blog saves the day!

so now companies can just go ahead and buy themselves elections

with 6 comments

it’s official!  sweet!  thanks supreme court.  congratulations on ruining everything.


Written by rarface

January 21, 2010 at 1:21 pm

Posted in politics

6 Responses

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  1. Serious question:

    If Corporations are regarded as persons are protected by the first Amendment, do other amendments apply to them as well?

    Does a corporation have 14th amendment rights and capable of voting? The 14th amendment mentions “All persons born or naturalized in the United States” and since corporations are treated as persons when it comes to the first amendment, should it not apply in the case of the 14th amendment? If you can stretch the legal definition of person to include an entire company, can’t you then stretch “born” and “naturalized” to include “founded” or “incorporated”? Is it infringing on a corporation’s second amendment right if the government restricts its purchase of fire arms?

    Can a corporation invoke its fifth amendment rights and not turn over internal documents that could be seen as bearing witness against him [it] self?

    If we accept this premise and walk this ruling to its logical end, does it not become nonsensical?

    sober capitalist

    January 21, 2010 at 2:04 pm

  2. Comrade Sober Capitalist! Admit now (for you cannot do otherwise) that the judicial branch has revealed itself as — in the words that Marx and Engels once used to describe the executive — “but a committee for managing the collective affairs of the whole bourgeoisie.”

    On another note: let us consider whether the increasingly grumpy “jilted liberal” tone of this blog may not be contributing more disease to an already ailing political discourse. Let us also consider whether the victory in Massachusetts is not, in the final analysis, a distraction engineered by the cunning of History to turn our eyes away from Haiti.

    Mes camarades! Il faut confronter des idees vagues avec images claires!


    January 21, 2010 at 5:43 pm

  3. blah blah blah. This is my blog. There was never any elevated political discourse here. And also, I do what I want.


    January 21, 2010 at 6:36 pm

  4. And also also, notice that these liberal whines are getting me the comments! Nobody had anything to say about my cactus skeleton. Sad face.


    January 21, 2010 at 7:38 pm

  5. I was interested in hearing a legal interpretation of today’s ruling, so I asked a friend of mine who is currently in law school… this guy is VERY conservative, so take this for what you will:

    Good to hear from you, and glad you’re following this stuff.

    The short answer to your question is yes, but not all constitutional provisions apply to them; the Court has no set rule, as far as I’m aware, for determining which do and do not apply. It depends a lot on the right in question. For instance, the fourth amendment (searches and seizures) does apply to a corporation, but not the fifth amendment (self-incrimination). As you suggest, the latter might not make a lot of sense, but the former might (because corporations do own property that can be searched, and can be charged with crimes). A lot of these precedents are over a century old, so the rules are not exactly new.

    The fourteenth amendment applies to corporations in many instances. One of the things the fourteenth amendment does is apply the Bill of Rights against the states (before 1867, only the federal government could violate the Bill of Rights). When a corporation objects that a state law violates its first amendment rights, for instance, it is actually (or additionally) making a fourteenth amendment claim. Some straight-up equal protection (discriminatory governmental treatment) and substantive due process (violations of fundamental rights not specifically provided for in the Bill of Rights but nonetheless fundamental to our national character) rights under the fourteenth amendment likely applies to corporations, too, but I don’t know the exact boundaries of that application.

    Just to clarify why this isn’t totally non-sensical, and to address your “born” and “naturalized” argument, I’m quoting the whole of Amd. 14, § 1 here:

    All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

    Now, the amendment does not define “persons,” but it does define a “citizen of the United States and of the State wherein they reside” as a “person born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof.” In other words, citizens are specific types of “persons.” The only provision applying to “citizens of the United States” is the first provision, known as the “privileges or immunities clause.” For historical reasons that remain hotly debated today, that provision is practically a dead letter and rarely used in constitutional argumentation.

    The provision the Court dealt with here is the “due process clause,” which provides that no State shall “deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” That provision has been found to “apply” the Bill of Rights to the states (again, long story as to why a provision talking about “process” grants substantive rights, but bear with me). But note that it defines who it applies to as “any person.” It was true both at the time and today that a “person” is a fairly broad term of art in legal drafting which can (but does not necessarily), so you could conclude a corporation is a “person” without the results being wholly ridiculous.

    sober capitalist

    January 21, 2010 at 9:30 pm

    • Sorry conservative dude, this still seems like a total and politically motivated stretch. I don’t doubt that “person” was used fairly broadly back in 1776 but there’s no way that it referred to corporate behemoths. If the famous framers wanted companies to have the same rights as human beings, they probably would have just said it. I really don’t think they were trying to be vague on this point. Didn’t they leave England in order to escape similarly well-financed power-weilding groups of elites from imposing their will (and taxes) on the common man? or something? I don’t read those David McCullough books, so maybe I’m just making this up…

      Anyway, I think it’s time we all stop pretending that our judges, even at the highest levels, are above politics and just interpreting these things in some sort of vacuum.


      January 22, 2010 at 2:12 pm

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