if you let them.

The corporation is not a human, it's a device used by humans, like a pen, printing press, or vibrator.

Doug Smith said...

You see that's the fundamental problem with lefties. They think rights are something doled out at the whim of the government. It's a fundamentally different way of looking at the world for sure.

Larry J said...

Then we're back to having someone determine what is free speech for us, in this case a judge I presume, the same body that determined the Hillary film didn't conform to FEC law.

Your analogy is flawed. Freedom of speech has never meant that you're free of the consequences of your speech. Claiming freedom of speech doesn't protect you from slander and libel laws.

In this recent case, the FEC prohibited a group of 10 people from releasing a movie about Hillary Clinton. That's censorship of political speech. Had they released the movie and it contained defamatory information, Hillary could've sued. They weren't even allowed to release the movie. That was a denial of their freedom of speech. Fortunately, the SC ruled in favor of free speech rights.

Luke Lea said...

What about the problem of agency? CEO'S and boards of large corporations can do things in their own interests which are not in the interests of the shareholders.

Scott said...

If you want to start a business or organization of some kind, you can acquire a so-called "shelf corporation" -- corporations which exist as a legal entity but have no owners or assets. In theory these corporations have rights, but corporations aren't sentient, they're legal fictions. These corporations don't talk much!

The corporations that do speak are owned and animated by humans. These humans may express their First Amendment rights in aggregate through the corporation.

To deny corporations the right to speak is to infringe upon the individual right to speak through a group identity -- unless you are saying that individuals don't have this right, in which case, to hell with you.

wv: hackw

Larry J said...

I don't understand the logic of giving the rights of human beings to non-human beings.

Does that also apply to labor unions? After all, they're not human beings but a collection of human beings. As others have pointed out, how about non-profit corporations like the Sierra Club? Just because they're a non-profit, they're still a corporation. Should their free speech rights be curtailed, too?

Joe said...

which right wingers are afraid of free speech?

Don't be a fool. History is replete with right wingers banning books, shirts, posters, people merely speaking and other forms of free speech.

former law student said...

Doug -- human beings were endowed with certain unalienable rights by their Creator.

Are you arguing that God created Exxon and IBM, separate from the human beings who own them?

Doug Smith said...

FLS - I don't believe in God. I believe free people have a right to associate and use their money as they see fit. End of story.

former law student said...

Labor unions are a collection of human beings, not a corporation. PAC money is collected directly from the members.

If corporations asked their shareholders for money to support their points of view I would have no problem with that.

Doug Smith said...

Don't be a fool. History is replete with right wingers banning books, shirts, posters, people merely speaking and other forms of free speech.

Ok, but anytime in the last 30 years? Last I recall it was Tipper Gore who tried to ban explicit rap albums!

Doug Smith said...

FLS - sorry you don't get to define which association of people gets special rights and which doesn't. Doesn't work that way and the SCOTUS agrees with me!

Lem said...

I don't understand the logic of giving the rights of human beings to non-human beings.

In the us vs them logic I would not understand it either.

bagoh20 said...

"They weren't even allowed to release the movie. That was a denial of their freedom of speech. Fortunately, the SC ruled in favor of free speech rights."

I don't know the case much, but if ONE of them just decided to post it on their website, and the corporation did nothing to stop them, then was that illegal?

Scott said...

Labor unions are almost always incorporated to protect their leadership and members from legal liability.

former law student said...

I believe free people have a right to associate and use their money as they see fit.

I believe in that too. That does not describe the relationship of shareholders to Exxon or IBM, however.

Doug Smith said...

FLS - the shareholders elect the board. If they are unsatisfied with how the board represents their political interests they can elect a new one.

Scott said...

If you own shares of a corporation that is engaging in speech you don't approve of, I have no problem with you selling those shares.

If you don't think this is meaningful, then explain the phenomenon of "socially conscious" investing.

Larry J said...

To deny corporations the right to speak is to infringe upon the individual right to speak through a group identity -- unless you are saying that individuals don't have this right, in which case, to hell with you.

Good point. The actual, complete text of the 1st Amendment reads:

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.

People are free to assemble. While the Constitution doesn't explicitly say it, they have freedom to associate with others. It's the last clause that I believe is being glossed over: to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

I'm a private pilot and belong to the Aircraft Owners & Pilots Association (AOPA). It is, in effect, a special interest group. They lobby Congress just as hundreds of other special interest groups do because government plays an important role in aviation. Should we not have that right?

