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Dissenting while I still can [Feb. 4th, 2010|01:54 pm]
[Current Mood |worriedworried]

Can I please have permission to just punch Justice Clarence Thomas in the face?

In a speech he gave at Stetson University, he apparently said that some criticism of the court and government was getting out of hand. This is, frankly, terrifying. The ability of the people to criticize their government is the foundation of this country, and those who have acted against it end with a shadow over their names in history. Justice Thomas is one of the nine people charged with defending those rights, and now he thinks such criticism is out of hand? Unnerving.

He also defended the SCOTUS decision that corporations can spend money on political campaigns and candidates just like other people. To quote:

"I found it fascinating that the people who were editorializing against it were The New York Times Company and The Washington Post Company," Thomas said, according to a report in The New York Times. "These are corporations."

Let's parse this a moment. Justice Thomas is baffled that corporations would editorialize against the decision when they themselves are the beneficiaries of it? Perhaps, Mr. Justice, this should tell you something: when corporations are appalled by rights you're giving them, maybe you're off the mark with your decision. If the state of Ohio suddenly ruled that all people who live in houses with even-numbered addresses had the right to claim the property of people living at odd-numbered addresses, I would not regard this as a great benefit to myself. Just because I could benefit from it doesn't mean that I would be in the right to do so.

So perhaps instead of calling these newspaper companies goofy for not being pleased at getting their trotters in the trough, you should reconsider whether giving the keys to the country to such stellar performers and AIG and Enron, or foreign corporations doing business in the US, is either wise or what the forefathers had in mind.

Canada sounds better all the time.

[User Picture]From: wdomburg
2010-02-04 07:25 pm (UTC)
There's a difference between saying criticism is unwarranted or irresponsible and wanting to stifle speech. For example, comparing the President to Adolf Hitler is probably "out of hand" even if it is protected expression.

And I think the point was more that news organizations already had those rights and are now editorializing against them being extended to other corporations. In other words, they're advancing a "some corporations are more equal than others" viewpoint.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-02-04 08:55 pm (UTC)
Corporations already manage to have plenty of influence in government via lobbying and other methods of donating money in elections. Being outspent by multinationals in elections is not something I'm looking forward to.
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[User Picture]From: wdomburg
2010-02-04 11:00 pm (UTC)
I'd frankly rather have them spend money directly advocating instead of buying favors and funneling cash through proxies, so long as disclosure requirements remain intact (which they do, so far as I know).

I'm not sure this is really as a big deal as people are making it out to be. More than half the states allow unlimited corporate spending, and yet there isn't a flood of spending. Prior to McCain-Feingold corporations were allowed unlimited spending so long as they didn't explicitly tell you to vote a particular way, and yet dollars spend lobbying were an order of magitude larger than direct spending. The status quo before the decision hardly limited corporate influence as they could simply use PACs for explicit candidate advocacy. And contrary to Obama's statements, the court explicitly declined to address foreign based corporations.

Probably most importantly is that corporations don't naturally favor either political party, so if damage is done by this ruling will hardly be as one-sided as some liberals are predicting. Many of the largest corporations - and I would argue most of the fastest growing - are helmed by openly liberal CEOs and gave heavily to Democrats and liberal PACs in the last election.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-02-04 11:20 pm (UTC)
It's not either/or. The funneling will continue. I also know conservatives who are against it, I don't think it's simply a matter of liberal protest.
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[User Picture]From: anivair
2010-02-05 05:59 pm (UTC)
I agree. Like I said, I think it's a fundamental issue of wanting elections to be an honest representation of the will of the people, rather than the outcome of a good advertising campaign.
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[User Picture]From: anivair
2010-02-05 05:49 pm (UTC)
Actually, that's not entirely true. While is used to hang at a 50/50 split in the last election cycle corporations actually spent by a noticeable margin (6%, i think) in favor of democratic candidates (though given the state of both the public opinion of the republican party at the time and the state of the dollar, that is hardly shocking). My big issue is not an objection based on what has come, but on the permissive nature that it gives. I don't want to see a figure where corporations simply decide who sins elections because they control all the funding. I largely do not want that because I want room for candidates who oppose corporate America in ways that corporations will not like. Not that I think all corporations support one party or the other (because they each make a good case for being good for the economy in their own way) but because the simple fact is that a corporation of any sort should not get a say in our elections. I'm opposed to anyone but the voters having that much sway (and money is demonstrably equal to winning in most elections).

but I suppose that is a campaign finance reform issue for another day.

though it is worth noting that while corporations may traditionally give about evenly, the chamber of commerce members do not. they are overwhelmingly republican well into the "more than 50%" range. For what that's worth.
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