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Trevor Stone's Journal
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Supremacy of Cash 
21st-Jan-2010 11:27 pm
transparent ribbon for government accoun
On First Amendment grounds, the Supreme Court lifted some bans on corporate spending during elections.

As I read that article, I'm not sure this changes a lot. Corporations and unions can pay for ads close to an election, so you could see ads where the announcer finishes with "Paid for by ExxonMobile" instead of "Paid for by People for Economic Advancement through Offshore Drilling, a 527 organization." Corporations may also be allowed to give to candidates, but unless there's something startling about this case of corporate personhood, each corporation would be limited to $2000 per election cycle, which is a drop in the hat for a major campaign.

With this decision, a corporation can essentially out-shout a candidate they don't like, and if there's a deep-pocketed corporation on the other guy's side, the month leading up to the election may turn into one big shoutfest. But national elections are already dominated by money spent on advertisements (particularly TV), so this is ratcheting up the problem more than creating a new one. My apologies to anyone who likes to watch commercial TV in October. Maybe things will get so annoying that people will flock to Change Congress and mobilize support for an election system that doesn't overwhelmingly reward the biggest spender.

House Republican Leader John Boehner of Ohio called the decision "a big win for the First Amendment" as long as donors disclose every dollar they spend on campaigns. Maybe we can get a law requiring political ads list the campaign's biggest donors just like Cialis ads have to spend half their time listing side effects. It's hard for a list of donors posted once every month or three to a website to compete for attention with twenty TV ads a day.

This is also an example of a generally-beneficial principle and right (freedom of speech) that in some cases is detrimental to society. Democracy works best when everyone is given a fair hearing. Big-market TV advertising is a poor medium for that.
Comments 
24th-Jan-2010 09:29 pm (UTC) - as long as corporations are considered "persons" ...
As a matter of law, it's hard to fault the decision, even though I don't like its effects any more than you do. That is, it's hard to fault it, so long as you accept the background assumption that a corporation is a "person", and thus automatically has the same rights (such as free speech) as a "natural person", that is, an actual human being.

I don't think our society can afford to keep that assumption.
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