AOPA is a corporation. Does that mean we no longer have the right to petition for redress of grievances? How about Exxon? If not, why not?

Doug Smith said...

Scott - yeah I've heard the left say how wonderful divestment from companies that do business in Israel is from lefties!

Hoosier Daddy said...

But today's multinational corporations have more power than many governments.

Riiiiight. To paraphrase the hero of many liberals:

"How many divisions does Exxon have?"

SMGalbraith said...

'I don't know the case much, but if ONE of them just decided to post it on their website, and the corporation did nothing to stop them, then was that illegal?'

They tried to post it on Youtube but Youtube, fearing legal consequences, refused to let them upload it.

Lem said...

Ok lets say a car is not a human being and lets say the owner of that car puts a political sticker on it. Would anyone here grant the gvment the right to take that sticker off the car because the car is not a human being?

Am I off the reservation here?

Larry J said...

Labor unions are a collection of human beings, not a corporation. PAC money is collected directly from the members.

So, what is a corporation then, a collection of inanimate objects? Or aliens? Aren't corporations also a collection of human beings? And I strongly suspect that most labor unions are probabaly legally incorporated, too, under USC 501.c.5

Horrors! Unions are corporations!

former law student said...

Au contraire, few labor unions are incorporated.

“Historically, the common law has treated a labor union as an unincorporated membership association with no independent legal existence.”); Jund v. Town of Hempstead, 941 F.2d 1271, 1279 (2d Cir. 1991) (trade unions are a form of unincorporated association)

bagoh20 said...

"They tried to post it on Youtube but Youtube, fearing legal consequences, refused to let them upload it."

That makes sense within the law then, but I'm asking what if an individual posted it on their own site (No corporate involvement)?

Dust Bunny Queen said...

I forgot: Do I have the right to marry a corporation?

Now fls is just making stupid arguments. In reality, the right to marry is not a part of the Constitution but rather a social construct. This is why there is such a big broohahah about Gay marriage rights.

If you want to argue at least try to be serious and somewhat logical.

If I and 4 other people have a business and we decide to establish it as a C Corp, do we lose our right to expression as a group? Do we lose the ability to purchase advocacy advertising or otherwise express our interests as a group? This is what fls and others are suggesting.

Because I am a part of an organization....I lose my first amendment rights to express myself on behalf of my organization? I lose the right to pool my money with others in my organization and express myself?

Dangerous dangerous territory.

LOL...verfication word: hottea

why, thank you I will have some.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Do people not see the difference between ten people who got together to express their views, and Exxon or IBM?

The ruling covers both



AS IT SHOULD. Congress shall make no law. Plus when we begin picking and choosing who gets rights and who doesn't get rights base on who they are, we are treading onto very dangerous quicksand.

If I am a member of a corporation that consists of a group of 8 doctors (a very common situation) according to you, fls, my medical group would not be allowed to advocate politically for or against Obama Care.

You would want to put a muzzle on my free speech AND actually the right of free association. If my association is forbidden to speak, then you have made restrictions on my associations abiltity to function and have hampered me.

garage mahal said...

In this recent case, the FEC prohibited a group of 10 people from releasing a movie about Hillary Clinton. That's censorship of political speech. Had they released the movie and it contained defamatory information, Hillary could've sued. They weren't even allowed to release the movie. That was a denial of their freedom of speech. Fortunately, the SC ruled in favor of free speech rights.

They did release the movie, it was shown in some 15 theaters if I recall.The FEC never said they couldn't release the movie, just not in the weeks during the election, and they had to disclose the donors.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Now fls is just making stupid arguments.

Now?

Sofa King said...

Are we forgetting our J.S. Mill?

"Were an opinion a personal possession of no value except to the owner; if to be obstructed in the enjoyment of it were simply a private injury, it would make some difference whether the injury was inflicted only on a few persons or on many. But the peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is, that it is robbing the human race; posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error."

bagoh20 said...

From Powerline.com:

"Reports are circulating that Keith Olbermann's "Countdown" show on MSNBC could be nearing the end of its run. Ratings are in free-fall, dropping 44% since last year's election."

Proof that we don't need no stinking censorship. We can make our own decisions right from our handy remotes

If this happens, I'm going off the wagon for a night.

