THE SUPREME COURT VERSUS REAL PERSONS
This is where I tell at least five learned and presumably discerning jurists that they are wrong. Hopefully, I can articulate the how and why of their being wrong well enough to not be simply dismissed out of hand.
The blank line between paragraphs indicates some time of reading, thought, and discussion. The research did not take me in the direction I thought it would go.
The Citizens United decision does not cite the XIV Amendment nor corporate personhood. But corporate personhood seems to be the 600 pound gorilla in the room going back to the Santa Clara County decision. So what is corporate personhood? It is the presumption that corporations (a kind of artificial entity) have the rights of real persons.
Artificial entities, of whatever size or stripe, be they companies or corporations or churches or nonprofits or unions or government agencies or political action committees, are not real persons. No amount of legal fiction can change that. They have not heart, nor soul, nor conscience or consciousness. They can not be tried and executed for treason.
They are useful constructs. Tools. Primarily used to aggregate and manage resources. History going back long before the Founding Fathers has taught us we need to keep a rein on them. The potential for abuse comes with such concentrations of resources. When the Founding Fathers overthrew British rule, it wasn’t just King George, they also overthrew the Corporate Colonies that ran their lives. They were very aware of that.
Is there anywhere in the Declaration of Independence with its ‘inalienable rights’, or in the ‘We the People’ preamble, or anywhere in the Constitution itself, including all the amendments, that explicitly or implicitly grants artificial entities constitutional rights? Has the Supreme Court ever explicitly done that? Help me out here.
To repeat the empirical facts: Artificial Entities are constructs, devices. Real people create them to do things. They are useful. By itself such a construct has no thoughts, no speech, no words, no motivations, no will (political or otherwise). Truly, it has no purpose other than that given it by the real persons operating it. These constructs can and have persisted longer than any given individuals lifetime, but if it is not populated by people it is empty and pointless.
A construct has no rights beyond what we willingly ascribe to it. History has taught us to be very careful and conscious of the powers we allow artificial entities.
“If we allow anything to interfere with people associating together to express their political views, we are all in trouble.”
I heard this in defense of the Citizens United decision.
So what do I find so troubling about the current situation?
First of all it is scary that Free Speech has gotten so expensive.
The fact that some people, whatever their political bent, can not only afford to buy (sometimes with the help of a corporate coffer) the PA system–but the main stream media itself–interferes with the little guys expressing their political views. It interferes by drowning us out. It means it doesn’t matter how many of use feel the same way–if we don’t find some way to find each other and aggregate and organize and pay to be heard–we are just lone voices crying in the wilderness and we can’t even hear each other over the paid for cacophony.
So another blank line. Another period of pondering and cud chewing. How do I resolve this rant?
To resolve the ‘lone voice crying in the wilderness’, whether I like being a joiner or not, I must find others with similar points of view and join together so our voices can be hear. Since I really dislike and distrust both parties, I will see what interest I can generate in my Personal Lobbyist concept.
Which brings us back around to ‘people associating together to express their political views.’ Conceptionally, I don’t have a problem with such artificial entities. But at another end of the artificial entity spectrum are those entities created specifically for and about money. To give those ‘associations’ of people unfettered political speech where the sole purpose is return on investment is disturbing. Perhaps it goes back to equating money with speech. To do so implicitly gives more money more of a voice.
Money = Free Speech
Certainly you will never get money out of politics. And certainly the more that money is out in the light of day (meaningful disclosure), the better. To quote a phrase from the syllabus of the Citizens United decision, out of context of course, more money creates an “ongoing chill upon speech” for those of us without the money to play the game.
The bigger issue, the 600 pound gorilla in the room, is corporate personhood.
I think the appropriate response to this, important, issue is for some people with the necessary skillsets to create a SuperPac. The SuperPac would aggregate contributions, in addition to my $.02 worth, a couple large anonymous donations would be in order. It would use the contributions to mount a media campaign to educate the American people on the issue of corporate personhood.
[Pssst! Hey buddy, artificial entities are not real persons. Pass it on.]
What fun that would be.