Posted 2 years ago on Dec. 16, 2011, 1:52 p.m. EST by Rico
This content is user submitted and not an official statement
People who know me know my number one objective is to restore our Democracy; We Want Our Government Back !
Many declare the problem to be corporate 'personhood' and further suggest this problem emerged from the Citizens United case. Many also believe a Constitutional Amendment and/or an Article V Convention is required to get the money out. I disagree. The 'personhood' issue is not the barrier, nor can it be changed. Furthermore, I think we can get the money out without a Constitutional Amendment or Convention.
The law defining corporations as people is in US Code Section 1, Paragraph 1 which can be read at http://uscode.house.gov/download/pls/01C1.txt . Note that 1948 - Act June 25, 1948, included "tense", "whoever", "signature", "subscription", "writing" and a broader definition of "person". A 'person' was defined by act of Congress in the 1948 amendment to "include corporations, companies, associations, firms, partnerships, societies, and joint stock companies, as well as individuals." The language regarding corporations date back to the earliest days of the Republic when corporations were first founded, and they needed status as 'persons' under contract law in order to enter into contracts (and be sued). The legal foundation underlying the various definitions of 'person' relates to the right of unions, companies, and other willful associations to inherit the rights of the people choosing to associate. There's good background at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corporate_personhood .
The Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission case was a narrow decision regarding the ability of associations of people to engage in political speech around the time of an election. The summary of the court's ruling at http://www.scotusblog.com/case-files/ca ... ommission/ states, "Political spending is a form of protected speech under the First Amendment, and the government may not keep corporations or unions from spending money to support or denounce individual candidates in elections. While corporations or unions may not give money directly to campaigns, they may seek to persuade the voting public through other means, including ads, especially where these ads were not broadcast." The full opinion, available at http://www.scotusblog.com/wp-content/up ... pinion.pdf mentions we routinely allow media corporations such as MSNBC and Fox to talk about politics, endorse candidates, and so forth all day long then goes on to say they could see rationale to prevent another corporation from doing the same.
It is important to note that Citizen's United only removed the restriction on independent corporate or union speech occurring within 30 days of a primary or 60 days of a general election. Corporations and unions were free to spend all they want outside these time limits. If fact, there appears to be precedent for spending within the time limits if the corporation makes a profit; The Federal Election Commission ruled Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11" film, associated trailers, and website represented bona fide commercial activity, not “contributions” or “expenditures” under the law.
It is equally important to appreciate the amount of money being spread around Washington from sources completely unrelated to associations of people inheriting the rights of the people associating. Per http://www.opensecrets.org/lobby/index.php , 9.5 billion dollars was spent by lobbying firms from 2008 to 2011. Per http://www.opensecrets.org/pacs/toppacs ... 12&party=A , another 18.6 million dollars has already been distributed by PACs in relation to the 2012 election cycle. Finally, per http://www.opensecrets.org/527s/index.php , another 546 million dollars was spend in the 2010 cycle by the 523's, and the 2012 totals are now ramping up. This money being used to influence the votes of our candidates does far greater damage than political advertisements aimed at influencing our vote.
- Corporate person-hood has been a round a long time. It is based on the same legal reasoning that allows all groups of individuals to inherit individual rights whether they be unions, corporations, or the Sierra Club. This is what allows such associations to enter in contracts including union labor agreements.
- The Citizens United case only lifted the ban on independent expenditures on ads by associations of people with a few months of an election event. We already allow many associations of people to do so, and it appears any association that does it for a profit lives in a loophole.
- The existing laws, wholly unrelated to the associations are people law, allow literally billions of corrupting dollars to flow to our elected officials. There is legal precedent establishing Congressional authority to limit the direct contribution of money to the campaign funds of elected officials.
The bottom line, in my opinion, is that we don't won't be able to change the 'personhood' of people in association, and we don't need a constitutional amendment much less an Article V convention. We simply need to press Congress to further limit all the loopholes that exist in the PACs, 523's, and other vehicles by which money is funneled to our elected officials.
P.S. My views on the entire topic are captured over at themultitudes.org forum which is superior to this forum when thoughtful discourse is desired.
- http://www.themultitude.org/forum/viewtopic.php?p=4359#p4359 captures my proposal for getting the money out with supporting rationale.
- http://www.themultitude.org/forum/viewtopic.php?p=4387#p4387 describes my conclusions regarding why we don't need a Constitutional Amendment or Convention to get the money out.
- http://www.themultitude.org/forum/viewtopic.php?p=4409#p4409 elaborates on the prior post to explain why we have to ban all contributions if we are going to get the money out.
- http://www.themultitude.org/forum/viewtopic.php?p=4426#p4426 elaborates on the issues relating to Constitutional Amendments and Article V Conventions to show they are likely not the best way to get the money out.