Lem said...

.. just not in the weeks during the election, and they had to disclose the donors.

It is in the weeks during the election (or b4 the election) when the exercise of free speech is at its zenith.

Free speech is not an MRE with with a shelf life to be racioned out after an emergency.

former law student said...

my medical group would not be allowed to advocate politically for or against Obama Care

The question of degree makes it a question of kind. A corporation with eight owners can align the position of the corporation with the positions of the owners. A corporation with eighty million owners cannot.

Hey, for all you who oppose extending the rights of US citizens to non-resident foreigners, what position do you take on US branches of foreign corporations, and for US corporations largely held by foreigners?

Maguro said...

A Free Speech MRE - now there's a thought!

Simply cut open the top of the polybag sleeve, place your desired political speech inside the bag next to the heater. Add plain water to the "Fill Line", and fold the open end of the bag.

In just 12 minutes - enjoy a piping hot, FEC-approved campaign ad anytime, anyplace
.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Hey, for all you who oppose extending the rights of US citizens to non-resident foreigners, what position do you take on US branches of foreign corporations, and for US corporations largely held by foreigners?

By non-resident foreigners do you mean illegal aliens? Actually I'm not opposed to extending them rights. I'm opposed to them breaking the rules for being here to begin with.

.

Maguro said...

I personally have no problem with BP, Toyota or even CITGO running campaign ads if disclosure is done properly. However, some may disagree and that should be resolved through the legislative process. The Supreme Court doesn't need to adjudicate every aspect of society down to a gnat's ass.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

The question of degree makes it a question of kind. A corporation with eight owners can align the position of the corporation with the positions of the owners. A corporation with eighty million owners cannot.


So where do you plan to draw the line on the size of the group of people to whom you want to deny the First Amendment rights of free speech. 10 members? 50? 125? 126? What is the size of assembly that you would allow to have free speech?

Where is it in the Constitution that gives the government the ability to deny free speech to a person or group of persons based on the size of their assembly?

I personally have no problem with BP, Toyota or even CITGO running campaign ads if disclosure is done properly

Same thing here.

I have more problems with ACORN fraudulently registering illegal foreigners, dead people and cartoon characters to vote.

Chris said...

Forgive me if this is a remedial legal question, but are political parties corporations?

If I visit democrats.org, at the bottom I see the statement, "Copyright © 1995-2010 DNC Services Corporation".

Do these guys "[have] a First Amendment right to spend money to support or oppose political candidates," as the linked NYT article describes the court's decision?

Shanna said...

'Denying corporations the right to speech is a very dangerous precedent'

Anytime someone starts trying to shut someone up, I get suspicious. As should we all.

MadisonMan said...

When I see the SOTU tag, I usually misread it for STFU.

Scott said...

A viewpoint from someone who apparently knows something (and who isn't just posting a link-free, context-free fragment from some court ruling):

"A labor union is a corporation under section 501(c)5, one of the many kinds of nonprofits. It's called "Labor, agricultural, or horticultural organizations.".

"It means that they don't pay taxes on their income, but the corporation isn't supposed to make a profit for anybody. Its income must be spent on the purposes of the organization, which according to the IRS, must be:

"the betterment of the conditions of those engaged in labor, agricultural, or horticultural pursuits;

"the improvement of the grade of their products; and,

"the development of a higher degree of efficiency in their respective occupations.

"It can pay employees, but nobody owns the income of the company itself except the company. The union members "own" the company, but even if it's dissolved they don't get a piece of its money. It has to be donated to a similar organization.

"It's also possible to have an unincorporated labor union, but they lose the benefits of being a corporation; they can't sign contracts or file lawsuits. The members of an unincorporated union risk being sued individually in the case of strikes or other union action."

Did you see the recent news about the UAW selling their golf course and pleasure palace to raise money? They couldn't own that property to begin with if they weren't incorporated.

I hate it when people beg issues to death.

Larry J said...

MadisonMan said...
When I see the SOTU tag, I usually misread it for STFU.


You aren't the only one, Madison Man.

Youngblood said...

FLS wrote:

"Au contraire, few labor unions are incorporated."

The quote you provide to support your position is completely irrelevant. This isn't an issue of civil liability in a common law state, it's an issue of election law at the federal level. The United States of America is not a common law state and election law is not based on common law principles.

