October 4, 2010

"The Roberts court has championed corporations. The cases it has chosen for review this term suggest it will continue that trend."

Says the NYT.
Of the 51 it has so far decided to hear, over 40 percent have a corporation on one side. The most far-reaching example of the Roberts court’s pro-business bias was Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. By a 5-to-4 vote, the conservative justices overturned a century of precedent to give corporations, along with labor unions, an unlimited right to spend money in politics....
The cases scheduled for argument in the next few months may appear modest. But if there is one lesson from the Citizens United ruling, it is that nothing — for this court — is inevitably modest.
By contrast, here's The Conglomerate, a stable, sober lawprof blog:
Looking ahead to the upcoming Supreme Court term, the pickings of corporate, securities, and financial regulation cases at first blush seem slim. We were spoiled last term by an amazingly rich set of cases in these fields, with Citizens United headlining....

The corporate/securities/financial cases generally look to be fairly specific to the industries involved. But, when you are dealing with the Supremes, you can never tell; the Court can unexpectedly uncork a broad, sweeping ruling. Moreover, thanks to the unceasing creativity of lawyers, even stray language in an opinion can have unintended ripple effects.
You decide if you want to read mainstream journalism or one of those crazy blogs.

58 comments:

Big Mike said...

Of the 51 it has so far decided to hear, over 40 percent have a corporation on one side.

The very first sentence seems designed to mislead. Precisely how many cases "have a corporation on one side"? If your eye is merely skimming the lede you'd answer 40 when the true number is probably 21 or 22. Sometimes it makes sense to use a perentage, e.g., when describing a very large population. But there's no point to it here except to confuse.

ironrailsironweights said...

Also, is the 40% figure higher than in most past years? The Times doesn't say.

Peter

Maguro said...

Yeah, neither do they tell you what percentage of cases on a typical SC docket "have a corporation on one side", so the information is completely meaningless even if you're not confused by the math.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

You decide if you want to read mainstream journalism or one of those crazy blogs.

We're here, aren't we?

AJ Lynch said...

The NYT does more preaching to the choir than a real preacher.

SMGalbraith said...

the conservative justices overturned a century of precedent to give corporations, along with labor unions, an unlimited right to spend money in politics....

The ruling, of course, did no such thing.

All the ruling did was strike down a federal law - not state laws which still are in effect - that made it illegal for corporations to produce political ads (TV, radio, books (!)).

Corporations are still forbidden from giving to candidates. And states may forbid corporations from running political ads.

Let me repeat: corporations are still not allowed to give to candidates. Citizens United had no effect on that law.

If that's an "unlimited right" then I am a potato.

Crimso said...

Citizens United was fighting for the right to show a documentary film. Let me repeat that loudly: Citizens United was fighting for the right to SHOW A DOCUMENTARY. First Amendment, anyone? While I'm sure Citizens United is technically a corporation, conflating the heart of this case with some sort of dark wingnut SCOTUS-based conspiracy to hand over all power to Big Oil, The Military-Industrial Complex (etc etc blah blah blah) is basically dishonest; the full ramifications of the ruling notwithstanding. IANAL (don't get excited by the term, Titus), but even I can see that.

SMGalbraith said...

Citizens United was fighting for the right to show a documentary film

Indeed.

And as I noted above, the ruling did not strike down state laws.

Some states (I believe it's about 20) ban corporations from running political ads.

Those are still in affect.

And corporations still are not allowed to give any money - not one cent - to candidates. The ruling was about political ads, not money.

How the NY Times can argue that corporations have an "unlimited right to spend money in politics" is a mystery to me.

SteveR said...

By a 5-to-4 vote, the conservative justices

There are five "conservative" justices? Oh wait, its the NYT, never mind

Quayle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Quayle said...

The Citizens United decision went against the legal test advocated by the New York Times:

groups of the wrong kind of people are bad and should be disallowed,

groups of right kind of people are good and should have total freedom.

AJ Lynch said...

America's Pravda and its writers are scared and it is more and more apparent.

tim maguire said...

Good call Big Mike. I'm generally a pretty careful reader and I did that--read it as 40 cases, or almost 80%, twice the true number.

Kev said...

