Saturday, March 27, 2010

A couple of overdue thoughts on Citizens United

Awhile ago, LinguistFriend e-mailed me and asked me to write about the verdict in Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission. I'm not delighted, but I don't feel as passionate about the "Companies being treated as people" point as lots of people do, at least partially because I am interested in expanding the definition of "person" as much as possible before the sentient robots are invented.*

From a law nerd perspective, one of the interesting things about the decision is how quickly the McConnell decision was overturned. Yet another sign that Souter's love of precedent is very much gone.

As for the upshot of the decision, I am interested in what is going to come out of the fact that the corporations still have to respect donation limits, what they are allowed to do is pay for commercials themselves, presumably with "this ad paid for by Walmart' at the end. As frequent reader of Consumers Union's blog, The Consumerist, I am constantly reminded how much Americans hate some companies.

If I were a muckety muck in the Obama campaign, I would do everything I could to convince Comcast to support Obama's opponent.


*I look forward to the Singularity like a little kid looks forward to her birthday.

1 comment:

PG said...

presumably with "this ad paid for by Walmart' at the end.

Considering how hard conservatives are working to get rid of reporting requirements on campaign contributions and other political speech (on the grounds that anonymity is part of one's 1st Amendment rights, and if money = speech, then one has a right to give money anonymously), I wouldn't make that presumption.

My gripe on this issue is the extent to which we've actually departed from the real conservative economists on the issue of corporate personhood. F.A. Hayek wrote at length about how corporations shouldn't even be allowed to vote their shares in other corporations; he'd be dumbfounded by the notion that corporations have not only economic but also political rights. It's a huge departure from the reason the law first recognized corporations.