Whether technically incorporated or not, labor unions face the same restrictions on speech as non-profits and corporations under the BCRA. As it stands now, unions, corporations, and non-profit entities all face the same restrictions on speech. (This is why, in the post-BCRA era, 527's have achieved such prominence -- they do not face the same restrictions.)

So while you may be right in the sense that unions aren't technically corporations, they're in the same category as corporations for the purpose of this particular issue.

Your pedantic approach may make you feel as though you have a bigger dick, the people you're arguing against actually have a better understanding of the situation than you do.

Joe said...

...what position do you take on US branches of foreign corporations, and for US corporations largely held by foreigners?

They have the freedom to speak, let them speak. I'm not afraid of what they have to say, why are you?

Why are you so afraid of WORDS and IDEAS?

The Crack Emcee said...

"The catcalls, the whooping and hollering and under-the-breath comments."

I wrote something here yesterday to Vickie from Pasedena, in regards to cursing, describing Americans in just this manner. Accept it, y'all, in this regard who we are is who we are, and it's also who we should be proud of. Our manner of discourse doesn't bother me a bit - what we consider important, at given time, can be maddening.

SMGalbraith said...

They have the freedom to speak, let them speak. I'm not afraid of what they have to say, why are you?

My understanding is they don't.

At least they don't have the right to donate to campaigns or run political ads.

"They" being foreign nationals or companies owned by foreign nationals.

Youngblood said...

FLS,

I took a few minutes to track down the source of the quote that you offered. It was in a footnote supporting the point made in the introduction that, in New York state and other common law jurisdictions, the legal status of a union defaults to an "unincorporated membership association with no independent legal existence." (However, later in the article, the author acknowledges that the law has evolved and been refined even in other common law states, and New York state is practically unique in this respect.)

This doesn't mean that unions never incorporate, nor does it mean that unions rarely incorporate. It just means that if a union is not incorporated, it is treated in a certain way.

In fact, in the very next footnote, examples of incorporated unions are offered and the author writes, "It is difficult to estimate how many unions are incorporated as there are
not any formal statistics.
"

As Scott has since pointed out, it's not at all uncommon for unions to incorporate. The article that you referenced (but didn't read) explains some of the reasons, but Scott's explanation is just as useful.

My earlier point stands, though: It's not entirely clear that unions must formally, legally, or technically incorporate in the same way as a corporation to be treated in the same way as a corporation under the BCRA. As a 501(c)(5) organization, a labor union's legal status under the Act is, as far as I can tell at least (and I am not a lawyer), pretty clear.

(Also, next time you're cutting and pasting a citation from an article, could you actually cut and past the citation properly? The quote that you presented to illuminate us was from Schwartz v. Rivera, not Jund v. The Town of Hempstead.)

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

Ahhh yes. If only this were an issue of speech and NOT an issue of utilizing a public, regulated monopoly in which speech is anything but free, to distribute more of your speech than anyone else's due to your ability to pay the monopoly off.

But sadly, it isn't.

Ralph L said...

utilizing a public, regulated monopoly in which speech is anything but free
The principle applies to much more than university newspapers.

former law student said...

As Scott has since pointed out, it's not at all uncommon for unions to incorporate

But surprisingly few do. The UAW is not incorporated, for example, although specific UAW entities are. And yet it owns that educational retreat.

Sorry that my finger slipped in cutting and pasting. The point is that unions are the collective voice of their members. Corporations are not the collective voice of their stockholders.

But upon further consideration, I found one good aspect of the ruling in Citizens United: extending the rights of human beings to non-human entities will eventually mean that robots will eventually have freedoms of speech, religion, and assembly, the right to carry firearms, be secure in their persons, trial by jury, etc. etc.

And to science fiction fans those are all good things.

Kirk Parker said...

MoMo,

"Freedom of the press is right there in the first amendment..."

Yeah, but it doesn't mean what you think it means. "The Press" as metonymy for news organizations and reports simply didn't exist in English usage at the time; what it means is "freedom to print and distribute what you've printed."

Scott said...

@former law student:

"But surprisingly few do. The UAW is not incorporated, for example, although specific UAW entities are. And yet it owns that educational retreat."

Prove it, you arrant bullshitter.

This is the internet. Provide citations and links, or be recognized as the vacuous gainsaying lump of animated smegma that you are proving to be.

former law student said...