(the other kev)

It used to be argued that the Times only wrote for a small section of Manhattan near Central Park West.

Lately they seem to be writing only for a couple of floors in their own building.

SMGalbraith said...

Let's see, if the NY Times believes that corporations and labor unions don't have free speech rights (since they're not individuals), then the government had the right to ban unions from attending that political rally on Saturday?

Really?

Crimso said...

If only we had someone standing at the "toad crossing" between facts and analysis to prevent these "journalists" from being crushed in between.

A.W. said...

of course if the SC had listened to Kagan, they would have had to overturn every free speech case involving a corporation. things like NYT v. Sullivan, or the Hustler/Jerry Fallwell parody case.

i find it continually amazing that the NYT Company, a NY corporation, continually argues that corporations should have no first amendment rights.

Alex said...

It's common knowledge in Greenwich Village that the SCOTUS is in the pocket of the corporations.

Sigivald said...

It's amazing how reading the Times can make me not want to read the Times.

Aren't they supposed to be going bankrupt soon?

roesch-voltaire said...

Why is this an either or? Can I not read the NYT and blogs? Here in Wisconsin the results of Citizen United has produced a slew of ads from big money promoting the defenders of big money- not that there is anything wrong with that.

Alex said...

rv - I notice that lefties like you demonize "big money". So much so, that I wonder that if you don't want to just confiscate their wealth immediately and redistribute it to the "needy". I mean what could be more moral according to a leftist?

Zach said...

The First, Second, and Third Circuits have held that drug companies have no duty to disclose adverse event reports until the reports provide statistically significant evidence that the adverse events may be caused by, and are not simply randomly associated with, a drug's use. Expressly disagreeing with those decisions, the Ninth Circuit below rejected a statistical significance standard and allowed the case to proceed despite the lack of any allegation that the undisclosed adverse event reports were statistically significant.

Wow, the Ninth gets it wrong every single time, don't they? You now have to disclose adverse drug reactions, even -- and explicitly! -- when no such reactions can be shown to exist.

Maguro said...

The Times is still the only place to get the fresh, insightful thoughts of David Brooks, so there's that.

AlphaLiberal said...

http://www.slate.com/id/2269715/pagenum/all/#p2

From Dahlie Lithwick and Barry Friedman:

How to explain the justices shoving the law rightward, while everyone thinks it is dead center or too far left? The answer is that [Justice John] Roberts is a brilliant magician. He and his four fellow conservative justices have worked some classic illusionist tricks to distract us from seeing the truth. Roberts is likely the first chief justice to understand that the message matters as much as the outcome. He has played his role with consummate skill, allowing the law to shape-shift before our very eyes, even as he and his fellow conservatives claim that nothing is happening.

Revenant said...

Here in Wisconsin the results of Citizen United has produced a slew of ads from big money promoting the defenders of big money

So the "slew of ads from big money" in 2010 were caused by Citizens United, but the slew of ads from big money in the elections of 1800-2008 were caused by something different?

Jinkies. That's pretty weird.

SMGalbraith said...

To repeat: I assume Ms. Lithwick and Mr. Friedman and others believe that, since corporations and labor unions don't (or shouldn't) have free speech rights, that the government could have banned labor unions from the "One Nation" rally on Saturday?

Is that the view?

A.W. said...

revenant

this is all you have to know about the concerns about corporate interference. guess which president was the last one to take direct corporate donations, from their treasuries, into his campaign coffers, in a political race?

Its a trick question. the answer is the current president, Obama. direct corporation donations to candidates is fully legal in Illinois, and in roughly half the country. it has not led to the horrors that people like Barrack Obama have proclaimed would follow.

Robert said...

Didn't NY Times v. Sullivan have a corporation on one side?

SH said...

"By a 5-to-4 vote, the conservative justices overturned a century of precedent"

Is this even a fact?

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Instaquoted!

Belial said...

Of the 51 it has so far decided to hear, over 40 percent have a corporation on one side.

They don't say it's the winning side, just one side. Well, yes, that seems not too surprising. I'm just guessing, and I'm sure there are real statistics out there which I'm too lazy to go find, but probably another 40+ percent have the government, at some level, on one side. How many auto accident cases does the Court hear every year, anyway?

