The Supreme Court ruled against legislation that’s been in place since the 1900’s today, lifting restrictions on how much money corporations can spend to sway voters in elections. The SCOTUS ruled that a corporation, (which isn’t a human being, but a business organization regulated by law) has the same constitutional protection as a person under the 1st amendment guaranteeing free speech.

This ruling pretty much makes individual contributions to political organizations and campaigns irrelevant. Because of this ruling, if a (for example) huge health care firm decides to spend all 2 billion dollars of it’s profits to fight a government proposal (like health care reform) they can do so. We’ve essentially handed over the keys to our democracy to corporations who’s sole purpose is to make money. What makes sense for a corporation doesn’t make sense for a goverment, or it’s citizens. If corporations had this power in the past we would have never seen :

Environmental Regulation
Child Labor Laws
A Minimum Wage
Unemployment Benefits
Consumer Protection Programs
Any regulation whatsoever of banks and the Stock Market
Anti-Trust Laws
Safety regulations for automobiles
Equal Opportunity Act

The list goes on and on. What will this affect short term? How about :

Health Care Reform
Net Neutrality
Environmental Protection Programs

Everything I’ve listed above, corporations would have/will be against because they affect their profits, which affects their stock prices. The goverment is supposed to protect its citizens. A corporation is supposed to make money. Most of the time, the 2 philosophies don’t jive.

If you applaud the SCOTUS decision you must:

a) be a head of a large corporation
b) be a rich investment banker
c) mistakingly believe that corporations all have our best interests at heart and that they’d never use their position of power to manipulate our goverment (even more than they do now) for their benefit.

It blows my mind that with decades of people from both sides of the isle crying out for campaign finance reform, and complaining about lobbyists controlling our goverment that anyone would actually argue that the SCOTUS ruling is a good thing. Then again, as cozy as the Republican party is with big business, I guess they would consider the ruling a victory. Given time, they’ll probably make a lot of money off the decision.


  1. Matt on 01.22.2010

    Core of the problem :

    [A U.S.] Supreme Court ruling in 1886 … arguably set the stage for the full-scale development of the culture of capitalism, by handing to corporations the right to use their economic power in a way they never had before. Relying on the Fourteenth Amendment, added to the Constitution in 1868 to protect the rights of freed slaves, the Court ruled that a private corporation is a natural person under the U.S. Constitution, and consequently has the same rights and protection extended to persons by the Bill of Rights, including the right to free speech. Thus corporations were given the same “rights” to influence the government in their own interests as were extended to individual citizens, paving the way for corporations to use their wealth to dominate public thought and discourse. The debates in the United States in the 1990s over campaign finance reform, in which corporate bodies can “donate” millions of dollars to political candidates stem from this ruling although rarely if ever is that mentioned. Thus, corporations, as “persons,” were free to lobby legislatures, use the mass media, establish educational institutions such as many business schools founded by corporate leaders in the early twentieth century, found charitable organizations to convince the public of their lofty intent, and in general construct an image that they believed would be in their best interests. All of this in the interest of “free speech.” — Richard Robbins, Global Problems and the Culture of Capitalism, (Allyn and Bacon, 1999), p.100

    The problem is that corporations are legal fictions which seem to have been given all of the rights of real people, but with NONE of the consequences or responsibilities.

    Let’s use Health Care Reform ads as an example. Even WITH limitations on corporate spending, the Health Care industry was able to poor millions of dollars into false, scare-tactic advertising under the guise of a “health care protection agency” or a “government watchdog group.” It took investigative reporters weeks to finally trace the money of these ads back to the source, a large health insurance agency, or a pharmaceutical company, etc. Where they ever held responsible for making stuff up to try and kill Health Care Reform? No. Imagine what they could have done with their almost unlimited resources? Well, now we’ll be able to find out.

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