Labor unions are almost always incorporated to protect their leadership and members from legal liability.

Oh, I knew I forgot to mention something about scott's post:

Prove it, you arrant bullshitter.

This is the internet. Provide citations and links, or be recognized as the vacuous gainsaying lump of animated smegma that you are proving to be.

I'll even give you a hint:

Corporations must register in each state they operate in.

Scott said...

And I'll give you a hint:

I can tell you how many locals the UAW currently has and how they are organized legally. And I can tell you the legal entities that own each of their local halls and their golf course and their so-called education center, and their international headquarters on East Grand Boulevard in Detroit, which I used to live three blocks from.

However, I also know the game you're playing, and I think trolls like you suck.

You're the kind of commenter who presents speculation and pretends its fact. Trolls like you never post links or citations to buttress your "facts". Your goal is to make the rest of us chase around to dig up the facts to expose your bullshit. You're probably whacking off while you're doing it too.

It's amazing and disgusting how people like you can fuck up a good comment thread with misinformation and straw dog arguments.

I try to keep the attitude that every person's life is worthwhile in the greater scheme of things. Then I encounter a troll like you who forces me to reconsider.

Hoosier Daddy said...

This is the internet. Provide citations and links, or be recognized as the vacuous gainsaying lump of animated smegma that you are proving to be.

Well FLS for shits and giggles I went to the Indiana SoS site, typed 'Local' under the corp search engine and lo and behold, found a slew of unions that are incorporated.

I'm providing you a link to the site.

So yeah, Scott's right. Plenty of unions incorporate.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

The point is that unions are the collective voice of their members. Corporations are not the collective voice of their stockholders.


YES THEY ARE Sometimes the voice is concentrated in a few stockholders, as in the case of a medical corporation or a small lumber company......other times the voice is very diverse because the shareholder pool is huge.

You never answered my question, by the way. Dodging it are you?

At what size of assembly or corporation are you willing to draw the line to deny free speech? Where is the line 10? people? 50 people? 200? cut off at 201?

Are you also going to limit the size of UnIncorporated assembly? That would be the next step you see.

Answer.

former law student said...

DBQ, I can tell an elephant from a mouse when I see them. There's no use trying to ease out the exact difference between small enough to represent the owners' voice and huge enough where the owners' voices do not matter.

And Scott, if you think that a corporation formed to own one union hall can have the campaign impact as Exxon or IBM, you're entitled to your belief. The UAW itself is not incorporated, the IBT itself is not incorporated, and I just lost interest looking stuff up.

Hoosier -- The incorporated locals on the first page have either changed their name or expired. So it looks like there are more incorporated locals than there really are.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Hoosier -- The incorporated locals on the first page have either changed their name or expired. So it looks like there are more incorporated locals than there really are.

There were eleven pages.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Actually I need to correct that, there are more than eleven pages.

In any event, expired or not, it kinda puts a dent in the argument that unions don't incorporate.

dick said...

Larry J

Use your same argument about selectively supporting your views as opposed to someone else's views by the corporation and then apply this same logic to unions. Then explain Reagan Democrats.

former law student said...

My assertion -- unrefuted until now -- is that few unions incorporate.

Hoosier, on the first couple of pages, the number of union entities are far outnumbered by other corporations with "local" in their name. I note with sadness the expiration of the "40 + 8" Voiture Local, which must have been an association of WW I Doughboys (40 Hommes ou 8 Chevaux, the carrying capacity of a French rail car).

Youngblood said...

FLS wrote:

"But surprisingly few do. The UAW is not incorporated, for example, although specific UAW entities are. And yet it owns that educational retreat."

Yes, and this is irrelevant, as I've already said.

The UAW may or may not be formally incorporated, but it's also not treated as an unincorporated associated, as you asserted yesterday. The UAW is, however, organized as a 501(c)(3), which as far as the federal government is concerned, makes it a non-profit corporation/organization, subject to the same restrictions on speech under the BCRA.

The assertion that you made yesterday (that unions have historically been treated as unincorporated associations under common law) is [i]still[/i] completely irrelevant. Whether no unions anywhere are incorporated or every single union is incorporated, they face the same restrictions that corporations face when it comes to this particular issue.

"The point is that unions are the collective voice of their members. Corporations are not the collective voice of their stockholders."

Both of these statements are vast oversimplifications of the actual role of corporations and unions.