PD Quig said...

"the government had the right to ban unions from attending that political rally on Saturday?"

What political rally? That was a union business meeting.

pumping-irony said...

Mainstream journolism (sic) has its uses. Hey, try wrapping fish or training a puppy with a crazy blog sometime!

MarkW said...

No need to re-debate Citizens United here, but I will say that, for me, you could hardly design a worse affront to free speech rights than legal restrictions on political speech and specifically near elections. The ex-director of the ACLU got it right -- in spades -- but virtually nobody else on the left (and AFAIK, no leading Democrats) did. I have a hard time imagining supporting or voting for anybody I think is so totally wrong on such a fundamental and important issue. It's one of those touchstone issues that makes deciding who to vote for in November less of a quandary.

Tex the Pontificator said...

Cases having "a corporation on one side."

Would that include cases in which a virtuous individual suing an evil corporation somehow lost in the lower courts, and the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case to right the injustice? That those cases are on the docket is a blemish on the conservative court?

roesch-voltaire said...

Alex, If big money came from a free market that would be fine, or if it kept it social connection to its communities that would be fine, but "big money" as you put it often is a result of corporate monopolies who willing outsource American manufacturing infrastructure to China etc. On the other hand, I deeply admire what Bill and Melinda Gates have done to make our world and better and healthier place. Note, you do not see them contributing to Citizens United type anonymous attack ads. Frankly, I am not interested in confiscating wealth, but I do advocate for a fairer share of taxes for the wealthy, and educational incentives to increase the skill levels of our population.

hombre said...

How to explain the justices shoving the law rightward, while everyone thinks it is dead center or too far left? The answer is that [Justice John] Roberts is a brilliant magician....

The better answer is that the Court has been too far left and is, if anything, merely reverting back to the center.

Lithwick and Friedman would not readily discern this since from their perspective there is no "too far left."

WV: redish = The political/legal perspective shared by the authors referenced above.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Whether blogs as we now have them will replace legacy media remains to be seen. The commentary blogs I read are mostly by boomers. I have five sons, four grown. The first two, my domestic children, read my blog and a few others. My imported (from Romania) sons read zero blogs, not even mine. The youngest, a highschool freshman, reads none as well.

Online news has already replaced paper, and the newer online sources have sharply dented the paper-descended sources. But ten years out, blogs may be pretty much an old person's territory, much as Newsweek, Time, and firestarters are now. The news will be almost entirely electronic, but how exactly that shakes out we don't know.

Bloggers have upended the image of small-time cranks typing into the void - at least among people who are ever going to bother to actually think about things rather than parrot; the next challenge will be to avoid the image of being passe.

Hagar said...

I think both Microsoft and the world would have been better off if young Billy had stuck to running his company.

Squid said...

Frankly, I am not interested in confiscating wealth, but I do advocate for a fairer share of taxes for the wealthy, and educational incentives to increase the skill levels of our population.

I support your right to advocate for such, and would support you even if you pooled your money with like-minded advocates in order to buy airtime to advocate to a wider audience. (Never mind that this association of advocates would technically be a corporation.)

Regarding the bolded part above, if it's not too much to ask: how much of a wealthy person's wealth must you take away in order to make things fair? Would it be less if they used their wealth to help you buy airtime to explain how important it was to take their wealth away?

roesch-voltaire said...

Squid, you know I grew up in the Eisenhower era when my blue collar step-father was able to buy a house in the suburbs, buy a new car every five years, and support the family on one income as truck driver, and when I moved to New York and met some very wealthy folks, I discovered, even with the tax rate they paid, their life was more than comfortable. So dare I suggest those rates? Probably not, but I would not mind a flat tax rate, with a reasonable cut-off rate for the bottom.

stevenehrbar said...

I'm perfectly in favor of forcing corporations to stay out of politics. Just as long as the first corporation that gets forced to stop meddling in politics is the New York Times Company.

GMay said...

R-V said: "Frankly, I am not interested in confiscating wealth, but I do advocate for a fairer share of taxes for the wealthy, and educational incentives to increase the skill levels of our population."

Translation: I'm not personally interested in confiscating wealth.

hombre said...

The better answer is that the Court has been too far left and is, if anything, merely reverting back to the center.

Oops! The Professor already blogged about that. Sorry!

P.S. It's AL's fault I did that. LOL

Andy said...

The issue is about the effects of money on free speech in a democratic society.

Crimso said...

"Note, you do not see them contributing to Citizens United type anonymous attack ads."

If they're anonymous, how do you know they aren't contributing to them?

Belkys said...

So did the Warren Court in NYT ( a corporation) vs Sullivan

Revenant said...

I do advocate for a fairer share of taxes for the wealthy

How radically libertarian of you!

Oh, wait. You don't mean "fair share" the way normal people mean it, as in "paying the same as everyone else" or "paying for what you get".

You mean "fair" as in "you have what we want and we have you outnumbered, so hand it over".

Revenant said...

in the Eisenhower era when my blue collar step-father was able to buy a house in the suburbs, buy a new car every five years, and support the family on one income as truck driver

If you want that lifestyle back, there's an easy fix. All we have to do is annihilate most of Europe and Asia's industrial capacity and workforce with large-scale bombing campaigns.

That's how we achieved it last time around.

SMGalbraith said...

So did the Warren Court in NYT ( a corporation) vs Sullivan

And the Pentagon Papers vs. NY Times.

And on and on and on...

It's just absurd to claim that corporations don't have free speech rights.

One can argue that there can be greater limits on their rights; but to say they have none is proven wrong by history.

Unless one wants to argue that the Court ruled incorrectly in Sullivan and the Pentagon Papers et cetera.

New "Hussein" Ham said...

Hey Ann,

Here's a suggestion: Stop wasting our time by linking to the fucking NY Times.

Nobody here, frankly, is interested much in reading propaganda written by the NY Times - except you.

Every time you link us to them you lower our estimation of you, and reduce your blog's usefulness to us.

Please. Stop.

roesch-voltaire said...

Or simply raise the taxes and close the loop holes, no need for another war, but I know that goes against the grain of the current empire disorder our county suffers from.

Hagar said...

No one in their right mind paid those ruinous rates. The rich incorporated themselves and paid the low corporate rates and their employees, even down to my level, were offered all kinds of benefits that did not have to be reported as income.

Some of the same sort of thinking must be going on now, since these tax hikes are being proposed by some of the wealthiest people in the country, and these people also continually voice their surprise that "the working class" do not always vote to their financial interest. It kind of follows that they must have in mind some dodges to avoid actually paying the new rates themselves, no?

Revenant said...

Or simply raise the taxes and close the loop holes, no need for another war,

On the off chance that you're actually stupid enough to believe that high taxes caused the prosperity of the 50s, I'll explain further:

The working class of the 1950s had it good because a large percentage of the rest of the world's working class was killed in WW2. The factories those people labored in were bombed, the infrastructure they relied on destroyed, etc.

The United States was essentially untouched by the war. We came through it with our industry intact. So we became, briefly, the primary industrial base of the entire planet just as demand for our goods and services -- for the rebuilding effort, among other things -- skyrocketed.

Once Europe and Asia recovered, unskilled and semi-skilled labor went back to being hard to subsist on.

kcom said...

"The Times is still the only place to get the fresh, insightful thoughts of David Brooks, so there's that."

And Thomas Friedman. Please don't ever forget Thomas Friedman. He's a beacon in these dark, dark times, nobly illuminating the path to our Chinese-inpsired future.

Paul Zrimsek said...

If you really want to re-create the tax code of the 1950s, closing loopholes is pretty much the last thing you should be thinking about.

chr1 said...

And don't forget Modo on race...

and fashion trends...

and endless moralizing on green issues and gender feminism...

The Grey Lady's got her finger on the pulse of America.

Martin L. Shoemaker said...

MarkW said...

I have a hard time imagining supporting or voting for anybody I think is so totally wrong on such a fundamental and important issue. It's one of those touchstone issues that makes deciding who to vote for in November less of a quandary.

Agreed. Which is why the Republicans made my vote so difficult in 2008 when they put the co-author of this unconstitutional restriction at the top of the ticket.